A United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate is contending that party colleague Dr Maria Agard ought to have been reprimanded, at the very least, for what many saw as a highly inappropriate post on social media by the Christ Church West incumbent.
Christal Austin, the UPP’s candidate for St James South, has also admitted that by not acting against Dr Agard, the party could be seen as practising double standards.
The question of double standards was raised yesterday during a panel discussion at the Barbados Community College (BCC), among the parties contesting this year’s general election.
Jamal Slocombe, the BCC student guild vice-president, asked why Dr Agard had not been punished for posting on Facebook, “at least I never bite out anyone’s clitoris”, while another UPP candidate, Charleston Taylor, was given the boot for a post on the same social media platform in which he called for the legalization of marijuana here, otherwise “blood will flow in the streets”.
In response, Austin said she too was shocked by Dr Agard’s post, while she expressed bafflement as to why her party had yet to respond publicly.
“I, too, have to admit that I was taken aback when I saw the comment and I want to state categorically that it does not reflect on the tone, on the intentions or the directions that the general membership of the UPP [has adopted]. I know some people have been calling for some public response similar to what was taken with Taylor . . . .It does come across as a double standard, I must agree with that,” Austin, a public relations consultant, said.
After Taylor’s Facebook post, UPP leader Lynette Eastmond hosted a 12-minute live broadcast on the social media platform two weeks ago, confirming that her party had severed ties with the then St Philip West candidate.
Eastmond said at the time the UPP had spoken with Taylor about his comment but he had maintained that he did not regret the controversial post.
However, the party has been quiet on Dr Agard, who announced last month that she had joined the fledgling party, becoming, for a short time, its only Member of Parliament.
Her move came just over two years after she was kicked out of the Barbados Labour Party in November 2015 – an action she unsuccessfully challenged in court.
Yesterday, Austin told students there was much more to Taylor’s removal than the public was made aware of, and it was possible that some behind-the-scenes action was taking place regarding Dr Agard’s comment.
“As it relates to Taylor there are some other things that happened behind the scenes that may not necessarily deserve to be publicized. Perhaps there was some discussion above my level with Agard and our leader, Lynette Eastmond, but I am not privileged to that information or what decision was taken,” Austin said as she again distanced her party from the remarks in very strong terms.
“Again, I appeal to you not to take that as a reflection of the body of the UPP, nor is it a sign of things to come from us because we are very mindful that mudslinging, demagoguery and gutter politics has brought a veil over the real issues taking place in Barbados and we are going to focus on handling those issues,” she stressed.