By Debbie A. Douglas
Like most enlightened Dominicans, I would much rather engage in serious debate re: electoral reform and the preservation of our democracy, than reading silly attacks on Gabriel Christian by Anthony Astaphan – A noted defender of the corrupt practices of the Dominica Labour Party. Tony’s reputation of being a noted attorney is now reduced to that of being a puny intellectual and a self serving supporter of Skeritt – so sad but so true. With the future of Dominica hanging in the balance, there is too much at stake in this election, to be distracted by Tony’s political propaganda massacred in technical chatter but pregnant with twisted logic. The good people of Dominica are simply tired of this abundance of incendiary rhetoric that Tony uses to defend the DLP’s ill-conceived policies, and hide its widely believed corrupt activities of the government.
Unlike, Tony, Mr. Christian is not part of the government of Dominica nor does he advise, the Prime Minister. He is also not renowned for charging the government and people of Dominica extravagant legal fees, to enrich himself at the expense of the poor. Instead, I see him as a provocateur, whose sober critiques expose our poisoned status quo. That Mr. Skerritt and his cronies have brought into colossal disrepute, the honor of all the DLP’s stalwarts dead and retired cannot be disputed. Now is the time for us to put to death, the rage of Astaphanism, and its attendant ruthless bile and shady undercover dealings. This single act of virtue will symbolically, save the people of Dominica, for three generations to come. If we allow the rampant destructive force of Astaphanism to continue to wreak havoc on the people of Dominica, our future will be totally destroyed.
Like a dilapidated building burnt to the ground as opposed to a beautiful mansion of elegant worth, the rage of Tony when compared to the relevance of Mr. Christian is a breath of fresh air. The future of Dominica is reflected in Mr. Christian’s capacity to challenge the government of Dominica to good governance, integrity in public office, justice for all and transparency. Mr. Christian entices our collective curiosity by exposing us to the possibility of a brighter tomorrow and a more prosperous today.
Devoid of rancor and vexation of spirit, Mr. Christian has called the ruling regime to answer the following questions:
· How did PM Skeritt acquire his wealth?
· How many passports have been sold during his tenure as PM?
· How much money did the PM or his agents received for these passports?
· Why were these monies not deposited in the treasury?
· Why are so many Dominicans suffering while Tony and others are becoming more financially enriched?
· What public good has PM Skerritt brought to the people of Dominica that has enhanced the public’s welfare?
· Is the PM above the rule of law?
· Has Dominica faired better or worst under the PM’s stewardship?
· Does our future look bleak or bright under the DLP?
· Does the DLP represent more of the same or new forms of old corruption?
· Are there opportunities for the young to advance themselves under the DLP?
· How has the IMF brought higher standards of living to our people?
· Why is the DLP synonymous with countless corruption and invaluable achievements?
These are the relevant questions that should be defining the political debates rather than obsessing Tony’s baseless attacks on Mr. Christian. I must agree though, that Tony’s ranting and raving provoke laughter from rum shop characters; while mocking and deriding the intellectual heft, cultural pride and ethical ideals that Dominicans are known for.
On a personal note, I have known Mr. Christian for many, many years and I can vouch that he is a person of unparalleled commitment to the common good. His relevance for the future of Dominica must be held up as a beacon of light. I have also known Tony Astaphan as person who flatly turned down two Prime Ministers, the Late Prime Ministers, Rosie Douglas and Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, when they encouraged him to run for office. Mr. Astaphan has shown no inclination to make public sacrifices on behalf of the Dominican people, in whose name he claims to speak. His agenda is personal gain, even if it means impoverishing the people.
I envision the future of Dominica in the tradition of my father. This is a Dominica that is progressive and prosperous. A Dominica that protects the weak and defends the homeless. A Dominica that provides quality health care for the elderly and all of its citizens. A Dominica that provides network of opportunity for young people to strive. A Dominica that defends excellence not promotes the mediocrity in leadership or defends immoral behaviour. A Dominica where each Dominican, feel they have a stake in building our country. A Dominica where all of its citizens are empowered to achieve distinction, always with a mission of high quality and integrity, as their guiding principle.
I believe in a Dominica that believes in God. I want to see a Dominica in which the success of the government is measured by the high standard of living for its citizens. Not enrichment of the few to the misery of the masses. This is the Dominica that my father died working to achieve. And this is the vision of Dominica, that Mr. Christians champions and Mr. Astaphan rages against.
Ultimately, I hope all of us are excited and committed to this vision of Dominica. Former Attorney General Bernard Wiltshire who served with dignity and honour, in my father’s administration puts it best –“At the end of the day, we have 305 square miles of the most glorious piece of real estate. Dominica is too precious not to fight for”.
I entreat all Dominicans to live our lives dancing to the patriotic drumbeat of our national anthem, Isle of Beauty, Isle of Splendor… and support the leadership that best reflect a flourishing vision for all Dominicans.