Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has denied seeking to ridicule the way Opposition Phillip J. Pierre speaks even as an opposition legislator predicted that the campaign for next general election would be the ‘nastiest’ in St. Lucia’s history.
Chastanet, speaking at a rally of the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) in Soufriere, west of here last Sunday, reportedly poked fun at Pierre’s stuttering.
“First of all, if anybody listens’ to my statement, what I was making a reference to is that every single time you ask the (St. Lucia) Labour Party to answer any questions…all they do is stutter and that is what I was making reference to.
He dismissed suggestions that he should apologise to Pierre, saying instead that it should be the opposition party apologising to the population.
“I have heard some people make the allegations that I ought to apologise, but I really think it is the Labour Party that owes this country and the people of this country and apology.”
But when pressed by reporters that his remarks were aimed at Pierre, Prime Minister Chastanet responded by saying “I said like Phillip J. Pierre, the Labour Party when asked questions say da, da, da, da, which is a fact.
“The fact is Labour Party does not want to be accountable for any of their actions, but if anybody who deserves an apology it is the people of St. Lucia from the Labour Party,” Chastanet insisted, noting that both he and Pierre are in politics.
“At the end of the day what we need an apology for is all the things Labour Party promised…they did not deliver on any of those things,” he said.
But Foreign Affairs Minister, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, who acknowledged that “I used to stammer very badly,” said that she did not believe that Prime Minister Chastanet was poking fun at the Opposition Leader.
“I probably would not have said it myself but I don’t think the Prime Minister meant anything bad, so I am sure that is a matter than can be resolved,” she told reporters, adding “ I used to stammer very badly – sometimes I still do, so I am sensitive about people who stammer. I understand what it is and sometimes I still do”.
However, opposition legislator, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, warned that the local politics was entering a “new low” and blamed Chastanet among others for the environment.
“It will be all about character assassination,” Hilaire told reporters, predicting that the campaign for next general election due in 2021 will hear politicians engage in character assassination.
“From calling them barking dogs, to the 43 per cent to single mothers, and now the stammering,” Hilaire said, adding that gone are the days when people could be made fun of others in terms of their gender, sexuality and religion.
“These days you just don’t do that. You have to be more sensitive and more understanding of people,” he said, adding “ I mean, attack a man on what he is saying, the substance of what he is saying; but not on whether or not he is stammering,” Hilaire said.