Time to raise the bar

by Emmanuel Joseph

The new Opposition Parliamentary team paused for a photo opportunity with Governor- General, Sir Elliott Belgrave after they took the oaths of office at Government House today.
The new Opposition Parliamentary team paused for a photo opportunity with Governor- General, Sir Elliott Belgrave after they took the oaths of office at Government House today.

Three of the six Opposition Barbados Labour Party MPs who will be entering Parliament for the first time when it officially opens on Wednesday, are unhappy with the level of debate they have witnessed in recent years.

After being sworn-in at Government House this morning, Dwight Sutherland, Dr Maria Agard and Jeffrey Bostic told Barbados TODAY that the quality of discussion in the House of Assembly had declined and they intended to do everything possible to help raise it again.

“I think we need to go back to dealing with the issues. There is too much personal attacks and that’s not my style. When I go into Parliament I will be dealing with issues and only issues,” asserted MP for St. George South, Sutherland.

“I don’t see why members of the DLP and BLP can’t sit down and have lunch. An example, this morning when I came in I greeted the Honourable David Estwick [who was sworn-in this morning] and Honourable Donville Inniss [who supported Estwick]. I know them well and I know they will be debating stoutly on behalf of the Democratic Labour Party. I don’t see why after that we can’t have a talk,” Sutherland said.

“We need to raise the bar, forget the personal attacks. I am not going to be dealing in the personal attacks. So you will see me being one of those persons who try to work for the betterment of the country and also for the betterment of the people of St. George South. Everything else will be secondary,” declared the Shadow Minister of Transport and Works, Water Resource Management and Drainage.

He said he was looking forward to having very tough debates, especially considering that the country was in a difficult economic position and the Opposition parliamentarians have to do what it took, as a team, to bring the island back on track.

“I think our task is a mammoth task, but we have a very bright team and a good leader; we need to rally around her. I am excited about the prospects. I’m looking forward to my first debate in Parliament and I vow to the people of St. George South to represent them stoutly,” he pledged.

Agard, the MP for Christ Church West, also expressed the view that the standard of parliamentary debate had taken a “nose dive” over the years.

“I recalled as a young child, listening to our representatives of 1976, 1986 even; and I felt that the debate was of a very high standard. And I think as a young person, I was very disappointed, extremely disappointed with what I considered to be very mediocre dialogue for the past five years,” she declared.

“So I am hoping, with the change … that you could actually see an improvement in the level of debate and dialogee,” added the dentist.

The Christ Church West Parliamentary Representative said she expected “very” robust debates and intended to represent the people of her constituency with distinction.

She told Barbados TODAY that it was an honour to be one of the females in Parliament.

“And I think it is an objective that I have worked towards for a very, very long time. But I will also say to you, that I have been always in male-oriented professions. As a dental student, I was one of maybe three … graduating in my year.

“So I am not in any way overwhelmed by being in a male-oriented environment. In fact, I relish it, and I expect to represent myself very well in Parliament,” boasted the Shadow Minister of Health and Social Security.

Bostic, MP for the City, frowned on the quality of debate in Parliament as well.

“There has definitely been a deterioration in the level of debate. Certainly as a youngster listening to the likes of Errol Barrow, Tom Adams and those guys, Parliament really was much different than it is today. And I hope to be able to contribute to the rebirth of Parliament as far as the levels of debates are concerned,” stated the†Shadow Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development.

Bostic’s said he expects to execute the plans he outlined for the City during the election campaign and he eagerly looked forward to doing so.

“My main areas of concentration would be the youth and trying to get some community activities going, because we really need to rebuild the communities within the City of Bridgetown,” he noted, just before expressing delight at the opportunity to serve in Parliament. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb††††

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