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Will it be Madam President?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Two Fridays from now, when the Electoral College convenes, history is likely to be made with the election of T&T’s first female President. Madam Justice Paula Mae Weekes, who was announced yesterday as the Government’s choice to hold the highest office in the land, is so far the only nominee. The Opposition has not put forward a candidate and is expected to weigh in on the Government’s choice by Monday.

Initial responses to Justice Weekes’ nomination have been positive. She is a respected and experienced jurist and educator who has already served this country, first as an attorney in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, then as a judge of the High Court and the Appeal Court. Justice Weekes was announced as Government’s choice for the position just days after The Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (Cafra) called for a woman to be selected. The group said the appointment of a woman “will send a powerful signal to everyone, but particularly the youth, that leadership has a diverse face.”

Madam Weekes, as the Government’s nominee, has a very strong chance of being elected, so we could soon be welcoming “Madam President” into office.

Time for funding with accountability

On Thursday the 2018 National Chutney Soca Monarch was cancelled and there was a great hue and cry over inadequate sponsorship for the competition which has become a fixture on the Carnival calendar for just over two decades. Thanks to swift intervention by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the competition is on again and will be officially launched on Monday.

However, already there are signals from organisers of other major shows and competitions that they too are experiencing funding problems and may either be scaled down, or completely cancelled. The common denominator in every instance seems to be the National Lottery Control Board (NLCB), which has been revising its sponsorship commitments this season.

While economic constraints are influencing the current adjustments in Carnival funding, the current situation brings into focus the urgent need for more transparency and accountability in the country’s biggest cultural festival. Given the millions poured into Carnival every year, the nation needs to know that the money is well spent.

Black out on domestic abuse

Next Monday to Friday, local activists and civic minded citizens across the country will be wearing black in a campaign against domestic violence. To support the cause and declare Enough Iz Enough, wear something black, or tie a ribbon on your vehicle.


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