The show will go on.
Despite the decision by one political party to opt out and another expressing uncertainty about its involvement, the live televised debates involving candidates in the upcoming St George North by-election will go ahead.
That is the word from president of the Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers (BARJAM) Emmanuel Joseph, who said the decision by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) not to participate in the two debates and the seeming unwillingness of the United Progressive Party (UPP), would not prevent the October 29 and November 6 events from happening.
Today, DLP president Verla DePeiza and candidate for St George North Floyd Reifer disclosed their decision not to be part of the debates.
Meanwhile, the UPP’s chairman Everton ‘Heru’ Holligan expressed doubt about whether their candidate Ambrose Grosvenor would be involved.
But in a press release issued on Tuesday, Joseph said the four remaining parties – the Barbados Labour Party, Solutions Barbados, the People’s Party for Democracy and Development and the Barbados Free Party – had all confirmed their participation.
Joseph said he was disappointed in the manner in which the DLP had communicated its decision.
“BARJAM is disappointed that two of the parties which gave an undertaking during a Zoom meeting on Sunday to officially get back to us by yesterday (Monday, October 11), apparently chose instead to respond to us via the media today. While we have heard via the media that the Democratic Labour Party will not be participating, BARJAM has still not received official correspondence from the DLP to that effect,” he noted.
“We received an undertaking from the UPP’s representative at Sunday’s Zoom meeting that they would have given us an official response by yesterday, but that has also not been forthcoming as yet.
“Despite this, we will still leave the door open for either of these parties, should they decide to participate, because we are committed to a fair and transparent process. However, should they ultimately decide they will not participate, we will be going ahead with the parties that are willing to be part of the debating process,” he added.
Joseph said the six areas which the two moderators, David Ellis and Julius Gittens, will use to frame their questions are representation, pressing people’s issues, the economy, housing, agriculture and crime.
Ellis will moderate the first debate while Gittens will be the moderator for the other.
The BLP has accused Reifer of running scared.
In a statement, Dwight Sutherland, campaign manager for the BLP’s candidate, Toni Moore, said while he was disappointed he was not surprised by Reifer’s decision to opt out.
He suggested that the DLP had chosen not to participate because of its candidate’s “weakness” in debating, among other things.
“We believe that the DLP is refusing to debate so as not to expose the weaknesses of their candidate, the fractures in the party, the lack of credibility of its leadership and that party’s total lack of any capacity to deal with the issues confronting the people of St George North and Barbados,” Sutherland said.
“The DLP is arguing that having strong debating skills is not important. That is far from the truth. I know what it is to come to Parliament as an Opposition MP and to have to be ready to stand up in Parliament, not in your constituency where you can read a speech someone else writes for you, not in a shop or in a community setting where you might feel more comfortable and could say anything, but stand up in Parliament within minutes of a Minister speaking and put a case for the country and the constituency. Can the DLP candidate do that? Is that why he is ducking this debate?” he questioned. (RB)
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