Arthur’s political career spiced by drama, Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been described as a man who always put Barbados and Barbadians first.
That is the assessment of former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who said Arthur was an intellectual and a regionalist.
Arthur passed away on Monday at the age of 70.
Stuart, whose Democratic Labour Party (DLP) defeated Arthur’s Barbados Labour Party in the 2010 general elections, said it was unfortunate he had passed while still giving of his service.
He said Arthur was responsible for several historical events in Barbados’ political landscape.
“His political career was always spiced at critical points with dainty pieces of drama, whether it was in having the first St Peter by-election in 1984, which he lost by one vote invalidated by the court and fought over thereby securing him an emphatic election to Parliament, or in being the leader of the Parliamentary Opposition in 1994 when the historic no-confidence motion bought an end to the Democratic Labour Party Government of Erskine Sandiford, or more recently as in the year 2010 when he experienced a momentary resurrection as Opposition Leader, when the group replaced the then leader in his favour,” Stuart said.
“Whatever role he was performing as a politician he brought the full resources of a powerful intellect to bear on that role.
“As Prime Minister and Minister of Finance he presided over the destiny of Barbados with levelheadedness and resolve. Never one to be doctrinaire in his approach to policy when the country faced the potentially destabilizing fallout from the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, he abandoned economic orthodox and focused on ensuring the welfare of the country and its citizens.”
Stuart also described Arthur as an unrepentant regionalist who believed fervently in the possibilities of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“He championed its cause with vigour, with clarity and with determination. He was in fact one of the architects and a spirit-filled evangelist of the revised treaty of Chaguaramas,” he pointed out.
Stuart said throughout Arthur’s political career he was fearless and never afraid of a fight.
Despite that, he said Arthur was humble and never forgot his beginnings.
“He enjoyed political combat and gave as good as he got in those joustings which are a defining feature of Westminster-style parliamentary politics.
“He served Barbados and the people of St Peter well. He never allowed himself to forget in fact the debt of gratitude which he owed to the people in St Peter for making his vast and varied opportunities possible,” Stuart said.
“Now lays Owen dead. He has done the State some service and we know it. Like all Prime Ministers he embodied our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations. Like all Prime Ministers he bore our grievances, our disgruntlements and our disappointments. He never wavered. He carries to his final rest therefore the gratitude of the nation he led and loved.”
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