In the face of widespread, condemnation and questions surrounding the timing of the decision made by the now Leader of the Opposition, Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of St George North East Hon. Tobias Clement to make that transition to the opposition bench while the country remains under the State of Emergency in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, his response was simply “Now is the time.”
In his first official address as Leader of the Opposition following his appointment on Tuesday by Her Excellency Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, Clement who now sits as chairman of State Finance Committee said battling COVID-19 cannot be exclusively in the hands of a dictator. According to him, what the country needs now is a broad spectrum of ideas to plot the way forward.
Clement noted that in the post-COVID 19 eras, Grenada will need strong debates in the Houses of Parliament. Those conversations he said must address ways to rejuvenate Grenada’s economy, spending of the country’s scarce resources and must be inclusive of all sectors. Additionally, he said those debates must be held in parliament and not in cabinet.
Clement who months ago hinted at plans to cut ties with ruling New National Party (NNP) after winning his constituency for two consecutive terms said having sat and listened for years, he felt it is now time to step forward and enrich the conversation in the Lower House of Parliament and called for public support in so doing.
In his acceptance speech on Tuesday Clement said he is fully aware of what this new task entails and the magnitude of the job at hand, nevertheless he hopes to accomplish his mission by garnering broad public involvement.
The new Opposition Leader calls for patience from the Grenadian public as he seeks to chart the way forward. He noted that while this new position was never a part of his dream when he entered the political realm in 1995, as a solider one must be prepared for whatever life throws at them and now that he has been called upon to challenge the government and offer alternative ways of developing Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique he embraces it with both hands.
Among his plans for Grenada, Clement said, he intends to provide Grenada with a different style of opposition, lay before the parliament new and innovative ways of conducting the country’s business and moving the country forward. He noted that his strategies and decisions taken would be team centred and would be made with the best interest of the country at heart.
Following his appointment of Tuesday, Clement was applauded by a number of individuals and organizations that felt the inclusion of an opposition leader in the lower house of parliament augurs well for the function of a true democracy.
One organization commending Clement on his appointment was the National Democratic Congress (NDC) one of Grenada’s main political parties.
In a release earlier this week Political Leader of the NDC Franka Alexis Bernadine, wished Clement the best as he embarks on a new journey, she noted that the NDC and the people of Grenada look forward to his contribution to the democratic process.
Bernadine added that the NDC remains committed to continuing to play its leading role as the country’s main opposition party, being cognizant that a sizable portion of the Grenadian people still support the NDC and she looks forward to Clement complimenting that drive towards the preservation of democracy in Grenada.