Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe this evening launched a scathing attack on Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, suggesting that the Member of Parliament for St Michael North East does not have the moral authority to run this country.
“I have noticed with some curiosity that this is the second occasion that this House has had to deal with matters related to domestic violence and sexual harassment and other related topics and I have noticed, only noticed, that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition has never participated . . . and I am hoping that before the day is done that that Honourable Member would come and participate in this debate,” he said in making his contribution to the debate on the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Bill, 2017 in the House of Assembly.
While insisting that leaders must be involved in debates of this kind in order to help shape and define the socially-accepted norms, Lowe further cautioned that “if you aspire to lead a nation of men and women you have an obligation to represent the issues that cut at the heart of the journey of the social development of our society”.
The Member of Parliament for Christ Church East stressed that any person who wants to lead a country but “comfortably exempts” themselves from a discussion “that looks at the heart and soul of what becomes of our nation in the now generation and in the future generation, I have a struggle with that”.
His comments, including some that were deemed unsuitable for publication, forced Opposition Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde to rise from her seat on at least two occasions to defend her leader, who was absent from the Lower Chamber.
Saying she found the comments offensive, Forde also questioned why Lowe was always targeting Mottley.
When it was her turn to speak in the debate, the Opposition spokeswoman further took a turn in Lowe, accusing him of wasting his half hour on attacking her leader.
“I really think ma’am that when this honourable Chamber reaches this kind of stage when honourable members stand and forever personally attack individuals in the manner similar to what the Honourable Member for Christ Church East did just now, it really says it’s no wonder why hardly anybody wants to become a politician.
“It really hurts me every time, in almost every speech [Lowe gives], the same story over and over again, hitting the low road and targeting a woman and that is where my beef is,” Forde said.
“I think it is a shame and a wasted half hour,” she added.
The Opposition parliamentarian went on to praise top Trinidadian calypsonian Singing Francine for her song Die With My Dignity which condemns sexual harassment, adding that “not only must women die with their dignity, but so must men.
“Because sometimes that is all that Black people have,” Forde emphasized,” adding that she fully supported the Bill, which she said was long overdue.