THA candidate apologises to Webster-Roy, warns: I am ready for war

Franka Cordner -
Franka Cordner -

Embattled PNM Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside THA candidate Franka Cordner has publicly apologised to Tobago East MP Ayanna Webster-Roy for speaking disparagingly about her character.

Cordner’s apology came more than a week after WhatsApp voice notes of her unsavoury remarks about Webster-Roy and THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis began circulating on social media.

In the voice notes, Cordner complained about the perceived failure of Tobago’s leaders to listen to the voice of the young people. She also said she felt that having a PNM government in Trinidad and a PNM-run THA, which has led the assembly for the past 21 years, did not augur well for the island’s development.

Cordner also described as “boring” the Tobago Beyond Ordinary marketing campaign, which was designed to rebrand the island as a premier tourist destination.

Asked about the voice note on Wednesday at the post-executive council news conference, Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis said he had nothing to say on the matter, but felt Cordner needed support ahead of the December 6 THA election.

But speaking at a political meeting in Belle Garden on Thursday night, Cordner apologised for her comments about Webster-Roy.

She alleged the Prgressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) were responsible for releasing the voice notes in an attempt to discredit her before the elections.

Cordner is being challenged by PDP deputy political leader Farley Augustine, who is seeking a third term as the electoral district’s representative.

“I want to tell allyuh something and especially to Ms Ayanna Webster-Roy,” she told supporters. “I want her to understand that the person I was before is no more. You know, what is funny about this story is that even sometimes when you are trying to do better, there are people who just can’t see it. I said the things I said, and I am not going to use my youngness to say, 'Well, I was right.'

"No, of course I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.

“The thing is, when you see that your opponents know your strengths, they will use it against you. And I want to tell the PDP tonight, you didn’t bring me down. You released the warrior in me.

“I know the intention was to get Franka out the race. But guess what? I am ready for war. and I told the political leader (Tracy Davidson-Celestine)…I ready for war.”

Cordner also accused the PDP of trying to “destroy” Webster-Roy.

“Ayanna, they try to destroy you in the process, but they don’t know that you are a mother and you understand.”

She said she had apologised to Webster-Roy in tears by phone.

“I called her as a mother and I said I am sorry, because in order to go forward you must stand in your truth and you must accept what you did. Some persons can’t even stand in their truth on the other side.”

The former Speyside High School student, who is studying social work, said she had a prepared address, but opted to speak from the heart.

Cordner told supporters at the Belle Garden Multi-Purpose Facilty she was excited to be a PNM candidate.

“Having stepped forward to answer the call to take up arms with my fellow soldiers to go out to battle to protect the future of our generation and this island’s resources, I found myself in the midst of a turbulent storm where those who seek to dismantle the chances of this party’s legacy of continued quality leadership and consistent development have attempted to lay siege on a young, vibrant, outspoken woman who is known for standing up and speaking out frankly.”

Alluding to the leaked voice notes, she also urged her audience to be wary of people who pretend to be their friends.

"What has been revealed in this storm, ladies and gentlemen, is the need for us right-thinking people to become even more conscious of our environment, and especially those who propose to be friends and even relatives, but sit in waiting plotting your demise and willing to confer with those opposed to your development and sit and watch you fall to the ground.”

Cordner, who was orphaned at a young age, said she is hurt by the attempts to malign her character and hoped others do not experience what she is going through.

“My story is no ordinary story… just like every young person in Tobago, we have friends in whom we trusted…. and to think about what I went through, I don’t think anybody would have been able to go through with that.

"But I did, and it is important, because one of the things that happened is that I am very spiritual. My grandmother grew me up very spiritual, so when anything bothers me, I go on my knees and I pray and I cry out to God.”

Urging the women in the audience to stand up, Cordner reminded supporters that Jesus Christ was also persecuted, yet he died for the sins of man.

“This is not about Franka alone, inno. This is about young women in leadership, and if it is that any one of you want to go in leadership, you will feel how I felt, because that is what happens when women offer themselves up. That is what we face.

"We have to stop that today. We have to put an end to that now. The continuation of such actions should not happen no more.”

Cordner said despite the unfortunate incident, she is ready to serve.

“As I go forward, I want to urge the electoral district of Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside: vote for somebody who understands and can relate to the challenges that you all face. Young people, this is what we go through on a day-to-day basis….betrayal, deceit.

"So stand up with me and on December 6, when the roll is called up yonder, I will be there.”

In her address, Webster-Roy endorsed Cordner’s candidacy.

“I want you (Tobago East) to give me the opportunity to recognise and endorse a PNM sister. I want to recognise and endorse the next representative – because I am speaking it into being – for the electoral district of Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi Speyside. our PNM sister, our PNM daughter, Ms Franka Cordner,” she said amid loud cheers.

“I want to give some words of encouragement to my sister Franka this evening.

"What your opponents meant for evil, God will turn into good. When your opponents thought that they were going to beat us down, the both of us, God will elevate us. When your opponents thought that you would bow your head in shame, God is going to lift your head and position to take the electoral district of Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside forward.

“I want this to be a lesson for all of us PNM people. Use this as an opportunity to be the best servant leader the electoral district has ever seen.”


"THA candidate apologises to Webster-Roy, warns: I am ready for war"

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