Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Dr Maria Agard divides opinions in her constituency in very much the same way the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is split over her stewardship.
While the party’s national council will determine Dr Agard’s fate following a disciplinary hearing, constituents have already determined what it ought to be.
A team from Barbados TODAY which today visited a number of districts in the constituency, including Harts Gap, St Matthias, Bonnett’s, Brittons Hill and St Matthias Gap, discovered a lack of consensus among party supporters, with some praising her and others wanting to bury her political career.
One of the constituents the team encountered was Beatrice James, 78, of 2nd Avenue, Harts Gap. Perched in a wheelchair which she said the unsuccessful Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate in the 2013 general election Verla De Peiza gave me, James was generous in her criticism of Dr Agard for whom she said she voted in that election.
“Many days I sent people to ask her for some food to cook and I never received an answer. She should not go back in the place [Parliament]. She has given certain people assistance because I heard them mention it, but she never gave me anything and she never came by my house, and I voted up by the Arthur Smith School for her.”
James’ son Kamal Hollingsworth, 33, was even more stinging in his criticism, claiming that the MP has done nothing to uplift the community.
“Since she was elected to office I have not seen her. She has not done anything for me or for the neighbourhood. Other people have come and tried but this woman has never tried. I would be glad if she had come around and visited the people, hear their concerns, but nothing is happening,” Hollingsworth told Barbados TODAY.
However, Carlton Peters, also of 2nd Avenue, Harts Gap, had a different point of view, arguing for the retention of the parliamentarian, adding that she has done nothing wrong. Similar sentiments were shared by a group of men enjoying a game of dominoes at a shop in St Matthias Gap, Almost in unison, they all said Dr Agard was one of their own and must be maintained as the BLP candidate.
Still, a patron of the shop who asked not to be identified, contended that Dr Agard should be censored for her utterances and “intransigence”.
“I think she should go. If she cannot compromise at the level of the branch, it is left to be seen how she would function at the national level.”
Constituent Taan Abed contested the seat on a DLP ticket in 2008 and ran against Dr Agard as an independent in the last election. Abed accused her of “attacking” BLP leader Mia Mottley for no apparent reason.
“I do not admire any person who attacks his or her leader. I made a mistake when I opposed attorney-at-law Ian Bishop when he contested the nomination against [Dr] Agard. Barbados has a great woman in the person of Mottley.
“I do not understand why she is attacking Mottley. When Mottley visited my house she asked me to support [Dr] Agard, therefore I do not understand why [Dr] Agard is engaging in this foolishness.”
During a similar visit to the constituency in late September, Barbados TODAY found overwhelming support for the embattled legislator, with a few detractors who complained that they didn’t see enough of Dr Agard. However, they all said they had no problem with her and none called for her replacement.
Navy Garden resident Nicholas Lashley said at the time that Dr Agard’s representation was more than adequate.
“I have found her to be very helpful. When we had problems in the area she stepped up, she came out and she pulled in the necessary Government officials for us to have conversations with,” said Lashley.
A group of “limers” at Ricky’s Happy Times Bar on the corner of St Matthias said then that Dr Agard had their full support.
“I am backing her 100 per cent,” a boisterous Sheila Henry responded when asked what she thought of the MP’s performance.
“[Dr] Maria Agard is one of the best representatives we have had here in a long time. I’ve called and spoken to her on several occasions and she even called me personally to invite me to a meeting, and she didn’t have to do that.
“She ain’t gine nowhere, she staying right here. We don’t want anybody else,” she insisted.