Chas and Pip first to debate?

Will tourism ministers past and present be the first election-time debaters? Left: Senator Allen Chastanet. Right: Opposition MP Philip J Pierre.

A caller to Radio St Lucia’s The Agenda on Thursday had this to say: “I am a bit disappointed with what has been going on between you and Mr Chastanet, this tit-for-tat thing. It’s like when you were minister of tourism every time he would complain about something and now he is minister it’s your turn. I was especially disappointed when you said you were not talking to him because we need you to talk to him and him to talk to you. You are a management consultant, you are a former minister of tourism; it is he that you need to engage. You need to be talking to him because that’s how we’re gonna learn and be educated. You need to question what he is saying and vice versa. That is the problem we have with politicians. You guys go on the platform and on the radio and say things but you all tend to be very reluctant to go to the parliament and discuss and argue the points . . .That’s what we want to see coming from you politicians so that we can form opinions.”
The caller was addressing the guest on Thursday’s morning show, former tourism minister and Castries East MP Philip J Pierre. The MP and Minister Chastanet had sparked their longtime feud again this week when the now Tourism Minister was a guest on the show on Monday.
Pierre called that show and challenged host Dave Samuels to give him “the right to respond.” Pierre claimed that Chastanet had been a guest on the show at least four times since the former minister had appeared.
Chastanet and Pierre then commenced a back and fourth and finally Chastanet suggested that he would be happy to be guest on the show along with Mr Pierre where they could debate issues one-on-one.
“No, no, no. no,” Pierre could be heard trailing off as the host excitedly said: “That’s an idea, wouldn’t that be a great idea.”
Said Chastanet: “We can bring out all the facts and that way we don’t have to go back and forth, we can bring out all the facts, I will be happy to do that.”
Asked again whether he would be a guest on the show along with Allen Chastanet, Pierre said: “I want to have the right to reply like he has. He has been on there four times.”
The host then decided to bump his guest for Thursday to accommodate the Opposition MP.
“When he had the show all to himself on Thursday morning a caller suggested that Mr Pierre had chickened out on the invitation by Mr Chastanet to debate issues.
Asked directly whether he would debate with Mr Chastanet, Pierre said: “I am a member of an institution, of a party. I said I would discuss it with my party. You see, these things have repercussions.                 When you take these decisions, you have to seek guidance and advice. I will respond at the appropriate time as to when and if I will engage the minister of tourism in any debate. There are structures for that . . . I will not be foolhardy to just go in and say or do anything.”
Pierre went on to suggest that Chastanet might have the upper hand in a debate because of his ministerial status.
“He has tons and tons of information,” said Pierre.
The caller then asked the former minister if he did not have access to information as a Member of Parliament.
“No sir, the information that I have is the Social and Economic Review, the prime minister’s budget address, the estimates of expenditure . . . that is the only information I have at my disposal. I have no Cabinet papers or private studies at my disposal. In fact one of the ways you get financial statements is from the reports that are laid in parliament . . . There has been no report of the St Lucia Tourist Board for the last few years and it is from there are will learn what are the exact expenses on tourism.”
Pierre says he has queried the fact that reports have not been forthcoming.
“If I got those reports I could speak in definite terms,” he went on. “The answer is I cannot go willy-nilly on any debate with any minister. I need to know the parameters. But I have not chickened out.”
The host, who admitted that the MP was right, still suggested the two politicians, especially this being an election year, should come together on the show.
Despite Tourist Board reports not being laid in parliament however it still seems Mr Pierre is getting information from somewhere. In his exchange with Mr Chastanet in Monday’s program the two got into an argument about transparency. This was the exchange between the two and the chairman of The Agenda:
Chairman: Did you enjoy Jazz? Did you not go anywhere?
Pierre: No, I was in my constituency.
Chastanet: Yeah, you were stuck behind a wall.
Pierre: I am glad you said so. I am glad your pettiness has come to the fore.
Chastanet: My pettiness? Your transparency and your forthrightness . . .
Pierre: If you want we could speak about transparency you know, we can speak about wastage whenever you are ready. Don’t believe you can throw stones at me and I won’t respond. Let’s speak about wastage . . .
Chastanet: But you spoke about wastage, you said to the public of St Lucia than I spent 40 million dollars to only get 10,000 more arrivals but yet you did not bring up the economic impact of those additional people were . . .
Pierre: What about your telephone bill?
Chastanet: What about my telephone bill?
Pierre: Tell me about it.
Chastanet: No you tell me. You seem to have the information you tell me.
Pierre: Mr Chairman, I just want my right to respond.
Chastanet: Just make sure that when you come up with those kind of things that also bring out to the people of St Lucia the companies to which you were the accountant for.
Pierre: I have not been an accountant for years. That is not true.
Chastanet: That’s not what the documentation says.
Pierre: You can find no documentation that says I am an accountant. As usual you are not speaking the truth.
With that Pierre agreed to his own show minus Chastanet which took place on Thursday.

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