Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph has taken issue with comments made by Opposition Senator Guibion Ferdinand at the Saint Lucia Labout Party (SLP)-led St. Jude Hospital protest march over the weekend.
Joseph has accused Ferdinand of using racial slurs in relation to him and has said he is “appalled” that the party has reduced to “name calling” and personal attacks.
Ferdinand had said, “Come and discuss the findings of the audit in parliament where we can represent you and we can ask them questions and they will answer the questions. But instead, we just hear about the audit and we hear a “coolie man”, an Indian saying ‘… I know what is in there as if he is some engineer and some expert on demolishing and building.’”
Speaking to the press at the weekly pre-Cabinet briefing, Joseph responded by stating that this behaviour is not a first for the SLP.
Joseph said that Ferdinand went ahead and used “names that send a derogatory message about a certain set of people in this country…”
Joseph added, “That’s not the first time the Labour Party has done that. It’s as if because I’m of an Indian heritage I should not have a say in anything that happens in Saint Lucia. So if I want to go and use the words that they used to describe me to describe them they would tell you, ‘oh, you are disrespectful.’”
“You’re talking about a former principal of a school … a senator in the parliament of St. Lucia. But that is the message that they project, because when they have no substance to what they do they go on a personal attack. I don’t go about attacking people personally on St. Jude,” Joseph stated.
The economic minister accused the SLP of having double standards.
“So in parliament they want to portray one behaviour – they want to tell you, oh, you’re a bad example but when they are out there when more people are watching them, look at their behaviour. I tell them I’m consistent. The difference with me is [that] what you see is what you get. Unlike them who would pretend in one forum to be one thing and out there…. And it was appalling to see that that was the level of discussion taking place; that we would reduce ourselves to name calling,” he said.