Speech at National Rally in Portsmouth

National Rally in Portsmouth

National Rally in Portsmouth

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed thousands of supporters at a National Rally in Portsmouth on Sunday. You may listen to that speech, view photographs, and read the prepared text here. A video recording will be made available soon.

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National Rally In Portsmouth

Prepared text:

ADDRESS BY HONOURABLE ROOSEVELT SKERRIT

PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA
And POLITICAL LEADER OF THE DOMINICA LABOUR PARTY

At the Dominica Labour Party Rally in Portsmouth
Sunday, May 7, 2017
3:00pm

Brothers and Sisters….the late, great Michael Jackson asked the question…Can you feel it?

“If you look around,
the whole world is comin’ together now, baby
Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it?

Feel it in the air,
the wind is taking it everywhere, yeah
Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it?”

My Brothers and Sisters of Labour, this evening I say to you, the Labour Train is on the road again!

Can you feel it? Can you feel the power of Labour?

Twenty (20) years ago, the late, great Rosie Douglas stood on this spot and introduced to you the magic of Labour Power. He asked us then to believe in ourselves and to come together as one.

This evening, I say the time has come for us to ‘up de ting’!

We must ‘up de ting’ and let those who wish to frustrate progress in this country, know, feel and understand the true Power of Labour!

They went around this country, the region and even on CBS Television, telling the world the worst possible things about Roosevelt Skerrit and the Dominica Labour Party administration. I said, not a word!

On February 7th, they went into Roseau – six score and 10 strong – and almost destroyed the City. I said, not a word. This Labour Party remained quiet.

Now, Last Monday evening, the government had a little ‘stepping out party’ for the launch of the New West Bridge, and because half of Dominica was down there, they began to tremble.

Well I want to tell them this evening, if they thought the New West Bridge Launch was massive, this evening at Portsmouth is mammoth!

If they sensed last week that we are fed up of them, let them understand this evening, that we have drawn the line….in the sand of time!

This Dominica Labour Party was elected to fast forward the social and economic development of Dominica, and…..this we shall do!

The enemies of this movement would wish for it to be said, come 2019, that Labour did nothing in its fourth term of office.

They would wish for the answer to the question ‘are you better off today, than you were five years ago?’, to be a resounding, No!

That is what their protests are all about. That is what the systematic undermining of the CBI Program is all about.

That is what their downplaying the impact of the progress that is taking place in this country, is all about.

They wish for it to be said, that Skerrit is tired and that Skerrit did nothing in his fourth term.

Well I have news for them, Ladies and Gentlemen… Skerrit is tonight…..fit as a fiddle! More energized and determined than he has ever been.

When you do not see me in the office or I am not at home attending to family matters, I am on the farm planting my sweet potatoes and dasheens and harvesting my vegetables. Skerrit is fit, my brothers and sisters, and Skerrit is determined to accomplish more in this fourth term of office, than he did in the third, the second or even the first.

We said after Erika, we would build back better…and that is the mission that I have embarked upon, and which I intend to accomplish. My Ministers can tell you, that I am pushing them harder now than ever before. We work six days a week and sometimes seven…because, as far as I am concerned, with the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Erika, our donkey was in the well.

So my dear Brothers and Sisters, have no fear. The days of our remaining meek and mild are over. The days of our turning the other cheek are over. The days of our saying ‘leave them alone, the people will deal with them’ are over.

Henceforth, in this beautiful land of ours, when it comes to taking on the propaganda of the enemies of progress, and the haters of Labour, we shall go toe to toe…and it shall be tit for tat and butter for fat!

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to the heartland of Labour!

The belly of the movement started sixty two (62) years ago by the likes of Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Emmanuel Christopher Loblack and E.O. Leblanc, and propelled at the turn of the last century by Brothers Michael and Rosie Douglas.

I welcome you to the area of Dominica that the United Workers party hates the most. I welcome you to the north….where Labour reigns supreme!

This evening I am particularly happy and honoured to have in our presence, the distinguished jurist and former minister in Trinidad, Herbert Volney, a Caribbean man who entered politics clean and left politics even cleaner. I knew we had a good man speaking to us today, when all last week, the haters of Labour could not find a bad word to say about him.

They mumbled and grumbled but not a coherent statement of objection could they make.

Herbert Volney, I am sure you would agree, is a man, who still has a significant contribution to make to the social development of our Caribbean, and I for one, intend to lean very heavily on his vast knowledge and experience in the shaping and emergence of the new Dominica.

Mr. Volney, Sir, I thank you very much for coming this evening and I can assure you that your message to the leadership, membership and supporters of the Dominica Labour Party, will be studied and acted upon, as we seek to improve our method and structure of governance in this beautiful land of ours.

Comrades and friends, I want also this evening to thank preceding speakers for their excellent presentations. I believe the series of town hall meetings we have been holding, have proven a blessing in many ways.

Not only is the base of Labour energized but I can tell, from listening this evening, that the Ministers of Government are in touch and in tune with the issues of concern to you, the people of this country.

Acts of political terrorism, as practiced by the other side, have served to unite and bind Ministers of this Government together in a very purposeful and profound way.

This is a strong and cohesive government that administers the affairs of state in this country!

Our philosophy is simple….you touch one, then, consider it as touching all!

I personally am eternally grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from my Cabinet and Parliamentary Colleagues ever since the start of this current ‘Skerrit Must Go’ campaign by the other side.

I tried to understand what it is they were saying, and I think the people of Roseau South got it right when they insisted in their theme today that “Skerrit Must Go On….to finish the work that he has started.

I was elected by the people of Dominica to chart a path for the continued growth and development of this land.

Lennox Linton and Roosevelt Skerrit offered themselves as Prime Ministerial candidates in the last general elections and Roosevelt Skerrit emerged victorious with an overwhelming mandate.

Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that, with God’s Blessings, Roosevelt Skerrit shall remain at the forefront of the cause, right to the end of this current parliamentary term, throughout the next General Election campaign and for a period of time immediately thereafter.

I am not in politics for fame or fortune….I am in politics to create a better way of life for my people, and nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to get in the way of my doing that.

They say Skerrit must go!! I ask-Go Where??

Go and leave the New National hospital undone? Go before the Public Support Program is properly in place and functioning? Go, with just one aspect of the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme in effect? No way!!!

Why would I go and leave hundreds of families still without a secure roof over their heads? Why would I go and undermine the chance of thousands of Dominican students securing tertiary level education? Why would I go and leave the fate of our seniors in this country, in the hands of Lennox Linton?

What are the alternative policies they have proposed?

Why would I go and leave them to destroy the Citizenship by Investment Program?

We have today, several agents competing and bringing real and meaningful benefits to Dominica. The United Workers Party has agreed, were they to be elected, to go with one sole agent – I think I hear someone say Henley and Partners. That approach has undermined the growth and development of the CBI program in other sister states and I am saying tonight, it would destroy the CBI program here in Dominica.

Why would I go and expose current and future generations to the near impossible task of having to fend through life, on mere tax collections in Dominica?

Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to stop for a moment and understand the prevailing economic climate and forecasts that confront this country and its economy.

We are a nation with a resident population of seventy-two thousand (72,000). Of that, just about thirty-five thousand (35,000) are of working age. You do the maths!!!

What are the earnings of those 35,000 individuals? How much realistically can we extract from them in taxes?

How much imported goods can 72,000 persons consume, absorb or acquire in a given year? What are the maximum duty and other inputs that can be levied against such imports?

These are the real and meaningful questions, Ladies and Gentlemen, that must be asked when these guys go on the radio with their nonsense.

They have embarked upon a mission to destroy the CBI Program. They have set out to destroy the image and appeal of Dominica as a tourist destination.

The export of products and services from this country is desirable and sweet-sounding, but the reality in terms of economies of scale and basic shipping costs, render our export industry high risk and not a huge source of revenue in this current dispensation. The purists can say all they want…that is the reality!

So the question that must be asked, Ladies and Gentlemen, is if and when we destroy what we have and what is working for us, what alternatives would we have? To whom would we turn?

They have criticized our relationship with China. They criticized our relations with Venezuela, Cuba and Morocco…they even said disparaging things about our relations with France and Italy.

Great Britain, as you know, is in a battle now to go on its own, and Canada and the United States are not as prolific in their giving to this Caribbean, as once obtained.

I do not know of any other friendly nations that the leadership of the United Workers Party is favorably disposed or aligned to. Indeed, Lennox Linton has soooo maligned the image and outlook of that party, that it today stands alone in the world, without a single allied political organisation to call it ‘friend’.

So here you have a situation, where they would wish to slow or stop the progress of this country under Labour, but they do not have an alternative formula, upon which we can ponder.

A program such as CBI is not something you can switch off today and re-start tomorrow. It cannot trigger a ‘red light’ today and because of a change of government in Roseau, a blue light automatically appears.

The reversal of a nation’s image and rating, in the sight of an investor community, takes years, indeed decades to materialize.

The question that I ask this evening, is, what would become of the poor people in this country, during the period of rebuilding by a United Workers Party administration?

They are seeking to destroy CBI now. Were they to succeed and were they to be elected at the next general elections, how long would it take for Henley and Partners to clean up all the mess that they are currently causing?

Five years? Ten years? Fifteen years? What would happen to the National Employment Program during that time? What would happen to the monthly Senior’s Social Allowance that is currently guaranteed under Labour?

What would be the fate of the hundreds of Dominica students studying abroad? How would we maintain and continue to improve our road and drainage infrastructure?

These are the very serious questions that I want you to ask the haters of Labour!

This is not about Roosevelt Skerrit coming or going. This is a serious issue that concerns the economic sustainability of this country.

When Lennox Linton and his cohorts destroy the economic lifeblood of this country, on what shall we lean during the period of transition? And furthermore, Ladies and Gentlemen, what guarantee is there that they would be able to rebuild a vibrant, successful CBI or related program?

What is the track record of the UWP in this regard?

What is the track record of Lennox Linton in running anything? What are his adult, professional credentials and accomplishments? The man has not held a steady job in all his life. Yet, he wants to run a country.

On what would we hinge our confidence in the ability of Lennox Linton, Hector John and Monelle Williams to hold this country together, far less carry it forward?

Their great economic whiz-kid just landed a job. I am happy for him! He did not find work in New York or Washington. He is not in Paris, Rome or London. He did not impress public or private sector leaders in Toronto, Beijing or Hong Kong. He is not in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo or Canberra, Australia. These are the financial centers of the modern world.

The great economic guru of the United Workers Party; the UWP’s intended savior of our economy….sent out thousands of applications, and after three years of being turned down by all and sundry, was finally given “a little something to do” by a friend in Southern Sudan.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything wrong with working in Sudan. What I am saying, is that to persons of influence in the capitals of all the influential countries and economies of the world, Thompson Fontaine was evaluated, weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Yet, he is today being proposed to Dominicans, as their economic-savior in waiting. A man who clearly does not enjoy the confidence of anyone in the modern economic or financial world.

So this is where we are at, Ladies and Gentlemen. We have to ask ourselves some very serious questions in this country.

These people are doing their utmost to undermine and destroy this economy, but they do not have anything resembling an alternative policy or program to put in place.

They did not succeed with the anti-CBI campaign, so they are now relying on their friends in the leadership of some Trade Unions in this country to do their dirty work for them.

They want their allies in the Trade Unions to destabilize the country. To shut it down. To call out the workers on strike. To once again, portray Dominica as sliding down the governance scale. As being unstable. As being ungovernable.

These failed political wannabes now want their Trade Union operatives to take on the government and bring about the type of ‘commess’ and confusion that failed to materialize with their anti-CBI campaign.

But we are fortunate in Dominica to know whom we are dealing with. They may carry titles in the Trade Union, but they are still opposition party operatives.

They are too coward to step forward and go up for elections, but they are still opposition party operatives.

I am saying to those same individuals this evening that I know you…by name and partisan color. The leadership of this government knows you and we will demand professional conduct from you at all times.

When you come to speak to the government on the legitimate business of the union, leave your partisan politics at the door!!

Stop playing politics with the lives and livelihoods of Dominican workers!!

I am not speaking to serious, focused and professional trade unionists today. I am speaking to the political operatives that have positioned themselves in the trade union movement.

I know who they are, they know who they are and, very importantly, you, the people of this country know who they are.

This Government has been good to the workers of Dominica. Not only have we guaranteed you employment, but we make it a point, each month, to see to it that you are paid on time!

Furthermore, we have spared workers in this country the pain of burdensome taxation. Hurricane after hurricane, disaster after disaster…we have had to rebuild this country and not once have I asked workers to bear more of a load than they can reasonably carry.

So I am not intimidated by the rants and threats. All I will say to the workers of this country is – be mindful of who has your back and who are using you to further their own, raw, naked political ambition. That’s all that I will say on that score at this point.

Brothers and Sisters, I have invited you here this evening, to show your strength and your solidarity. Some persons were taking our silence for weakness.

Some persons feared that because we were not reacting, that we were intimidated or even paralyzed.

I have called you here this evening so the country, the region and the world can see that the mass of people of Dominica are firmly behind and in support of the Dominican Labour Party government, led by your humble servant, Roosevelt Skerrit.

Let them interpret and analyze these numbers. Few days of promotion…no foreign entertainment act in attendance, and half the country is in Portsmouth tonight.

Comrades, do not become overly excited. This is not the fore runner to the calling of any election. Our work in this term of office is far from complete. We have a lot of things to do and many miles to travel before we sleep.

The Dominica Labour Party is not propelled by any election calling agenda. We are consumed with the need to rebuild this country and reinforce its systems against the onslaught of any future threat.

If Lennox Linton and his cohorts want an election, they are free to call it. If they are feeling restless, then they can resign one by one and let us have some by-elections.

One thing I will say to you this evening, Ladies and Gentlemen….I am determined to recapture those three seats we lost in the last election and pick up another one or two of theirs, while holding on to ALL of ours!

Just before I go, next Sunday is a very special day for all of us. It’s Mother’s Day and I want to take this opportunity to wish all our Mothers a very happy celebration. Your contribution to the social and economic development of this country cannot be quantified.

You are the unsound heroes of many a home and the only parental figure in many. Best wishes to all Mothers starting tomorrow and going through the week to next Sunday.

But Fathers, I do not want you to feel jealous or left out. Normally, Mother’s Day is the big occasion and Father’s Day is a little tag along. The Dominica Labour Party does not believe this is fair or right.

Accordingly, this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, the Dominica Labour Party will be holding a gigantic Family Outing in honour of our Fathers. I want every Father in this crowd and following via the internet, to make plans to be in the Botanical Gardens in Roseau on June 18th. I will be there and I want all the Fathers to join me.

Mothers, I want you to pack a wonderful picnic basket and bring the children along so they can celebrate with us, the Fathers.

So this is one massive Labour Family Get Together, Sunday, June 18th at the Gardens in Roseau. It will be an affair for the entire family…jumping tents, donkey cart rides, dominoes, cricket, rounders, snow cone, candy floss, ice cream, lucky dips, games of chance….everything that we did on such occasions yesteryear, we shall seek to recreate on this special day.

So that’s the next big occasion for the family of Labour to come out and show the world who large and who in charge!!!

So fear thee not, my brothers and sisters. Labour is tonight stronger than ever. Labour is large and in charge.

Is Labour running tings in this country? …and Lennox Linton must come to terms with that reality.

There is a strong army of support for this Labour Government in Dominica, my dear friends. We are committed to the task and we are working hard on your behalf.

The people of Dominica are with us….comrades and friends! I know it and the one question I have for you, as I bid you farewell this evening, Ladies and Gentlemen….Can you feel it? Can you feel it, my dear people?

Michael Jackson, the lyrical master wrote:
“All the colours of the world should be
Lovin’ each other wholeheartedly

Yes it’s alright
take my message to your brother and tell him twice
Spread the word and try to teach the man who’s hating his brother
when hate would not do…
’cause we’re all the same, yes
the blood inside of me is inside of you

Now tell me…..

Can you feel it? can you feel it? can you feel it!”

Brothers and Sisters of Labour…can you feel it, this evening?

Can you feel the power of Labour?

Can you feel the resurgence of energy among the base of this great party?

Can You feel it my brothers and sisters? Can you feel it????