Newly-announced candidate for the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Joachim Henry said he’s ready to take on his new role as a politician and is focused on helping the people.
Henry, who will be contesting the Castries South East Constituency at the next elections, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview on Monday (Dec.7), “My politics is different.”
“It is not about the individual. It’s about the projects and activities that need to happen for the people,” he said.
Henry said he stands a chance of being a “unique parliamentarian”, because if elected into office, he plans to meet with people of various communities within the constituency, regularly.
“It’s very difficult to have one constituency office in one location and expect all persons, where there are pockets of poverty, to access the MP’s office. I would have a mobile office and we will be in different locations on my constituency days to maximise coverage of the people I serve,” he told SNO.
The SLP candidate said this is just one of the things he intends to do “differently”, explaining that his idea came about by listening to the concerns of the people within that constituency.
“If I could make a contribution and usher in a different way of doing things, I think it would set a foundation for whoever comes after, to continue along those lines,” he added.
Henry, who has been in the public service for over 20 years, said people need to be empowered and feel dignified about themselves, something that he is committed to making possible.
He continued: “I do not believe in handouts, as much as I believe we need to provide for persons who cannot…just like you have persons with disabilities in a family, they are not a liability, but a blessing and we need to care for that person. This has been the doctrine of the SLP.”
He expressed confidence in helping to intensify and promote these plans, while noting that even if certain communities lack certain things, they still need to celebrate what they currently have.
Henry, who is also the executive director of Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), has had first-hand experience dealing with poverty reduction programmes and have served a number of communities over the years, and knows of the challenges and difficulties different households face.
“I have a people-centered approach and I will help to bring about hope to communities and households by providing opportunities that are different, and that they could continue to take care of their families. I hope they will encourage their children to strive because a lot what we try to achieve for our country, will not be achieved in one generation. It takes time, so people need to be patient about development.”
Henry said he will be truthful and honest with people about what is feasible and what is not.
“I will be practical with people as to what they should do to provide themselves with opportunities. There may not be jobs, but if you are untrained, when an opportunity comes you will not be able to take advantage of it. I believe in creating opportunities, as well as preparing people, particularly in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, to take advantage and participate,” he added.
Asked about how he feels about contesting against the incumbent Castries South East MP Guy Joseph, Henry said he is not focused on his opponent, but is rather focused on creating projects that will help to lift the people of Castries South East, and that will encourage growth and development.
“Over the years I have understood that our leaders want us to focus on serving the people and not be political about it, irrespective of what some people believe. If I’m to focus on an individual then when the election is done what do I do? I am focused on the people,” he asserted.
Henry said he is already aware of the negative statements being made about the SLP announcing his candidacy, while he is still working in the public service, but explained that he will be heading to leave by the end of this week and will resign from that position thereafter.
The SLP candidate said he has decided on his own, not to accept a senior position at his church. He has also tendered his resignation with two agencies, including the National Community Foundation.
Meanwhile, Joseph told a Micoud rally on Sunday evening that Dr. Kenny Anthony should have done an audit of Henry and said the SLP would have to de-endorse him before the next elections.
Joseph said, “The books we have on him are thicker than the books that we have in the parliament of Saint Lucia. I will supply the information to the people of Saint Lucia.”