Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has accused Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of being callous and lacking in empathy and compassion for refusing to meet former nurse Coral Wilkinson in Parliament last week.
Wilkinson attempted to get an audience with Stuart in the hope he and members of his Cabinet would listen to her cry for urgent settlement to a 34-year-old case for compensation for an injury she suffered on the job in 1981.
The Prime Minister later explained that he had listened to the former nurse’s plight as recently as three weeks earlier when she called him at home, having first heard of her in 2008 when he served as Attorney General. He also took issue with the way Wilkinson’s lead attorney Sir Richard Johnny Cheltenham, QC, had handled the issue, accusing the lawyer of playing games and seemingly not wanting to see an end to the case.
However, Mottley would have none of it as she addressed Sunday night’s nomination of policy and planning specialist Kirk Humphrey as the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) candidate to challenge Stuart in the St Michael South constituency.
“What happened in Parliament Tuesday was a travesty,” Mottley told party supporters crowding the Graydon Sealy Secondary School auditorium, adding that Stuart had refused, “to take the time out to come downstairs from your office to speak to a citizen of this country who gave yeoman service as a nurse, got injured in the execution of her duty, clearly at the hospital, and you refuse as Prime Minister of Barbados to go and see the person”.
The BLP leader charged that the Prime Minister displayed “callous indifference” and has failed to reflect representation, compassion, empathy and caring.
“There is no person, whether you’re walking or not walking, who comes into Parliament that you should ignore in the first place,” she said.
Wilkinson suffered a back injury 34 years ago when she fell while climbing the stairs at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and has been restricted to moving around with the aid of a walking frame.
Mottley gave no indication of any attempts by the BLP to resolve the issue during its period in office, preferring instead to focus on Stuart as a leader “who doesn’t care about the people,” and who has “an obsession with a style that he doesn’t have to engage”.
She also attempted to tie the Prime Minister’s decision not to meet Wilkinson with his representation of his constituents.
“We have come to public life to represent people, and if you can’t find the time to represent people, then you are in the wrong profession. This election is going to be about representation, you cannot have people languishing at the side, not being able to get access to representation,” Mottley insisted.