“Tyrannical and autocratic.”
That’s how recently expelled Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard today described the leadership of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, following the November 22 decision of the Mia Mottley-led National Council to kick her out of the party.
Speaking out for the first time since her dismissal, Dr Agard, who was joined by her attorney Hal Gollop, QC, publicly declared that she was “free of the encumbrances that previously bridled [her] tongue”.
Dr Agard, who was flanked by former BLP General Secretary George Griffith for today’s news conference, also warned that if there was no reversal of the decision to expel her over the next seven days, she was prepared to take the BLP to court.
“I am determined to challenge the decision to expel me from my party, in the court of law, not only for myself, for a grave injustice has been done, but for the preservation of the legacy of the Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams and the founding fathers of the Barbados Labour Party, principles to which I proudly adhere, because I have no fight with the party I served for 17 years,” said Dr Agard.
However, the Christ Church West MP strongly rejected the leadership of the BLP.
She also dismissed the nine charges, which she had been summoned before the National Council to answer, labeling them “frivilous”, while contending that her recent expulsion had nothing to do with the charges.
“I have been expelled from the Barbados Labour Party not on account of the nine frivolous charges laid against me, or any of the spurious notions which have been fed to the public by
those who aspire to shape public opinion with their falsified information,” the embattled Christ Church West MP said.
“It must be documented for public scrutiny that the charge of poor representation was never formally laid against me, nor forms part of the nine charges, though poor representation was the precipitating offence for which I was condemned,” Dr Agard explained.
She went on to outline other reasons which she felt had contributed to her BLP demise. One was that she dared to be different and spoke out against what she considered “a grave injustice” that had been done to the members of her constituency branch, when the votes they had cast, in an internal election, were declared null and void.
“I dared to speak out against the unconstitutional, the unauthorized and bullying tactics of a political leader who is not accustomed to be told that she is wrong, even when she contemptuously violates the very constitution she espouses to uphold,” charged Dr Agard.
The Christ Church West MP noted that the same “revolutionary and progressive” ideals, which motivated her to
enter public life and to shake up the status quo, were the same ones that were considered offensive, rude and disrespectful by the BLP leadership.
Dr Agard was especially critical of Mottley’s efforts to mediate in her dispute, describing those efforts as nothing more than a farce.
The Christ Church West MP recalled that in February this year, she wrote the party leader asking her to convene a meeting of the parliamentary group to address the issue of “difficult” constituency branches.
“Those requests were never ever entertained,” she contended. Dr Agard, a dentist, was therefore at pains to point out that no institution should be held hostage by the whims and fancies of individuals.
As though she was applying her dental tool to further expose the root cause of her expulsion, the former BLP parliamentarian sought to exorcise what she considered the evils within the party.
“I dared to speak out against the practice of the silence of omerta that prevents members of this institution from airing the evils that are practised within, because I believe that by carrying that practice of learned silence to Government and worst yet, to Cabinet, we as politicians have been witness to some of the gravest atrocities leveled on our people while we adhere to silence because that is all we have ever practicised,” said Dr Agard.
She said she longed for the day when, as a national
Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard
commitment to good governance, all parliamentarians support and demand the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Barbados has been a signatory since December 10, 2003, but with no further progress.
Dr Agard is of the view that the entire debacle surrounding her expulsion would result in constitutional reform within the BLP.
With regards to her future in politics or any question of crossing the floor, the now independent MP said her next move would be determined following a full consultation with her constituents.
However, she left the door open to returning to the BLP fold and working with whoever was willing to embrace the party ideals and good governance, while hinting that the current leadership may not be the same after the next annual general conference.
Also addressing today’s press conference, Gollop said his client had written to the Labour Party “in accordance with the protocols set out in the civil procedure rules, inviting them to reverse the decision within seven days, or else we would be going to court. “So that, before we could take the action, it is practised nowadays that a certain protocol has to be followed and I have delivered to the secretary of the Barbados Labour Party, a toxin to that effect,” Gollop, who is working in association with attorney Lynette Eastmond, said. When contacted this evening, General Secretary Jerome Walcott said he was aware of that a letter from Dr Agard’s attorneys was delivered to party headquarters. However, he said he had not seen it as yet.
Asked if the National Council would consider reversing its decision to expel the Christ Church West MP, as demanded in the letter, Walcott responded: “Well, we will see”. He offered no further comment on the matter.