Nurses within the service could begin to dwindle

The Public Workers Union (PWU) has challenged the statement made by Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele that all nurses within the government system are fully employed.

Brian Grimes – Public Relations Officer of the PWU

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY, Public Relations Officer of the union, Brian Grimes described as “half-truth” the claim as made by the senior government minister.

Grimes said that full-time employment is not what should be used to describe the status of nurses as many of them are severely underpaid by the State.

“Even if all the nurses in the country are employed based on actuarial studies that have been done, it would still mean that we are grossly understaffed as far as the nurses are concerned”, he told the newspaper.

“What the government has done in recent times and the Public Workers Union agitated strongly against it, is that they have taken a number of nurses in excess of 30, put them in an agency and is employing them three days a week…”, he said.

Grimes went on: “…So, yes they are being counted as employed but in fact they are underemployed. So, the statement made by Minister Steele is misleading and basically a half truth. It is not a true reflection of what is happening within the health sector.

“In addition to this, the nurses are being maltreated and underpaid currently. There are a number of nurses, let’s say about 30 or more who are performing as midwives and they are being paid as registered nurses so they are being grossly underpaid, he said.

According to Grimes, this practice by the government runs contrary to the Labour Code which provides for equal work for equal pay and described it as a “recipe for disaster”.

He accused the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of engaging in underemployment with the nurses and resorting to the controversial practice of contract work to hire them.

Grimes also expressed fears that Grenada stands on the verge of losing several nurses to more lucrative offers overseas and the people and health system could be affected.

He said the lack of care shown to nurses and the limited investment in resources within the health sector is causing nurses to seek more lucrative employment opportunities outside of Grenada.

He stated that over the years, the nursing profession and the health sector have been “grossly neglected” by the current and previous governments as reflected in the policy of continual contract employment, under-employment and underpayment.

The PWU official charged that the level of unfairness faced by nurses in the system is indicative of government’s unconcern in making the health sector a priority as compared to certain professions within the public sector.

He said: “A sector that I personally have all tremendous respect for is the RGPF (Royal Grenada Police Force) but you will never see a Police Officer under contract – they are an essential service and nurses can also be categorised as an essential service but yet for all you see a number of nurses being contracted and in fact the government of Grenada via our Honourable Prime Minister is actually intimating to the Grenadian public that contract work is the new world order and we have to follow that in Grenada.

“We’re saying that that cannot be fair to nurses – it is being applied to nurses and it is grossly unfair because it is causing the nurses on a whole to be disenchanted and they are leaving the service by droves”, he added.

Grimes pointed to one senior nurse on the island who will be taking up employment in the Turks and Caicos for twice time the salary that is being paid to her in Grenada.

He said, “We have nurses going to foreign countries and these foreign countries are hungrily pursuing them with the same skillset that they have here in Grenada and giving them payments of up to $5000 US a month and here they are making a mere fraction of that with the same skillset…so that just goes into a part of the frustration of the nurses.

“We understand that we are in Grenada and the resources are limited but clearly the level of prioritisation the government needs to put into the healthcare, they have been falling short.”

According to Grimes, the senior nurse who is departing the service is bent on taking some of her colleagues along with her to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

“The nurse said because she cares about the junior nurses and their future, she’s actually encouraging them to take up work elsewhere outside of the tri-island state – this is a frightening prospect.

“There are many reports of negligence in the health sector and it is not because the workers don’t care, it’s simply because they are undermanned and understaffed.

“We are pleading with the government, we are strongly requesting that they review how they look at the health sector and put priority in the sector financially as well as human resources for the betterment of the people and the citizens of this country.

Grimes also addressed the complaints from the public about having to wait for long periods before getting attendance at some of the nation’s healthcare facilities.

He said the doctors and nurses should not be blamed for the situation.

He stated that there are not enough nurses in the system and “people have to wait hours on end to see nurses and doctors and that is a result of the mass exodus of doctors leaving the public sector and it’s also a result of nurses also leaving…”.

Grimes also addressed the recent announcement made in Parliament by Health Minister Steele of a lawsuit filed against him and Education Minister, Simon Stiell from a doctor within the system.

He believes that the reason behind the lawsuit is much deeper than just a “moral obligation” to serve the state because of the granting of a government scholarship.

“The move was made simply because the issues in the health sector as far as health workers are concerned is deplorable – they are overworked, doctors have to do double shifts … then the pay they get is a mere fraction of what they can get in the private sector places like St. George’s University or going away.

“Yes, it’s a service to the nation but the individuals who study hard have to get lucrative financial reward for their hard studies as well as having that innate desire to help the general public.

“There needs to be a balance and the government of Grenada with its policies at this current time, they are not doing what they have to do to create that balance within the health sector.

The Father of Independence Sir Eric Matthew Gairy

Early days in Grenada: 1922–41

Eric Matthew Gairy was the son of Douglas and Theresa Gairy, and was born 18 February 1922 in Dunfermline, St. Andrew’s Parish on the eastern side of the island near Grenville, Grenada.

He attended the La Fillette School and then the St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Senior School. He was also an acolyte at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, next door to the school. He became a primary “student-teacher” in the La Fillette School from January 1939 to September 1941.

Gairy: Trade union leader and “Red Sky”: 1950–51

Eric Gairy returned to Grenada from Curaçao in December, 1949 to enter trade unionism and politics.

In 1950, he founded the Grenada Manual & Mental Workers Union (GMMWU) and was deeply involved in encouraging the 1951 general strike for better working conditions.

This sparked great unrest – so many buildings were set ablaze that the disturbances became known as the “sky red” days – and the British authorities had to call in military reinforcements to help regain control of the situation. Gairy himself was taken into custody.

Eric Gairy -Radical political leader: 1951–61

In 1951 Gairy founded the Grenada United Labour Party.[2]

He was elected as a representative of the Colony of Grenada’s Legislative Council in 1951, 1954, and 1957. He was banned from political activities and lost his seat between 1957 and 1961.

Eric Gairy -Chief Minister: 1961–62

Gairy was returned in a by-election in July 1961 and became Chief minister, as his party held a majority in the Legislative Council since winning the 1961 general election.

He served as Chief Minister from August 1961 until April 1962 when he was dismissed by the British colonial Governor for the questionable use of state funds.

Eric Gairy – Leader of the Opposition: 1962–67
Gairy’s party lost the 1962 general election and he served as leader of the opposition between 1962 and 1967.

Premier: 1967–74

First administration: 1967–72

Gairy won the 1967 general election and formed a new administration as Premier of the Associated State of Grenada.

Eric Gairy – Miss World controversy

In the 1970 Miss World pageant in London, controversy followed after Grenadian contestant Jennifer Hosten won, and another black contestant from South Africa placed second. Since Gairy was on the judging panel, inevitably there were many accusations that the contest had been rigged.

The BBC and newspapers received numerous protests about the result, and accusations of racism were made by all sides. Four of the nine judges had given first-place votes to Miss Sweden, Marjorie Christel Johansson, while Miss Grenada received only two firsts, yet Johansson finished fourth. Some of the audience gathered in the street outside Royal Albert Hall after the contest and chanted “Swe-den, Swe-den”.

Four days later, organising director Julia Morley resigned because of the intense pressure from the newspapers. Years later Johansson was reported as saying that she had been cheated out of the title.

Eric Gairy – Second administration 1972–74

Gairy won the 1972 general election and formed a new administration as Premier of the Associated State of Grenada.

Prime Minister: 1974–79

First administration: 1974–76

Gairy became the first Prime Minister of Grenada when Grenada achieved independence from Great Britain on 7 February 1974. Gairy’s term in office coincided with civil strife in Grenada.

The political environment was highly charged with Gairy’s secret police, the Mongoose Gang terrorising opponents.

Second administration: 1976–79

Gairy’s party narrowly won the 1976 election but the result was declared fraudulent by international observers due to intimidation of the opposition by Gairy’s secret police, known as the Mongoose Gang.

On 27 November 1978, Eric Gairy led a group including scientists and an astronaut in addressing the United Nations on the subject of UFOs. The mission AGENDA ITEM 126: ESTABLISHMENT OF AN AGENCY OR A DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS FOR UNDERTAKING, CO-ORDINATING AND DISSEMINATING THE RESULTS OF RESEARCH INTO UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS AND RELATED PHENOMENA. UN/33/512.

US citizens helped to support the overthrow of Eric Gairy with solidarity movements. One such solidarity movement existed in San Antonio, Texas and was headed by African-American activist Mario Marcel Salas, who was active in his overthrow on a number of levels.

Civil strife took the form of street violence between government supporters, including the Mongoose Gang, and gangs organised by the New Jewel Movement (NJM). In the late 1970s, the NJM began planning to overthrow the government, with party members receiving military training outside of Grenada.

In 1979, a rumour circulated that Gairy would use the Gang to eliminate leaders of the New Jewel Movement while he was out of the country.

In response, Bishop overthrew Gairy in March of that year while the latter was visiting the United States.[5]
On 13 March 1979, while Gairy was at the UN, the New Jewel Movement led by Maurice Bishop launched an armed revolution and overthrew the government.

Bishop suspended the constitution, and the New Jewel Movement ruled the country by decree until 1983. Anti-Gairy activity was carried out in the United States in support of the revolution to overthrow Gairy including activists in San Antonio, Texas.[6]

Eric Gairy – Exile in the United States: 1979–83

Gairy stayed in exile in the United States until 1983, when the United States, backed by some Caribbean allies – notably, Dame Eugenia Charles, Prime Minister of Dominica – invaded to topple a military government which had overthrown and killed Bishop.

Eric Gairy – Return and final days: 1983–97

Gairy then returned to Grenada and campaigned in the elections of 1984, claiming to be a changed man. However, his party lost the elections, winning 36% of the popular vote but only a single seat in the House of Representatives.

Attempts by Gairy and his party to return to power in 1990 and 1995 were also unsuccessful. He died at his small hotel, the Hibiscus Inn in Morne Rouge, Grand Anse on August 23, 1997.

Health insurance still on!!!

In keeping with Government’s decision to introduce a National Health Insurance (NHI) programme for Grenada which aims to provide universally accessible and affordable health services to its residents, the University of the West Indies, HEU, Centre for Health Economics (UWI-HEU) has been contracted as the Lead Consultant, to complete the critical components of the project.

Charmaine Metivier and Dr. Stanley Lalta, members of the UWI-HEU team arrived in Grenada in December 2017 and held introductory meetings and courtesy visits with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Implementation, Ministry of Health and the National Insurance Board.

The consultants will be on island through July 2018 and are based in the NHI Secretariat, which is located in the NIS building on Melville Street, St. George’s.

The Secretariat was officially launched on October 31 and is headed by Claudette James, Project Head.
During the week of January 15-19, UWI’s Costing Specialist, Dr. Christine Laptiste and Medical Specialist, Dr. Anton Cumberbatch were on the island meeting with a cross section of key stakeholders.

They met with primary healthcare providers, pharmacies and health insurance companies gathering data for the composition of the services to be included in the Benefit Package and its cost.

Professor Theodore, Director of the Centre for Health Economics was also on island during the week and paid courtesy calls to the Minister of Implementation, National Health Insurance Advisory Committee and the Director of the National Insurance Board.

Another UWI-HEU Consultant, Edison Garraway, who specialises in Organisation and Governance Design, is currently on island for one week to meet with another group of stakeholders to review and develop the organisational and governance structure for the NHI.

Kimoy Worrell, Macroeconomic Specialist is also on island conducting research for the macroeconomic component of the project.

(Submitted by the Secretariat of the National Health Insurance body)

Frustrating the will of the people!!!

Campaign 2018 is now truly on among the two major contenders for the seat of power in the Botanicals Gardens with the announcement Sunday night by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that March 13 is the date for the next general election.

The announcement set in train a series of activities that can leave many scars on the fairness of the process that is to take place to elect a new government for the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been able to document a number of happenings on Monday, the last day for registration which questions whether there will indeed be free and fair election on March 13.

The most serious of these is the presence of a young lady with a T-shirt at the Parliamentary Elections Office in the town of St. George and captured on video-tape directing business at the office.

THE NEW TODAY does not need to lament anything further on the video since it was all over the social media for the entire world to see what is happening in poor Grenada.

This newspaper has first-hand information and knowledge about wrong doing taking place on Monday at the South St. George Parliamentary Elections Office in the Limes gap.

NNP operatives were very influential in the day’s activities.

A Justice of the Peace who was involved in the infamous Email sex scandal was seen on the compound openly allowing people to enter through a back entrance long after the 5.00 p.m cut-off point when the front door was closed to the public.

The latecomers who were apparently supporters of the ruling party were allowed to proceed ahead of all those persons who were already waiting in the long line for hours to get processed.

Is that a free and fair process? Who is in charge

– The Supervisor of Elections or the NNP operatives and Surrogates?

There were also clear signs of voter-padding taking place in the South St. George constituency on Monday.

An individual in his mid-30’s was getting frustrated because of the length of time being taken by the office to process persons to get registered and wanted to leave the office.

He was persuaded by his sister who told him that he cannot afford to leave.

These were the words used by the man in the conversation with his sister: “I tell you all that ah should have registered across so”.

This was the reply of his sister: “No, we win dey already. It is over here we want you”.

Doesn’t this smack of voter padding by one of the political parties trying to win the election?

The NDC are also pointing fingers at 51 persons from the Happy Hill and Moliniere villages who were taken into St. George North-east and not their rightful place of St. George North-west to get registered on Monday.

How can the Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip in the limited days available to him by law come up with an authentic final list for the elections in the face of what appears to be organised voter-padding?

It is clear that the Supervisor of Elections was not totally in charge of the voter registration process that took place at the various constituency offices around the island on Monday.

In the first instance, the office failed to put in place sufficient staff to meet the influx and last minute rush by persons to meet the cut-off point to register to vote on election day.

The alleged irregularities are numerous and Mr. Phillip runs the risk of being discredited at the end of the day as one who stood hopeless as outsiders ran amok in the Electoral Offices across the nation.

Monday’s events should also be looked at against the backdrop of earlier events at the Electoral Office such as the manner in which Judy Benoit was bundled out of the office as Supervisor of Elections, and the mass firing of Registration Officers all by Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.

It is known by many that in the last election in 2013, persons who were living on the St. David side were allowed to vote in St. George South-east.

In the 2003 general elections, the then Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Emmanuel Roberts confirmed to a local reporter that he was approached by the NNP but refused to switch some names between South St. George and St. George South-east constituencies.

The sad truth is that the Organisation of American States (OAS), OECS, CARICOM and other international bodies send Observers to certify elections around the world but the exercise could be useless and futile.

However, the election could have been determined long before the day of polling as the fraud would have already been committed in advance of Election Day.

The true will of the people can also be frustrated and fraud perpetuated easily if corrupt persons are allowed to work inside a Parliamentary Electoral Office.

Any Supervisor of Elections worth his/her salt will not want their name to be sullied by wrongdoing in elections which should always be free and fair.

Is the OAS putting its credibility in doubt?

Not for the first time, the Organisation of American States (OAS) is in danger of reinforcing the widely-held view that it ignores its own declared values and principles.

This time, the danger is posed by the way that the Organisation is handling developments in Honduras that threaten democracy and fly in the face of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

It was in defense of these matters that, throughout 2017, the OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, and several states of the Organisation berated the elected government of Venezuela, leading to that country’s decision to withdraw as a member in April 2019.

As 2017 was coming to an end, Almagro appeared to demonstrate consistency in his position that he would condemn any member state that flouted the Democratic Charter as he judged it. In this case, it was the November 25 Presidential elections in Honduras.

The OAS Electoral Mission, which observed the Honduras election, declared that it had “observed a low-quality election and therefore cannot assert that its doubts about it have been clarified”.

On December 17, Almagro informed the OAS member states and the public that: “The only possible way for the victor to be the people of Honduras is a new call for general elections, within the framework of the strictest respect for the rule of law”.

Despite the findings of the Electoral Commission and the Secretary-General’s typical and unequivocal pronouncement, a handful of member states of the OAS announced their bilateral acceptance of the Honduran election. Up to then, this did not appear to deter Almagro.

On January 5, he wrote to the Permanent Council of the OAS, asking for a meeting at which the Mission’s report would be submitted for “consideration and subsequent adoption, given the importance of the matter”.

Unlike what occurred with Venezuela, bigger and more influential member states of the Organisation seemed to want no meeting of the Permanent Council to discuss the elections in Honduras until after the installation of Juan Orlando Hernandez for another term on January 27. So, no meeting was called.

The Secretary-General himself appears to have retracted the strong position that he declared on December 17. On January 22, he issued a new statement, announcing his “firm intention to work in the future with the elected authorities of Honduras”.

It seems, therefore, that Almagro has either been encouraged to reverse his position or he has found new evidence that dispels the finding of the OAS mission and his own previous remarks. If it is the former, the Secretary-General has called his own credibility into question. Should it be the latter, he needs to produce the new evidence of a fair election.

It is as well to recap the findings of the OAS Mission which said that the November 26 elections were lacking in transparency, fraught with irregularities and inexplicable delays by a less than impartial Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

The 32-page report points to fraud that makes the closeness of the election result too troubling to accept. The ruling National Party’s candidate and incumbent President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, is said to have secured 42.95% of the vote, while the Alliance Party’s candidate Salvador Nasralla is reported to have received 41.2%.

A mere 1.75% separated the two candidates amid a host of troubling incidents, including: Voter intimidation; witnessed vote buying; ballot boxes arriving open and tally sheets missing; 4.7% of the special voting slips being regarded as valid even though the voting stub had not been removed from the slips.

The OAS mission concluded: “The fact that those vote slips were counted is highly relevant given the narrow margin of difference between the two candidates”.

Of special significance to the Mission’s concerns was the unexplained shut-down of the computerised Integrated Electoral Vote Counting and Dissemination System (SIEDE) for several hours.

Before the shut-down, the Alliance Party candidate was leading in the count. After the shut-down, there was a curious surge in the average vote across the country from 68% to 73%. This surge coincided with an increase in the average support for Hernandez and the National Party from 44% to 56% and a decline for Nasralla and the Alliance from 32% to 16%.

The Mission stated unequivocally: “Such a development is atypical and statistically improbable”.

Three other events raise grave questions about the Honduran election and respect for democracy. First, before the election was held, the Economist magazine published a story in which it said that it had evidence that Hernandez and the National Party were planning to rig the election.

It produced recordings of training being given to government employees who were manning voting tables.

They were trained, amongst other things, to buy the scrutineering credentials of smaller political parties and “to delay the inclusion of tally sheets favouring the opposition in the preliminary vote count”. Both things eventually occurred.

Second, the OAS mission requested an independent, expert analysis of the dramatic vote swing from a 5% lead by Nasralla, reported by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal after 57% of the votes had been counted in the first two-thirds of the vote count, and a wondrous victory by Hernandez arising after the final third of the votes was counted.

The analysis by Dr Irfan Nooruddin, Professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC, concluded without equivocation: “I would reject the proposition that the National Party won the election legitimately”.

Third, US Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the US Senate, on December 5th, made a statement for the Congressional Record in which he concluded that: “It is apparent that establishing the credibility of the electoral process and the integrity of Honduras’ democracy requires either recounting the contested ballots from each of the 5,300 polling places in the presence of representatives of the political parties, representatives of civil society and international observers; or holding a new election”.

On December 19, Eliot Engel of the US House Committee on Foreign Relations also called for “a new presidential election in 2018”.

Honduras will be a cauldron of civil unrest and violence if the considerable doubt about the legitimacy of the November 26elections is not dispelled. Already, twenty-two persons have been killed; and the killing of 13 of them has been attributed to the security forces of the country.

By delaying discussion of the elections that its own Mission said it could not confirm, the OAS has delayed confronting a time-bomb that will undoubtedly explode in the weeks to come.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own)

Crochu Man charged with discovery of 289lbs of ganja

Law enforcement officers have arrested and charged a St. Andrew man in connection with the discovery of 289 pounds of marijuana that was found hidden in some bushes in the vicinity of the Bel Air Resort in St.David’s on January 19.

Repeat drug offender Jackson Crooks is facing a charge of trafficking a controlled drug

Charged with trafficking a controlled drug is 25-year-old, Jackson Crooks, an unemployed man from Crochu, St. Andrew.

The accused appeared before Magistrate Karen Noel at the Sauteurs Magistrate’s Court last week Thursday, where he was remanded to the Richmond Hill Prison, pending his second court hearing, which is scheduled for this Friday, at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court.

The drug suspect has retained the services of seasoned defense attorney, Anselm Clouden, who was unable to convince the court that Crooks would adhere to specified bail conditions.

The Police Prosecution argued that the repeat offender is indebted to the court for an outstanding fine for a similar offence and objected to the granting of bail.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the police brought to the attention of the court the fact that the drug suspect was apprehended at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), Point Salines, last week Tuesday, while aboard a Caribbean Airlines flight to neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.

The lawmen are contending that Crooks should not get bail as he would make another attempt to leave the country by other means.

Information reaching THE NEW TODAY is that the illegal drugs were spotted by a security officer who was working at the abandoned resort.

Police Investigators also found a boat anchored at the secluded bay in front of the abandoned resort along with a white Subaru station wagon registration number PG912, which has been linked to the accused.

THE NEW TODAY also understands that police investigators strongly believe there are other individuals linked to the discovery of the illegal substance, which carries an estimated street value of $654, 296.00.

The lawmen are continuing with their investigations and have not ruled out the arrest of other persons.

Grenada citizenship warrants set to trigger

By Christopher Spink

Grenada has been so successful in persuading people to pay US$200,000 to become citizens of the Caribbean island that a unique clause in warrants linked to bonds restructured in 2015 is expected to trigger, giving holders a share in revenues from the citizenship fees.

Under the restructuring, holders of US$262m of local and international bonds agreed to take a 50% loss on the face value of their notes but one of the conditions was they would be allowed to take part of the monies raised from selling Grenada citizenship.

The island agreed, under a programme monitored by the International Monetary Fund, to give 25% of any such revenues made annually between US$15m and US$50m and 35% of anything above that level in any particular year, subject to a cap.

The payment would only be made once the six-part IMF programme completed.

Grenada passed its sixth review last May and the latest citizenship revenue figures, which are calculated by a private bank and vetted by the IMF, were published this month. They show that EC$139.9m (US$51.8m) was raised by the programme in 2017.

That suggests bondholders who have retained warrants stand to receive a payment of as much as US$9.4m, mitigating their losses to a certain degree. The warrants are detachable and can be traded separately.

Of the 842 new citizens under the programme (the US$200,000 payment can cover families), two-thirds made simple payments to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund, ring-fenced from other government funds.

The remainder invested at least US$365,000 in development projects on the island.

The most common applicants for citizenship are understood to have come from Iran and China.

A source close to the government told IFR that the payment was likely to be made alongside the coupon due on the 2030 7% bonds in the second half of the year, once all the figures have been checked, rather than the one in April.

(Reproduced from the International Financing Review, considered as the world’s leading provider of global capital markets intelligence).

Statement from Clyde Martin Harvey, Bishop of St. George’s-in-Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the March 13, 2018 general election

To all the Catholic Faithful in the diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada and to all citizens of goodwill Beloved in Christ, Grenada stands on the verge of another general election.

Once more the people of God in Grenada have the opportunity to choose who will lead them politically and economically.

We can all be grateful to God that we live in a participatory democracy which allows all citizens 18 years and over to exercise their franchise. This is our right in a democracy which places on us an awesome responsibility to use our vote in the best interest of the nation.

In small countries like ours every vote counts and a seat may well be lost by a single vote. In many countries, including developed ones, the process is corrupted by fraud, bribery and deception. Elections can be bought by those who would control countries and governments in their own self-interest. Grenada can still boast of free and fair elections.

As your Bishop, I strongly urge you to participate in the process by listening to the debates in the media, at political meetings and in friendly encounters with friends who may be of a different political persuasion.

As Catholic Christians, we respond to the call of the Lord to work to bring about the reign of God in our land. It is our response to God in Christ which challenges us to build in community, village, town and nation a world in which respect, dignity, equality, justice and peace are the pillars of our social life.

We thank God for all those who offer themselves as candidates, to be servants of the people and nation and are clearly committed to these Gospel values.

The Catholic Church takes no side in this election. Grenada’s history has created an electorate which values its democracy and is committed to protecting their rights and values.

The history of the Catholic Church teaches us that Church leaders should not directly involve themselves in partisan politics by seeking to be candidates for political parties or by urging church members to vote for any particular party.

The Church, both leaders and members, must always respect the political choices of every citizen. I have therefore instructed the clergy that they are not to preach in favour of or against any particular party, whether in church or at political meetings.

Clergy are not to appear on political platforms to lead prayers for candidates or parties. Other churches may act differently. We act in the wisdom of a 2,000 year experience which other churches may not yet have. When we enter the House of the Lord, especially for Eucharist, we ought to be united around the Table of the Lord, regardless of our political affiliation.

Lay Catholics are free to support openly whomsoever they wish and may invoke the blessing of God on political occasions. The Church leaves them free to make their own political choices, trusting that they will do so in accordance with God’s will after prayerful reflection on the issues.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to do your best to keep the level of political discourse high over these days. No Catholic, candidate or ordinary citizen, should descend into the gutter of character assassination. We now clearly see that as a form of murder, and against the Fifth Commandment.

In our quest for office, hopefully a genuine desire to serve, we sometimes lose our moral and spiritual moorings. We cannot put our words back into our mouths. Apologies and excuses do not heal these wounds. We still have to live together beyond this election.

When I first saw the new Parliament Building rising on the Hill, it reminded me of the Acropolis of Athens, the birthplace of Western democracy. I dared to hope and pray that Grenada could become the Athens of the Caribbean where the political discourse may be known for its quality and that full mature citizen participation may be always assured.

“Remembering the mercies of God, let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that (in this election and beyond) you may discern what is the will of God (for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique) what is good and acceptable and mature.(cf. Romans 12:1-2).

God bless our tri-island nation now and always. Amen.

March 13th is the date

“Get ready! Get moving! Keep moving!”

Prime Minster Mitchell gives date for election

Those were the words that resounded around the national stadium from Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell as he announced March 13 as the day that thousands of Grenadians will go to the polls and exercise their constitutional right to vote a new government into office.

Nomination day for all candidates wanting to contest the election will be Tuesday, February 20, 2018.

The controversial date for election has raised several eyebrows in the country given the significance of March 13 on the Grenada calendar.

March 13, 1979 saw the birth of the ill-fated Grenada Revolution as the left-leaning New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop seized power in a coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy labour party government.

Grenada’s Marxist experiment ended four-and-a-half years later as a radical faction that was loyal to Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard moved against Bishop who was executed on Fort George in a bloody uprising.

The late Ben Jones stunned the nation when he chose March 13, 1990 as the date for elections which saw the National Democratic Congress (NDC) winning the most seats to form the government.

It will be the second time in Grenada’s history that an election will be held on March 13 as Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) is seeking another five-year term.

The Queen’s Park rally was held to formally endorse the three remaining NNP candidates for the poll Dr. Mitchell in his St. George North-west stronghold, Works Minister Gregory Bowen (St. George South-east) and for former Congress General Secretary Peter David for the Town of St. George.

During his address, Prime Minister Mitchell announced that Parliament would be dissolved with effect from last Monday by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade.

He told thousands of party supporters that the country would totally be in the hands of a Cabinet of Ministers and there will no longer be any parliamentarians in place “until you vote.”

He said that Dame Cecile would issue writs on Tuesday to the Supervisor of Elections to place in the Government Gazette and at least one local newspaper in order to pave the way for the general election.
According to Dr. Mitchell, his 15-member team of candidates is ready for the election and referred to them as the better choice to continuing representing the people of Grenada.

He introduced the returning Candidate for St. Patrick West, Anthony Boatswain who is the Minister of Youth as an “essential member of the team” and the long-standing Bowen as one who “has stood the test of time, a brilliant mind, a sound executive, an effective minister, and a genuine friend”.

He was also high in praise for returning St. George South-east MP, Tobias Clement who upset former Finance Minister Nazim Burke to defeat him in the 2013 poll.

He predicted that Clement will give more “licks” on Burke on election day.

PM Mitchell said: “The next brother I am going to call is a maverick. Tobias Clement has a unique place in Grenada’s political history, when he finishes off once and for all his opponent in St. George’s North-East come…Toby, we can’t wait for that massive licks you’re gonna share in North East”.

In the case of St John’s Alvin Dabreo, the Prime Minister described him as one who “is small on talk but he is big on action” and the controversial David as “the people’s champion” and a man who “fights for the poor and vulnerable and anyone who seeks his help and St. David’s Joseph as “a man who have had tremendous experience in the public service here and in the region” and “a very essential member for the Cabinet of this country”.

“… I have learnt from him (Joseph) as others have learnt from me. Therefore, St. David’s once again, we give you Oliver Joseph”, said PM Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell introduced rookie candidate, former school teacher Kate Lewis who is contesting her first election in the key St. Andrew North-east constituency “as someone with a bright future in politics” and candidate for Carriacou and Petite Martinique, attorney-at-law Kindra Maturine-Stewart as the better of the party’s choice for the sister isle.

This is a clear reference to the division in the NNP ranks over the selection of Maturine-Stewart over former Parliamentary Secretary for Carriacou & Petite Martinique, Nolan Cox who reportedly came out on top of internal polling for the selection of a candidate.

Dr. Mitchell is said to have offered Cox a position in the next government if he wins the election as a compromise for overlooking him.

PM Mitchell branded, Candidate for St. Mark, Dr. Clarice Modeste as an “undisputed Champion and said that he foresees “great things ahead” for former secondary head teacher, Pamela Moses who will be the new candidate for the St. Patrick East constituency.

The biggest praise was reserved for Health Minister Nickolas Steele, the NNP Candidate for South St. George who will be doing battle against Rae Roberts of the Congress party.

Steele who comes from a wealthy family is believed to be interested in the job of party leader and Prime Minister of the country.

Dr. Mitchell said: “Nickolas Steele is a genuine team player, even more importantly, being a businessman and a man who knows how to run things and get things done and create jobs…don’t be worried about his boyish looks…he is a brilliant mind, an astute politician…the other person in the south, they call him bad mouth Ray, leave Ray alone, leh he keep bad mouthing people”.

Two of the NNP’s contestants in the big parish, the Candidate for St. Andrew South-East, Emmalin Pierre and Candidate for St. Andrew North-West, Delma Thomas were introduced as persons who “are all about the people.

“Emmalin Pierre has a bright future in this politics. St. Andrew South-east, we (will) have a massive victory in that constituency”, PM Mitchell remarked.

He went on: “The next lady that I am going to introduce is a politician that I really would have wanted to be when I was growing up…no one has a bigger heart for people, no one has remained more grounded, no one has served the people’s agenda better, they did not call her the people’s minister for nothing, my little Sister Delma Thomas for St. Andrew North-West”.

Sandals Foundation sizzling in the South

Sandals Resorts International through the Sandals Foundation has always encouraged our guests to get involved in supporting our communities throughout the Caribbean, and we are always proud when they do.

Few have shown more support than John Bechthold and his wife, who are Diamond Returning guests, and have visited every Sandals bar the brand new Royal Barbados.

This year, they’re in Grenada, and seized the opportunity to provide support for vulnerable persons there.

“We enjoy giving back with Sandals Foundation every year when we come to the Caribbean,” proclaimed John.

“We have been fortunate in our lives and it is important to us to pay it forward and give back as much as we can”.

With the help of Sandals Foundation and the Limes Development Committee they were able to identify three persons with disabilities and in need of medical aid.

The recipients – Alita Coutain, a spirited and deaf young lady, with mobility challenges – was given a brand new walker, Peter Charles, an amputee who sustained his injury while on a construction worksite many years ago received a brand new durable pair of crutches, and Johnny Jones who has been battling diabetes – was given a brand new wheelchair.

The Bechthold’s support did not end there, they discovered, through the Catholic Church, a vulnerable family in need in Morne Toute.

The family’s four school aged children were gifted with all new school supplies and they have pledged to support the children throughout their school life.

In addition, Sandals LaSource repaired the rotting floors of the family’s small wooden house to improve their safety and comfort.

“We are grateful for the assistance of all our guests. A Sandals guest is not the typical traveller; they are very informed, and well researched before deciding where they will vacation”, said Peter Fraser, General Manager, Sandals LaSource.

He went on: ‘Volun-tourism’ is something we encourage with our weekly Reading Road Trip and special outreach opportunities we undertake throughout the year.

“It is our duty to give a well-rounded and memorable experience and Sandals Foundation does our best to facilitate those who are genuinely willing to lend a helping hand”, he added.