Gender should not be a deciding factor for choosing a head of Government.
This was the contention of Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados Marie Legault last night as she joined with members of the Mia Mottley-led Government and other dignitaries
in celebrating the 151st anniversary of Canada’s federation at Maple Breeze, the new official residence of the Canadian High Commissioner.
In a 13-minute address to the gathering, Legault made a point of welcoming Barbados’ election of its first female Prime Minister, while stating that Canada was pleased with the development.
“Barbados has recently undergone some changes [and] although she [Mia Mottley] is not here tonight, I would like to congratulate Barbados for joining the still too select club of countries, having elected its first female Prime Minister.
“And I think that Barbadians have agreed with me that gender should not be an issue for selecting a Prime Minister,” said Legault to loud applause after she landed herself in domestic hot water back in March this year for suggesting that the country was ready for a female Prime Minister.
Back then several Government ministers, including the then Minister of Education Ronald Jones had taken umbrage to Legault’s remarks, accusing her of interfering in the island’s domestic politics and, in his view, implying that citizens should vote for a change in Government even though the then Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had not even fixed a date yet for the highly anticipated poll, which was subsequently called on May 24.
At the time an incensed Jones told a room of Democratic Labour Party supporters that while he liked Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, “I ain’t going up there and tell anybody to vote for he”.
In further rebuking Legault, the flamboyant Jones had said: “To think that you can come into my country and because you want to cuddle and cunoodle (sic), you want to have nostrils clean or clear, you say to the people of Barbados to vote for that person? How dare you!”
“You should be asked to leave or your Government should tell you to come home because you have interfered in the domestic political affairs of Barbados,” he said, while suggesting that Canadians may eat muskrats, but this did not mean they should come here and tell Barbadians to eat rats.
However, without rehashing the issue any further, the Canadian High Commissioner pointed out that Barbados and Canada have had longstanding diplomatic ties, dating back to the independence period. Therefore, she said her country was willing to support Barbados with a myriad of projects, such as the south coast sewage project, in areas such as renewable energy and the restoration of its coral reefs.
“As you may have read, we have become engaged with Government on the south coast sewage situation. Also, the pledge made by the Government to transition Barbados to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and to provide incentives for the alternative energy vehicles, as well as to undertake extensive restoration of the coral reef, along with measures that are aligned with our priorities,” she said.
Legault also pointed out Canada was collaborating with Government on its creation of a Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, which she said had the potential for untapped growth of $3 trillion per year by 2020.
“As countries surrounded by oceans both Canada and Barbados can be a part of that growth which we plan to do,” she said.
In her brief remarks, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands noted that Canada had assisted Barbados over the years and had contributed to the human resource development of the island.
“A substantial contribution has been made to the human resource development in Barbados. During the period 2010 to 2018 with the Canadian Caribbean Leadership Programme which has trained 24 Barbadian senior public servants. The Barbados Defence Force has also benefitted from training facilitated by Canada’s Department of National Defence,” Husbands said.
During last night’s celebration, the commemorative book ‘Maple Leaves and Caribbean Seas’ which details the experience Canada has had in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean over the past 150 years, was also launched.