With the next general election less than two years away, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Barbados is calling for morality in local politics and he wants business, religious and social and community leaders to show the way.
In delivering the feature address at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) July Business Luncheon at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre Tuesday, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgetown Jason Gordon called for a code of ethics to include controls on campaign financing, ahead of the poll.
“I ask that we the leaders of this society invite all relevant parties, including the political parties, to sign a code of ethics for political conduct during elections, including party financing.
“If we as leaders are willing to hold ourselves, the political parties and the electorate accountable to the highest standards, then we will create the conditions of hope in our nation for our people, the next generation and investors,” Gordon said.
The Bishop advised organizations such as BCCI and the private sector to demonstrate leadership by acting ethically, morally and with a conscience, so they could demand the same from the politicians in their governance and the election process.
The recommendation received the approval of businessman Andrew Bynoe, who said during the question and answer segment that the Chamber would take up the challenge. In fact, Bynoe appealed to the business community to insist that “there should be no vote buying” in the next election.
“And furthermore, the law as it stands can deal with vote buying. I would also wish that the law be exercised in regard to this scourge,” Bynoe said.
In addition to the issue of vote buying, the Roman Catholic bishop was concerned about voter apathy and apparent unwillingness by Barbadians to go beyond complaining.
“We think the social action is complaining about the last thing that happened, and once we have complained then what are we supposed to do? But complaining is not the action. The action is taking action with what has happened. And unless we are willing to it incrementally starting with the small stuff and working up to the bigger stuff, what will happen is the apathy will build up to a level that we wouldn’t have the capacity to deal with the problems we are having,” he warned.
“And I have seen that in countries and it is just not pretty. I have seen the private sector shut down and unwilling or unable to speak because of direct victimization. The smaller the society the more difficult it becomes to really speak with an ethical voice unless there is enough of you speaking and unless there is a national commitment to living in this national frame,” the church leader said.