St Lucia: Leader of Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Philip J. Pierre, on the occasion of the 42nd independence anniversary, addresses the people on February 22, 2021.
In his address, Pierre stated, “This 42nd anniversary of our country’s independence finds us facing our greatest challenges since we became an independent nation on February 22, 1979. For the majority of us, these are, indeed, the greatest challenges of our lifetime, including the battle against the global public health emergency, COVID-19. We should, however, not be daunted by these challenges.”
He continued, ” Our forefathers survived the Atlantic crossing in slave ships from Africa and overcame the subjugation of slavery, the plantation system, and colonialism. Thanks to their sense of purpose and determination, today, we have secured independence for the people of Saint Lucia. However, this independence will remain fragile if we do not repair and strengthen some of the structures that are necessary for a strong, resilient nation.”
Furthermore, In deference to our forefathers, we must follow their example of perseverance and a sense of purpose in the face of adversity and continue the work of building a truly independent nation for the benefit of all our people.
He calls on all St Lucians to reflect on our current system of governance and how we can improve on it. Far too many structures and conventions that are required to support the key institutions of our democracy have been compromised, abused, and in some cases are just absent, even when our constitution and laws call for their presence.
We must correct these deficiencies if we are to build an independent country where the people can trust their leaders and have an expectation that they, the people, will be treated fairly and justly.
SLP members of parliament must do more to earn respect and trust of the people by being more accountable, transparent, and caring. It is only then that mutual trust and respect can be developed between the representatives and the people.
In the same spirit of fostering respect and trust, elected opposition members of parliament should not be sidelined and denied access to state resources in meeting their responsibility to the people who elected them.
On this 42nd independence celebration, he calls and welcomes the voices of the St Lucia National Trust, the St Lucia Bar Association, the Trade Unions, and other institutions to play their part without fear or favor in nation-building. We need everyone to make their rightful contribution to building a better nation.
For St Lucians independence to be meaningful, we must have a robust judicial system where access to justice is time-sensitive, and the poor and vulnerable have the confidence that they will be treated justly and fairly.
Our justice system must also reflect an understanding of the culture of our people, and in this regard, serious consideration should be given to adopting the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final appellate Court and a replacement for the English-based Privy Council.
In improving our democratic institutions, a labor government under my leadership will undertake constitutional reform to reflect the hopes, ideals, and aspirations of our people in a rapidly changing environment that is calling for greater accountability and better use of scarce resources.