HONOURABLE DOMINICA PM ROOSEVELT SKERRIT POLITICAL LEADER OF THE DOMINICA LABOUR PARTY's SPEECH AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE CANDIDATE FOR THE ST. JOSEPH CONSTITUENCY
多米尼克共和国总理罗斯福.斯凯里特Commonwealth of Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
Citizens and residents of the great Commonwealth of Dominica!!
I greet you this evening, proud once again of the very mature and responsible manner in which our people stunned the world last Thursday, by turning their backs on the potential for strife,lawlessness and abuse of rights, in our country.
The hearts of many in the Diaspora were heavy, as the usual suspects threatened brimstone andfire, as a consequence of their own negligence. Multitudes were called to the capital city of Roseau, to maim, disfigure and destroy. But alas, my dear people, the good judgement and reasoning ofour people saw to it that our nomination of candidates was conducted and concluded without incident.
We look forward now to the evening of December 6th, when the final vote is counted and the winner of the 2022 general elections is declared.
I wish tonight to thank the people of Dominica for their warm embrace of the Dominica Labour Party! I am sure you assessed all the talents that were placed at your disposal and I sense this evening, that you too agree, that the Dominica Labour Party is still the best choice for Dominica.I want to say it is truly unfortunate that the voters of my constituency, the Vieille Case constituency, were deprived the opportunity to actually vote in this, my final general elections. It is not my fault, and it is certainly not their fault, that our opponents chose not to send up a candidate in my constituency or that of the other five constituencies that have already been declared.
Those six constituencies are among the strongest bastions of Labour in Dominica and it was no secret, that even if the United Workers Party had contested those six seats, the Labour Party would have received a minimum of 70 per cent of the popular vote in each riding.
So do not be fooled by their not backing a so-called independent in some of the races. They have sponsored independents in areas where they feel the margin of victory would not be as high as in Vieille Case, Paix Bouche, Cottage and Petite Savanne. They listened to Comrade Defoe last weekend and decided this guy was going to be no easy walkover. So, they pulled back the, quote on-quote, Independent, who they had identified to go up in that seat.
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In performing before the world cameras, they have announced that they are not running and are not participating in the elections, but we all know they are sponsoring several independents.
Has anyone in this crowd heard of the expulsion of Dr. Pascal from the UWP? How then can he be acting against the declared wishes of the party, and still be an embraced member? The answer, my friend, is that a faction in the opposition is supporting him and another faction is supporting another candidate in this same St. Joseph constituency. Even in this one constituency, there will be three faces of UWP on the ballot paper.
But, my dear friends, there shall only be one candidate for Labour….and that is Darren Lloyd!!
What this all adds up to is a mass of confusion designed to create the image of Dominica as politically unstable.
Ladies and Gentlemen, do you see or sense anything unstable about Dominica tonight?
The majority of voters in this country have expressed, at every turn, their preference for Roosevelt Skerrit and the Dominica Labour Party.
I did not call out the entire country last Thursday afternoon! They summoned all 70, 000 residents to the Bayfront and 324 persons showed up. These are the facts, Ladies and Gentlemen.
They spent the previous two weeks making their arguments and other submissions and the people of Dominica handed down their verdict on Thursday evening. The people of Dominica said a loud and resounding “NO” to the United Workers Party and its associates.
Last Sunday evening, I merely said that my candidates and I were going for a casual walk through the streets of Roseau on Saturday and you saw the multitude of Dominicans who came out. Dominicans follow who they want to follow.This is a free country.
The Opposition does not want a massive turn out of voters on December 6th, so they selected six of the constituencies they knew Labour would have done exceedingly well in, and insisted that no one stepsforward to be nominated in those six. Reginald Austrie had already told me Roland Royer was going to get more votes than he did in 2015 or 2019. Lakeyia Joseph was on course to breaking all records in Paix Bouche and we all felt the energy in Colihaut with the introduction of Daren Pinard last Tuesday evening.
So, they know we were going to cut their tails in all six of those constituencies…and they decided not to send up anybody. One poor guy in The Valley wanted to go up, but the four witnesses he asked, all told him they are firmly in the corner of Dr. McIntyre. I saw that same guy who wanted to run The Valley against Dr. Mac, in a red shirt in the Mother of all Walks last evening.
The same people who say they are boycotting these elections gave a nod of approval to candidates in certain other constituencies, but in those six where they knew we would have busted their tails - three to one - they chose not to contest.
So actual voter turnout is not a major issue for keen observers of politics on December 6th, because the opposition has played so many games in this campaign that their credibility is now shot. They have killed the spirits of many voters. They have made themselves look most inadequate in the eyes of many Dominicans, at home and abroad. Did you see them on the Bayfront last Thursday? Even Pappy, in his heyday, was more inviting to stand and listen to. An old broken-down van and a sound system with a reach of 22 feet…and that is how they are portraying themselves as a government-in-waiting in 2022. Shame on them!!
But there are some commentators in Dominica and elsewhere that I think I need to speak to this evening. These are the ones who would have you believe that the situation in Dominica today is unprecedented in the Western Hemisphere. I have news tonight for these academics.
First let me deal with those who say I called a snap election in Dominica in three years. I am a villain for calling an election in Dominica when I chose, but Timothy Harris in St. Kitts collapsed his own government in two years, and he is a gentleman. I am a villain for calling an election in
2 under three years in Dominica, but sister Mia Mottley in Barbados is a genius for having called a snap election in an even shorter period of time.
All of a sudden, all sorts of strange things could happen in Dominica, because the opposition has stood out of the elections, but none of the said things happened in Jamaica, of all places, in 1983, when the PNP boycotted the Edward Seaga JLP government and spent five solitary years in opposition.
Why is it that people believe that Dominica and Dominicans are incapable of acting and behaving normal? I take offense to this!
Giving one party 21 seats in Dominica puts democracy at risk. But a party in Grenada won all 16 seats not once, not twice but three times over the years, and democracy has never been under threat in that country. The incumbent government in Barbados has won two successive elections with a clean sweet of the parliament on each occasion, and democracy is not under siege there, either.
But, in Dominica, an opposition party that has lost five consecutive general elections, chooses three yearsinto the term, to get rid of itsleader, to break itself into factions and to choose leadership candidates that are not from the people; not of the people or not for the people, and I am a villain for calling an election when the opposition has its pants off. Well too bad for them! If you snooze, you lose. They snoozed…..and on December 6th, 2022, they shall lose!!
I called the election when any serious opposition party anywhere in the world would have been ready or readying itself for a poll.
Let us pause for a moment Ladies and Gentlemen. I do not like to comment on or interfere in the domestic politics of a country, but let us assess the situation in Great Britain right now.
General elections are not constitutionally due anytime soon. But do you recall the main reason why Government MPs did not vote out any of the recent sitting Prime Ministers? It was not that they were afraid to or that they were unwilling. They did not bring down the conservative government, because they knew the opposition Labour Party was in first slip; ready and willing to assume the reigns of office.
The opposition in Britain is not like the Opposition in Dominica. The opposition in Britain was ready for any eventuality. And the government, knowing this, did all in its power, to protect its wicket and stay in office.
But the opposition here in Dominica lost for the fifth straight time in December 2019 and rather than prepare themselves for the next general elections, they went into a state of internal meltdown, where they turned on each other.
Lennox Linton did not resign immediately after the elections, when most leaders, rejected for a third time, would have. He carried the party for three years and then left abruptly. Let us be clear in chronicling the fact, Ladies and Gentlemen. They went leaderless for more than two months and I took the opportunity to refresh my government and prepare this country for the arduous task ahead….and I am the villain!
Well, if readying Dominica for an extended Russia-Ukraine war and its ramifications makes me a villain, I plead guilty! If positioning Dominica to start 2023 on a firm footing, in the event of a resurgence in covid cases, is irresponsible, then I plead guilty. If getting new energy and new talents and insight on board to grapple with challenges such as relocation of Petite Soufriere and San Sauveur residents is reckless, then I Roosevelt Skerrit plead guilty tonight. But I have not one ounce of remorse for calling an election and catching the opposition with their pants off. Opposition parties have one job, and that is to prepare for elections. The United Workers Party failed to do that which it should have done.
So don’t let anyone be distracted tonight with the shouts of anger from the other side. They came within seven thousand votes of winning the last elections in 2019. If the people are with you, they would vote for you under any circumstances.
Let us get to the heart of the issue. They want Roosevelt Skerrit to unilaterally decide whether Dominicans living abroad should vote in Dominica or not. That is not a decision I am willing to take on my own. I have said I want to be advised on this.
What I would say to you is that of two countries around us that attempted those same reforms in recent years, both of them returned a policy position of embracing those brothers and sisters residing elsewhere, but who continue to contribute, with their remittances, to the social and economic development of their native land.
My view is that Dominica is too small to cut itself off from the world.
Philosophically, I believe that if a person works elsewhere but sends home money, provisions and other enabling assistance to upkeep their family in Dominica, I, Roosevelt Skerrit, do not see why that person should be unilaterally removed from the voters list of Dominica.
But I did not impose my view on the country. I did not impose my personal view on the Cabinet. I heard this call for reform and I said ‘let us consider it’.
My government retained the pre-eminently highest legal luminary in the Caribbean to undertake a review of our systems and that review is underway. Whenever it is submitted, we shall share with the people of Dominica and when all views are entertained, I shall lay that document on the floor of Parliament.
So, I want to make clear, that this new Dominica Labour Party government, which you are about to re-elect, shall introduce recommended reforms as soon as such reforms are ready and have been inputted by all willing Dominicans, resident at home and abroad.
We shall make the needed changes to the manner in which voting is done in Dominica.
But I want to say that we vote in Dominica today, how we voted twenty years ago and how we voted 27 years ago, when the United Workers Party won the government.
So let us cut out this nonsense about Dominica having a voting system that no other country in the world has. They are talking about voter ID cards? The United States or Great Britain do not have any Voter ID cards!
They are talking about non-resident Dominicans being eligible to vote? Non-resident Antiguans vote! Non-resident Kittitians vote! So why are they telling the world that something obtains in Dominica that does not obtain anywhere in the world?
They are sitting out these elections, because we caught them with their pants off! They have no policies. They have no programs. They have no presence on the ground. They have no money to run a campaign, and, three years after the last general elections, they have no political leader. That is why they could not submit Nomination Papers on November 18th.
And for the benefit of those of you watching and listening, and who heard of a second political party called the Dominica Freedom Party, also not contesting these elections…I want you to know tonight, that the Dominica Freedom Party ceased being a serious political party the moment the late Dame Mary Eugenia Charles ceased being the leader of that party.
The Freedom party in Dominica is in a comatose state. It has been on life support for the last 20 years. It has about six active members, all of whom are over 75 years of age. So do not be bestirred by the rattling of that beleaguered institution. Those are the last gasps of a dying organization.
Tonight, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to thank the people of Dominica for once again reposing their confidence in me and in the candidates of the Dominica Labour Party. With your non response to the reckless and irresponsible demands of the other side, you have signaled your intention to embrace the Labour Party, as it seeks to continue to take Dominica forward.
During the course of the next two weeks, I shall seize every opportunity to share with you, insights into our thinking and how we propose to navigate the choppy waters that confront us.
Tonight, I thought it necessary to contextualize the circumstance by which we shall, on December 6th, be declared winner in all 21 constituencies. The Opposition dropped the ball repeatedly in the last few months. It handled the calling of these elections very badly and its tendency to want to invoke crime, lawlessness and other antisocial behavior, was frowned upon by the thinking citizens of this country.
They wanted to turn brother on brother. Neighbour on neighbour. Co-worker on co-worker. But none of that is happening in Dominica, this time around!
There is no place in 2022 Dominica for such lawlessness. There is no appetite for blocking of roads and burning of tyres. In the civilized world, you fight elections in the ballot boxes. They chose not to put their names on the ballot paper and they therefore shall spend the next five years,
in the political wilderness.
My dear people of St. Joseph. This has been a phenomenal embrace of your son Darren Lloyd. He is a very bright and capable young man. He will be a hard worker and I am confident that he will do you proud.
I wish tonight to thank and congratulate the team of Labour in this constituency for carrying forth the battle. The St. Joe team was ready for any and all comers. There is a powerhouse of Labour, in this constituency.
Comrades and Friends, the evening is growing late and I know you wish to socialize. I know you wish to rub shoulders with your candidate and I too, am eager to shake a leg and enjoy the uniquely St. Joseph atmosphere.
I want to thank you once again for reposing your confidence in the Dominica Labour Party. Six seats have been declared and the others shall be voted in on December 6th.
This party is humbled. This party is grateful. This Dominica Labour Party, my dear friends, is ready to serve the people of Dominica for the next five years.
May God bless you all. May God bless the glorious Commonwealth of Dominica. I thank you.