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BEST WEEK EVER:

BEST WEEK EVER:

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December 9. The date is finally set. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves kept SVG in suspense for weeks, before revealing the election date at a huge rally at the Grammar School Playing Field.

Given Gonsalves’ fascination with the number 7, most Vincentians were betting on a December 7 poll date. But the date itself is less relevant than the fact that Gonsalves’ ULP is pulling larger,{{more}} more energetic crowds to its events than the Opposition.

Gonsalves’ plea for a clean campaign based on issues hopefully signalled the beginning of a less silly season of politicking. Whether Gonsalves’ mobilization is a sign of greater support, or whether both parties can stay out of the gutter are questions that only time will tell. We’ll know the answer in four weeks.

Runner-up:

New Democratic Party’s Calliaqua rally

For a party that has been accused of having no plans, the New Democratic Party’s recent Calliaqua rally was a big step in the right direction.

The well-attended event focussed on a single issue – health care – and spelled out the party’s plans in that area, which include the construction of a new hospital. The hospital plan itself left more questions than answers, but at least the public discussion is about the merits of an NDP idea, instead of eye-rolling at the usual assortment of name calling and anger coming from the platform.

Hopefully the NDP continues hosting regular single-issue rallies. If they do that, and if the ULP heeds Gonsalves’ call to keep it clean, maybe 2015 will mark the year that SVG entered its political adulthood.

WORST WEEK EVER:

Ehud Myers, conductor of the passenger van (left), and Ravanan Nanton, the driver. Inset left: principal of the Fancy Government School Colbert Bowens

No one would ever accuse Colbert Bowens, Ehud Myers or Ravanan Nanton of intentionally killing anyone, much less committing mass murder. Indeed Myers is a popular church pastor and Bowens – also a pastor – is a well-respected head teacher at the Fancy Government School. But a jury has unanimously placed the deaths of the Rock Gutter schoolchildren at their feet, with a verdict of “manslaughter by gross negligence” in the just-concluded Coroner’s Inquest. Before the bus flew off a cliff and carried those children to their death, it is alleged the driver and owners of the vehicle ignored numerous warning signs about serious mechanical problems.

Instead, the bus continued to operate on the steep hills and hairpin turns of Fancy, and we all know the terrible result. Whatever the ultimate conclusion of the case against Bowens, Myers and Nanton, this must serve as a wake-up call to van drivers and owners, who have been involved in far too many deaths this year. The Government must also act firmly to ensure that parents can feel safe when they send their children off to school in the morning.

Runner-up:

The recording of radio host Margaret London’s on-air verbal assault on a caller is so far beyond the bounds of common decency that it is indefensible. London’s outburst is a symptom of the nasty, spiteful, vindictive underbelly of Vincentian politics, which is too often celebrated in this political silly season. London’s infantile comments have earned her a “lawyer letter” demanding an apology, but it is far more likely that the matter will end up in Court.

Whether or not London’s comments were defamatory is something for a judge to decide, but any reasonable radio station owner would have fired her on the spot. Instead, London’s chief apologists seem intent on promoting her instead, giving her higher profile slots and celebrating her comments as “fiery” and “take no prisoners.” If radio stations can’t be trusted to regulate the behaviour of their staff, maybe its time for the state to legislate some basic standards of decency and common sense.

If I had a question in SVG Parliament

… No one would be there to answer it, because Parliament is dissolved! Coming next week: “If I Could Ask Any Candidate a Question.”

Media Watch

A couple weeks ago, thousands of young Vincentians packed Victoria Park to attend a benefit concert to aid the Dominican victims of Tropical Storm Erika. Based on attendance alone, the concert seemed to be a huge success. But the following week, all the newspapers and radio stations wanted to talk about was who wasn’t there – Soca artiste Kevin Lyttle, whose only hit song is a decade and a half old, and who has had trouble drawing locals to his events for years now. Lyttle’s absence from an event that advertised him should be explained, but it’s not nearly the big deal the media made it out to be.

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