Agard not confident in either side
She is neither ‘Bee’ nor ‘Dee’.
And today Independent Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard appeared to have drawn a definitive third line across the floor of Parliament, tearing into both Government and Opposition over their political stewardship of the country.
Arguing that what Barbados needed most was a “revolution” and not a “resolution”, Dr Agard suggested that politicians on both sides of the isle had failed the country.
However, she made it clear that she was not advocating a coup d’etat, therefore a “tenth charge” should not be brought against her, following her recent expulsion from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) on nine disciplinary grounds.
The combative MP was in a no nonsense mood as she criticized the current leadership of the country.
However, she reserved her harshest criticism for Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, dismissing the no confidence motion as “futile” and a reflection of “the rabid, unrelenting, hasty, self-serving, political opportunism that represents the DNA of the author of this document”.
She also described the BLP leader as being “so hasty to demand obsequious obedience and subjugation even when the records shows, contrary to a well-publicized PR programme, that theirs is a history of chaos, control, insecurity, undermining and failure to bring any project conceptualized to a fruitful conclusion”.
Dr Agard, whose assault on the Opposition drew “oohs” and “ahs” from members on the ruling party, was equally successful in removing the grin off their faces as she was relentless in her attack on both sides on the issue of corruption.
The only interruptions during her entire 30-minute presentation came from the Government benches with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite rising to his feet after Dr Agard admonished him for suggesting that corruption was not an immediate priority.
However, in Mottley’s absence from the Chamber, the first-term parliamentarian continued her demolition job, sounding a stern warning that there could be no change of government without a change of governance.
Zeroing in on the issue of leadership, she also cautioned: “You can be an Opposition of one, but you could never be a Government of one. And when you reach a point that even members of your parliamentary group you undermine and destroy, we ask the question, are we courting the devil?
“Sir, there are things for which I have laboured upon for many months and I am convinced in my spirit Sir, that in the realm of possibilities you can wake a sleeping giant if you have to, but you could never sanctify a demon even if you dress it in white,” Dr Agard said.
She argued that unlike their predecessors, the current crop of political leaders had lost the art of making citizens feel proud to be Barbadian and part of nation building.
“In our desire for supremacy, we have a tear-down society and the modus operandi is to destroy our opponents with character assassination and parody and by extension to ascribe only the most evil and diabolical intentions to anyone not sharing our agenda.”
She questioned the rationale for the motion, arguing that the grounds were no different from the accusations made against the then BLP government by the Democratic Labour Party when it was in opposition.
“The only thing that we are really arguing about here is . . . a betrayal of the public trust and the gang-rape of the public purse. I am left to wonder, what is the purpose of this exercise if the real charge is that the extent of your sin is bigger than the extent of mine? That ‘yes, what we did was wrong but what you are doing is more wrong’. Who can really come to these chambers with clean hands and righteous indignation? None,” Dr Agard charged.
“Are we prepared to settle, term after term, for nothing more than an opportunity to tell the current administration how corrupt they are? To bellyache how they came poor and hungry to the house of assembly and now they are fat millionaires from parliamentary pensions and kickbacks?”
The Independent MP emphasized that she was “not advocating no coup, even as I summon the people of this country to use our collective powers today to force on this Government and any that is to follow, the political will to introduce the requisite legislation that will afford Barbadians protection from wolves in sheep’s clothing”.
Dr Agard called for the proclamation of existing anti-corruption laws, and urged the Attorney General to be proactive and “not wait until there is a national scandal” to take action.
“Everything that is wrong in Barbados today has at its genesis the misappropriation or misuse of money,” she suggested.
“It is not enough to boast, Sir, that Barbados does not appear on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index of 2015, the most recent anti-corruption reports we have, when our system in itself lacks the framework and the mechanisms to accurately document the failings and properly address the problem,” she added.
The Christ Church West MP also called for electoral reform, to include regulation of political parties and campaign financing and publication of the identities of large donors.
Dr Agard added that she would also support a move to prevent or limit donors from receiving contracts “if there is evidence to suggest that the awarding of the contract is a payback for election financing”.