Bruce replaces Barnwell as senator for the NDP
Lawyer Israel Bruce has replaced Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell as a New Democratic Party (NDP) senator and Bruce says he will be leaning on Barnwell to help him transition into his new role.
The decision to replace Barnwell with Bruce was announced on Monday by Leader of the Opposition and President of the NDP Dr Godwin Friday at a press conference at the NDP’s headquarters at Richmond Hill.
In an interview with Bruce on Monday, the newly appointed senator said he is glad to be chosen by his party to be a voice of the people in the House of Assembly and he will be depending on Barnwell to walk him through the initial stages of his new job.
“I will hold her hand and she will hold my hand and I will do my best.
“This is not an offer you get every day. I have some big shoes to fill. Senator Barnwell did a wonderful job and over the years she was outspoken and championed the cause of women and young people,” Bruce told SEARCHLIGHT from overseas.
Bruce is slated to represent the NDP at the next General Elections in the South-Central Windward constituency where Barnwell also lives.
He added, “I want to thank her for providing leadership in this regard and as a constituent to let her know that I am proud of her contribution.”
“There is certainly no bad blood between me and Miss Barnwell…we are very cool, and we are not just political colleagues, she is my blood relative. We are also professional colleagues and we have a good relationship and are in contact with each other a lot. We are very cordial, and I don’t sense there is any bad blood between her and the party either,” Bruce told SEARCHLIGHT.
“She has contacted me and wished me all the very best and I thanked her for her outstanding contribution. She flanked issues relative to women and children and gave them a voice and advanced the call for gender neutrality in SVG.”
Bruce said he is looking forward to making his first contribution in Parliament and the possibility exists that it may come during the debate on the 2019 Estimates and Budget.
“It’s an opportunity that will provide to me with a different level to contribute to the development of my country. I have the country at heart. I have the people at heart. I love the people and I am now afforded the opportunity by the Leader and her Majesty’s representation and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and I will do the very best I can to satisfy the people as a member of parliament,” Bruce commented.
Bruce said he will soon seek to clarify with his party if by House rules, he will be able to debate the Estimates and the Budget.
He noted that last year, his Budget response was brought live on Nice Radio and if he is given the opportunity to speak in Parliament this year, while it will be under a new environment and a different set of rules, he is looking forward to what will be put forward by the government and to make a strong reply.
“…And most importantly to ensure that my contribution helps to pit what was presented last year and previous years against what is presented now,” said the newly appointed senator.
“I want to do reflections to see what progress we have made over the last five years or so, so citizens can learn from a clear analytic vantage point whether we are making real progress or some fake proposition of progress,” Bruce further commented.
He added also that his party will decide what his focus in Parliament will be and he will present sensible discussion on issues.
He stated that he was not given a reason why he has replaced Barnwell, but her replacement should not be seen as negative, as the Unity Labour Party (ULP) has replaced senators in the past. He spoke specifically of the replacement of Ronald Marks, Rochelle Forde and Lyndon George by the ULP.
“The party (NDP) made a strategic decision. The NDP has chosen to make this decision and there is no bad blood. We operate as mature individuals and Miss Barnwell will have a most important role to play in my induction and preparing me for parliamentary work and she will be a pivotal person in the constituency and in the party,” Bruce further stressed.