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Leacock: If it was me, I would have made the same decision

Leacock: If it was me, I would have made the same decision

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Vice President of the New Democratic Party St Claire Leacock has come out in full support of Party President Arnhim Eustace’s decision to revoke the senatorial appointment of Anesia Baptiste.{{more}}

“If was me, I would have made the same decision. I would have terminated and revoked their position, because I didn’t see out of self-respect for himself, to see himself as leader of the party with anyone being disrespectful to him. It doesn’t work that way,” the Parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown said yesterday during the ‘New Times’ radio program.

He added that the recent incident was an indication that the level of discipline in the party needed to be tightened, so that the mission of the party could be accomplished.

“We have worked too hard to get where we are at now for any one individual,” he said.

“To be a leader, you must understand the requirements of followership and therefore think as a follower and do those things that will enhance and support the leader of the New Democratic Party,” Leacock contended.

The party’s vice president said that he had spoken privately to Baptiste on the issue, saying that it did not have to reach as far as it did.

“I spoke to her and said that if Mr Shefflorn Ballantyne continued to make those points in public then it will not only affect him as a candidate, but it can affect her by association and by extension the other members in the New Democratic Party as a whole,” Leacock explained.

But he said what he said was not well received by Baptiste.

“In fact, she emphatically stated to me there is no way such statements and accusations could affect her and she parted company with me angrily,” Leacock said.

He said that occasion was not the first time, as vice president of the party, that he had given advice to Baptiste, bringing the wisdom of his years of experience in politics, only to be brushed aside.

“This is a habit and must be spoken to; people need to understand this,” he continued.

He said that he wanted to dispel any ideas also that Eustace was dictating a position to the rest of the party, but that the policy was reached after members shared their personal experiences on how they would have dealt with individual religious situations.

According to Leacock, among those who spoke were former ministers of government Burton Williams, Allan Cruickshank and Marcus De Freitas.

The party’s VP further stated that other members expressed their concern over the statements expressed by Ballantyne.

Regarding playing a tape of what Ballantyne said on the radio program, Leacock contends that every effort was made to accommodate Baptiste.

He said that Senator Vynnette Frederick left the meeting and went for her personal computer, but the battery died and she had no power.

Subsequent attempts were made to have the audio played on the computer of North Leeward Area Representative Roland Matthews, but there were issues with the audio.

Leacock added that by this time, those present were tired and hungry and there was the general feeling that the issue had already been exhausted.

He further expressed the view that there was nothing in Eustace’s action or comment that compromised religious freedom.

He added that the sole purpose of the NDP was to win government “fairly and squarely” through a concentrated effort and that the members of the party could not allow for the matter to distract and take away their energy from where they wanted to go.

He said that whenever the strategy committee met, it was in fact a rehearsal for when they formed Cabinet.

“If we don’t get it right as members of opposition, then we are not going to get it right as ministers of government,” said Leacock.

“What we saw is that one has a choice and Mrs Baptiste thought her responsibility to the Thusians was stronger than that of the NDP,” he said.

When contacted for a comment, Baptiste said that she would prefer to make her comments by way of a press conference, to be held at a date to be announced.

Eustace also noted that an announcement as to Baptiste’s replacement would be made soon. (DD)

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