Hon. Opposition Leader Reuben T. Meade Resigns

Honourable Leader of the Opposition Reuben T. Meade resigned on Tuesday from public office during the Legislative Assembly session.

Meade, who served Montserrat in the political arena for 25 years, said he’d already handed over leadership of the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) to Hon. Easton Taylor Farrell. He acknowledged many who have been a part of his journey through the Government of Montserrat since 1991.

The former premier bemoaned the current state of affairs with no capital projects, senior government posts being given to Europeans and stoppage on key projects which have had a negative effect on the economy.

You can read his full statement below or listen here….https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/tuesday-october-25-2016-hon-reuben-t-meades-farewell-address-to-the-legislative-assembly-of-montserrat-upon-his-retirement

Madame Speaker, I rise to make a brief statement to this honourable house.

October 8th just passed has marked a significant milestone in my political career. On that date back in 1991, the people of Salem, Cork Hill and surrounding areas, collectively called the Central Constituency, overwhelmingly voted for me to represent them in the Legislative Council.

In the five elections that followed, the people of Montserrat have consistently displayed confidence in me by electing me to serve them as a parliamentarian.

My political career has been one motivated by doing what’s best for Montserrat. My entry into the arena in 1991 as a member of the Concerned Citizens Movement, later renamed the National Progressive Party, was triggered by a desire to see a change in the political direction the country was taking.

After Hurricane Hugo in 1989, it became even more evident to me that our then political leaders were more inclined to look after personal interests than the national good. My time as Director of Development, in that challenging time, led me to realise that it was my civic duty to do more. Many persons called on me to get involved politically and I did so reluctantly.

It was then that I, along with other like-minded progressive Montserratians, formed the Concerned Citizens Movement, and then contested the 1991 elections under the name of the National Progressive Party.

I am proud of my accomplishments over the past quarter century, with a singular focus on economic development and the empowering our people. Over the years I have spoken about the need to be less dependent and be more self-sustaining both as a people and as a country.

Would I have liked to accomplish more? Sure! But life is not perfect and it throws unexpected challenges our way. In 1995, as we were well advanced in getting the country on a path to self-sustainability, God had other plans for us. The Soufriere Hills Volcano began erupting and brought on the most uncertain period of Montserrat’s history. In the process, most of Montserrat’s gains were wiped out. Through it all we kept the faith. I am proud of what we, as a people, were able to accomplish during those initial months July 1995 to November 1996. I wish to thank the British Government for their support and particularly that of Her Majesty, who, at a private meeting at Buckingham Palace, promised that she would ensure that her government looked after us in Montserrat.

During the period 1997 to 2008 I made my contributions not only from the opposition benches but I also got involved physically in the rebuilding of Montserrat by entering the construction industry as a construction labourer.

Returning to government in 2008 as a member of a Dr. Lowell Lewis led team, we worked in getting the Little Bay development moving. After being elected to lead a team in 2009, I continued to work on your behalf to move Montserrat forward. We drafted a vision and a development plan for Montserrat…Most of the work we started between 2009 and 2014, included advancing the development of a new town centre and port development, infrastructure improvements to include the A1 road development, improved government accommodation, as well as a new hospital. This along with ensuring that all the top senior positions in government were filled by locals – empowering our people.

Since the election of September 2014, we have witnessed the closure of the MDC and the subsequent stopping of the momentum on the Little Bay development, stopping the following programs: funding for micro enterprise; the tourism development plans and tourism marketing; stopping the process for getting an already designed custom ferry and stopping the ferry operation; stopping the second phase of the A1 road improvement project; stopping the reconstruction of the government accommodations, and the list goes on. Why were they stopped? Madam Speaker, Wanza in his calypso says it all: Anything to do with Reuben has to come to an end under this current administration.

Despite it all, Madam Speaker, there are projects which could not be stopped. The geothermal wells and the thrust for making geothermal power our principal power source. Drilling of the third well is well advanced but no word on the geothermal power plant itself.
The new power plant at Brades is approaching completion.
The abattoir has been completed.
Davy Hill community centre is being completed after a lot of urging on our part from the opposition benches.
Still no word on the completion of the St. John’s community Centre.

Finally, Madam Speaker, congratulations are in order. After almost a year of pleading, the MCRS building is being occupied…We await and further urge the completion and occupation of the Ministry of Agriculture building; the ZJB project, the occupation of the two empty new buildings on Davy hill which have been sitting idle for over a year now. Projects initiated by the government of which I had the privilege of leading.

Having localized all senior positions in government, we now see the insulting manner in which locals are being locked out of the top jobs in government. We have seen a European taking over the Financial Secretary position which, according to the current post holder, will take some 3 to five years before a local can be capable of filling this position. Can you imagine that?

Procurement has been taken over by DFID…my understanding is that two new European officers of being brought in to staff that office. But Madam Speaker, we have trained locals fully capable of filling the role.

We anticipate that the Comptroller of Customs position will not be filled by a local. We anticipate that already. It follows the trend.

We see the not so subtle move to replace the Auditor General with a European…We see the internal Audit top position will be Europeanized and many more positions under consideration.

Fortunately, they are not able to Europeanize the Deputy Governor position, although they tried…Fortunately, Madam Speaker, they couldn’t get it done constitutionally so what did they do, hire a temporary appointee to the job. Who are we kidding?

Madam Speaker, I am happy to note that the issue with trying to pay the “6000 Parliamentary Secretary” additional funds contrary to law. It is my understanding that it is being remedied by going through the right process. It is my understanding that the Electoral Commission has been tasked with making a recommendation as required by law.

Madam Speaker, I find it totally baffling to note that the Hon. Minister Ryan cannot find time to effectively manage her ministry but can find time to co-chair a public sector reform task force. I find this amazingly incredible. She will be part of a team, along with the governor, preparing a report to be submitted to themselves for decision making. Absolutely incredible and unworkable. This is making a mockery of our public administration system. Separation of powers. I hope she is not expecting more pay for that work as a consultant to a government of which she is a cabinet member.

Madam Speaker, I ask the question and I ask it because that is what people are asking, What is the Vision for Montserrat going forward? We are yet, after two years, still awaiting a presentation of the government’s vision for the development of Montserrat. If we do not know where we are going, we will get lost and indeed, Madam Speaker, we are lost.

The people’s wishes for change, have left us with an administration that either deliberately seeks to stymie any attempts at national development or are entirely inept at delivering what the country needs. Furthermore, it appears as though they seek to eradicate anything that I was involved with, while seeking to destroy my name with baseless accusations…Instead of getting on with the people’s business, they continue to waste time. They have already wasted two years cleaning house and creating a good relationship with DFID and the Foreign Office…Madam Speaker, was the relationship…that bad or is it that they are inept and incompetent?

My colleagues in opposition have repeatedly offered to assist the government in whichever way we can, only to have our offers fall on deaf ears.

Madam Speaker, I came forward in 1991 to play my part but I am not naïve enough to think that Reuben T Meade alone has all the answers or is the only person who can do the job. I am not that naïve. From the outset, it was never my intention to make a career out of politics but 25 years is certainly enough to call it a career.

That being said, Madam Speaker, I wish to formally inform this house, through you Madam Speaker, that I will be resigning as a Member of the Legislative Assembly with immediate effect and will be retired after this sitting of the Legislative Assembly on October 25th 2016. When I walk out of this sitting I shall have retired from the elected political arena.

The decision is not one that I have taken lightly, but in doing so, it will give persons interested in contesting the by-election to fill the seat that will become vacant, to come forward and let the campaign begin.

With regard to the Movement for Change and Prosperity, I have already given up my position as party leader with Hon. Easton Taylor Farrell taking over for the time being. However, I have indicated to the party that it is in its best interest for the other members to immediately begin the process of selecting my successor as party leader. In doing so, a new leader will be given time to shape the image and message of the party well ahead of the next general election due in a little under three years from now…There are some good people in MCAP, and I’m sure whoever takes over will be a dramatic improvement with new ideas and a freshness that this island needs.

Madam Speaker, I want to take time out to say special thanks to those who have served with me in Executive Council and Cabinet, including my longtime friend and deputy Charles Kirnon, Lazelle Howes, David Brandt, Noel Tuitt, Bertrand Osbourne, Adelina Tuitt, Rupert Weekes, the late John A Osbourne and Brunel Meade, Lowell Lewis, Roslyn Cassell-Sealy, Easton Taylor-Farrell and Colin Riley; as well as other legislators with whom I have served.

The work of this house would not have been possible without those who have sat in the Speaker’s chair, Madam Speaker. I wish to acknowledge the contributions of Sir Howard Fergus, the late Joseph Meade, Terresina Bodkin and yourself, Shirley Osbourne. Often, Madam Speaker, overlooked for their contributions are the Clerks of Council including Veronica Lee, Mary Taylor, Claudette Weekes and Judith Baker, and Angela Greenaway as Cabinet Secretary.

Thanks also to all those who campaigned with me on the NPP and MCAP platforms. This includes candidates and others who gave so much more of their time and effort.

I express special thanks the various permanent secretaries, to all clerical and other support staff with whom I have had the honour, pleasure and privilege of working with over the years.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my family and close friends for being there with me during the highs and lows and never wavering in their support despite all manner of evil being said against me. Remember, it was this current group on the government benches at whose political meeting in Cudjoe Head, whose supporters hanged an effigy of me and dragged it through the street. Despite it all, I never wavered in my commitment to the people of this country. To GOD be the glory, he brought us through it all.

Madam Speaker, With me being out of the way, I trust that the government will focus its attention on the job it has been elected to do without worrying about Reuben T Meade or looking over your shoulder for my ghost. I will be in Montserrat most of the time and I will ensure that I am available to assist wherever my limited skills and experience are required. I am a Montserratian and nothing, absolutely nothing, should stop us from working together to get this island home of ours on a self-sustaining path of development.

Most importantly, Madame Speaker, I thank the people of Montserrat for giving me the opportunity to serve them over the past 25 years.

Thank you and God Bless. To GOD be the glory, great things he has done for us as all as a people called Montserratians.

Thank You and goodbye.