BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – In a scathing response to comments by Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados Marie Legault, a Barbados Government minister said that foreign diplomats who show bias in their positions on Barbadian politics should be asked to leave the country immediately.
Speaking at the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) branch meeting at Lester Vaughan Secondary School, over the weekend, Minister of Education Ronald Jones did not refer to Legault by name, but made it clear that while he liked Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, “I ain’t going up there and tell anybody to vote for he.”
It was an apparent reference to Legault’s direct challenge to political commentator Maureen Holder over the readiness of Barbados for a female Prime Minister. While delivering the Astor B Watts Democratic Labour Party (DLP) lunchtime lecture earlier this year, Holder, who critics describe as an unabashed DLP campaigner, called for a national debate on whether the country was “seriously ready for a female Prime Minister”.
The main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is led by a woman, Mia Mottley.
Addressing the W Portfolio organized International Women’s Day event at the Hilton Barbados Resort last Thursday, the Canadian diplomat said the Caribbean had already produced four female heads of government and five heads of state, including the current Governor General, Dame Sandra Mason, and there was room for more females in top positions.
“Given the history, I have to say that I was taken aback when in January I saw political analyst Maureen Holder asking if Barbados was ready for a female Prime Minister and advocating for a national debate on it. I think every country is ready for a male or female prime minister. Gender does not have an impact,” Legault said.
She also referred to progress made here and in the rest of the region on women in politics, but said their participation continued to be limited.
“In terms of women’s participation in politics, Grenada has led the way with 33 per cent women in parliament and Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago at 31 per cent. On the opposite side of the spectrum, currently Belize only counts with 9.4 per cent women in parliament, and St Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines, between 11 and 13 per cent.
“In terms of Cabinet, Grenada, Dominica and St Lucia account for 27 to 36 per cent, while Antigua, Barbados and St Kitts have seven to 11 per cent and St Vincent has no women at all in their Cabinet,” she said.
However, on Sunday, Jones contended that diplomats residing in this country should respect the sovereignty of Barbados 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,” a fired up Jones said. “Pack your georgie bundle and go!”
In light of Legault’s statements, Jones went further 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.
However, he made it clear that “Barbados belongs to Barbadians and those we welcome to our shores”. (Barbados Today)