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Gonsalves encourages Vincentians in Ottawa to put country first

Gonsalves encourages  Vincentians in Ottawa to put country first


The St.Vincent and the Grenadines Ottawa Association 2011 Independence celebration reached a climax last Saturday evening, with a banquet,{{more}} at which feature speaker, Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, challenged the Vincentian community of Canada about the role they play in advancing St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

At the event, held at the Villa Marconi, Ottawa, Gonsalves informed Vincentians who journeyed from across Ottawa, as well as from Montreal and Toronto, of the national development programme in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the “tremendous strides” that Vincentians at home and by extension his Government, have been making.

Gonsalves centered his presentation on the achievements made in the education sector, with his focus on availability of scholarship opportunities to pursue a higher education to students who otherwise might not have been able to do so; the construction of new secondary schools throughout the state; the laptop programme for students and the installation of the Wi-Fi mechanism at schools and learning resource centers.

Besides receiving a standing ovation as a mark of appreciation for the highpoints of his speech, Gonsalves drew loud applause from the audience as he gave a comprehensive overview of the ongoing work at the Argyle International Airport site.

“It’s difficult to estimate a (completion) date, because you know this thing is a moving target, but in very short order we will be able to travel from Ottawa, from Toronto, from New York directly to Argyle, St.Vincent, without stopping to see our friends in Barbados on the way,” said Gonsalves to the elated audience.

He, however, noted that amidst its many recent achievements, the nation is facing new and complex challenges, particularly crime.

Gonsalves also addressed the issue of indigence, remarking that while it has been significantly reduced throughout the country, poverty remains a challenge. He also touched on the challenges that farmers are faced with and the administration’s efforts to strengthen the social safety net at great cost to help farmers through their difficult time.

As he analytically deconstructed the problems confronting St.Vincent and the Grenadines, he told the members of the Diaspora of the role that they can and should play.

He reminded the gathering that they are residents of Ottawa, Canada, one of the richest Vincentian cities of the world.

“There’s a lot that the Diaspora can and must do to develop St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Imagine a nation where its richest, its brightest, its most educated and its most influential people live outside of the country and only contribute when they feel like,” said Gonsalves. He told the audience that when they want to complain or critique, they should think of what they have done to develop an independent, proud St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Government’s critics in St.Vincent and the Grenadines received a heavy tongue-lashing from Gonsalves, while explaining that the nation has a long way to go before it can acclaim itself a modern and mature political culture.

“Ignorant, shallow and cunning loudmouths are still cynically manipulating people for personal gain and to settle personal grievances, and too many supposedly intelligent Vincentians put ancient party political loyalty before the good of the country,” said Gonsalves.

“All of us have to act together in unison and unity to advance our country. Question policies yes, challenge political leaders and parties of course, but never be so backward and unpatriotic as to lose faith in St.Vincent and the Grenadines or the power and potential of the Vincy people,” said Gonsalves, adding, “great causes have never been won by doubting grumblers.”

During his speech, Gonsalves also spoke of the nation’s rebirth as an independent nation in 1979. He metaphorically described the experience as a “baptism by fire”, as he recalled the La Soufriere Volcano eruption a few months earlier.