Friday 16 November, 2018

Pierre Delivers Address at SLP Annual Conference

Address by Hon Philip J Pierre Political Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party to the Annual Conference held at the Laborie Boys Primary School on 14th October, 2018:

Salutations

Introduction

When we met last year in the constituency of Vieux Fort South I told you of the poor state of affairs in our beloved island. Today as we gather in Laborie the situation is worse. St Lucia is in deeper trouble, our government lost, and our people continue to be marginalized by a clueless, callous, and vindictive government. Our country is being led down the path of destruction by a don’t-care- we-are –in –power government. Well I have news for this government, most St Lucians do care about their country and the fate of its children and together we will stop you and this madness that passes for government.

An Expression of Gratitude

In the midst of the confusion and chaos created by this government our party has remained focus, steadfast, fearless and committed. I want to thank my comrades for their courage in the face of this UWP government’s victimization plan. They tried to ridicule and belittle you but you remained steadfast and on the 9th September, 2018 you descended in thousands in Castries and they felt the strength of your resilience and determination. You left them trembling and scrambling and in bewilderment looking for refuge under a crumbling UWP structure, its foundation long gone. This is only the beginning of many political quakes to come until the eventual tsunami, come election day when you will vote them out.

As we continue on this journey to victory, I want to publicly thank the leadership of our great party, the parliamentary group, general secretary, the executive and members of the National Council. I must thank them for their support, advice, guidance, commitment and courage in very trying times. I pledge to continue to work with you so we can achieve our goal- victory at the next general elections. I will work with every ounce of energy so we can achieve that goal.

I must pay special mention to the members of the parliamentary group for the battles they have had to fight in and out of the parliament. I look forward to the debate on the no- Confidence motion in the Prime Minister. I am humbled to have the support of such a competent group of parliamentary colleagues. I am heartened and truly appreciative of my parliamentary team.

Our Party is Moving Forward

Comrades our party has survived when many thought it would disintegrate. We have proven to the faint hearted and doubting Thomases that they were wrong. We have continued the work of building and modernizing our party. We have received the report from the team led by our legal officer Comrade Leslie Mondesir on the review of our party’s constitution. I am presently reviewing the report and a special conference will be convened no later than June 2019 to examine the report.

We are continuing consultations with constituency groups on the adoption of a set of values and principles for our party. These discussions are being coordinated by Bro Ernest Hilaire. I am pleased to report that these discussions have been lively and instructive. Comrades, values and principles are necessary to help shape the culture of our party and to clearly differentiate ourselves from the ineptitude and bad governance of the UWP. We must build on our core principles of Bread, Freedom and Justice.

Our party must be seen to be different, we must espouse a philosophy that will excite and bring hope to the people of Saint Lucia, particularly the youth. It is also the way to combat and destroy the UWP’s plan to attempt to buy the electorate at the next general election. We must not allow our people to become hopeless and short-sighted that they would be willing to sell their children into misery for a few hundred dollars on election day.

We have continued to deepen our party’s democratic principles of re-organisation, ensuring growth and development for our youth and women auxiliaries.

We must continue to strengthen and build capacity in our constituency groups and strengthen our support groups in the diaspora.

We must comply with the mechanisms of constituency accountability as espoused by the Chairman of our party.

Comrades, we must continue to mobilize persons from the constituencies to become members of our party and become active in the youth and women’s organisations. We must concentrate on voter registration and co-ordinate our activity on social media.

Moving forward our party must adopt a strategic approach, which focuses on sustainable development, poverty reduction, and good paying jobs that are based on principles of inclusivity, anti-corruption, efficiency and active participation of all including the differently abled. We must intensify our efforts to construct or acquire permanent headquarters for our party.

Comrades as we gather in Laborie, our country is being run by what many already consider the worse government in the history of Saint Lucia. They are clueless, stumbling from blunder to blunder, untruths to untruths and are driven by a campaign of vindictiveness, victimization and a clear preference towards their friends, family and foreigners.

We have wasted over two years under this government with nothing to show except wastage of scarce resources, deceit and poor decision making which is now leading the country to economic ruin.

Our party has learnt from its experiences and is more than ever prepared to engage in a change process, which will emphasize the building of strategic partnerships with professional and civil society organisations, trade unions, and faith based organisations to work towards finding practical solutions to the country’s challenges.

Comrades, ex CIA boss James Comey lamenting on the state of politics in the USA could easily have been referring to this UWP government- “I have seen many times over the years how liars get so good at lying, and they lose the ability to distinguish between what’s true and what’s not. They surround themselves with other liars. The circle becomes closer and smaller with those unwilling to surrender their moral compasses pushed out and those willing to tolerate deceit brought closer to the center of power. Perks and access are given to those willing to lie and tolerate lies. This creates a culture which becomes an entire way of life. The easy casual lies, those are a very dangerous thing. They open up the path to bigger lies in more important places, where the consequences aren’t so harmless”.

It is sad that this government has no regard for the truth and has severely eroded the public’s trust and confidence in information disseminating from government spokespersons. Our country deserves better, and in particular our children. They deserve better examples.

Foreign Policy

Let me acknowledge the presence of members of the diplomatic corps in our midst today. The Saint Lucia Labour Party remains grateful to all countries that have supported and assisted our people over the years and I take this opportunity to thank them. We call once more for the removal of the cruel trade embargo on Cuba and wish its new President Miguel Diaz Canel…..well in a very challenging period for the country.

We also support the people of Venezuela in their quest for self-determination and economic independence. We reject any form of intervention and in particular military aggression against Venezuela. We believe that the Venezuelan people are capable of solving their own problems and returning their country to prosperity.

A Saint Lucia Labour Party government will lead by example by showing respect and appreciation towards its benefactors and therefore denounces the plans by the UWP government for the destruction of the abattoir, a gift from the government of Taiwan.

Our foreign policy will be rooted in progressive democratic principles, non-interference, peaceful co-existence, observance of the rule of law, mutual respect and support for measures that will ultimately benefit the people of Saint Lucia and CARICOM as a whole.

The Economy

Comrades, I ask, where is the economic growth the Prime Minister and his government speaks of? Really! Are they serious? In what country are they living? When I listen to Saint Lucians from all sectors all I hear are complaints about, “nothing running”, desperation, and a deep sense of desolation. There is good reason why whatever growth they are claiming is not being experienced by the vast majority of St Lucians. Let me ask you: are you within the circle of their friends; are you part of family? Are you a foreigner? Well comrades its good reason why you are not experiencing it. Remember this is the government of friends, family and foreigners.

The vendors who have been driven away from their traditional places of work are not benefitting from any increase in tourism numbers.

The small hoteliers and guest house owners are not experiencing the claim of growth in the tourism arrivals.

The ancillary tourism providers who earlier this year wrote to the Prime Minister to complain about the lack of business and the hurtful consequences of vertical integration in the industry are not experiencing their claim of growth.

The small business owner who is experiencing difficulty covering his payroll and utility obligations while the government uses taxpayers’ money to pay these same obligations for a foreign firm OJO Labs is not experiencing their claim of growth.

The farmer who has not shipped one banana to France is not enjoying the growth claim.

The unemployed teenager trying to open a small business and finding start-up capital difficult to come by, while our taxes are being used to finance the private businesses of families of government ministers is not experiencing the economic growth.

Comrades, the statistical measure of economic growth is of no use if the people do not benefit from it. With their claim of economic growth the truth is the majority of people are in financial distress.

The reduction of VAT is of no significance when low- income people cannot see any reduction in supermarket prices. What is undisputed is that the government has lost much needed revenue, which could have been used to finance the health care services of our country.

The Unstainable Debt Path

Comrades, in June 2016 when the UWP were handed the reign of government our debt was decreasing and the country was able to meet its obligations to creditors. The Labour government was always mindful that excessive debt and huge deficits would undermine our quest for a better life for our people. In fact, the IMF had noted that “the Chief reason for inequality and rising poverty rates is unsustainable debt”.

The Labour government ensured that deficits were in decline. We reduced the recurrent deficit from nearly 9% to 3.5% of GDP in less than five years, our fiscal position was improving, with overall debt on the decline. Our country was on the verge of an economic take off after years of UWP mismanagement in the period 2006-2011. There were multi- million investments underway: Royalton, Harbor Club and scheduled to start were new hotels including Range. The Gros-Islet Highway and Feeder Agricultural Road Programme were ready to commence. Hewanorra Airport redevelopment, the Southern Administrative complex together with the Soufriere Square and Old Trafford development and several other projects would have created several jobs and improve the quality of life for the people. All these were brought to an abrupt end and instead the government embarked upon a reckless accumulation of unstainable debt.

The NIC Saga

A few months ago we heard that the government had to borrow from the NIC to pay its debt. It would be an act of grave irresponsibility if as the opposition we did not warn the government to be cautious with pensioners’ funds. We sounded the warning of caution on behalf of the people whose money is being secretly juggled in a Ponzi scheme. Fact is the government could not pay its debts when they became due even if they had adequate notice. They were forced to use the pensioners’ funds not for development purposes but to avoid defaulting on their bond commitment of $100M. Comrades, I asked the government to reveal who bought those bonds, and they have refused to answer. The NIC bought bonds at that same time. In other words the NIC bought bonds so that government could pay them back. It is our duty as opposition to inform you of these misdeeds. No ranting, threats or intimidation by the UWP will stop us.

The Hewanorra Airport Scandal

Let me make it abundantly clear, the UWP never secured any money to build Hewanorra Airport. Their deal with A&M failed and is now a matter under investigation in the United States. The bank rejected and refused to finance the project even if they had already imposed the Airport Development Tax.

Comrades, when in government we negotiated the renovation of Hewanorra International Airport without increasing the debt of your country……we avoided that heavy tax burden and asked the World Bank to help prepare a model that would result in the improvement of our airport, provide a revenue stream, return ownership to the GOSL, avoid corruption, ensure world class management and retain the security and customs function under the control of local authorities.

Most importantly we would not have increased the country’s level of indebtedness.

This is the exact same model used in many countries. In fact last week the Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica entered into a public private partnership arrangement similar to what the last Labour Government had proposed for Saint Lucia – there was one difference, our project would have been managed by the IFC, a World Bank Affiliate. The government would not be involved in the procurement of goods and services and the possibility of making deals eliminated.

The question remains, why is this government insisting on putting our country in debt of over ½ billion dollars?

Is it because there are plans to grant contracts to friends, family and foreigners?

Is it because they need to make good the promises made to A&M in their first attempt at the project?

Is it because there are people waiting to collect commissions on purchases during construction?

Is it that there are important people with damaging information who have to be paid to keep silent?

Comrades that decision lacks economic logic, and is reckless. Only a callous and selfish government can be so hell-bent on such a destructive path.

Now I understand they are approaching the local banks to raise $75 million for the HIA project and further increase the country’s national debt.

The Debt Trap

Comrades, many countries regionally and internationally have found themselves in economic difficulty due to high debt levels. By the end of this fiscal year our national debt will be over $4 Billion.

This debt is a commitment placed on our children and their children. Why is the government putting our children’s future in doubt by useless borrowing? In addition to the ½ billion dollars for Hewanorra Airport, $13M to build a road for a foreign firm DSH, another $32M for the Parker Company for services that can be done by local professionals? All these loans without the approval of the parliament. The Saint Lucia Labour Party condemns this careless borrowing and warns the government of the hardship they are imposing on future generations.

This is selfish, unfair and an injustice. This UWP government does not care about the future of this country. Their only concern is for their friends, family and foreigners. We may not be around when these payments become due but we must think of our children.

They have no answers

The government has not demonstrated the capacity to solve the economic challenges of our time. Their solutions are poorly thought out, unsustainable, non-inclusive and continues unabated to alienate and marginalize our people. Dolphin Parks are not the answer. The Saint Lucia Labour Party is not supportive to the idea of the imprisonment of Dolphins at Pigeon Point.

As they run out of time and elections draw nearer expect more announcements by the UWP of large projects and promises of employment. These are dreams not to be taken seriously as they are designed to con you with their fairytale projects. This government has done nothing since in power from 2016.

The UWP‘s answer to stimulating the economy is the partitioning and handing of over 1000 acres of land to one man at a cost of $1 per acre for a project named DSH. Comrades surely those lands could be used in a more sustainable and beneficial way. Think about how that area could be developed by local and foreign investors and developed as a mixed use project. If developed in an orderly and planned fashion the area could have secured many more sustainable jobs without local alienation and the environmental issues raised by concerned environmentalists. The reality is that the UWP have frozen 1000 acres of our most productive lands for ninety-nine years to one individual with little to no financing of his own. We insist that DSH is a bad agreement for the people of Saint Lucia.

We support Dr Kenny Anthony in his action on the DSH matter and we anxiously await the outcome.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party will ensure that our strategic lands will never again be misused and given up for hair-brain schemes. Our strategic lands will be managed properly and we will ensure that the land acquisition laws are reviewed and tightened to avoid the repeat of reckless and random land acquisition by government. We will ensure protection of the queen’s chain and guarantee public access and unfettered use of all our beaches by all citizens.

Investment

Comrades, your party understands the need and value of foreign direct investment. Our country has benefitted from FDIs and your government will continue to work with investors who respect our people and our laws. When we invite investors into our country we will ensure a level playing field for ALL investors in the granting of investment incentives. Under the next Labour government No foreign investor will receive incentives that are not also available to local investors.

I have already begun discussions with reputable investors ready to do business in St Lucia. These investors are willing and committed to investing in Saint Lucia but expect transparency, fairness and respect the rule of law.

The New Economy

Comrades your party believes that the destiny of our country is in the hands of the people of the country. We believe in the talents of our Saint Lucian business people and the ability of the youth to develop formidable business like the trail blazers of local commerce, A. F. Valmont, J.Q. Charles, Elwin Marcellin, the Barnard family, and the Du Boulay’s.

We believe that the Co-operative and Credit Union sectors must play a bigger role in the economic life and development of our country and a Labour government will provide the necessary support to ensure this happens.

We will embark on a people- centered approach to economic development with a renewed emphasis on small and medium size enterprises. Existing and potential small business owners and managers will be consulted on the plans to build resilience and to expand the sector. These consultations will be conducted in geographical zones and in the areas of tourism, manufacturing, ICT and the restaurant and hotel sector. These discussions will operationalize our small business policy.

A Labour government will find the appropriate mechanism to ensure adequate affordable financing for the small business sector.

Tourism remains a significant component of the St Lucian economy but susceptible to the vagaries of severe weather systems. As a country we need therefore to discover new avenues for employment and job creation. In this regard a Labour government will explore opportunities available in ICT and the digital economy. While we explore these possibilities we must ensure that our education, investment in internet infrastructure and government policies are adequate and aligned.

Comrades, many of our retired citizens and returning nationals are not given the opportunity to contribute to the society. We will find innovative means to make use of the skills of these citizens.

Moving forward we must also explore new economic activities in the Blue Economy by paying close attention to the development of a sustainable fisheries sector. This will require our tourism industry to practice sustainable waste management practices that will preserve our seas and oceans.

Consistent with this new development thrust a Labour government will ensure St Lucia’s carbon footprint is kept as low as is practical. We will pursue the development of a sustainable Green Economy which will ensure preservation of our natural environment and the pursuit of alternative sources of energy that will reduce environmental degradation and our importation of fossil fuels.

Comrades, climate change is a real and present danger that threatens to undo our country’s economic and social infrastructure.

A government of the Saint Lucia Labour Party will redouble efforts to draw the attention of the International community on the issues of climate change as they impact on small island developing states.

Comrades, we cannot continue on the path where our economy is growingly becoming more dependent on large hotel tourism. We must pursue new sustainable areas for tourism expansion. In this regard our historical and cultural traditions must be preserved and included in our tourism offerings. Hence, the reason why we are alarmed by the UWP government’s failure to complete the Derek Walcott Project, the proposed demolition of the old prison and the parliament building. A refitted parliament building could serve as a museum for the display of our rich democratic traditions- a portrayal of the epic democratic battles and debates between iconic political figures from colonialism to independence. Comrades, the parliament building can be a unique tourism and city attraction. It is for this reason we must resist all efforts of this short sighted and philistine government with no appreciation of our rich history from demolishing the parliament building.

While this Government continues to destroy, whether it is our economy, our hospitals, our historic buildings, our focus will be on rebuilding and renewal. One of the primary areas we intend to focus is on urban renewal. Castries cannot continue to be left as it is, and holistic plans for the urban renewal of our major towns and the city of Castries will be developed through engagement with the residents and all stakeholders.

The Urban Renewal Programme will be coupled with a housing programme intended to create a level of empowerment of people. The residents in the outer fringes of Castries, Soufriere and Vieux Fort are sitting on expensive real estate, why should they remain in poor housing conditions. This innovative plan of wealth creation will involve building housing units and allowing the residents to be engaged in a lease to own arrangement and thus possess an expensive piece of real estate that they can pass down to their children.

Comrades, our party believes that we can transform the economy of Saint Lucia with the co-operation of the private sector. We will ensure a level playing field within the private sector and provide good governance where threats and intimidation are replaced by dialogue and compromise.

Agriculture

When we returned to office in 2011, agriculture had recorded three consecutive years of decline in performance. The banana sub-sector was afflicted with Black Sigatoka. The proactive and progressive approach of the then Minister, our Chairman Moses Jn. Baptiste resulted in the banana industry being saved and by 2016, agriculture and its sub sectors of Fisheries, livestock and other crops grew to 4% after three years of negative growth.

Our Saint Lucia Labour Party government will continue to help make banana farmers more efficient, focus on increasing demand for locally produced food and integrating local food into schools and government institutions. In addition our focus will also be in the new areas of nutraceuticals, value-added activities and essential oils.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party has overtime been a reliable partner of fishers and fisheries. We will continue to invest in our fishers. We will ensure that our fishers get some relief from the burdensome $1.50 gas tax imposed by the UWP.

Health

In its 28 months of office the UWP government has failed in every sphere of governance, but their failings in the area of health care has been an unmitigated disaster. A clear indication of the government’s uncaring nature is that it has halted work on of St Jude hospital and has thrown the commissioning of the OKEU hospital in disarray over ill-conceived plans to privatization. I promise the health workers, the doctors and nurses that they will not be the causalities of this privatization plan, if privatization happens a Labour government will reverse it. The national health care system continues to be in crisis with no indication of any plans to alleviate the situation.

The UWP government has stubbornly refused to continue work at St. Jude Hospital and are allowing patients and health care providers to remain in hazardous conditions at the George Odlum Stadium.

I invite you to visit the St. Jude Hospital site and see for yourself the condition of a hospital building. Tell me is that government not wicked and callous to allow people to die at George Odlum Stadium while the building at St. Jude deteriorates, overrun by bush.

A recent study on the stadium revealed one hundred seventy major deficiencies and concluded that on September 4th, 2018: “the building George Odlum Stadium is grossly inadequate to effectively facilitate the activities conducted at a hospital and management has no authority to make any alteration to the buildings to facilitate the activities carried out and to guarantee the safety and health of the workers, patients and the public property”.

In the face of this disaster the government continues to ignore the opinion of medical experts that people are dying because of conditions at the stadium. Meanwhile UWP surrogates are shamelessly trying to mount a defense of how many people died at the hospital under different administrations.

We oppose the use of St. Jude for anything other than a public hospital. On its return to government we will complete St. Jude Hospital.

All major healthcare decisions have continued to be kept a secret without any meaningful consultation. The transitioning of the OKEU hospital is on pause and there is grave concern that the hospital will be placed in private hands for profit. I repeat a Labour Party government will undo any privatization scheme with any profit seeking business entity.

We believe that the OKEU hospital gifted by the EU can be effectively managed by Saint Lucians with the assistance of friendly governments who share our aspirations for affordable and quality healthcare.

Our party believes in affordable healthcare as a basic human right and we remain firm in our resolve that Universal Health Care is the most acceptable system that can adequately provide for the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, and vulnerable citizens and the many hard working dedicated middle income citizens who cannot afford private healthcare.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party continues to call on the government to embrace a transparent approach to dialogue and consultation in the formation of healthcare policy.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party is of the firm view that our healthcare workers are hardworking professional individuals whose job security must be protected.

A Saint Lucia Labour Party government will as a matter of urgency enter into meaningful consultations with the St. Lucia Medical and Dental Association, the representatives of the workers, our traditional friends overseas including the EU, the National Insurance Corporation, public and civil society to fashion out a comprehensive system of affordable Universal Health Care for all citizens.

Women

Our party is of the view that gender related bias are still a real part of life in Saint Lucia.

I avoid making comments on the private lives of politicians and parliamentarians but when their behavior is injurious to the public good, I have a moral duty to comment. Parliamentarians have the privilege position of creating our laws and therefore have a duty to respect and uphold them. The flagrant disregard for the rules of confidentiality in a mediation process by a sitting senator at the expense of a young woman is distasteful and undermines the confidence in our system of justice. Such behavior deserves condemnation from all quarters.

We believe that our women must be meaningfully involved at the highest levels of decision making and it is our goal to have as many capable women as candidates in the next general election.

Youth

The Saint Lucia Labour Party remains convinced that the young people are a rich resource for effecting change in the areas of economic empowerment, social transformation, peace, and sustainable development. A Saint Lucia Party government’s history on youth development is clear but we intend to go further during our next term in government.

We will engage and harness the potential of our youth to develop a coherent and supportive environment for youth development.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party is aware that young people are not a homogenous grouping and must be engaged at different levels in the formation of policy decisions affecting them. It is lamentable that inadequate investment in youth development and a lack of strategic direction by the UWP government have increased frustration, and hopelessness among significant sectors of Saint Lucia’s youth population. This cannot be allowed to continue.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party will work with all youth organisations and clubs including the National Youth Council and the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari to ensure an appropriate policy environment for youth development.

We will provide adequate financing for youth self-employment in existing and emerging industries.

We will support and facilitate a sports and leisure programme that encourages both organized sport and physical fitness activities.

We will establish appropriate resourcing arrangements for general youth development including the establishment of a Youth Development Fund managed by a multinational team governed by an enabling legal framework. The fund will be structured to facilitate receipt of contributions from approved sources.

A Labour Party government will actively promote and support, volunteer youth development programmes to assist in national development.

Recognizing that many young people are involved in the creative industries, we will create the enabling environment for young talented people to be fully involved in a well incentivised creative economy as a vehicle for employment and creation of foreign exchange.

Comrades as we discuss youth policy it is important to ask ourselves “what kind of Saint Lucia do we want to live in by the year 2030”. With this in mind we must present sound alternative options to voters so that they can join us in that movement in planning and designing a progressive future for our people.

We cannot continue on the present path of our youth being disengaged and without the hope of a brighter future; it is a risky and dangerous path and we must change course before it becomes too late.

Education

The Saint Lucia Labour Party believes that education is not a privilege but a basic right of every citizen and it’s the government’s role to ensure adequate facilities are available so that basic right is satisfied.

Our Education system must encourage creativity and innovation in our schools and work places. It must produce citizens that can survive and prosper in a global environment. There are encouraging examples of our people distinguishing themselves in the competitive global environment.

As the party that ensured universal primary and secondary education for its citizens the Labour Party government will continue to adequately finance the provision of tertiary education. We will aim to ensure ONE university graduate per household within a reasonable time. We believe this goal is realistic and achievable. We shall divert the funds this UWP government continues to provide to private concerns- friends, family and foreigners, to improve the education system our people justly deserve.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party will discuss and collaborate with teachers and principals, programmes for innovation in education that will among other things aim to:

(a) Equipping young people for future jobs

(b) Use of ICT as an adaptive learning tool

(c) Encourage Holistic development of the individual

(d) Provide Lessons in music and drama to assist artistic development

(e) Provide Adequate provision of educational services for adult learners and the differently able

(f) Introduce lessons that will inform on our ancestry and culture.

Constitutional Reform

Our constitution has served us well but it was a document of 1979 and is now due for revision. The machinations surrounding the appointment and later resignation of the deputy speaker leaving the position of deputy speaker vacant is a prime example of why our constitution which presupposes reasonable and honorable parliamentarians, is in need of revision.

We will conduct a bi-partisan and civil society review of the report of the Constitutional Reform Commission with a view to reaching consensus on its recommendations for adoption and implementation.

One thing is certain a new constitution will adopt a zero tolerance policy towards corruption in government. Corruption deprives us of the resources that are so desperately needed to reduce poverty in our country. We will adopt a robust anti –corruption strategy by strengthening the provisions of the existing Integrity Legislation and provide the Commission with the resources to carry out meaningful investigations. Politicians found guilty of corruption will receive no protection and must be punished. The poor in our midst have paid too heavily already for the corruption taking place in government.

We will intensify discussions to Caribbean Court of Justice with a view to establishing a position on our ascension to the appellant jurisdiction of the court.

Poor Governance

Never before in our history has our island seen such poor governance and lack of accountability as is being practiced by this UWP administration. We are experiencing a systematic dismantling of the processes and institutions that were intended to support good governance. The intention of the dismantling of the processes is to allow Cabinet and Ministerial dictatorship and yes we have had our fair share of it. Our parliament seldom meets while loans are agreed, without parliamentary approval. Civil Servants are dismissed, transferred and promoted on the instructions of the political directorate and party hacks are undeservedly placed in positions of power.

A Labour Party government will bring an end to that behavior; we will restore the professionalism of the civil service and ensure that our hard working public servants are allowed the opportunity to work in an environment that is free from fear and intimidation.

Cannabis

Comrades earlier this year we held a meeting with the advocates for the legalization of marijuana and heard their case for legalization.

A Labour Party government will as a first step immediately bring legislation to Parliament to expunge the criminal records of any one previously convicted for the use of small quantities of cannabis.

We will enter discussion with informed parties on the use of ganja for medicinal use and its potential as an economic crop for export.

We will also enter dialogue with health and legal partners on the legalization of the herb.

Let me assure you that our party will take a definitive approach to the subject and will within a maximum of one year make the necessary legislative changes consistent with best advice from the discussions and consultations I referred to.

Impacs

It is now nearly seven years since Operation Restore Confidence and the related Impacs investigation. The UWP promised to make Impacs disappear if they were elected – not surprisingly they have yet to make any progress and the issue remains unresolved.

We call on the government to bring a halt to the uncertainty and obvious pain the police and relatives of the victims are experiencing.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party is aware that the uncertainty is causing low morale among the officers directly involved and on the police service in general. It is the duty of this UWP government to bring the matter to closure as promised during the election campaign.

Leadership

Comrades, from June 2016 you entrusted me with the singular honour of leading our party, the party of Sir George F.L. Charles- it’s a responsibility that I accepted with humility and purpose knowing that I was taking over from the successful leadership of Dr. Kenny Anthony. I am aware of the challenges, especially having just lost the last general elections. Many of you still feel the hurt and sadness of that defeat but that will soon come to an end, because I will do all that is necessary to ensure that our party wins the next election – this is my pledge to you.

We must keep our eyes on the prize of victory at the next general election.

I have lived up to the challenges thrust upon me during my political career. I have represented the people of Castries East from 1997 and to them I am eternally grateful, I have held several major ministries in government. The wealth of experience and political wisdom acquired over the years has adequately prepared me to humbly take on the mantle of leadership of our beloved party and country. I am able, competent and ready to be the Prime Minister. A people’s Prime Minister.

I am motivated with a deep sense of duty to country. In the words of the philosopher Plato: “the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”.

I am no showman, nor am I an actor, my detractors say I stammer but I rather stammer the truth than be speaking lies eloquently.

This is who I am.

Philip J Pierre is about leading a country where every citizen has a reasonable chance of reaching his or her potential; where citizens begin to respect each other for who they are not what they have; where quality health care is available to those who need it not just those who can afford it, where transparency and accountability in public affairs are encouraged not discouraged; where collaboration and cooperation are seen as strengths and not impediments to human development ; where a quality education is the right of every citizen and not just that of the privilege; where corruption in government is unacceptable and treated as a scourge on the people; where our people feel no sense of alienation in their country; and where opportunity is based on meritocracy not privileged connections. This is the country I desire and this the country I intend to lead.

Long Live Saint Lucia Labour Party.

Long Live the people of Saint Lucia

I thank you.