PNM candidate for D'ABADIE/O'Meara Ancil Antoine has apologised for calling the US "a s---hole country."
He made the comment on Saturday night at the campaign launch for the constituency held at The Red House, Banyan Boulevard, Malabar.
In video clips of his speech, Antoine said the country had been hit by low energy prices and the covid19 "hit" which saw everything closing down.
"But we are recovering from it due to the excellent leadership of Dr Keith Rowley and his Government. Yesterday I commended him after Parliament – when we had a soiree in his office – on his excellent work. And he said part of why it turned out so is because he is a volcanologist. Because he virtually is a scientist he has respect for scientists. So when the doctors and so forth said 'follow that' he did.
"It is a great contrast to (US) President (Donald) Trump who has gone against his scientists and his experts and now America is a s---hole country. Sorry to say that. And we will have to make sure that we don’t allow Americans to come in to Trinidad. You know all them Trinidadians who run into America and they have to send back their barrel and so forth. Make sure that you tell them stay out of Trinidad for the rest of the year. All of your family and them.”
Antoine in a telephone interview with Newsday said he was comparing the response of TT and the US to covid19, the results of TT's lockdown and the lockdown in the US, as well as the discipline of Trinidadians regarding covid19 as compared to the US.
"And I went on to compare the leadership of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley and President Trump in this whole covid pandemic. And out of this I said that Trump mentioned 's---hole countries', and I apologise for using the term, to show that TT is positive in its response to covid19. I was just using a Donald Trump terminology. Call it a 'Trumpism'."
In January 2018 Trump reportedly used the term "s---hole countries" at an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers in reference to people from Haiti and African countries.
Antoine explained that Trump had called third world countries "s---hole countries" but America was in that position now because of the country's response to covid19. He said while Rowley listened to the scientists and instituted a lockdown, Trump said "no" and called for the US economy to be opened up.
He also said that for the rest of the year this country has to be careful about Americans coming in to TT.
"The country is on lockdown. If we allow people to come in at this time they will bring covid into TT."
The US is currently the global leader in covid19 cases and has recorded more than 2.78 million cases (0.85 per cent of the population) of covid19, including more than 57,000 new cases, and more than 129,000 deaths. TT has reported 131 positive samples (0.009 per cent of the population) and eight deaths. TT has also been rated number one by Oxford Covid19 Government Response Tracker and its lockdown rollback checklist.
Antoine said his speech was aired on Facebook but there were only about 27 people online viewing it. He expressed his belief that someone altered the clip, took it out of context and posted it as part of election "silly season." He said, the entire speech was an hour and a half and he spoke about a number of issues affecting his constituents.
Asked if he received any feedback or complaints on his comment, Antoine said Newsday was the first to contact him about it.
Last month Antoine reportedly retaliated against people he felt did not support his return as MP during a campaign meeting. Antoine, however, denied making those statements.