A group of politicians claiming to be "non-aligned" but who support the PDP for the August 10 general election, have passed a symbolic baton to the Watson Duke-led political party to take up the fight for Tobago internal self governance.
On Tuesday, the group which includes Dr Jeff Davidson, George Stanley Beard, Carlyle Dick, Cecil Caruth, Regis Caruth and former parliamentarian Pamela Nicholson handed the baton to PDP Tobago West candidate Tashia Grace Burris during a press conference at Rovanel’s Conference Centre in Bon Accord.
In making the presentation, Beard said, "To get Tobago’s needs in the national parliament, you have to have two strong representatives. We are saying, give the Tobago party the opportunity to have their two representatives represent Tobago and not be muffled or muzzled as part of either the ruling party in the Parliament or the Opposition in the Parliament.
“This is why we’re saying that it is necessary for Tobago to use this opportunity to send two representatives who would share the views of Tobago and not party views.”
He noted that in passing the baton goes a serious responsibility to represent all the views of Tobago at this point in time, adding that the real purpose of this election for Tobago “is so that we can get a system of governance that works for Tobago, within the country of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Beard called on Tobagonians to vote for the PDP to "get the job done."
He added, “On August 10, I am asking Tobago to recognise that the PDP is the only Tobago party in this election and like them or not, you give Tobago an opportunity and the issues of Tobago to be presented in the national parliament. It is not about who you like, it is about who can get the job done. The 'who you like' story is gone and the colour of red or yellow etc does not exists in Tobago."
In accepting the mantle, Burris said she sees this act as a critical juncture in Tobago’s history. For far too long, she said Tobago has been used as a political football by larger political parties in Trinidad.
“The reality is that the Constitution is set up in such a way that two seats in Tobago could never equal 39 seats in Trinidad, but we sing the anthem every day: 'Side by side we stand.'
"It is our ultimate quest to make that happen so that two must equal 39 and in doing so we hope to achieve that autonomy that we have so desired for the last 44 years,” she said recalling that the journey began with James Biggart, APT James, ANR Robinson, Dr Winston Murray back in 1976 and only in 1996 amendments were made. She noted that in 2020, 24 years later, there is yet no revision in the budgetary allocations since 2000 when the Dispute Resolution Commission report was laid, adding that Tobago can no longer survive on bare minimum.
“In order for us to jumpstart our development on the island, there needs to be some serious capital investment in our sustainable industries because we are ready for our financial independence. More than that, Tobago still is behind our counterparts in Trinidad such as those regional corporations, which in actuality are not as robust as the Tobago House of Assembly but the one-up they have on us is that they can make laws, we can’t,” she said.