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Open letter to Franka Alexis-Bernardine, Political Leader NDC

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9 November 2019
Franka Alexis-Bernardine
Political Leader
National Democratic Congress

Greetings Madam Political Leader!

Re: Your Election as Party Leader

The nation has greeted with great interest and expectation your ascendancy to the office of Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress. It appears to be a “watershed” moment for women in politics in Grenada. Permit me to offer my congratulations and a few comments/observations.

Congratulations, Madam, on your COURAGE and BRAVERY to serve your party and Grenada in this position and at this juncture in our country. Politics is BRUTAL, perhaps even dangerous, moreso for women.

Political leadership of the party is pointing ultimately in the direction of leadership of the country. Your entry into politics did not come via the electoral route but rather you answered a call to serve and became a Minister via a Senate appointment so you are starting a little handicapped since there is no “safe seat” in which to field the Political Leader. I therefore hope that you will have a circle of persons around you on whom you can depend – people who “have got your back” and want to see you SUCCEED. I do not mean “yes people” but people whom you can trust and will tell you what you need to know/hear. When the party leader succeeds, then the party looks good and everyone associated with the party looks good and confidence is built.

I recall the SHABBY treatment and disrespect meted out to former Party Leader/Political Leader, Tillman Thomas, during his term as Prime Minister. I trust, Madam, that the entire party has learnt from that episode and that your political colleagues will appreciate and value your capability and experience. Thankfully, “maximum leadership” does not appear to be the style of your party. However, a collection of bright persons DO NOT make a team and in the post-revolutionary period we the people have bemoaned the fact that a lot of bright people occupying the same political space NEVER seem to get their act together!! I hope that a Compact has been negotiated, that there are/will be protocols and procedures about how party business is conducted and its disputes are settled and that provisions are made for certain eventualities. You have served in the development NGO sector which considers process – including conflict resolution and concensus building – to be essential to a sustainable, quality product/output. Process is of paramount importance to organisational building and I trust it will become a hallmark of your political organisation. If a party cannot “take care of its own business”, how then can the public have confidence that it can run a country?

Role of Women in the Party

Traditionally, the women of the NDC party have been hardworking, no-nonsense people who, on more than one occasion, have brought a paralysed party out of crisis – going back as far as the post-Nicholas Brathwaite period. Thus, this public recognition by the party of the worth of its women has been LONG in coming. Even though the party has been at the vanguard of advancing the rights and status of women in Grenada, within the party, it has been slow in according that recognition and respect to its women, if one were to judge by the percentage of leadership positions held by women in the party and the percentage of women offered as candidates. Your party’s political rival, the New National Party, understands the international political capital of these numbers and has done well for itself in this regard. Regrettably, those numbers do not translate into influence on decision-making and agenda-setting, the improvement of the status of the women in Grenada or good governance in general. They are all wearing the same khaki cloth, in the same cut as the “boys”.

Clearly, in the recent elections of the Executive which brought you to the helm, an attempt seems to have been made to redress this gender inequality and I note there is almost 50-50 representation on the new Executive. Therefore, I trust Madam, that under your stewardship, there will be concerted efforts to develop the self-confidence and capacity of these and other capable women (and men) in the party to hold high office.

Party’s Business

As you are aware Madam, your party is under intense scrutiny. Indeed, sometimes it seems that there is a different yardstick by which certain interests measure the party when compared with its political rival, the New National Party. And there seems to be those who have made it their quest to “mash” up your party. So, the party needs to be mindful of distraction, “keep its eye on the prize”, and address its business in order to be seen as a credible alternative to be entrusted with the stewardship of the people’s business.

Madam, it amazes me how the general public seems to always be “in the know” in respect of the party’s internal business. I believe that this is destructive and needs to be remedied. While party business is indeed the people’s business, ALL dirty/other linen need not always be washed/aired out in public.

Brand

While one has to be sensitive/responsive to the public – since one is seeking their vote of approval – you as Political Leader will need to have YOUR, unique brand. I imagine, Madam, that soon, you and your advisors, will be shaping YOUR brand and the party’s brand. Among the qualities of that brand Madam, I hope, is that the TRUTH will always be told to the public.

I am sure Madam, that you would not want to come across as any “Saviour” or “knight in shining armour” who is going “to save” Grenada. You are much too pragmatic. It is about educating, empowering, inspiring and mobilising Grenadians to save themselves – to imbue them with the confidence and means that THEY CAN. ALL hands and colours have a part to play and are needed on board in the business of building Grenada.

Men, Women and Children

None better than you Madam appreciates the dire plight facing some of our women and children in this country, as has come to the fore recently. You have made enormous contributions to the design and implementation of programs to address some of those challenges. Your party also has several experienced, capable persons in this regard. I trust that your party will have a clearly articulated agenda that it can begin to implement, even while out of office. That said, the MEN also have to be brought along.

Stewardship of the People’s Assets

I trust, Madam, that your party, if elected to office, will remember at all times, it is the STEWARDS of the people’s business and ASSETS. We hope that at all times, it is going to be UPFRONT and TRANSPARENT in its relationship with foreign investors and governments and that it will not thrust its own version of “development’ upon us, particularly when that entails “giving away” our assets. There must be mechanisms by which we, the people can collectively participate in decision-making about matters of this nature.

We appreciate that government is a continuum and that decisions and commitments made by a previous government have to be honoured by the successor government. We are entering on TRICKY ground here, Madam Political Leader. On ascending to office in 2008, your administration inherited quite a number of these “suspect” projects. It is my considered view that the NDC administration of 2008-2013 had the sovereign authority to have rescued the people’s property in Levera from the debt junkie, Paul Taylor. It chose not to and played along with the so-called millionaire investor and now this property has apparently ended up in the hands of some Far Eastern group whose intent, it seems, is to create a millionaires’ playground. Based on a video circulated, apparently, there is not even room for Grenadians to be hewers of wood and carriers of water. The debt junkie seems to have benefitted HANDSOMELY while Grenadians whose LANDS WERE ACQUIRED are still awaiting payment. One or two have even gone to the great beyond. Your party has to have a definite plan as to how it would negotiate such MURKY situations.

Financing and the People’s Property

At all times, it must be remembered and understood by all and sundry, Madam Political Leader, that there are no free lunches!! Nations, institutions and individuals are not parting with their money because “dey like us”!! Among the questions to be pondered are: WHO are they, WHAT do they want in return and whether we can afford it. How will our people be impacted negatively and positively? Our political leaders seem to have a penchant for being blinded by apparent “glits and glamour”. They do not dig beyond the surface (DUE DILIGENCE) and it has become too much the trend that Grenadians are expected to “step aside” and GIVE UP what is their own to accommodate foreign investors because they “bringing jobs and development”. There are TOO many of these examples where promises have not been delivered, dreams broken, our assets alienated and we the people are left holding the debt and/or the white elephants. ENOUGH is enough!! So Madam Political Leader, when the party is negotiating financing, it must be remembered, that without informed people’s participation in the decision-making, the people’s property is OFF LIMITS!

The Journey Now Start

I thank you, Madam Political Leader, for the opportunity to offer these comments and I wish you very best wishes as you embark on this new phase of the journey as Political Leader of your party. May the Most High bless, inspire and protect you!

Kind regards!
Sandra CA Ferguson

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Caribbean & World

Traffic Notice: Marrast Hill public road open

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The Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force informs the motoring public that Marrast Hill public road has been reopened to vehicular traffic, in both directions, as of 3 pm on Sunday, 8 December 2019.

The Traffic Department further advises that the reopening of the roadway is a temporary measure to facilitate the expected increase in the volume of traffic for the holiday season.

The Traffic Department takes this opportunity to thank the general public for their patience and understanding during the past week and looks forward to the continued cooperation of all.

Office of Commissioner of Police

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International Civil Aviation Day | United Nations

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Civil aircraft at airport terminal. Photo: Serge Davidyants

The purpose of International Civil Aviation Day is to help generate and reinforce worldwide awareness of the importance of international civil aviation to the social and economic development of States, and of the unique role of ICAO in helping States to cooperate and realize a truly global rapid transit network at the service of all mankind.

As the UN and world nations have now adopted Agenda 2030, and embarked on a new era in global sustainable development, the importance of aviation as an engine of global connectivity has never been more relevant to the Chicago Convention’s objectives to look to international flight as a fundamental enabler of global peace and prosperity.

Every five years, coinciding with ICAO anniversaries (2014/2019/2024/2029/etc.), the ICAO Council establishes a special anniversary theme for International Civil Aviation Day. Between these anniversary years, Council representatives select a single theme for the full four-year intervening period.

 

75 Years of Connecting the World

Seventy-five years after ICAO’s foundation, the International Civil Aviation network carries over four billion passengers annually.

The global Air Transport sector supports 65.5 million jobs and USD 2.7 trillion in global economic activity, with over 10 million women and men working within the industry to ensure 120,000 flights and 12 million passengers a day are carried safely to their destinations. The wider supply chain, flow-on impacts and jobs in tourism made possible by air transport show that at least 65.5 million jobs and 3.6 per cent of global economic activity are supported by the aviation industry according to research by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

Learn more about ICAO 75 Years of Connecting the World.

 

 

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This Day in History | NOW Grenada

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by John Angus Martin, A-Z of Grenada Heritage

On this day, 7 December 1976, Grenada witnessed its most contentious general elections to date when opposition parties formed a coalition, the People’s Alliance (PA), to challenge the electoral monopoly of the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of Prime Minister Gairy, but lost.

In an attempt to end the GULP’s seemingly unshakeable electoral monopoly, the three main opposition political parties–the leftist New Jewel Movement (NJM) under Maurice Bishop (nominating seven candidates), the centrist Grenada National Party under Herbert Blaize (nominating five candidates), and the pro-business United People’s Party under Winston Whyte, a former GULP senator (nominating two candidates)–formed a coalition party, the People’s Alliance, to contest the 1976 general elections. Ideological differences between the parties created some tension, as was evident with the establishment of the PA only a few days prior to the deadline for nomination. The PA brought together three politically diverse groups, with only one thing in common, a strong desire to be rid of PM Gairy and the GULP.

The failure of the NJM to remove Eric Gairy from power by mass protest in 1974 had forced its leaders to participate in parliamentary elections, even though they believed the electoral process to be “woefully deficient.” The youth vote, from which the NJM derived much support, became important, especially since 18-year-olds were eligible to vote for the first time. Though the PA had hoped that its broad-based support would be enough to defeat PM Gairy, it was confronted with a number of political obstacles. PM Gairy’s supposed abuses and corruption of the electoral process, and the passing of a number of laws like the banning of the use of public address systems by opposition parties, thwarted the opposition’s every move. The GULP government had a monopoly of the airwaves, and even controlled the choice of an opposition election symbol.

In the end, the PA won six of the 15 contested constituencies, capturing just under 49% of the popular vote. It later protested that the election was not free and fair. It was one of the most hotly contested elections in many years. Despite the PA’s loss, the GULP government was confronted with a noticeable opposition for the first time in a decade. By 1979 many believed that “the Parliament had degenerated into a theatrical act, with Gairy always the leading actor,” and the opposition, under Bishop, a reluctant supporting cast. Some have suggested that “the Grenada Parliament had become a caricature of the Westminster model and, moreover, reflected the inherent weaknesses of that model,” leading to disillusionment in the process, and ultimately resulting in the Revolution. If there were winners among the PA, it was the NJM, which won over new supporters and gained a national platform for its leftist views.

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