Dominica PM defends decision to include former opposition legislator in Cabinet

ROSEAU, Dominica, Apr 13, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Friday defended his decision to include former opposition legislator, Joseph Isaac, into his new look cabinet, insisting that his hurricane battered island “required all skills and talents” going forward.

Speaking soon after Isaac, was sworn in by President Charles Savarin as the new Minister for the Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal, Skerrit said his decision should not be viewed as a political move to strengthen his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP).

“We have 15 seats in Parliament so this is not about mathematical configurations. This is about working with people who are prepared to work (and) be of service to Dominica.

“There is too much negativism in the country and we have to close the gap on this and I think today is an opportunity for us to close the gap and I am hoping and praying that we can continue to close the gap,” he added.

Baptiste taking oath
Joseph Isaac taking oath of office before
President Charles Savarin

Isaac, who resigned from the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), a few days ago was appointed a minister in the Skerrit administration even as he told his constituents in Roseau Central and the country in general that he would be an “independent” legislator in the Dominica Parliament..

Isaac thanked Prime Minister Skerrit for the “trust and confidence” in him, acknowledging that his new portfolio would be challenging.

“I would also like to tell the world that even in the political arena you may have opponents but even when you are a person’s opponent and you admire that person, you have to show the respect. I admire the Prime Minister,” he said, saying he was offering his talents and skills “for the love of country.

“At the time when I said that, I remember a lot of people said that I didn’t consult but that in and of itself is a consultation by saying that we should all of us work together and offer our services to rebuild our country after a major, devastating hurricane.

“No one had problems with that statement in Parliament. No one had problems with that statement in the media, no one had a problem with it when I spoke about it in the bars …but after I made a decision, after consultation, after a long time, some people have a problem with it.”

Earlier, this week, the Roseau Central Constituency Association pledged its “unequivocal support and admiration for the leadership of our party” and condemned “the sinking sand approach of Joseph Isaac, the ironical, self-proclaimed, independent representative of the Roseau Central Constituency and wish him well and good riddance”.

At a public meeting here on Thursday night, UWP leader Lennox Linton said the party would push for legislation outlawing the crossing of the floor by parliamentarians.

He told supporters that this would be a major priority of a future UWP administration and it would be done in the interest of voters.

“When we come in government, therefore, one of the first orders of business will be to outlaw floor crossing in the Commonwealth of Dominica,” he said, adding that there are several Caribbean countries where legislation exist making it illegal to cross the floor.

“In Antigua, you cannot cross the floor of the parliament from one party to the next because there is legislation, there are laws protecting the people’s interest,” he said, adding “you cannot come to people saying you are part of a political organization that believes in this, believes in that, stands for this, will do this, will do that and you don’t think the other party is doing a good job and then mid-stream, while people are suffering, while after a disaster there are so many people waiting to have their roofs covered, so many people awaiting the assistance of the government, you can take the vote of the people of Roseau Central and go across.

“It should not happen. It should not be allowed to happen but it has happened.”

Isaac had claimed that his decision to quit the party was as a result of his failure to convince the UWP hierarchy “that there is a wisdom in changing from the traditional opposition approach to politics and to adopt a more nationalistic approach one in which the country comes first.

“I have tried selling the idea to the leader (Lennox Linton) the executive, the general council of the party but to no avail,” he said, adding that he was against the present party centered approach in favour of a more nationalistic approach. The UWP had won six of the 21 seats in the 2014 general election.

Skerrit said that he looking forward to other nationals joining in partaking in the development thrust.

“I am not only talking about people who are directly in politics…professionals out there, people who just on the fences, being negative and being critical, come forward.

“Write to me, come see me, tell me what ideas you have, tell me how you think you can contribute…obviously in terms of remuneration, the treasury has a finite sum of money, so it has to be reasonable and within what the treasury can afford,” he said.

“But we are prepared to embrace people and the country is at a stage where we really need everybody to make a positive contribution to the efforts.”

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by STAFF WRITER

ROSEAU, Dominica, Apr 13, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Friday defended his decision to include former opposition legislator, Joseph Isaac, into his new look cabinet, insisting that his hurricane battered island “required all skills and talents” going forward.

Speaking soon after Isaac, was sworn in by President Charles Savarin as the new Minister for the Environment, Climate Resilience, Disaster Management and Urban Renewal, Skerrit said his decision should not be viewed as a political move to strengthen his ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP).

“We have 15 seats in Parliament so this is not about mathematical configurations. This is about working with people who are prepared to work (and) be of service to Dominica.

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“There is too much negativism in the country and we have to close the gap on this and I think today is an opportunity for us to close the gap and I am hoping and praying that we can continue to close the gap,” he added.

Baptiste taking oath
Joseph Isaac taking oath of office before
President Charles Savarin

Isaac, who resigned from the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), a few days ago was appointed a minister in the Skerrit administration even as he told his constituents in Roseau Central and the country in general that he would be an “independent” legislator in the Dominica Parliament..

Isaac thanked Prime Minister Skerrit for the “trust and confidence” in him, acknowledging that his new portfolio would be challenging.

“I would also like to tell the world that even in the political arena you may have opponents but even when you are a person’s opponent and you admire that person, you have to show the respect. I admire the Prime Minister,” he said, saying he was offering his talents and skills “for the love of country.

“At the time when I said that, I remember a lot of people said that I didn’t consult but that in and of itself is a consultation by saying that we should all of us work together and offer our services to rebuild our country after a major, devastating hurricane.

“No one had problems with that statement in Parliament. No one had problems with that statement in the media, no one had a problem with it when I spoke about it in the bars …but after I made a decision, after consultation, after a long time, some people have a problem with it.”

Earlier, this week, the Roseau Central Constituency Association pledged its “unequivocal support and admiration for the leadership of our party” and condemned “the sinking sand approach of Joseph Isaac, the ironical, self-proclaimed, independent representative of the Roseau Central Constituency and wish him well and good riddance”.

At a public meeting here on Thursday night, UWP leader Lennox Linton said the party would push for legislation outlawing the crossing of the floor by parliamentarians.

He told supporters that this would be a major priority of a future UWP administration and it would be done in the interest of voters.

“When we come in government, therefore, one of the first orders of business will be to outlaw floor crossing in the Commonwealth of Dominica,” he said, adding that there are several Caribbean countries where legislation exist making it illegal to cross the floor.

“In Antigua, you cannot cross the floor of the parliament from one party to the next because there is legislation, there are laws protecting the people’s interest,” he said, adding “you cannot come to people saying you are part of a political organization that believes in this, believes in that, stands for this, will do this, will do that and you don’t think the other party is doing a good job and then mid-stream, while people are suffering, while after a disaster there are so many people waiting to have their roofs covered, so many people awaiting the assistance of the government, you can take the vote of the people of Roseau Central and go across.

“It should not happen. It should not be allowed to happen but it has happened.”

Isaac had claimed that his decision to quit the party was as a result of his failure to convince the UWP hierarchy “that there is a wisdom in changing from the traditional opposition approach to politics and to adopt a more nationalistic approach one in which the country comes first.

“I have tried selling the idea to the leader (Lennox Linton) the executive, the general council of the party but to no avail,” he said, adding that he was against the present party centered approach in favour of a more nationalistic approach. The UWP had won six of the 21 seats in the 2014 general election.

Skerrit said that he looking forward to other nationals joining in partaking in the development thrust.

“I am not only talking about people who are directly in politics…professionals out there, people who just on the fences, being negative and being critical, come forward.

“Write to me, come see me, tell me what ideas you have, tell me how you think you can contribute…obviously in terms of remuneration, the treasury has a finite sum of money, so it has to be reasonable and within what the treasury can afford,” he said.

“But we are prepared to embrace people and the country is at a stage where we really need everybody to make a positive contribution to the efforts.”