The Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) said Sunday at its first party convention, they are ready for elections in 2019 and to lead Montserrat into a new future.
There were lots of laughs and cheers by the hundreds gathered for the event, which was held at the Lookout School Auditorium. The nine candidates elected by members were revealed officially, with each sharing an encouragement for everyone to Come Home to MCAP.
The candidates are: Norman Cassell, Dr. Samuel Joseph, Charles Kirnon, Easton Taylor Farrell, Crenston Buffonge, Jenzil Skerritt, Charlesworth Phillip, Roselyn Cassell-Sealy, and Veronica Dorsett.
Cassell-Sealy, who is the outgoing chair of the party said the “current government has not kept the faith. They have not delivered. MCAP is offering an alternative leadership.” She touted many reasons why the populace should be in support of an MCAP-led government. These included more than 25 years of legislative and governance experience. Team members, she added brought to the party expertise in agriculture, finance, environment, the arts, community service and more. This is an “opportunity to improve your life. MCAP is offering stability and hope for better future. We have seen mistakes by those not prepared for political leadership. We are prepared to lead. This is the the team for the future of Montserrat.”
Party newcomer Crenston Buffonge, who ran as an independent candidate in the 2014 election said youth have a home at MCAP. He called for them to rise up as this is their country and legacy. “Know your rights, familiarise yourself with local issues. Speak up for yourself and for others. Get an education and learn a trade. Network. Develop national pride in your own country.” Buffonge ended by saying this was a time for bold drastic measures.
Newcomers Veronica Dorsett, a guidance counselor and former magistrate and entrepreneur Jenzil Skerritt were well received. Skerritt said a “wave of change starts today with the convention.” Former telecommunications minister Charles Kirnon said he has been committed to the party since it began in 1989. He called it family and home, adding that they have “never sought to win elections based on false promises and lies.”
Former independent candidate Charlesworth Phillip has joined the party. He said the event, which many believe is the first of its kind for a political party on island, will be the “new standard for Montserrat.” He invited the audience to register to be members of the party. He said MCAP is to be a model of community and an example of what family is all about.
Current member of the Opposition Dr. Samuel Joseph said the same hard work of the 50s and 60s which brought Montserrat to pre-volcano success is what it will take to build back Montserrat. “We cannot beg our way to prosperity. MCAP believes in a society which sows diligence and reaps success. One which protects children and women. We have a vision for prosperous Montserrat. We have the skills to do it but we cannot do it without you.”
Former Trinidad & Tobago Minister of Energy Conrad Enill was the guest speaker. He challenged the audience that the success of the party was in their hands and would be their success as well.
With resounding ayes, Easton Taylor Farrell was confirmed as the party leader, while Austin Howe will be the chairman. Howe said despite challenges MCAP has stayed alive and remained relevant. He charged the current administration with abandoning many of the plans which the previous MCAP government had initiated.
Easton Taylor Farrell said he was honoured to be the new party leader. He has been with the political organization for 27 years. He said they have taken the time “to see where we went wrong. Correct what we can and offer ourselves to the people.” He thanked former premier and party leader Reuben T. Meade for his contributions to the people of Montserrat. He reiterated Dr. Joseph’s statement that hard work will be necessary to shift the current trajectory. The Opposition Leader said the candidates are committed to use their collective knowledge and experience to move the party forward. “We cannot have infighting we must be united in our mission. We have stayed the course as a party for 27 years. MCAP is required to rescue and rebuild Montserrat.”
He added that their plan is to use “local resources and our people to build this country. Not wait on British aid.”
The party leader said residents can expect that MCAP officials will be knocking on doors to build the party manifesto with their input.
While MCAP is hoping that the people will have the confidence to put all of their candidates into power, voters are saying they will choose based on capacity rather than party. Teacher Ronel White, said the convention was good, adding she will decide who to vote for based on individual merit and not their party affiliation.
Elections are constitutionally due by September 2019.