UWP launches ‘The Power of We’

Right: The man of the evening Lenard Spider Montoute arrives.

The United Workers Party drew thousands of supporters from around the island with a massive rally on Sunday 20 November at Beausejour, Gros Islet. The record setting crowd cheered on as the deejay played soca music they danced along and quite possibly enjoyed a second Carnival celebration for the year, only this time they were all part of one band dressed in yellow.                 Arguably, it was the type of crowd one would see at a Michael Jackson concert. Old and young, chanted away. Maybe they were all inspired by the incumbent party’s vision to propel St Lucia and its people on a common path of “peace, progress, and prosperity.”
Although the main opposition, SLP, was also launching their candidate for the Gros Islet District, apparently, that did not stop St Lucians from attending what may be the final major rally before elections are held. After all, the party was all set to unveil their 2011 manifesto. Who would want to miss that? Or even miss out on a massive party rally full of rum, music and food?
The ruling United Workers Party launched its Manifesto under the theme, “The POWER of WE.” The 100-page document, described as “realistic” and “workable”, not only chronicles the progress that has been achieved in the last five years but outlines the party’s vision to propel growth and development for the next term in office.
Addressing the gathering, each candidate was allocated some time to discuss their plans for the next five years while highlighting their achievements in the last five. Speaking on the issue of crime, Guy Mayers said that the security of every citizen should be the primary responsibility of any serious government. “It is not an easy challenge because we are well aware that all over the Caribbean and all over the world we are facing serious challenges with crime,” said Mayers.                 Over the last few years, crime has been a major issue for the current administration, to the extent that a new approach within the police department was implemented, called “Operation Restore Confidence.”
Mayers told the massive crowd and the viewers at home that his administration is not making excuses but they are dealing with it and will deal with it in the next five years. “Crime has no political colour,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which government is in power, we have to deal with the issue of crime and we have to deal with it head on.”
Health Minister, Keith Mondesir once tried to entice the crowd with his plan for Universal Health Care.
“A healthy nation is a prosperous nation,” he said, “no one should be denied health care simply because of their ability to pay.” Although the talk about Universal Health Care has been around for many years now, the current administration clearly has not been able to implement this program neither did the Labour Party government in its time.
Dr Mondesir attributed the difficulties to the requirement of major investments in health. However, he noted that the party’s vision “is to obtain optimal wellness within the entire population by increasing access to affordable, good quality health care.”
He said that very early in the new term, his government will be fully prepared to implement universal health care for all.
Choiseul MP Rufus Bousquet—surprisingly in attendance considering the death of his mother earlier that day—gave the crowd, who responded cheerfully when he came out to speak, another hope to look forward to when he announced that plans are progressing to bring into St Lucia a form of representation from the US at least, if not, a US Embassy which would provide St Lucians with a better option rather than travelling to Barbados to obtain their visas.
“We are going to set up embassies at no expense to the taxpayers,” Bousquet said referring to an invitation sent out to countries to set up embassies in St Lucia. “We can expect that during the first year of this administration, there will be at least two new embassies in the St Lucia.”
He said the Moroccan government has confirmed that they will establish their embassy right here in St Lucia. He further stated that St Lucians should re-elect his government based on their policy to strengthen ties with Taiwan which has created many opportunities for the people of St Lucia. “That policy will not change,” he said, “and if the Labour Party wins the election, they gonna kick out the Taiwanese and bring their Chinese friends.”
After boasting about his ministry’s achievements in the last five years, Guy Joseph highlighted some of his plans for the new term subject to re-election in office. He said that his ministry will grant all holders of a minibus route permit a title deed which will enable them to use it as collateral when borrowing money from a financial institution. Joseph got the crowd even more excited as he revealed plans to build a state of the art highway linking the north to the south of the island. “You will be able to travel to Castries in half an hour at normal driving speed because we are going to build it to international standards,” he said.
Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute spoke on Education, Youth and Sports. Montoute started by saying that his administration had begun the process of transforming the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College into a full fledged university and that process should be completed in the next term upon re-election.                 He added that the Ministry of Education has had reason to reinstate the allowance for teachers attending teachers college which was removed by the previous government.                  Montoute also indicated that the prime minister will be launching a youth  manifesto this week which will showcase the plans that his government has in store for the youth of this country. Of course this comes as good news to many youngsters who are yet to decide which party or candidate they will vote for come general election day. Hopefully, this will aid in their decision.
But why so late in the game? Wouldn’t it have been better to release such a manifesto months ago?
“St Lucia is the best economic performer in the OECS,” Richard Frederick boasted as he compared the performance of his administration with that of the previous government. “It is the leading tourism destination in the OECS, the leading exporter in the OECS,” he said, “It has the most transparent government in the OECS.” Frederick spent most of his address
comparing the main opposition’s manifesto with that of his party’s.
“While they have criticized the amounts allocated by the United Workers Party, they are unable to tell the public what amount should be allocated,” Frederick said referring to the tourism sector.  Frederick highlighted
the redevelopment of Port Castries. Earlier this month, the government signed a 25 million dollar agreement with Royal Caribbean International to undertake this project.
The final speaker before the manifesto was launched was the party leader and current prime minister, Stephenson King who was ushered to the podium by music from the legendary Bob Marley singing, “Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright.”
King began his address by saying that history will be made in St Lucia when his party wins by a landslide. He noted that after visiting areas that have been the opposition’s stronghold, he is happy to report that based on conversations with the people there, victory is expected for his party. PM King said that his party’s main focus in the next five years, despite the growing difficulties with the economy, “is to bring about a significant increase in employment.” In order to achieve this, King highlighted a few principle areas that his government would focus upon:
1. Creating jobs through economic growth. 2. Continuing with the revitalization of the agricultural sector. 3. The developing of a world class tourism product.
4. Expanding trade, industry, commerce, entrepreneurship and investment. 5. Expanding infrastructure for enhanced growth and development. 6. Introducing information and communication technology throughout the economy. 7. Proper housing, a basic right. 8. Adopting through primary change and caring for the environment. 9. Increasing the output and productivity of our utilities.
“Our vision for St Lucia,” King said, “is for a secure, prosperous and dynamic society confidently participating in the global community, while maintaining our core values and faith in God.” The PM outlined a summary of his party’s developmental goals for the next five years in the areas of agriculture, tourism, health and education among many others.  All of which can be found in the UWP’s 2011 Manifesto.

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