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Friday, February 27, 2015


For a moment, I thought I was NOT living in a democracy; but I subsequently realised that the sequence of events which led me to that realisation might barely be limited to a single trade union which culture and behaviour may not necessarily generally reflect democracy in St. Lucia; and hence, there might not be need to generalise its apparent “Idi Amin” - type character to the broader society.

The paradox, however, is the trade union is not an exclusive entity insulated from the society and that its character may very well be a reflection of the character of the broader society. More importantly, the workers who belong that trade union are perhaps “the cream of the crop”, "the intellectual elite" of this country running the engine of government, which led me to ask: “Is this also how some of her members run the business of government?”

In any case, was the "sample" of the membership which assembled in the CSA Hall to move a “motion of confidence” in their embattled president cognisant of the enormity of the situation before them and all the facts surrounding it?

If logic were equivalent to truth, then the answers to the questions hereinbefore raised would have been obvious; but I admit that I may be wrong in all the theoretical claims I have raised above! The only matter that may be (apparently) true is the issue that all the pieces of the CSA puzzle do not fit and hence may have created a measure of cognitive dissonance in the minds of many thinkers, some of whom have gone as far as asking Mary to bow out gracefully in order to save the CSA.

Let us quickly review some of the pieces of the CSA puzzle and try to put them in a perspective:

In "who" was the Motion of Confidence moved? Was it a motion of confidence in the President or Mary Isaac? Surely and according to Marry Isaac herself, she is NOT currently the president of the CSA; she is now the sitting general secretary, albeit temporarily. 

The current president is the vice-president (Mr Wilfred Pierre) for two reasons: (1) Mary cannot serve as president and secretary simultaneously; (2) she was legally removed from that office as president by a petition.

Many questions remain pending about the treatment and fate of the counter-petition which gave birth to the meeting. The Powerhouse has been reliably informed that the counter-petition (along with the first petition and Mary’s appointment as GS) will soon be the subject of a judicial review. Indeed, the Powerhouse understands that there may well be an injunction against the Senator/CSA president/General Secretary Ag while a judicial resolution is being pursued.

In the meantime, let’s (re)examine some of the matter-of-fact issues:

1.   Senator Mary was not the president of the CSA when the motion of confidence in the president was moved:

2.   The president “won” a motion of confidence vote after she was booted out of office.

3.  The president went on to appoint the Vice-President as president while temporarily demoting herself to act as General Secretary (GS) after was booted out of office 

4.   The president still speak as the "de facto" president while holding the office as GS.

5.   The president has been dishonestly agitating for the "de-legislation" of the 5% civil service wage cut as a condition for negotiation with the GNT, thereby stalling the entire negotiation process involving the other public sector unions who have all accepted a wage freeze for the triennium.

6.   The president accepted a political position as Opposition Senator and contends that there is no conflict of interest between her senatorial and presidential positions

7.   The president openly defied Staff Orders and the Ministry of the Public Service to convene a meeting to move a motion of confidence in her.

How will those issues play out in a court of law remains to be seen. Suffice it to say that no matter how sad a day it may turn out to be for the CSA, we expect the Laws of St. Lucia to solve the “puzzle” for us and to bring closure to the unfortunate and unnecessary “fires” which now plague the CSA and have the organisation in a state of siege.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Ideally, a nation is expected to “fight for” not “fight against” her “freedom”; therefore, was something intrinsically wrong with the twin-peaked Helen of the West (the island who is now renowned as the Land of Nobel Laureates) when she “fought against” her freedom from colonialism in 1979?

Was it unfortunate that Helen attained her political freedom from Britain under a massive cloud of industrial unrest? Was it true that the electorate was genuinely pitted against "freedom" to the point that three months after its historic achievement, the heroic “Father of the Nation” who led us into it was booted out of power with a vengeance by a margin of 12-5.

As untenable - and as unlikely - as the electoral loss by a margin of 12-5 was, it seemed to have signalled the beginning of the end of an infinite, unfolding “anathema” in a finite time and space.

At the height of SLP’s electoral euphoria, the news of a “secret pact” between the new Prime Minister (Sir Allen Louisy) and his magnetic deputy (George Odlum) surfaced and exploded like an IED when the former (who was a former High Court Judge) refused to relinquish the prime minister-ship resulting in a crescendo of national chaos.

The Government of the SLP eventually "self-destructed" and three years later in 1982, fresh elections were held resulting in the easy return to power by the Father of the Nation for another 15 years.

Despite all the irreversible chaos that characterized the reign of the SLP between 1979 - 82, it was believed that workers (especially Public Service workers) made unparalleled gains by way of better salaries and improved conditions of work.

There are parallelisms and lessons in 2014/15 which suggest we may have gone full circle.

Firstly, the deep divisions that characterised the SLP government now seem to be haunting the opposition UWP, seemingly exerting a greater “centripetal push” than “gravitational pull” on members and supporters.

Since Stephenson King was ousted as political leader, a series of major “fault lines” has emerged and continued to fracture the UWP causing apparently irreversible displacement from its central axis. Hence, stalwarts like ex-prime Minister Hon King and Mr Michael Floyd; indomitable dynamos like ex-minister of Housing, Hon Richard Frederick; thinkers with proven intellectual expertise like Dr Preville and now even the women like the Catherine Sealy are all pushed to the periphery by Chastanet’s centripetal force.

Secondly, trade unionism (this time the CSA) is in the limelight again. The CSA which was an overwhelming force on the battlefront in 1979 is now subject to self-destructing “anathema”. The politics which seemingly empowered the organisation in 1979 is now haunting it and threatening to bring it to its knees - thanks a fatal political miscalculation by its president to join the UWP and become a senator.

Let’s not deceive ourselves: invariably, there has been strategic alliances between the Unions and Political parties. However, thirty six years after Independence, Mary Isaac (by her acceptance of a senatorial appointment) took a crazy political quantum leap resulting in the crystallisation of the historically “strategic alliance” between a trade union and political party into a public love affair with the UWP.

The intensity of the dissensus among the rank and file CSA membership caused by Mary’s senatorial quantum leap in 2014, perhaps approaches the intensity of the national strife between the Unions and the government in 1979, if not greater.

As drowning Mary strives to clutch at a straw using a counter-petition designed to breathe fresh life into her presidency, the fault lines which characterise the UWP seems also to be rocking the CSA with Mary being the epicentre. The CSA is riddled with problems and issues and Senator Mary and her executive are apparently the two prime ones.

Mary’s tenacity may well not only hurt her; but equally her party. Her actions are providing boundless energy and ammunition to her distractors and not helping the cause of her party. The Labour Party must have completed the an effective and comprehensive campaign dossier on her and despite her contrived “testicular fortitude”, she has not shown that she has the right hormones to guide and sustain her intellect in a political death bull fight with the SLP.  

Unlike her predecessors like Calixte George, David Demacque and Raphael Kingsley St. Hill, Mary amply demonstrated that she is not much of a thinker; but more of a “grabber”, (grabbing a senator position, acting as General Secretary while president, etc). At the rate she is going, it's a matter of time before she begins to contend with her own self-destruction.

The outcome of the CSA meeting today was predictable; and it will be the outcome which will finally nail Mary on the Cross.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


After listening to Senator Mary Isaac and her pedantic sidekick Wilford Pierre on RCI’s NewSpin with Timothy Poleon on Monday, I vaguely recalled the story of Don Quixote!

With all due respect, the embattled president reminded me of Don Quixote and Mr Pierre reminded me of his knight companion Sancho Panza.

Mr Pierre argued that at the last CSA election of officers, his Madam President won a whopping 800 votes out of 3100. From that premise, he went on to conclude that 124 out of a paltry group of 150 petitioners who voted in favour of her removal from office was therefore a sham, a mockery when compared to her president's margin of victory when she won the presidential vote! 

Despite the quixotic nature of Mr Pierre's analysis, we should not underestimate its inherent propaganda potential and its ripple effect especially on un-nuanced listeners.

Mr Pierre’s argument was an intuitively powerful one; but it was also loaded with a dangerous Hitlerian logic. Indeed, Adolph Hitler once wrote that “The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. . .”; hence, Hitler suggested that when you wish to reach them, then your strategy should be based on oversimplified slogans and myths disguised as "simple truths".

Let me debunk the quixotic Sancho Panza myths peddled by the former DPS, EU’s National authorising Officer and “economist extraordinaire”. 

Firstly, he claimed that Mary earned 800 votes and that this represented 42% of all CSA votes (n = 3100). Let's forget about Sancho Panza's reckless error and agree that 800 was equivalent to 42% (even if the correct answer is 25%). We can therefore argue that she didn't get the support of the majority (which lies between 58 - 75%) of the membership who either didn't vote for her or abstained. 

The second point is: 124 out of 140 petitioners (83%) voted for her resignation as president. Hence, while a whopping 800 voted her in, a paltry number as small as 75 (or 2% of the total membership) can remove her from office. Therefore, even if all the 800 members who voted for her were to submit a post hoc vote of confidence in her (in the form of another petition) after the first petition, it is immaterial and cannot in law supersede or neutralise the petition by the paltry 75 members.

Hence, the strange paradox is: the same constitution which legitimized her elevation to the presidency consequent upon the 800 votes she received can also legitimise her removal from that office by a petition of a paltry group of 75 members.

It is important to note that Mary has not objected or even debated the “substantive” legitimacy of the petition; all she has indicated is she has issues with is the procedure, arguing that the agenda for the meeting was not sanctioned by the executive. Technically, that may mean she may well have capitulated but she is perhaps only playing political games by seeking to counteract her imminent removal from office with her own version of an illegal counter-petition and seeking a second vote.

Indeed, the first petition supersedes the second petition; and, if her contention that the first petition was illegal had any merit, then the blame can be laid squarely at her feet for dereliction of duty to the point where her attempts might be construed as sabotage and "complicity" to deny the petitioners their constitutional right. So, Mary and her entire executive can be found to be culpable from many angles. 

The public utterances of Mr Pierre and her embattled senator-president give many clues that there are many things are not right within the CSA. Firstly, why should the president (who is also a UWP senator) in contravention of the CSA constitution officially replace the general secretary as a paid employer for six weeks, allow the vice president to act as president, and thereafter upon the expiration of the six weeks, return to the chair of president? That does not make moral, ethical or logical sense to me and I hope the general council, the executive and the general membership move to regularised that anomaly. If it were a precedent, then it is a bad one and it is one that is in contravention of the CSA constitution.

The pioneers of the first petition need not worry about Mary’s and Wilfred’s diversionary tactics. Time is on their side. In the context and spirit of the CSA constitution, the president's temporary appointment as General Secretary is not only a conflict of interest but equally should be declared null and void. Technically, she would have voluntarily vacated the office of president when she takes up position of general secretary. If I were the petitioners, I would go further and seek an injunction either way.

The nation as a whole does not seem happy with the direction of the the CSA. Listening to Mary and Pierre on NewSpin (on Monday), I get a clear impression that CSA is beginning to look like a plantation with a highly politicised superstructure plagued by deep conflict of interest problems, corruption and a polarised membership. The CSA president’s migration to the UWP with one foot (along with a pro-UWP executive) firmly planted on that plantation has created a "humpty-dumpty" organisation. It is now incumbent on the CSA intelligentsia and membership to act proactively to avert this impending catastrophe before it's too late.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I would not hesitate to grade the Electoral Boundaries report highly in some aspects. Given previous precedents, we may even be tempted to classify it as a work of excellence relative to its substance, “methodology”, transparency, quality and clarity. If we extricate the “naked politicking”, then we might even want to claim that there seems hitherto to be a measure of national consensus that the commission did an excellent job.

The seemingly only credible “frontal attack” was initially piloted by Hon Richard Frederick during the House debate; however, the brunt and focus of that attack were directed at issues related to implementation logistics and not the “substance” of the report.

Richard’s argument was essentially two-dimensional: the first dimension focused on constitutional issues; and the second was related to cost implications.  

Firstly, he contended that while, according to the constitution, it was a constitutional requirement to commission the review of constituency boundaries, it was not a necessarily a constitutional requirement to implement the recommendations of the Commission.

The Prime Minister in his rebuttal countered with the argument that if we didn’t review the boundaries, then we were setting ourselves for potential "judicial action" by anyone who chose to pursue it.

Apparently, there seemed to be a “measure of asymmetry” between the positions of the two legal minds. Richard was drawing a line of demarcation between the constitutional requirement of (a) the "review" and (b) the "implementation" of its findings. Kenny on the hand seemed to have conflated (a) and (b) and therefore spoke of one in the context of the other, suggesting that the two were an inseparable whole. Perhaps, there may well be legal nuances which may require further elucidation for the laymen like you and me. 

Richard’s second argument was the issue of affordability. Kenny countered that it was a constitutional requirement and that the implementation cost ($300,000) approached zero when compared to the humongous ($500,000,000) public service wage bill.

Indeed, Richard’s arguments against the bill were the only ones that had merit and logic; and might even have provided dissenters and detractors with a framework for generating ideas for mounting a propaganda campaign, not a legal challenge, against the bill.

The paradox however is: Richard’s frontal arguments in my view were still largely extraneous and tangential to the heuristic content of the report and hence they did not constitute a “refutation”. Perhaps, that was exactly what he sought out to do.

Apart from the characteristically incoherent and idiosyncratic diatribe of Hon Guy Joseph which in my view had absolutely no heuristic relevance to the debate, hardly any parliamentarian had anything “substantially negative” to say about the bill. Similarly, criticisms or challenges to the bill outside of the House fell outside of the realm of the genuine “heuristic analysis”, save for the contribution of Ambassador Earl Huntley which only added extra corroborative content to debate.

The logical question therefore is: Why is the substance of the report on constituency’s boundaries “irrefutable” or “unrefuted” so far?

One answer is perhaps, given its heavy dose of facts and figures, it may have been too conceptually complex or intellectually challenging to assimilate! It could also be that none of the critics might have taken time to study it.

In that regard, our press/media stand for identification. They have not provided a structured review of it; but instead focused on the peripheral “roro”  and "out-goes-in" treatment which has plagued the debate.  Indeed, up to now, I have not heard or read a conventional critique on the substance of the report. What has made the headlines has been the extraneous foolishness uttered by largely political charlatans. Except for RSL's Shelton Daniel's who held a constructive discussion with Ambassador Huntley, all we’ve heard have been pontifications and political diatribe.

In part II of this article, I will therefore do a largely “academic” analysis of the report. I will attempt to show that the report does have flaws and it is by no means impenetrable. STAY TUNED!

Friday, February 13, 2015


Two protest marches?

Did the UWP stage two (2) protest marches in (2) two months? One (in January 2014) on the streets; (and then buoyed by its touted success) staged another (in February 2014) in the House of Parliament that failed and backfired? And whereas, in the first march, one (1) single placard-bearer out of (what they claimed was) "four thousand" (4000) marchers messed up things, in the case of second march, one a single lady (who decided to take the bull by horns and march all on her own across the parliament floor) messed up not just herself but perhaps - equally or more so - the entire Team Chastanet crew.

Never-ending dilemmas

The above scenario is drawn to simply emphasize the dilemma that seem to be perpetually bedeviling almost every initiative that Team Chastanet undertakes. The dilemma started rearing its ugly head with the toppling of Hon Stephenson King as party leader and Leader of Opposition; and followed up with the subsequent "neutralisation" and marginalisation of key party institutions and figures like Hon Richard Frederick and Dr Claudius Preville.

At the time of writing, the latest episode was Senator Issac's debacle in the CSA which has resulted in a petition requesting her removal from the office of president. 

Indeed, hot on the heels of the request to remove her from office, came the unfortunately flagrant violation of the House of Assembly's rules and regulations by "unintentionally" walking across the floor when the Prime Minister was delivering a rebuttal during a parliamentary debate.

 Lately, almost every UWP event or action has been punctuated by a measure of melodramatic tragicomedy; and whether or not Mary Isaac's violation of the House of Assembly protocol was "unintentional" (as she claimed) or by design, deliberate or just in error, it turned out to be another characteristic Team Chastanet sensational tragicomedy.

Conspiracy theory

Now to an unsubstantiated "conspiracy theory".

The "hatchers" (or is it "hacks") of this conspiracy theory may be wrong and I suspect they are; but my intuition vaguely tells me that the "theory" - that Mary's march (across the parliamentary floor when the PM was doing his rebuttal) might have been a deliberate plan that backfired - might have peripheral merit! 


Looking at the contrasting body language of the Leader of the Opposition (LOO) and the Party leader (who she sat next to) vs that of government MPs immediately following the incident provides an inkling of corroboration that the senator's action might not have been a function of innocence or naivety. Her explanation that her action was unintentional and resulted from hunger is not believable to many observers. I believe that the Senator might have been fully aware of the protocol/standing orders/rules and regulations. Reflecting on the episode with benefit of hindsight, albeit through my terribly blurred and biased lenses suggests that this might not have been the case. 

In my view, the non-verbal leakage and the body language of some of the members of Team Chastanet that ensued pointed in that direction.

Sequence of events

Let's put the Senators's action in the context of the sequence of events: Senator Mary said she chose to sit by Chastanet (who sat in the gallery) because she felt cozier sitting there. Is there any clue in this pronouncement to suggest that Chastanet might have known of her action? And what did he say to her? Why didn't he guide her accordingly? She almost completely "gave it away" when she said that she didn't break any law; but when Rick on his Thursday Talk asked her if she was comfortable breaking parliamentary protocol, she became "circular" again with the "she was hungry" defense.

Next, did you observe at the expression on the LOO's and Party leader's faces after the incident? Both seemed to wear smiles of satisfaction!

Deputy Speaker caught by surprise?

But what really puzzled me was the Deputy Speaker's handling of the precedent: Why didn't he instruct the Sergeant of Arms to do something about it? Why was it left to the PM to grapple with? 

In any case, let's forget about the crudities of plot and focus squarely on the consequences of Mary Isaac's action (not as a senator; but as Mary Isaac).

The penalty she narrowly escaped

On the HTS newscast, the deputy clerk of parliament (Lyndell Gustave) threw some legal light on the "crazy" Mary incident. She said, not only was it was a sign of disrespect to the Speaker of Parliament, but equally the action constituted a breach of the rules and regulations of the House of Parliament; hence, despite Mary's claim that she did not break any rule or law, she did commit a breach of the House of Parliament's rules and regulations.

According to a former attorney general, consequent upon her breach, she could have been "cited by the speaker" and could be summarily imprisoned.

Time for introspection

I hope Mary the Senator will do some serious introspection on the incident and recognise the need to be far more circumspect, discrete, dignified, exemplary and honourable, especially within the "august walls" of our parliament. Her perception that Parliament may have become "unparliamentary" should not give her a platform for "unbecoming" behaviour when she is there. She should also be mindful of the ramifications of her irrational actions and the potentially serious damage that it can do - not just credibility but equally - to the legacy she is trying to build.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Forget about Mary’s rationalisations about the unconstitutionality of the petition and her insinuations about the violations of her right to free association. 

The antithesis to those manufactured rationalisations has far greater significance and also carries far greater weight.  

If she failed to appreciate that she represented her members and not herself or her narrow interest, then she needs to do some serious re-evaluation of her faculties!  With her experience and exposure to trade unionism at the highest levels, she is well placed to understand the context of the action taken by the CSA membership which is always the highest decision-making body and hence the most powerful force of the CSA – and certainly not the executive or general council.

In any case, the membership did not take away the Senator’s "freedom of association" with the UWP from her. They have not removed her as UWP Senator. Hence, the argument by the beleaguered president’s that she has been denied of her freedom or right of association crumbles under the heavy weight of its own illogic.

From the footage I viewed, it appeared that heroism of the pioneers of the petition became contagious among the "membership" that was in attendance, as suggested by the overwhelming support for the petition.


The results (if we are to go by it) suggest that trade unionism in St. Lucia has won a victory of historical proportions. Moreover, it is my view that the heroes who piloted that victory deserve honour for rescuing the CSA from the jaws of the UWP. Young Barthelmy Fedee, veterans Oliver Lawrence and Kingsley St. Hill, Cleopatra Anthony etc deserve a national round of applause for that historic initiative. They have written a new chapter of St. Lucia’s history which will recognise them as heroes.

However, the removal of the president from office does not necessarily mean that the war is over, especially if the VP (a member of the president’s inner circle who have unflinchingly supported her wearing the two caps) will be her successor. 

In the days ahead, I look forward to the executive to embark on initiatives to unite the apparently fractured membership and restore the credibility of the trade union again. I pray that the CSA does not go through that traumatic episode again.

Having said the above, I also suspect that deposed president may want to keep a flame of division burning in the CSA in pursuit of her own political agenda. I hope she proves me wrong! 

Intuitively, I don’t believe Senator Mary will challenge the verdict of the membership. I would strongly advise her against it because of the potential ripple effects. 

Finally, I applaud the CSA for a job well done. The whole country had the intellectual elites of this country under the microscope and they did not let themselves or their country down. I hope it is a lesson not just for the trade union movement but equally also for the politicians who take us for granted.

Truly, a new CSA chapter has been written into our history books.


The day of reckoning has finally arrived! Today, a clearer picture of Senator Isaac’s fate is expected to emerge; but given the complexity of the issue, my predictions on the outcome of today's proceedings will be "non-directional". Nonetheless, I will still share a few hypothetical pointers with you.

There’s the “hypothesis” that if the matter is not satisfactorily resolved, then it may end up not just in Court but also in fracturing the CSA down the middle potentially resulting in a bloc of the membership pulling out of it.

A source close to LUCELEC indicated that many of the company’s CSA members are extremely disillusioned about the implications of the “politicisation” of the CSA by the president; consequently, he alleges, the possibility of a massive withdrawal from the Trade Union (if its leadership can’t be “de-politicised” and “sanitised”) may be an option that is both imminent and real.

I have also got an unmistakable impression that there also seems to be an emerging voice in the court of public opinion calling on Senator Isaac to “come clean” and to give up one of the “conflicting caps” she wears to bring an amicable resolution to the current controversy; but she has categorically defied the call. My view is the Senator-President overtime has demonstrated that her “faculties for compromise” are secondary to her “testicular fortitude” and that she is not prepared to "go down" without a fight irrespective of the collateral damage.

A general view is Senator Mary has a "golden dream" and regardless of the collateral damage she will “fight” and “stall” until she realises her dream.

The big question is: Will a fight wearing two "heavy caps" on the same head give her an advantage? It may! With the UWP machinery behind her, she may be well-placed to benefit from her Party’s “resources” and expertise; but that it can be dangerously and thoughtlessly irresponsible for Senator Mary to "convert" this potentially explosive industrial issue into a straight case between the UWP vs the CSA.  

Equally too, the “two hats” scenario may well turn out to be a crushing dilemma which might be weighing much too heavily on Senator Mary. Indeed, there are suggestions that it may have started taking an unkind toll on her uniquely characteristic testicular fortitude. It is beginning to look like that the two hats are much too heavy for her to carry in the same "time and space".

The breach of protocol in the House yesterday (whether planned or deliberate) was a just another symptom of the Senator’s dilemma.  

My view is the petition may have rattled her and may have her running scared. The counter-petition she referenced spoke volumes of her desperation. Obviously, it was conceived to abort the petition; but it looks like it is destined to crucify the very person it was designed to help.  Further, if the petition was “unconstitutional” (as Senator Mary said), then why would the counter petition (which she embraces) be “constitutional”?

In dealing with the two rival petitions, her apparent naivety reared its ugly head again. She may have had “testicular fortitude” which may have enabled her to take the “bull by the horns”. In fact, she may be everything else she wishes to be but there are two things she may never be: strategic and diplomatic.

I fear she may well turn out to be a version of NICE-NIGGA placard bearer for the UWP again . . . this time depriving Team Chastanet from savouring the fruits of the “labour” of the “march of all marches”.

This week may well be the Senator’s worst ever on her journey to "the end of the rainbow". The Leprechauns guarding the "treasure" have risen in anguish against her! My concluding "hypothesis" is: whether she ends up winning or losing today's round, she will eventually lose both the battle and the war.