Opposition Leader Mia Mottley says tonight’s decision of the Barbados Labour Party’s National Council to expel Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard was not an easy one.
However, in a detailed statement, Mottley said it had to be taken as a matter of principle. She said the action stemmed from Dr Agard’s “inappropriate” conduct and her failure to be “a team player”, following four years of stained relations between her and her branch executive in Christ Church West.
“This has not been an issue of freedom of speech or the ability to manage diverse opinions.
“This is fundamentally an issue of discipline and respect for authority and willingness to work together in an organization with other people,” said Mottley in her statement in which she thanked the Christ Church West MP for her service to the BLP.
The Opposition Leader said a process would be set in train for choosing a successor to Dr Agard, who now needs to say how she intends to proceed following her expulsion from the BLP.
Mottley also apologised to Barbadians, particularly the residents of Christ Church West, “on behalf of this party, its councils and its members” for the “unfortunate public display over the last few months”.
Following is the full text of Mottley’s statement:
“The National Council of the BLP, after hearing the charges presented and the statements from Dr Maria Agard and her attorney-at-law have determined that she should be expelled from the Party as provided for by the Constitution.
These charges, contrary to those who would seek to trivialize them, are fundamental.
At the very heart of it, they go to the respect for the authority of organs of the party, that are critical to its functioning as a mass-based political organization – in other words, the failure of Dr. Agard to recognize the legitimacy of a democratically elected branch of this party – her own branch.
They speak to the failure of Dr. Agard to be guided by the party’s Council – not to further speak to the media on this matter, so as to allow for reconciliation between herself and her branch.
They also speak to her inappropriate conduct, whether in misconstruing the facts in the media or offensive profanities posted on social media.
And finally, they speak to the failure of Dr. Agard to be a team player – and to play her part by attendance at the Annual Conference and a series of nominations in the very parish where she is the only sitting Member of Parliament for the party.
This has not been an issue of freedom of speech or the ability to manage diverse opinions.
This is fundamentally an issue of discipline and respect for authority and willingness to work together in an organization with other people.
This has not been an easy decision, nor has it been an easy route. And it is not one in which we delight.
The public has been treated to much commentary on this issue over the last few months.
At the party’s Annual Conference last month, I yet again called for genuine healing between Dr. Agard and her Christ Church West Executive Branch after four years of strained relations. I indicated then that if genuine healing was not possible, that this party has a Constitution and conventions to deal with such behaviour. I am not aware of a single attempt of Dr. Agard to reach out to her Executive and core members to stem the deterioration of her relationship with these key constituents.
It is clear, and it is the view of our National Council, that our duty as a party must always be for the greater good – the greater good of the country and the greater good of the party.
Barbados is in the grips of a worrisome social and economic crisis for the last seven years. There is a view among many that indiscipline is pervading our society at all levels. It cannot continue.
Barbadians need to have confidence in a disciplined and united organization as an alternative to the current existing Government that continues to fail the people and country in every sphere.
If we as a party do not measure up to the legitimate expectations of ordinary Barbadians in giving them hope, we will have failed them. My interest is in leading a party that can meet these basic expectations as a platform to bringing real change to Barbadians.
No institution can survive if people are not willing to work together and to respect authority – and to be guided by the Constitution that governs them. It is no different from a country – or indeed a social club or a sporting organization. Barbadians understand this intrinsically.
I have treated to this matter with a view to reconciliation, first and foremost. For once one is dealing with a breakdown of human relationships, this must always be the first option, however difficult.
If, as happens in families, the church and the workplace, reconciliation and discipline become impossible, then we must act decisively for the greater good, especially where time becomes a critical factor. Barbadians understand this.
Therefore, what some have viewed as indecisiveness has really been compassion and empathy. Decisiveness is required to quell a prison revolt. Decisiveness is required to avert an economic or public health crisis. Decisiveness is required to save people from dying or to forestall insolvency or bankruptcy of businesses. Compassion and understanding is needed to heal broken relationships.
I would like to thank Dr. Agard on behalf of the Party for her service over the years and in spite of our clear differences, to wish her well as she moves on.
I want to apologise to Barbadians, and particularly the residents of Christ Church West, on behalf of this party, its councils and its members for this unfortunate public display over the last few months that has done nothing to ease the anxieties of an already stressed people.
I would like also to thank many people, especially the elders of the party for their wise counsel in this matter.
I am confident that we will go forward with greater focus, strength and discipline.
I cannot tell you in any mass based organization that there will never be mis-steps or breaches but I can and do assure you that when they occur, I will deal with them appropriate to the circumstances. You may be confident in this assurance from the Barbados Labour Party and myself – both in Opposition and whenever given the chance by the people of this country, in Government.
To the people of Christ Church West, we assure you that there will be extensive consultation before the choice of a new candidate to run for our party in your constituency to ensure that you will benefit from the best possible representation to which you have traditionally been accustomed from those carrying the flag for the BLP since 1971 when the constituency was formed.
I look forward to meeting many of you over the next few months as we prepare ourselves for this next step.
I give Barbadians the assurance that we shall move forward my friends trusting first and foremost in the Lord and thereafter in our people as we have done for the past 77 years.
The hopes and aspirations of tens of thousands of Barbadians depend on it.
AND WE SHALL NOT FAIL YOU!” (End of Text)