If one thing is becoming certain, it is that more and more citizens, including those abroad, as evidenced by what transpired in Toronto recently, are disappointed in what many are describing as the lewd behaviour of the Prime Minister and others who speak on the platform of the Labour Party.
Though most of the lewd activities have occurred in St. Kitts, especially on Thursday 4th April, during a public meeting in St. Pauls, much attention has been paid by nationals overseas, who say they are shocked and embarrassed.
Political commentators have said that while the “R” rated behaviour may play well with the so called “die-hard” supporters of Labour, others in society are expressing shame and disgrace over the growing and widespread utterances with their sexual connotations and homophobic slurs; which are promoted, never mind the presence of children in the audience of the public meetings and the fact they are carried live on radio.
The message of shame and disgrace over the vulgarity was strongly communicated to the Prime Minister when he met with nationals living in the Greater Metropolitan Toronto Area, Canada, on Saturday, 20th April.
Though everyone knew it was a meeting purely about politics and designed as part of the ongoing Labour campaign for votes, ahead of the expected elections in July, it was reported by some that the Government was promoting the meeting as a tourism initiative to dialogue with nationals. Some say the meeting was tagged, “St. Kitts and Nevis dialogue with diaspora on Tourism”. This is not confirmed however.
The meeting was held at the Council Chambers of Toronto City Hall and also attended by Minister of Health Marcella Liburd and the newly declared candidate for Labour in constituency Number Seven, Dr. Vance Gilbert, both of whom have no connections with the tourism industry. Minister of Tourism, Senator Richard Skerritt, was not in attendance. Citizens also have said that they want to know who paid for the trip of Dr. Gilbert.
The meeting, which started late, turned sour when Kittitian Calvin Beach, who has been a strong supporter and fundraiser of the Labour Party for many years, was escorted out of the meeting by security forces, after he chastised the Prime Minister.
Beach’s contribution came at the end of the presentation by the Prime Minister. Once finished with his one hour, or more, presentation, Dr. Douglas invited the attendees to make their own comments, stating, “I wanna thank you for this opportunity and I will allow any other issue that you may wish to…(in audible word) from what is happening in St. Kitts and Nevis, to come from the floor.”
Beach began, “Mr. Prime Minister, Minister Liburd, my name is Calvin Beach. I am a child of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. My father, my grandmother, my grandfather, they were all there within the Labour Party…As a young boy, (and I have to give some context Mr. Moderator), …as a young boy, I am the one who took the bench to Warner Park for my grandmother to sit on, when there was a Labour Party meeting.”
Beach continued, “as a young boy when we were fighting colonialism, after governor Blackburn was there, I was there booing him.” At this point beach was interrupted, and urged to ask a question, but he continued to make his statement. But others in the audience shouted, “Give the man a chance”. Beach continued, saying, “I am giving you my context…”
Beach was not to be discouraged and he reminded the Prime Minister and the audience, “I have always been a Labour supporter. Here in Toronto, I’ve been part and parcel of raising funds for the Labour Party. I have contributed out of my own pocket, to many members who have run under the Labour Party…”
Then came the shocker, when Beach stated, “And having said that Mr. Prime Minister, I want to tell you how ashamed I am of you. I am ashamed of you because …on several fronts” This resulted in some applause from the audience and again another attempt by the Moderator to interrupt, requesting a question and trying to steer Beach away from his comments. It failed.
Beach was not discouraged and he continued, “First of all, you betrayed the Labour Party Movement. You betrayed trade unionism; you betrayed the union in St. Kitts, now it is almost non-existent. You’ve betrayed the principles of the Labour Party. And you Mr. Prime Minister… (and my grandfather is from St. Pauls)…” Again another attempt to interrupt Mr. Beach, but rather than feeling intimidated, Beach shouted back to the Moderator, “You should have stopped the Prime Minister when he was talking for so long.” The room erupted in supporting applause for the well-known Labourite.
Beach demanded, “Let me finish!” When he was told others wanted to speak and he should end, he said, “I am getting there. I am getting there, but you are interrupting me. I am ashamed of your lewd behaviour in St. Pauls when you …” (in audible words followed as the crowd cheered). Beach accused the Prime Minister of doing certain things with his body, at the meeting, that he ought not to have.
Despite the video evidence and the scores of persons who said they witnessed the incident in St. Pauls, the Prime Minister however denied the charge, saying it never happened. “What you are saying did not happen,” defended Dr. Douglas.
As the crowd erupted again in support of Mr. Beach, members of the audience could be heard saying, “I was ashamed of that too”. This caught the attention of the Prime minister and he responded saying, “You are out of place, with respect”. But this only led to more crowd response with some saying to the Prime Minister, “You are out of place too”.
Dr. Douglas continued though to defend himself denying the claims of Mr. Beach, but this led others in the audience to say, that they too watched the tapes and that they agreed with Beach. At this point the meeting deteriorated with many voices in heated exchange, some saying, “I watched it. I watched it. Oh my God!”
In came the Moderator again, Mr. Beach, Mr. Beach, if you do not get to the question, please sit down.” But Beach said, “I have no question”. At this point, someone appeared and dragged the mike away from Mr. Beach.
Later on, another national rose to question the Prime Minister, asking him what respect has he shown for the people who voted for former Cabinet members, Dr. Timothy Harris and Sam Condor. The national, who identified himself as Cecil Jeffers asked how the Prime Minister could remove his former elected colleagues while giving authority to unelected members. Again the audience applauded. Dr. Douglas began his response by saying, “Although I am not fully appreciating the question…,” he would answer. The crowd booed in response.
The presentation of Mr. Jeffers was interrupted when security officers appeared to remove the earlier presenter, Mr. Beach, from the room.
The crowd again erupted in disapproval with some saying “That’s not fair. No, no, they can’t do that; if he ‘go’ everybody go. Come let’s go. This is Canada, there is democracy.” However, after some discussions between the security, organizers and other officials, Beach was allowed to remain.
Others shouted to Beach, “Get out!”
Someone in the audience shouted, “We need a new leader”.
The meeting which was scheduled for 3:00pm, started at 3:30pm and ended at approximately 6:00pm.
Though there were those in the audience standing firmly behind their labour Party Leader, Dr. Douglas, the Toronto meeting on Saturday was a turning point in current political relations between nationals and the Prime Minister, who appear unwilling to tolerate the new style of vulgarity and indecency present at Labour public meetings in St. Kitts.