Hard to dispute Philip J. Pierre is as deeply rooted in East Castries as were JMD Bousquet and Romanus Lansiquot in their respective constituencies. Those among us who knew him well will doubtless readily agree the Soufriere-born pyknic JMD was especially famous for keeping his mouth shut while toiling furiously behind the scenes, whether with devious motives toward his leader George Charles or in the best interests of the Choiseul people.
JMD died in 1975 and is remembered, at any rate, by the organization that Walter Francois currently heads, for his fluency in Creole and for his attachment to his constituents. Alas, after he lost the seat in 1997 to the Labour Party newcomer Evans Calderon, the ostensibly apolitical Soufriere Foundation notes, “he was soon forgotten by his party.”
Lansie was the precise opposite of JMD. A fitness freak, he was the political equivalent of the late great James Brown, in his time universally known as “the hardest working man in show business.” High drama dominated Lansiquot’s politics. Almost every moment of his political life was lived in the dazzling glare of publicity, a fact that did not endear him to his less interesting party colleagues.
The furthest thing from his mind was that in 1997 Castries East would turn on him in favor of “that pipsqueak!”—Philip J. Pierre. Truth be told, even after the vote recount that confirmed his victory, Pierre had great difficulty permitting himself to believe he had actually beaten the unbeatable Romanus Lansiquot.
If the new Castries East MP, like Teddy Roosevelt and JMD, habitually walked lightly while carrying a big stick, he also brought to mind his predecessor. Like Lansiquot before him, Philip J. Pierre has always treated his constituents as his extended family. That is to say, he attends to their needs on an individual basis, no easy task on an MP’s salary. But fund-raiser par excellence that he was, Lansiquot seldom paid out of his own pocket, not when he could count on local Syrians and other private sector hotshots to place in every Castries East pot a gift-wrapped chicken stamped Lansiquot!
Pierre has always been too wimpy (careful?) to solicit favors that ultimately could prove too costly. As for shouting from the rooftops, that was always Lansie’s bag, never Pierre’s. He preferred not to be quotable, knowing only too well that headline hunters seldom were as interested in the good that politicians do as in the lapses and infelicities that could bury them alive.
Times have changed. Today’s Philip J. Pierre seems ready to say whatever is required to convince doubting colleagues he is as ready as Ernest Hilaire for prime time; that he is not what they imagine him to be: indecisive, tongue-tied, inarticulate, unable to chew gum and think at the same time. Even before Mario Michel’s ego grew too large for the coop, Pierre had taken to spouting what he does not naturally believe, self-convinced that it is better to speak rubbish than to say nothing at all—especially in defense of his leader’s indefensible positions.
Consider his contribution to the unforgettable House debate that preceded the 2003 legalization of abortion: “Mr. Speaker, if you have a daughter three years old, or twelve or eleven, attending St. Joseph’s convent and you send her to spend the weekend with her uncle. She’s a thirteen-year-old child, she goes at her uncle . . . that beast, that animal that the law, the Criminal Code, will deal with. That bastard enters the room of your twelve- or thirteen-year-old at one o’clock in the morning when the child is asleep, and he rapes her. That happens in Saint Lucia very, very often.
“There are people who have no respect for human life; there are people who have no respect for the dignity of children and because of his selfish desires and his urges and his sinful mentality he will rape that twelve- or thirteen-year-old. What do you have in your hands? You have a child, innocent, who was raped. She gets up that night, the blood of rape from this drunken bastard is all over her. Blood on the bed, the blood of rape that human dog has committed. He is a human dog.
“That eleven-year-old gets pregnant. I want to put it to all the people who parade on the altar of convenient morality. I want to ask them whether it is right for that eleven-year-old girl who was raped by that animal, whether she must be forced to have a baby . . .”
The gibberish goes on for several pages of Hansard. But what grabs the reader’s gonads like a vice and sickens him to the stomach by the halfway mark is not the MP’s intended message. Rather it is his choice of words, his back-alley vernacular, his lousy constructions, his exaggerations, his acting that reeks of hypocrisy.
Is it possible the abruptly deranged imagined father of the imagined eleven, twelve, thirteen-year-old innocent never knew his brother was a “beast, a drunken bastard, a human dog, an animal and a child rapist” until he had covered his sleeping niece with the “blood of rape?”
And what if said horribly deflowered daughter were not a student of St. Joseph’s Convent? Let’s say she was just another little Rose Hill girl who was raped at gunpoint at Choc Beach by two masked men and made pregnant. Would that make a difference?
The following is especially perplexing: “Mr. Speaker, I believe that if your eleven-year-old daughter was raped by her uncle and you believe that she must bear his child, you as an adult are responsible, because no eleven-year-old girl should be allowed, should be forced to have a child.”
“No eleven-year-old should be allowed to have a child!” And yet, by the MP’s own admission, in Saint Lucia willing and consenting children having children is, to paraphrase the MP, a daily occurrence—as doubtless the Family Court would attest!
We need not revisit the several other embarrassing moments when the Castries East MP sought to prove his loyalty, and the hell with the imagined many who would prefer to see him stick a Brutus blade in his leader’s back. Ask him about the Grynberg deal; ask him how much taxpayers have paid Antony Astaphan for his court defenses of the prime minister’s good name; ask him about Frenwell and Rochamel. He has but one response, now legendary: “I don’t know. I tell you I don’t know. You want me to lie?”
Of course no one asked him about Lambirds. By now journalists know better. So Pierre took it on his own to rush in where the angel Emma feared to tread until last Thursday evening. What she said, in effect, was that the matter was before the court; several administration officials would likely be called as witnesses. Consequently, she preferred to say nothing that might possibly be considered sub judice. The line had worked for others, why not for Emma too?
But Pierre was determined to prove he was made of better stuff; that his tongue was every bit as agile as his chief’s. (The hell with persistent Hilairean notions!) So he started out with some irrelevant details. Why was everyone carrying on as if Lambirds were such a big deal?, he asked in effect, dank red towel aggressively working his face. Who rented the premises for the purposes of the now closed academy?, he asked.
“Businesses fail,” he bawled in the key of C. “Business fail!” As if there were one private sector operator who needed the reminder. Was the MP suggesting Lambirds Academy was a business that failed? Did he not know Lambirds was shut down by the police and its operators charged with human trafficking, money laundering, fraud and other crimes?
Into his bouillon Pierre dumped Allen Stanford, the main operator of a Ponzi scheme that rendered hundreds of his fellow Americans penniless while he flew around in his private jet, feted by regional governments in the name of West Indies cricket.
Was Pierre saying Dr. Shams was Saint Lucia’s Stanford? A Ponzi scheme conman like Stanford who was now in “an orange suit”—the new black? (Now we know the MP’s favorite TV meal is not In Touch!) Was Pierre saying Lambirds was a Ponzi scheme, aided and abetted by government departments, as was Stanford’s?
How did Shams come to Saint Lucia in the first place? In relation to that question, Pierre offered not a word, not a word, not a word—as mute as he had been on the disaster also known as George Benson, the prime minister’s Great Innovator!
At Wednesday’s House of Drones fiasco Emma Hippolyte offered her own holey version of the untold story of Lambirds, but it seemed her main objective was CYA-related. Contrary to regular protocol, she chose to identify individuals, at least one already feeling the impact of IMPACS. But with elections in the air, Pierre was only warming up at his party’s last market steps outing. Following Wednesday’s Game of Drones, he called Newsspin to throw some fake pearls before imagined swine and confirmed media terrorists. But more on that, later.