"I didn't win the elections; my
team won" – Hon Harold Dalson.
of the inclement weather, the Soufriere Constituency Conference was called to
order way past its scheduled start time of 3 PM. I arrived there a little after
5 PM and it has just gotten on the way!
the podium sat an impressive array of dignitaries and officials which included the
top brass of the party, the Minister for Legal Affairs, Dr Vaughn Lewis and
wife, and Ernest “Sam” Augier guest (speaker/campaign manager). Some district
reps were also around. Was there a fraternal presence from Choiseul/Saltibus? – No! Not to my knowledge! (BTW, watch out for an exclusive and comprehensive round-up coming up on Choiseul/Saltibus - you'll real enjoy it!)
The Chairman (Conrad Theodore who was returned to office unopposed) delivered
an impressive report. Among other things, he encouraged Parliamentary Representatives
to continue to be an integral part of their constituencies, “Too often district
reps move away from the constituency group that helped to elect them”. He
implored Parliamentary Representatives to remain loyal to the cause of their
Guest Speaker Sam Augier was in fine form. He started his presentation with a
dissection of the November 28 General Elections and argued that it was the most
complex, the most difficult and most brutal campaign he’d ever fought in the history of our electoral politics; but
he said it was also the most rewarding. He paid tribute to the people of
Soufriere for “staying the course” despite "Ti Pwen Tout's" multimillion-dollar campaign
to buy their votes. He added the victory was impressive but instructive!
Sam went on to proffer advice for the way forward: (1) continuous registration
of voters, (2) dynamic constituency structure and organisation, (3) maintenance
of a strong, sustainable “symbiotic relationship” between gov’t and party, (4) thorough
screening of candidates to ensure there is a level of “RED” in their DNA and
that they are in the struggle for the long haul! Sam boldly asserted: “They (candidates)
must have ‘balls’ and must be committed to their constituents. In the Labour
Party, we want loyalty and allegiance - not political opportunism!”
Sam concluded his presentation by affirming that Soufriere was no longer a swing or battleground state - but Soufriere was now married to Labour and ended
with the dramatic pronouncement: “I now declare Soufriere and Labour man and
Dalson was next. He presented an impressive slideshow highlighting an array of
sterling achievements in the Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques constituency. He was (by and large) cerebral in his discourse, exhorting his prodigal
supporters who went astray for a few dollars to "come back home!".
achievements included: (1) drainage and community projects for Barons drive, (2)
streets and sidewalks in the Town, (3) slope and road stabilization projects
throughout the constituency, (4) footpaths and (5) ongoing recovery and
restoration programme for Fond St. Jacques.
also announced that ownership of the Gros Piton Nature Trail was now in the
hands of the Soufriere Development Foundation and that the Soufriere After-school
programme would formally commence on Monday, September 25.
also touched on his new and ongoing initiatives for Soufriere. According to him, these
include (1) improvements to Soufriere mini stadium, (2) a multi-purpose court in
Fond St. Jacques, (3) the restoration of the De Ville Bridge, (4) improved road
infrastructure for Chateau Belair, Bouton and Morne La Croix; and (5) the “resurrection”
of the Copra factory.
Dalson also unveiled his plans for townscape improvements for Soufriere which
included a new design concept for the Soufriere Square, a possible integration
of the Soufriere market and “bus terminal” to create a hub of business activity,
and a brand new Town Hall. He also spoke about a water sub-project for Bois
also spoke about VAT and empowerment of women. He encouraged the women to step
up and don't be satisfied with only a birth and marriage certificate as their only qualifications.
is undoubtedly loved by the people of Soufriere; to them, he is a hero and will
be hard to beat. Indeed, he received a hero's welcome on Sunday.
brought the curtains down on the conference. He touched on the restoration of
the Sulphur Springs road and possible relocation of three homes in Soufriere
because of major geotechnical issues. He said the gov’t was in the process of
identifying lands for that purpose and more so for development and housing, generally.
was very forthright with VAT, saying he will take responsibility for the tax.
He said VAT was in the best interest of the country and went on to reveal that
St. Lucia was the only country in the region without VAT and that had
implications for our image and credibility. He pointed out that King had
proposed VAT on water, electricity, and coffin and removed those.
PM also touched on NICE indicating that 1200 jobs had been created with an
additional 400 coming.
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