Give the lady her Gucci jacket (you know it didn’t come from S&S!). Right up to the moment she left on vacation several weeks before Christmas, the prime minister’s singular press secretary was prime-time news. She made almost daily headlines with her mind-boggling sugary defenses of her boss—whom we all know is without sin. She made news for her on-the-second FB posts. And she made news, well, simply for being all about Da Jade!
Woefully ill equipped was the individual who in her absence had tried to deliver what only Da Jade can satisfactorily provide the prime minister. For more than a month her stand-in failed to ruffle a single yellow feather. He was as silent as he was invisible.That he was expected to fill Da Jade’s Stuart Weitzmans (if you don’t know what they are, then clearly you earn less than $8,000 a month!) was akin to casting Fish Alphonse as the lead in, say, The Godfather, and expecting a Marlon Brando performance. Poor Terry Finnistere was hired to act and doubtless he did his best. Alas, few people noticed.
Just as Da Jade had predicted via her Facebook account, the media missed her. And not only for her Jessica Rabbit voice and her ever-fresh cornrows—to say nothing of her famously split pearly whites. Then, notoriously short-attention-spanned as we are, we forgot about her after only a couple of weeks while we sought relief from the debilitating effects of over-priced gas. And then, bang, she was back, obviously in fine form.
On the very morning she returned to her desk and reactivated her Facebook account, she clashed with Chas—the SLP’s current favorite pincushion. Useless were the radio host’s Herculean efforts at controlling the exchange between the well-rested caller and Blazing FM’s beleaguered guest.
When finally the frustrated host requested that he at least try to be civil, he flatly refused, on the grounds that the caller was being “disrespectful”—as if indeed a single Red Zone resident had in over eight years addressed the UWP leader in tones remotely respectful. You’d think he would by this time know better than to allow himself to be distracted by mealy-bug bites, whether or not sugared.
But all of that was last week’s news, doubtless forgotten, this being Saint Lucia where the only constant is the economy that has turned our country into a community of wall-to-wall suicidal malaways.
On Monday, doubtless encouraged by the police report that in 2014 Saint Lucians had killed only 34 of their brothers and sisters, Da Jade decided to get In Touch with her former work colleague, the former commissioner of police and former advisor to the prime minister on matters of national security.
For at least the first half of her live weekly TV show, Da Jade generously permitted her guest the welcome opportunity to offer his salted-to-taste version of how he had lost his cushy job as top cop after 30 years; where, how, the hour of the night and by whom the Brutus stab was delivered—and how a related court matter had ended with his promotion to sit on the side of the prime minister not already occupied by Da Jade.
After the break that probably was another excuse to kick poorly defended balls between Allen Chastanet’s goal posts (I can’t swear to that, I’m afraid I dozed off for a minute or so) Da Jade touched on the matter of the reduced homicide and sexual offences figures in relation to 2014. Of course she did not mention the actual figures indicative of the drop (in both cases two less than in 2013!).
It took Pastor Ben to lively up the show. While Da Jade had sought to cash in on behalf of government policy, the popular preacher assured one and all that credit for the lower murder and sexual offences figures belonged to God and fellow believers who had prayed nonstop for divine intervention. Pastor Ben ended his inspired call with the following question to Da Jade’s guest—the answer to which revealed the tortured soul of Ausbert Regis.
Q: What do you think America wants us to do to get back to assisting us with aid for our police force?
“Well,” said the former COP, “I think first and foremost we need to see what opportunities the situation we are in with the police and the Americans and so on . . . what are the opportunities here. I like to look at the positives. There are opportunities for reform; opportunities for taking the hard decisions that perhaps would not be there without the situation.
“I think this is an opportunity for the force to recommit itself to upholding what is right so that legitimacy can return to the force. If you lose legitimacy, confidence will always be in the balance. I am hoping the officers will see this as a challenge to strengthen the force. Yes, there might be some kind of fallout, negative fallout, but I think in the main the police force will come out better at the other end of the situation than it is right now.”
As if directing his words at the prime minister via his other right ear, Regis warned: “If this does not happen, then we might as well close shop. I believe the government needs the courage to do what is right.”
He assured viewers that although he was not on the prowl for a job, he nevertheless stood ready to help “make the force a better one than when I joined.” He thought he had “a moral responsibility to give back” for all he had achieved from being a member of the force.
What did Regis know that In Touch viewers did not? What did he have in mind when he appealed to the government to do what is right? What did he mean by the possible negative fallout? Was Regis interviewed by IMPACS? He claimed on In Touch that he had not seen the report but was he merely being cagey? Why did the prime minister’s press secretary invite Regis to speak on matters that had nothing to do with him when she planned the next day to interview the sitting police commissioner on Inside Government, on the same matter of the 2014 crime report Vernon Francois had submitted to the government?
Again the more interesting questions came, not from the host but from callers to Inside Government.
Q: Given the fallout with the US government, do you have any regrets about Operation Restore Confidence, how it was carried out and how it turned out?
Francois: At the moment I have no regrets. Operation Restore Confidence was put in place for a particular purpose. There is a report and it may influence a few things, but I have no regrets.
Sensitive to danger as instinctively is Da Jade, she quickly stepped in: “Do you think we can attribute some of the successes we are seeing and the trends, the downward movement, do you think we can attribute that to what happened back then in terms of an operation to keep our streets safer?”
Obviously, Da Jade had chosen to forget whatever her boss had taught her about leading questions. Clearly she had much faith in the possibilities inherent in full tosses.
Alas, her guest had other matters on his mind. He said: “I think it is possible but it is difficult to ascribe any one particular reason for a reduction in criminal behavior. A lot of it has to do with our relationship with the public.”
A caller: I listened to former police commissioner Ausbert Regis last night and he said there were wrongs that need to be corrected. I assumed he was referring to Operation Restore Confidence. What can be done to correct the wrongs of Operation Restore Confidence?
Francois: I think maybe we need to identify the wrongs and then determine whether they were wrong or right. I don’t think yours is a fair question.
The host stepped in again; evidently she had not bargained for the direction her program had taken. “We seem to be getting a lot of calls about Operation Restore Confidence and I suspect that is because the prime minister made statements in his New Year address that there is a report. You have spoken publicly about that report. You once said the sooner this thing is over and everything is out in the open we’ll move forward. I would imagine one of the difficulties facing the police is the absence of support and aid from the US.
“Our marine police, for example, are no longer receiving training opportunities. How anxious are you for a resolution so that the RSLPF can continue to receive US assistance and support?”
Francois: I need to say we have had an excellent relationship with the US government, particularly through its embassy in Barbados. A better word might be partnership. We cherish that partnership with the US government and the sooner we get to a stage that whatever the issues, we need to resolve them so that we can get back to a better place. But for me, if you have a partnership and one of the partners pulls out it gives you an opportunity to move forward. We have moved on. The force has not been crippled. We have maintained an excellent relationship with the British, the Canadian and the French and the Israeli governments . . . If we have to operate without a particular partner the thing for us is to keep policing Saint Lucia.
The prime minister thinks otherwise. Shortly after he delivered his “An Unhappy Episode” statement on August 20, 2013, he said from the steps of the Castries market that Saint Lucia could not effectively fight crime—including drug and human trafficking—without American assistance. He also addressed the importance of training and special courses that until two years ago were financed via the now suspended Leahy arrangements and other American sources.
In his televised address of August 20, 2013 the prime minister said: “I wish to reassure our citizens that the government will continue to work closely with the United States to resolve this issue and on security matters generally, in much the same way we have over the years. Saint Lucia values its close cooperation with the United States in security matters because without this understanding and cooperation our borders can never be secure.”
Also: “We now reap the harvest of rash decisions, particularly by policy makers anxious to gain quick resolutions.” The line reminded of bold statements at the time of the 2011 election campaign that suggested certain officials were somehow involved in the shooting deaths of at least five notorious citizens.
As for IMPACS: “The investigators will be asked to evaluate all available evidence and determine whether or not these matters warrant further action. The findings, if adverse, will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions who has ultimate jurisdiction in criminal matters. Government will enact new legislation to conduct investigations so as to ensure such investigations enjoy full protection of the law and the findings of any investigation are lawfully transmitted to the DPP . . .”
To date the prime minister has not been true to his word on the above. Hopefully he will with regard to his New Year promise to make public the full IMPACS report before the end of February 2015. (In his New Year address, the prime minister revealed he and his Cabinet had been “deliberating over the content and implications” of the report. He did not mention the DPP.)
To borrow from his former advisor on national security, if the prime minister also fails to deliver what two weeks ago he promised Saint Lucians, then he might just as well start shutting down our nation’s cop shops in favor of the law of the jungle!