PM Mitchell talks Climate Change at Commonwealth Summit

With a very active hurricane season projected for 2018 and reminiscing on the impacts the season had on the region in 2017, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has advocated the need for intense action by the Commonwealth in preparing for its members for the adverse effects of Climate Change.

Dr. Mitchell was addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in the United Kingdom last week.

He proposed that two things ought to be done including the fact that Commonwealth countries should build resilience and to have the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) implemented in order for countries to be ready for the changes or to avert the effects foreseen.

“This is necessary to ensure that the international community is focused on achieving the emissions reductions that are necessary for the survival of many of our small island developing states and for implementing the mechanisms that were agreed upon to strengthen our resilience building capacities,” he said.

“With regards to building resilience in our countries, this requires that we develop the ability to withstand the impact of climate change as well as recover quickly when the impact happens. It also requires significant investment in strengthening our infrastructure, developing new policy frameworks and developing the capacity of our people,” he added.

Prime Minister Mitchell referred to the recent formation of the new Ministry of Climate Resilience, Environment, Fisheries, Forestry, Disaster Management and Information, headed by Sen. Simon Stiell to provide the attention that is needed with Climate Change.

He called for assistance to be given to the Commonwealth to ensure that Climate Change be dealt with.

“We know that as Small Islands Developing States, we do not always have the resources to do what’s necessary to protect our people and our national assets. We therefore continue to solicit and welcome additional assistance from the Commonwealth family to enable us to access the required resources”, he said.

“We cannot overemphasise the need to advocate for changes in the global financial architecture including the incorporation of vulnerability considerations in accessing finance and in determining whether or not countries graduate from one level to another”, he added.

Dr. Mitchell is confident that the Commonwealth family with its diverse membership is well placed to “continue championing the needs of our smaller and more vulnerable brothers and sisters and I look forward to working together to address these issues.”

New Faces In The Senate

Today’s Ceremonial Opening of Parliament will see a number of new faces taking their seats in both Houses of Parliament.

Jude Cadett – the NNP Youth Arm President has been given a senatorial appointment

It marks the return to Parliament of former Congress government minister, Glynis Roberts, the current political leader of the small National United Front (NUF) which did not take part in the March 13 general election.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Dr. Mitchell said that Roberts who campaigned for the ruling New National Party (NNP) in the election is heading to the Upper House to serve as an “Independent” Senator.

Prior to the election, Roberts had told a local radio station that NUF would not be contesting the poll as most of its members had left to work with NNP.

A surprise inclusion in the list of Senators is female attorney-at-law, Katisha Williams who is attached to the law office of Derick Sylvester & Associates headed by Derek Sylvester, the current Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Well-placed sources told this newspaper that Sylvester visited his hometown in St. David during the election campaign and allegedly encouraged persons to vote for NNP at the polls.

Kerryne James – featured in the election wth Congress

About a month ago, Prime Minister Mitchell had announced the names of four persons who will sit on the government side in the senate – outgoing President Chester Humphrey and Government ministers, Nolan Cox, Simon Stiell and Pastor Winston Garraway.

The list of Government Senators are completed by President of the NNP Youth Arm, Judd Cadett, female attorney-at-law, Kim George of Kim George & Associates.

Apart from Roberts, the sectoral interest groups would be represented by Independent Senators – Andre Lewis (Labour), Dr. Dustan Campbell (Agriculture) and Christopher DeAllie (Private Sector), appointed by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which failed to win a seat in the election was alloted two places in the Senate -Kerryne James and Ron Redhead of the party’s youth arm.

Ron Redhead – appointed as a Congress Senator in the Upper House

In commenting on the Senatorial appointments, Dr. Mitchell said the persons selected will provide balance in the Upper House including the four appointed female senators.

He also said that the decision to give Cadett a place in the Senate was in-keeping with a promise made to the party prior to the election.

“… I did promise the party, post-election that I would recognise the work of the youth arm of our party by the appointment of someone from their particular area to send the right message that we firmly believe that the young people have a very good idea what they want and that we can’t decide by ourselves what they wish to have and therefore, having one of their own, in the mix of what we’re doing, send the right message…”, he said.

“We’ve got very good positive recommendation from not just inside the party but outside of the party that (is why) we’re asking Miss Katisha Williams (and) from reports about her own professional work, we’ve got high commendation.

PM Mitchell also commented briefly on the decision of the NDC to exclude from its list of names submitted to the Governor-General for consideration all those candidates who took part in the just-ended election.

He said: “She (Dame Cecile) did write the party that had the second largest share votes in the General Elections, that’s the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – sought to have recommendations from them. They sent us three recommendations and they indicated ….that they did not want any member of their party who ran in the last General Election (to be) recommended for the Senate.

“So, they gave her three persons and she in her own deliberate judgement (has) decided that she would take two of those persons – Kerryne James …. and Mr. Ron Redhead. They are both young persons – I don’t know those individuals…,” he added.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the NDC nominee who was rejected by Dame Cecile for a possible senatorial appointment was Glen Noel who managed the campaign for Congress.

Today’s ceremonial opening of The Houses of Representatives will also see all 15 NNP winning candidates taking their seats in the Lower House of Parliament.

Sen. Garraway Facing Lawsuit

Retired Assistant Supervisor of Elections, Ada Holder has decided to sue Minister of State for Climate Change, Senator Winston Garraway for libellous statements made about her in the campaign leading up to the March 13 general election.

Ada Holder – seeking to clear her name

A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Holder has secured the services of former Attorney-General, Rohan Phillip to pursue Garraway in the high court.

He said that the lawsuit is being filed over statements uttered by Garraway at a public meeting in Marian held by the Member of Parliament for the St. George South-east constituency, Gregory Bowen.

Sen. Garraway was one of the regular platform speakers used by Bowen throughout the six week campaign period.

According to the source, both Holder and her husband sat at their home in Marian and heard the disparaging remarks made against the retired electoral official by the government minister less than 200 yards away.

He said that Garraway was given an opportunity by attorney Phillip through a warning letter sent to him to apologise for the offending statement but apparently he failed to comply.

The source quoted the Holders’ as saying that Sen. Garraway “went too far” in attacking the former Assistant Supervisor of Elections on the political platform of the ruling New National Party (NNP).

The former senior electoral official was not reached on Wednesday for comment on the issue but her husband was rather cautious in giving out details of the impending lawsuit.

Holder attracted national attention in February 2017 when she abruptly resigned from the Electoral Office in the wake of the mass firing of a number of Returning Officers by Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade in controversial circumstances.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) reacted to the development inside the Electoral Office by accusing the Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime of trying to set the stage to rig the upcoming general election.

The NNP took all 15 seats in the March 13 poll to leave Congress without a voice in the Lower House of Parliament.

GFA adds new Floor to Administrative Building

In the next four months, the Grenada Football Association (GFA) is expected to have a new floor on its administrative building at Queen’s Park in St. George’s, which is expected to help alleviate expenses associated with accommodation for teams in training.

GFA President Cheney Joseph

The Sonrise Construction Company was contracted to add a third floor to the two-storey GFA administrative building, which was officially commissioned approximately one-year ago.

Work commenced on the third floor last week Monday and is being done at a total cost of EC$889, 802.62.
According to GFA General Secretary, Ken Whiteman, who signed the contract on behalf of GFA with Desmond John of Sonrise Construction, the additional floor would accommodate housing space for at least 40 persons, a kitchenette, rest rooms, a meeting room and a dining area.

The project is being funded by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), through the FIFA Forward Football development programme, which is geared at supporting, improving and developing football across the globe.

The GFA Administrative Building

GFA President, Cheney Joseph, who witnessed the signing, expressed hope for an early completion of the project in keeping with the budget.

GFA General Secretary (left) and Sonrise representative (right) signs agreement

Joseph disclosed that a ‘technical centre’ is his next targeted project and hopes to meet with government soon to finalise their intended cooperation on the initiative.

He also spoke of plans to erect seating capacity at the Fond facility in St. Patrick, in the very near future.

Meanwhile, GFA has announced the launch of its ‘grassroots’ programme for youngsters involved in football on May 5 at the Kirani James Football &Athletic Stadium, Queen’s Park, St. George’s.According to Joseph, the programme will target over 2000 youths, in both male and female divisions and is set to commence on the same date as the Pure Grenada Cup Final to coincide with the visit to the island by FIFA Vice President and Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) President, Victor Montagliani, who will be visiting the island to witness the conclusion of the tournament.

GFA Technical Director, Vin Blaine said, the programme will be held in every parish including Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

“We are going into every possible village in search of the next generation of Grenada footballers and as such we want the parents and community leaders to offer themselves to assist in our success”, Blaine said.

Commonwealth summit proved reparations demand is nonsense

So, the latest Commonwealth summit has ended and, while all sorts of issues were discussed, one supposedly important issue was totally ignored. This is the issue of reparations for slavery. Was it because the leaders of our Caribbean nations felt too intimidated by the royalty of the British queen, was it because these leaders did not want to come across as fools on such a prominent world stage or was it because they felt that, in reality, there is really no basis whatsoever for these reparations demands why the issue never came up? I am going to be bold and say “yes” to all of those questions.

Many of leaders in the Caribbean don’t really think too much of their own people, when one really look at it, you know. When they are at home, they brag about all sorts of rubbish about how proud they are in their peoples. Yet, when they stand in front of the queen of Great Britain – they shake in their boots. Maybe they think that as they are from such small countries, they should not magnify their insignificance in the presence of the British sovereign, by making silly reparations demands.

No doubt, they haven’t forgotten the embarrassment that the Prime Minister of St Vincent caused us a few years ago when he went to the United Nations general assembly and made his demand for reparations – in our name, making us Caribbean people into a total laughing stock. Or, maybe it was when the former British prime minister came to Jamaica and told our parliamentarians that they need to move on and forget reparations – forcing them to, as we would say in Jamaica “hug up that”! No doubt they were determined not to repeat any fiasco like those again!

Imagine, these Caribbean leaders were in the very presence of the British queen, even dinning with her, and instead of raising the issue of reparations, they were too busy filling their bellies with the royal luncheon! I suppose it really is true what they say – the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! Indeed, contrary to demanding “justice” for slavery, they endorsed the Queen’s “request” that her son be made the next head of the Commonwealth – in a sense, their boss. What brave fellows they were!

The absence of any legal basis for reparations was also greatly magnified by the Windrush issue. Many of our Caribbean peoples went to Britain during the colonial period and both they and their children were in danger of being kicked out of that country. Of course, this would have been a great injustice, as these Caribbean peoples and their descendants were in fact British subjects at that time – and they still are.

Recognising the wrongness of any attempt to kick out these people, the British government has promised to make good the situation of these Caribbean immigrants and has even gone as far as to apologise for any harm that may have come to these Caribbean peoples – as it rightfully should do.

Now, if there was any legal basis for reparations, why did these “brave” Caribbean leaders not push through this demand too, just as they pushed through the Windrush issue? Simple, because both they and the British, and indeed the whole world know that reparations have no legal basis whatsoever. Our Caribbean leaders may have been hungry for that royal dinner, but they weren’t idiots! Imagine the poor queen dying of laughter, if they had done so!

Anyway, on a serious note: Now that that Commonwealth summit has proven just how ridiculous the demands for reparations are, shouldn’t these reparations commissions take the hint and throw in the towel and disband now?

It really is pathetic to see these supposedly highly educated intellectuals who are members of these commissions allowing themselves to be used as mindless tools, mostly to get votes, by politicians who clearly believe that their cause is only fit for comic relief! Pavlov’s dog surely looks much smarter than them now!

Time to end this reparations nonsense!

Michael A. Dinigwall

Government awaits money from Mexico to finish Parliament

Government is yet to receive the US$2 million from Mexico for the completion of the Parliament Building.
According to Minister of Infrastructure Development, Gregory Bowen the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration is awaiting the money mainly to do the ground work for the building.

Speaking at last week’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister Bowen said he is hoping that the island can receive the money very soon to get the building operational by the month of May.

“We are expecting US $2 million from Mexico as additional grants to complete all these works. So, even if the building will be operational by the end of May and if we want to make it extremely beautiful and first class, we would have to allow these two million dollars to come on stream.

“So, we might move into the building by the end of May but work should still be going on particularly on the outside so that the compound and everything will be in tip top shape.”

“Most of the money will be for the ground work but there are some other necessary things that are in the pipeline that will be done in completing (the Parliament). The building does not have what most parliament buildings do have and we did not push for it because it is grant and we can operate without it.

Bowen dropped hints that government can eventually come around to putting in place individual rooms for each parliamentarian as is seen in the British Parliament.

The senior government minister disclosed that from an overall perspective, the interior of the Parliament is almost complete as there are just a little tidying up left to do.

He said: “There must be the delivery of the fire pump to the project, it is critical that you have this in the case of fire. Delivery of remaining parts for the hand rails installation and checking, testing and commissioning of major electrical plumping and heating and AC systems, the domestic water pump – even if you have water from the main, you must have water pump in place and we have the first shipment of ICT equipment and lines come into Grenada but they must be installed and commissioned. So, that’s the component that the contractor must do in order to make the building operational”.

The Parliament building initiative started under the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas when it secured $5 million from Australia and $2 million from the United Arab Emirates but the Australian government later withdrew from the project.

Conditional support for CCJ!!!

Fresh from its historic 15-0 clean sweep of the polls, the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is moving with speed to try and get the electorate to once again effect constitutional change and to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final court of appellate in the jurisdiction.

It is clear that the intention of government is to beat the iron while it is hot and try and cash in on the so-called favourable rating that it got from the people in the national poll to run the affairs of the country for another 5-year term in office.

The Prime Minister must be cognisant of the fact that the clean sweep of all the seats by NNP did not amount to two-thirds of the votes cast in the election.

The move to the CCJ, to replace the Privy Council in London as our final court, requires two-thirds support of those who vote in a referendum.

Quite naturally, PM Mitchell and his party would need the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its 23, 000 plus supporters to come on board to secure the required support for the CCJ.

If Congress does not go along and give tacit support the desired result that the government is looking for will not materialise and the CCJ will most likely suffer another defeat.

The coming on stream of the CCJ in the current political dispensation in the country would be disastrous given the fear in some quarters about the operation of a legal system that is controlled by a Cabal that is prepared to punish so-called undesirable elements.

It is the view of THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the NDC should link any support to change the court system in Grenada to a firm commitment by the Mitchell-led government to effect electoral reform as proposed by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in their recent reports on the outcome of the March 13 elections.

There should be no compromise by Congress on offering to support the bill once the government gives a timeframe in which these badly needed electoral reforms can take place and way ahead of the next general election.

The political playing field is definitely not level by any stretch of the imagination in Grenada and should be changed in the interest of democracy.

The NDC agenda in the upcoming period of constitutional reform is to make demands for the comprehensive overhaul of the electoral system including the critical issue of campaign financing along the lines as outlined by the OAS.

This newspaper had made a suggestion after the election that there is need to correct a major wrong in which only one side of the political divide in the country is allowed to raid the public purse to help finance its campaign activities in the general election.

This gives the party in power a huge advantage over its opponents in any election battle.

The NDC must demand an allocation of state funds as part of the Parliamentary democratic process for the holding of any general election in the Spice Isle.

It is arguable that the NDC support base might be paying more taxes to the Treasury than the average NNP’ite who fall under the income tax level.

Information picked up by THE NEW TODAY is that in the most recent election in Antigua and Barbuda that a foreign entity involved in the sale of passports provided US$75,000.00 a day to the ruling party to help secure its victory at the polls. Why this large amount of money to help influence the voting pattern of Antiguans?

Another issue which the NDC should put on the table in negotiation with the NNP to secure its support for the CCJ is reform to the Representation of the People’s Act (RRA) on those Grenadians who are eligible to vote in future elections.

The legislation should be amended in-keeping with the requirements for Commonwealth citizens to qualify to vote in our national elections.

No Grenadian who has been living outside the country for a considerable period of time should be allowed to just fly in and vote on election day and then fly out the following day.

The position of this newspaper is that while Grenada belongs to all Grenadians it should be a case of those who are residing here be allowed to elect their governments every five years.

The NDC might have erred gravely in the names submitted by the party to Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade to represent the party’s interest in Parliament at the level of the Senate.

The current period calls for people with the political acumen and fortitude to take the fight to the NNP at all levels in the society to defeat the so-called Green Machine.

The most promising Congress candidate and politician with a bright future, Tevin Andrew of the sister isle of Carriacou should have been included in the list of names that was sent to Dame Cecile for approval to sit in the Senate.

It is time for NDC to rise up from the electoral defeat, do the necessary post-mortem and start putting new leadership in place to take the party forward into the new phase of the battle against NNP for State power.

China donates EC$5, 000 to Cancer Society

The Grenada Cancer Society has received a sum of EC$5, 000 from the Chinese government to assist cancer patients in their fight against the life threatening disease.

Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, Dr. Zhao Yongchen, presents $5,000 cheque to President of the Grenada Cancer Society, Dr. Barrymore Mc Barnette

President of the Grenada Cancer Society, Dr. Barrymore Mc Barnette accepted the much “needed financial assistance” last week Tuesday, from the Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, Dr. Zhao Yongchen, during a brief ceremony at the Chinese Embassy in Grand Anse.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Grenada and according to Dr. Mc Barnette, the monies would go a long way to help ease the financial burden of cancer patients in terms of treatment and counseling among other things.

He said that since its inception in 1984, the cancer society has engaged in a number of fundraising activities geared towards the fight against cancer.

He also expressed the hope that other organisations would come on board as cancer treatment is a very costly exercise.

While he was not in a position to say the exact number of cancer patients presently receiving assistance by the society, the medical doctor said the number is quite significant.

According to Dr. Mc Barnette, while cancer is more prevalent among persons aged forty plus, a number of young people have been diagnosed with the disease from time to time.

In addition to the cheque handover, Mc Barnette and Ambassador Yongchen signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is expected to provide for greater collaboration between the Grenada Cancer Society and the Peoples Republic of China.

The Chinese Ambassador also expressed hope that the society would be able to channel some of its resources towards research at Chinese facilities in the near future.

This is the second time that China has contributed to the cause of the local Cancer Society as in 2015, the organisation collected $2, 000 from the then Chinese resident Ambassador Ou Boqian.

Another shooting incident

Police are on the lookout for a resident of Gouyave, St. John who is wanted for questioning in connection with a shooting incident that left one man hospitalised.

A wanted man bulletin has been put out by the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) for 23-year old Jonathan Richards who is believed to be the person allegedly responsible for the shooting of Edwin Cheddick.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Cheddick of Gouyave, St. John is currently warded at the St. George’s General Hospital after receiving a single gunshot wound to the left side of his back last Saturday.

The police have described the suspect as a shopkeeper who has been in trouble before with the law on a charge for Possession of Firearm.

A source close to the investigation told this newspaper that the victim went into the shop of the accused to allegedly purchase a marijuana joint and on his way out of the shop accidentally bumped into another man who was gambling.

The guy who was bumped into went into the shop and returned with the owner of the business who had a gun in his hand.

It was then that the victim started backing away from the shop and as he turned and ran away several shots were fired at him.

THE NEW TODAY understands that six shots were fired with the fourth hitting the victim in his lower back and passing straight through him.

Did Tobias Clement lose job at SGU?

Recently elected Member of Parliament for St. George North-east, Tobias Clement has refused to comment on reports that he was sacked from his US$5000.00 a month job at St. George’s University (SGU) in the aftermath of the March 13 elections.

Tobias Clement – not willing to speak on his SGU job status

Clement who is originally from the sister isle of Carriacou was contacted Tuesday afternoon by THE NEW TODAY about his SGU job in the wake of widespread allegations that he was no longer on the payroll of the university.

He did not confirm nor deny the allegation and when asked if there was any truth about him losing his job, the MP responded: “Do I have to clarify anything to you?”

He was then asked to respond to the specific question posed to him and Clement uttered the following words: “I would not give you anything.”

The NNP Parliamentarian was then asked if there was any particular reason why he would not respond to the queries from THE NEW TODAY and he said: “I don’t have to justify that to you.”

There are unconfirmed reports that prior to the election, Clement took no pay leave from his SGU job in order to concentrate on the political work in order to retain the constituency from the challenge of Congress leader, Nazim Burke who he defeated 5 years earlier.

Clement was considered in the 2013-18 period as one of the highest paid MP’s in the country earning close to EC$20, 000.00 a month from two sources – an estimated $EC13, 584.00 from SGU and an additional $EC7, 000.00 as a paid Parliamentarian.

Prior to the March 13 election, the NNP Parliamentarian came in for heavy criticisms in some quarters after an interview he conducted with one of the nation’s media houses in which he sought to explain his reasons for refusing to take up a ministerial position after the 2013 General Election.

With a grin on his face, Clement was heard saying that he could not justify to his family his reasons for leaving his job at SGU to take up a position that was only paying $5000 a month.

Prime Minister Mitchell once again did not include Clement in his list of new ministers named to serve in government following the poll which was held six weeks ago.