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Thursday, August 1, 2013


The word on the street is the parliamentary rep for Choiseul/Saltibus is not well. Reports reaching this Blog suggest he is currently suffering for hypertension. I cannot vouch to the authenticity of the story but if he is indeed ill, then I wish him a speedy recovery.

The Choiseul/Saltibus constituency has been in a state of flux ever since he was elected to office in November 2011. Disaffection and disenchantment appear to have reached their peak and the patience of the constituents maybe at “dielectric breakdown point”. 

On this Emancipation Day 2013, it may therefore be fitting to reflect on the quality of representation we get and the extent that it is relevant to the pursuit of our aspirations as well as our political and economic liberation.

Under the "Lorne model" of representation, has the constituency taken a "quantum leap" forward or backward? What are the plans and programmes (to quote his own words at his launching in August 2011) “to make a good place better”? After his sixth 100 days in office, what are his performance achievements as a parliamentary rep? And what are their resultant impact on the constituency of the Choiseul/Saltibus? Has he had  sit-downs with a cross-section of his constituents to formulate a comprehensive development strategy for the constituency? Or Will he use the notoriously discredited “Bousquetian” ivory tower governance strategy with no plan and no blueprint?

Choiseul – St. Lucia’s bush constituency - in recent times (especially from 2006 until now) has had the unenviable history of being represented by lordly politicians – perhaps too lordly to have any desire to be on the ground!

The total area of constituency is a mere 15 sq. miles; admittedly, it has a topography that is as challenging as it is beautiful. If you love nature and un-spoilt beauty, then you will be at home with the challenges and savour the therapy they bring. Many persons have said a “trot” or drive along any ridge to the beach is a natural cure for headaches and contributes much to regulating hypertension. In short, navigating the constituency maybe be risky but it may also be therapeutic.

In the previous quinquinnium (2006 – 2011), Choiseul was clearly under-represented by a Bruce Tucker. We hardly saw him in the first 2/3’s of the quinquinnium until Lorne’s candidacy was announced. Henceforth, he made his constituency office his permanent home and suddenly he was everywhere, every day!

He always claimed that he could win the seat "hands down" with only two weeks of campaign; and with a massive "money machine" at his disposal during the last elections, he became the King Midas of Choiseul/Saltibus; but Choiseulians would not allow him and his monster money machine to blank out  their memory a third time. He was defeated by Lorne.

But what about the situation “post-Tucker”? Today, that vicious wheel of under-representation continues to spin – and perhaps faster! The prevailing mantra is: “the more things change, the more they remain the same”! If Tucker went missing in action for 80% of his tenure, then what’s the best way to characterize Lorne’s tenure so far? How do they compare in their "first third" of their respect tenure?

Many claim that when it comes to disappearing acts from the constituency, Tucker might have only been a “baby soukouyan” when compared to Lorne! And while many Choiseulians say they’ve got “the surprise of their life” in that regard, and are still inconsolably mulling over Lorne’s "Soukouyanism", some claim that they aren’t “one-bit” surprised about it! They claim it was always on the cards!

A teacher who is a strong SLP supporter said, “We never thought Lorne would do that to us and so fast . . . I remember the days of ‘Lime with Lorne’; he was so nice, pure and true! I haven’t set eyes on him in my community since after he won! I’m in a state of shock”

Another “SLP insider” was more philosophical. He was of the view that Lorne’s disappearance and neglect of the constituency can be explained in terms of power: “Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely”!

A distressed lady from Gertrine told me that “Gertrine and Saltibus are treated as bush people”.

A lady from Coco wanted to know if Lorne was still interested in "the sick and shut in" he visited so regularly during the campaign.

But perhaps the most introspective comment came from a retired educator, who couldn’t camouflage his utter disgust for our parliamentary representative. He told the POWERHOUSE that he found it strange that after almost two years into Lorne’s tenure that he has never set eyes on him. He was of the view that Choiseul was being treated like “The Country of the Blind”!

Those of us who are old enough will remember the “Country of the Blind” fantasy tale written by HG Wells in which a mountaineer (Nuñez) while attempting to reach the unconquered summit of a mountain, slipped and fell down its far side into a strange and isolated society of blind persons cut off from the rest of the world by an earthquake.  Unknown to him, Nuñez had discovered the fabled ‘Country of the Blind’.

He mistakenly believed that "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" and he thought he could easily teach and rule the subjects.

However, incident after incident proved him wrong. The society of the blind functioned perfectly effectively and happily with the other finely tuned faculties. In fact, the natives regarded “vision” as a disability.

Imprisoned and enslaved, Nuñez began settling down and learned to live with his own “vision disability”.

Eventually, he fell in love and was given permission to marry, on condition that he would agree to have his eyes removed. His decision and its outcome make up the climax of the story.

The Country of the Blind scenario may well be an apt truism to capture the political state of affairs in Choiseul/Saltibus where any “one-eyed” politician generally have the luxury to freely walk in and run! However, unlike the highly-intelligent characters in the HG Wells fantasy tale who compelled Nunez to conform, like Arawaks, we blindly surrender our “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity” to visiting parliamentary representatives making them our demi-gods, princes or even kings!

An elder statesman-educator who has been following the “politics” puts that phenomenon in a politico-historical perspective. He believes that Choiseulians apathy and acceptance of political subjugation plus all their attendant atrocities have their roots in our history and prehistory dating back millennia ago. He argues that this backward “political paradigm” was re-branded and re-introduced in Choiseul in the 60’s by ungracious, greedy and power-hungry politicians who wanted to win at all costs. And that since then, it has pretty much become our political culture.

In the context of that culture, many Choiseulians saw Lorne (because of his familial grounding) as a breath of fresh air to bring about a cultural shift in our politics. The “Lime with Lorne” model achieved a lot of good in that regard. The kernel of the Lorne model was the declaration that he would provide the people of the constituency with same quality of representation that he afforded in the courtroom on behalf of his clients! And that was not just said, it was amply demonstrated in so many ways – especially after Hurricane Tomas struck!

But today, what we see on the horizon appear to be exclusion and absenteeism – as opposed to the inclusion and exclusivity promised in the model.

None of us had the “eyesight” to imagine that two years later that the constituency would be “trapped” up to its neck in the political quagmire that it is. We were absolutely blind!

The encouraging news is our eyesight is being restored; and our grumblings are becoming rumblings! In fact, our eyesight has improved so significantly that on the ground Choiseulians are beginning to silently agitate for different kind of “forensic review”. They want a post-Tucker review – an audit - of the state of affairs of the constituency.

Among other things, they want to know why is it so easy for the lordly district rep to travel thousands of miles across the universe - from Dubai to Europe, to America etc) - so frequently but find it impossible to visit a little 2x4 constituency located on a speck of dust measuring only 27 x 14 miles, claiming he is “thronged” with work?

Even the peripatetic Chastanet who circumnavigated the globe on his travel frolics was almost always in Soufriere and Fond St. Jacques! His travels didn’t interfere with his duties as Tourism minister or his interaction with the Soufriere constituency. Perhaps, instead of lampooning him, Lorne might want to consider stealing a page from him on how to balance and manage time between ministry and constituency!

Emancipation day this year is not a good one for us. Rather than feel emancipated, we feel emaciated by a sense of economic and political slavery made worse by poor or absentee representation and neglect.  Our district rep needs to come down and talk to us. He needs to put an end to his reign of “Soukouyan” representation and give us real representation!

Nonetheless, let me wish him a speedy recovery and let’s hope his recovery will be the starting point for a wholesome recovery of the constituency.

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