Canada defends High Commissioner accused of interfering in Barbadian politics

Barbados Education Minister Ronald Jones (left), responding to recent comments made by Marie Legault, Canada’s High Commissioner to
Barbados, says diplomats who show bias in their positions on Barbadian
politics, should be asked to leave the country immediately.

Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault, has the backing of  the Canadian government, after an  angry response by Barbados Education Minister Ronald Jones to  recent comments made by Legault.

Jones said that the High Commissioner should be recalled to Canada for suggesting the country is ready for a female prime minister – and, in his view, implying that citizens should vote for a change in Government.

Asked to comment on the Barbados Education Minister’s response to the High Commissioner’s remarks, Sujata Raisinghani, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada. said in an emailed message to  the  Caribbean Camera on Tuesday that the High Commissioner ” was in no way endorsing any candidate in their upcoming election .”

“On the contrary, she was speaking to Canada’s well-established feminist foreign policy, as the keynote speaker at an event highlighting gender issues, in the Caribbean on International Women’s Day.

 ” Canada is proud to support the greater participation of women in all spheres, including politics and government, and around the world. “

She noted in the email that last week, Canada had “six Ministers at the United Nations, in New York, for the Commission on the Status of Women where they delivered this message to leaders from around the world.

In her address in Barbados  on gender issues, Legault  said Canada is proud to support the greater participation of women in all spheres, including politics and government, around the world.”

She outlined percentages of women in the legislatures of other Caribbean countries and said: “I think every country is ready for a male or female prime minister. Gender does not have an impact.”

Legault was herself responding to comments earlier this year from political analyst Maureen Holder, who questioned whether or not Barbados was ready for a female prime minister. Holder raised this question while speaking at the headquarters of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

“Has this nation given [a female prime minister] any serious thought, or is it a case that people are so fed up with the DLP that they feel they have no other choice but to accept the next best alternative?” Holder said last January.

Opposition leader Mia Mottley, of the Barbados Labour Party, is challenging incumbent Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of the DLP . The country’s parliament dissolved  earlier this month but no date has not yet been set for general elections.

Speaking at a recent branch meeting of the DLP,  Jones said that while he liked

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, “I ain’t going up there and tell anybody to vote for he.”

He contended that diplomats residing in Barbados should respect the sovereignty of the country and refrain from demonstrating any particular leanings that could influence the political process.

“To think that you can come into my country and because you want to cuddle and canoodle…you say to the people of Barbados to vote for that person. How dare you? You should be asked to leave or your government should tell you to come home because you have interfered in the domestic political affairs of Barbados,” Jones said. “Pack your georgie bundle and go!”

He went on to suggest that “there is a wicked and deliberate attempt by one or two forces in Barbados who have the honour representing their country on sovereign soil in Barbados” to interfere in the country’s political process.