BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday March 16, 2018 – Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is standing by a senior Canadian diplomat accused of interfering in Barbados’ election, according to an article published in the National Post online.
Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados Marie Legault raised the ire of Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who said in fiery terms that she should be recalled to Canada for suggesting the country is ready for a female prime minister — and, in his view, implying that citizens should vote for a change in Government.
Opposition leader Mia Mottley, of the Barbados Labour Party, is challenging incumbent Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of the Democratic Labour Party. The country’s parliament dissolved last week but an election date has not yet been set.
Legault was “in no way endorsing any candidate in their upcoming election,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland. “On the contrary, she was [speaking] to Canada’s well-established feminist foreign policy as the keynote speaker at an event highlighting gender issues in the Caribbean on International Women’s Day. Canada is proud to support the greater participation of women in all spheres, including politics and government, around the world.”
In her address, Legault, a career diplomat, outlined percentages of women in the legislatures of other Caribbean countries and said: “I think every country is ready for a male or female prime minister. Gender does not have an impact.”
Legault was responding to comments earlier this year from political analyst Maureen Holder, who questioned whether or not Barbados was ready for a female prime minister. Holder raised this question while speaking at the headquarters of the DLP.
“Has this nation given [a female prime minister] any serious thought, or is it a case that people are so fed up with the DLP that they feel they have no other choice but to accept the next best alternative?” Holder said in January.
However, in response to Legault, Jones told a room of DLP supporters at Lester Vaughn Secondary School on Sunday that while he likes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “I ain’t going up there and tell anybody to vote for he.”
In rebuking the Canadian diplomat in no uncertain terms, the Minister of Education said: “To think that you can come into my country and because you want to cuddle and canoodle, you want to have nostrils clean or clear, you say to the people of Barbados to vote for that person. How dare you?” he said in an apparent reference to the Canadian envoy.
“You should be asked to leave or your government should tell you to come home because you have interfered in the domestic political affairs of Barbados.”
He went on: “But I become seriously offended when somehow your garters pop, everything expose and in a demonstration of your proclivities and because you are functioning with some knowledge that I don’t have, you decide to make certain utterances . . . . Get out!” (Barbados Today)