Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Farewell, my best man!

 For his few detractors, they think that the many of us that praise him, are blowing our top.
    He was not a saint. That was not his calling. But he was a champion. That was his choice.
   He was a believer, in the goodness of man. That people, by their essence, are better than what they sometime act out in peculiar circumstances.
   And that we have all fallen short. And that we all deserve – a second – and sometimes third and fourth chances, too. He gave me many of those.
   And by both his word and his deeds, he always reminded me: “Young Mark,’’ even if you get upset, don’t get petty.
   He was an angry grey-head man, with a hearty laugh. An uncompromising boss; with a grand daddy’s heart. He was tough, but fair.
   And even if you think there are; there were not – no contradictions.
  For Leslie Pierre was a little man; with big opinions; a bigger voice and a Scorpion’s fire to stand his ground, argue his point – and stand by the consequences of it.
  And he had his jail years to show for it.
   The uninitiated calls it stubbornness. People of value call it conviction.
And when he could, and the tables were turned, he showed that even though he was angry, he never got petty.
  For there are broader principles that cannot be locked up. And that tolerance is not a man’s weakness; it is his most perfect ally.
   I never always agreed with him; but I always admired him.
   Personally speaking; he was among the finest and the best. As flawed as they come; and yet as good as they come.
 This Standard Four “Hindsey School’’ boy – or “Jakie School’’ as he preferred to describe the Anglican School on Church Street – taught me more about balance and fairness; the value of questioning and research; than the many professors that taught me anything.
  Since his death at 86, so many have talked about the man, who was the editor; the columnist; the social activist; the businessman.
  And they are all right in what they have said.
  My only mission here is to thank him for his friendship and his mentorship.
   He did not have to give this upstart boy from the country, the opportunity and the platform. He did not have to instill in me, the confidence that I can be – and will be – good at something.
   Truthfully, he made me feel I can walk on water if I put my mind to it – and “only if you are not so careless’’. Patrick Smikle, another mentor, had first sewn the seed. Leslie Pierre nurtured it and watched it grow.
   He asked me on a Wednesday to come to work for him from the following Monday. He called back on the Thursday to say, he is sending me off on Sunday to a Newspaper Writers’ course.
  So my first four weeks as a Grenadian Voice employee was in a classroom overseas. Such faith he had in me.
   He immediately made me his Deputy Editor – imagine that! For someone just barely out of his teens.
  Six months later he went to England for three months, convincing me that I can run his joint while he was away. Saying he finally found someone he can leave the paper with for an extended time, it surely stroked my young ego and did a lot for my self-confidence.
  He scolded me in private, often; but always defended me in public. If I got into personal trouble, or had a personal crisis; he’d offer advice – and sometimes take bold action – like ringing up people and telling them off.
  He became friend and family. My mother will lodge any complaints about me to him. He’d be the one to try to bring me back in line.
  Sometimes he brought them back into line – as with the time I decided I was getting married; and they were not initially too sold on the idea.

  And for all of those, he was my best man!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The great debate about nothing

IT sometimes completely bamboozle me that supposedly intelligently people -- who are all supposed to be brighter than most of us -- can engage themselves and waste the public's time in continually debating "nothing."

    The great debate about whether Peter David was a member of the National Democratic Congress is as pointless as they come.

    It is beyond the point that it is factually a lie --a thing funnily enough being spouted by the NDC 'Johnny -come- latelies' like Randal Robinson, Joseph Andall and Jenny Rapier  --  who were nowhere around when the likes of Peter and the team were all over the place raising millions for a party -- that had no seat and no future after 2000 -- to becoming the ruling party eight short years later.

  To be fair to Naz, while he won't stop them making such comments, he is smart enough not to make them himself.

  He will have to assume that the same form he and Peter filled up at the same time actually made them members.

And if their argument is to perhaps make Peter David a fake -- then so too are the courts of Grenada.

What is the court doing ruling that the expulsion of David and others were illegal - if  -- well at least him - was not a member?

   But let's for argument sake assume the assumption is true. Then the NDC gets crazier than it has ever believe to have been.

  So this party, which once ruled Grenada -- and aspires to rule again -- wasted a whole government trying to expel a man who was never a member of the ruling party?

  This party, made a non-member its chief organizer (what did that say about the value of 'real' members) and accepted the millions he raised for it; and took a whole convention to pass a resolution, supported on the floor of the SAASS meeting to expel a man who was -- well actually -- by their view not a member.


  So its been a long time that the NDC been wasting all of our time then?

   But, by the way, seriously -- what is the point of this fresh "debate" again?
  NDC exposes its contemporary bankruptcy when this  supposedly serious party, can waste our time to make this a point of debate.

  But with the likes of Randall and Andall and Jenny and Kem touting to be the intellectual power and strategic nous these days of this once proud and powerful party, we can quickly come to understand how close to tottering in irrelevancy this 'organisation' has become.

   Peter David will be laughing to the Senate this morning. Francis Alexis must be shaking his head, thinking this is an affront to his legacy. George Brizan will be turning in his grave.

   With a pending debate on the budget in the Senate; with people busy trying to make meaning of Christmas -- thank you NDC for wasting our time with the greatest debate about nothing.

   A people get the government they deserve. I assume they also get the kind of opposition too.

Friday, December 5, 2014

No path to victory for the UWP in Dominica

DOMINICA'S opposition United Workers Party will do better than they did in 2009. The problem for UWP however is that this will not be enough.
   In a scenario that is becoming unlikely everywhere else in the Caribbean in recent years, the Dominic Labour Party appears to be headed for a fourth successive term in next Monday's general elections.
    Statistically and otherwise, the UWP under new leader Lennox Linton has a serious mountain to climb if they are to harbor any thoughts of an unlikely victory.
   That mountain is for all practical purposes insurmountable at this time.
  If the UWP has a very good day on Monday it can possibly win seven seats -- a bad one can cut that in half.
   It may increase the amount of its total national votes from 2009 -- but that is little consolidation in the cruel first-past-the-post system.
  However you spin it, or look at it -- none of that scenario spells likely victory in the 21-member seat parliament.
   Any possible UWP path to victory appears to be blocked by the sheer weight of the advantage the DLP came into the contest with.
  The two biggest challenges for the UWP are (a) leadership and (b) the campaign.
   Roosevelt Skerrit has a far higher approval rating than Linton; a fact the Dominican leader understands very well and has exploited skillfully. He has ran an almost presidential style campaign.
  In constituencies where candidates are a little more vulnerable, "Skerrit for PM" is the dominant factor.
   The DLP has out campaigned in every conceivable form the UWP -- and that could count for something especially in constituencies where the race is tight.
  Of course, like in most islands, Dominica is a first past the post. Linton understands if the campaign is ran as a national event, he sinks fast.
   The UWP instead has been trying to emphasize "Team Dominica", but its message of change has not received the traction it has hoped;  coming up against a strong record of delivery by the incumbent.
     There is always a level of unpredictability to every general election -- but while there has some Labour slippage -- about two percent by the finding of one poll -- the UWP deficit is too large to bridge the gap.
    UWP can most likely pick up La Plaine, where incumbent Education Minister Petter St Jean is in real trouble in a seat he won by only two votes the last time anyhow.
  Grand Fond and Wesley are also likely UWP pick-ups. Roseau North is by most reports is within striking distance as well.
   Until 2009 Roseau North was considered a UWP strong-hold. In fact Julius Timothy won it three times as a UWP member, before becoming a fourth time MP last time after having gone over to the DLP.
   The UWP hopefuls are also talking about Castle Bruce -- a one-time party strong hold in the 1990s - but DLP should hold on there, though.
  Even if the DLP under performs, it is going into Monday's contest with a cushion of about 13 seats it absolutely will win.
  We think that in best case scenario, UWP can add four to their current three -- which will take them to seven seats in the new parliament.
   The problem with that scenario for UWP though, is that one of their seats -- Roseau Central has to also be regarded as a tossup. A bad night could see them losing it.
   In fact the DLP is bullish that Alvin Bernard, who narrowly lost by three votes in 2009, can take the seat this time.
   The former Dominica Freedom Party supporters -- just a couple hundreds of them from the last time -- will hold the decisive edge in the city.
   Whoever gets the bulk of them will win Roseau Central.
   Labour's biggest danger is fatigue, and some disenchantment, that will naturally come, by some supporters who may want to think they had not benefitted enough after two terms.
     Prime Minister Skerrit has been sensitive to that.
  "Some of you feel aggrieved that you did not get this and you did not get that in the period that Labour has been in office... ," he said the other night. "I empathize with many who share that view. I have spoken harshly to some of my Parl Reps,  whom I do not believe has been close to the people as I would have liked. And I have put system in pace to remedy that situation in the next five years," he said.
   That next five years can start with a celebration on Monday night.