The Game of Drones heats up!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Hard to dis­pute Philip J. Pierre is as deeply rooted in East Cas­tries as were JMD Bous­quet and Ro­manus Lan­siquot in their re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies. Those among us who knew him well will doubt­less read­ily agree the Soufriere-born pyknic JMD was es­pe­cially fa­mous for keep­ing his mouth shut while toiling fu­ri­ously be­hind the scenes, whether with de­vi­ous mo­tives to­ward his leader Ge­orge Charles or in the best in­ter­ests of the Choiseul peo­ple.

JMD died in 1975 and is re­mem­bered, at any rate, by the or­ga­ni­za­tion that Wal­ter Fran­cois cur­rently heads, for his flu­ency in Cre­ole and for his at­tach­ment to his con­stituents. Alas, af­ter he lost the seat in 1997 to the Labour Party new­comer Evans Calderon, the os­ten­si­bly apo­lit­i­cal Soufriere Foun­da­tion notes, “he was soon forgotten by his party.”

Lan­sie was the pre­cise op­po­site of JMD. A fit­ness freak, he was the po­lit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the late great James Brown, in his time uni­ver­sally known as “the hard­est work­ing man in show busi­ness.” High drama dom­i­nated Lan­siquot’s pol­i­tics. Al­most ev­ery mo­ment of his po­lit­i­cal life was lived in the daz­zling glare of pub­lic­ity, a fact that did not en­dear him to his less in­ter­est­ing party col­leagues.

The fur­thest thing from his mind was that in 1997 Cas­tries East would turn on him in fa­vor of “that pip­squeak!”—Philip J. Pierre. Truth be told, even af­ter the vote re­count that con­firmed his victory, Pierre had great dif­fi­culty per­mit­ting him­self to be­lieve he had ac­tu­ally beaten the un­beat­able Ro­manus Lan­siquot.

If the new Cas­tries East MP, like Teddy Roo­sevelt and JMD, ha­bit­u­ally walked lightly while car­ry­ing a big stick, he also brought to mind his pre­de­ces­sor. Like Lan­siquot be­fore him, Philip J. Pierre has al­ways treated his con­stituents as his ex­tended fam­ily. That is to say, he at­tends to their needs on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis, no easy task on an MP’s salary. But fund-raiser par ex­cel­lence that he was, Lan­siquot sel­dom paid out of his own pocket, not when he could count on lo­cal Syr­i­ans and other pri­vate sec­tor hot­shots to place in ev­ery Cas­tries East pot a gift-wrapped chicken stamped Lan­siquot!

Pierre has al­ways been too wimpy (care­ful?) to so­licit fa­vors that ul­ti­mately could prove too costly. As for shout­ing from the rooftops, that was al­ways Lan­sie’s bag, never Pierre’s. He pre­ferred not to be quotable, know­ing only too well that head­line hun­ters sel­dom were as in­ter­ested in the good that politi­cians do as in the lapses and in­fe­lic­i­ties that could bury them alive.

Times have changed. To­day’s Philip J. Pierre seems ready to say what­ever is re­quired to con­vince doubt­ing col­leagues he is as ready as Ernest Hi­laire for prime time; that he is not what they imag­ine him to be: in­de­ci­sive, tonguetied, inar­tic­u­late, un­able to chew gum and think at the same time. Even be­fore Mario Michel’s ego grew too large for the coop, Pierre had taken to spout­ing what he does not nat­u­rally be­lieve, self-con­vinced that it is bet­ter to speak rub­bish than to say noth­ing at all— es­pe­cially in de­fense of his leader’s in­de­fen­si­ble po­si­tions.

Con­sider his con­tri­bu­tion to the un­for­get­table House de­bate that pre­ceded the 2003 le­gal­iza­tion of abor­tion: “Mr. Speaker, if you have a daugh­ter three years old, or twelve or eleven, at­tend­ing St. Joseph’s con­vent and you send her to spend the week­end with her un­cle. She’s a thir­teen-year-old child, she goes at her un­cle . . . that beast, that an­i­mal that the law, the Crim­i­nal Code, will deal with. That bas­tard en­ters the room of your twelve- or thir­teen-year-old at one o’clock in the morn­ing when the child is asleep, and he rapes her. That hap­pens in Saint Lu­cia very, very of­ten.

“There are peo­ple who have no re­spect for hu­man life; there are peo­ple who have no re­spect for the dig­nity of chil­dren and be­cause of his self­ish de­sires and his urges and his sin­ful men­tal­ity he will rape that twelve- or thir­teenyear-old. What do you have in your hands? You have a child, in­no­cent, who was raped. She gets up that night, the blood of rape from this drunken bas­tard is all over her. Blood on the bed, the blood of rape that hu­man dog has com­mit­ted. He is a hu­man dog.

“That eleven-year-old gets preg­nant. I want to put it to all the peo­ple who pa­rade on the al­tar of con­ve­nient moral­ity. I want to ask them whether it is right for that eleven-year-old girl who was raped by that an­i­mal, whether she must be forced to have a baby . . .”

The gib­ber­ish goes on for sev­eral pages of Hansard. But what grabs the reader’s go­nads like a vice and sick­ens him to the stom­ach by the half­way mark is not the MP’s in­tended mes­sage. Rather it is his choice of words, his back-al­ley ver­nac­u­lar, his lousy constructions, his ex­ag­ger­a­tions, his act­ing that reeks of hypocrisy.

Is it pos­si­ble the abruptly de­ranged imag­ined fa­ther of the imag­ined eleven, twelve, thir­teen-year-old in­no­cent never knew his brother was a “beast, a drunken bas­tard, a hu­man dog, an an­i­mal and a child rapist” un­til he had cov­ered his sleep­ing niece with the “blood of rape?”

And what if said hor­ri­bly de­flow­ered daugh­ter were not a stu­dent of St. Joseph’s Con­vent? Let’s say she was just an­other lit­tle Rose Hill girl who was raped at gun­point at Choc Beach by two masked men and made preg­nant. Would that make a dif­fer­ence?

The fol­low­ing is es­pe­cially perplexing: “Mr. Speaker, I be­lieve that if your eleven-yearold daugh­ter was raped by her un­cle and you be­lieve that she must bear his child, you as an adult are re­spon­si­ble, be­cause no eleven-year-old girl should be al­lowed, should be forced to have a child.”

“No eleven-year-old should be al­lowed to have a child!” And yet, by the MP’s own ad­mis­sion, in Saint Lu­cia will­ing and con­sent­ing chil­dren hav­ing chil­dren is, to para­phrase the MP, a daily oc­cur­rence—as doubt­less the Fam­ily Court would at­test!

We need not re­visit the sev­eral other em­bar­rass­ing mo­ments when the Cas­tries East MP sought to prove his loy­alty, and the hell with the imag­ined many who would pre­fer to see him stick a Bru­tus blade in his leader’s back. Ask him about the Gryn­berg deal; ask him how much tax­pay­ers have paid Antony Astaphan for his court de­fenses of the prime min­is­ter’s good name; ask him about Fren­well and Rochamel. He has but one re­sponse, now leg­endary: “I don’t know. I tell you I don’t know. You want me to lie?”

Of course no one asked him about Lam­birds. By now jour­nal­ists know bet­ter. So Pierre took it on his own to rush in where the an­gel Emma feared to tread un­til last Thurs­day evening. What she said, in ef­fect, was that the mat­ter was be­fore the court; sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials would likely be called as wit­nesses. Con­se­quently, she pre­ferred to say noth­ing that might pos­si­bly be con­sid­ered sub ju­dice. The line had worked for oth­ers, why not for Emma too?

But Pierre was determined to prove he was made of bet­ter stuff; that his tongue was ev­ery bit as ag­ile as his chief’s. (The hell with per­sis­tent Hi­lairean

no­tions!) So he started out with some ir­rel­e­vant de­tails. Why was ev­ery­one car­ry­ing on as if Lam­birds were such a big deal?, he asked in ef­fect, dank red towel ag­gres­sively work­ing his face. Who rented the premises for the pur­poses of the now closed academy?, he asked.

“Busi­nesses fail,” he bawled in the key of C. “Busi­ness fail!” As if there were one pri­vate sec­tor op­er­a­tor who needed the re­minder. Was the MP sug­gest­ing Lam­birds Academy was a busi­ness that failed? Did he not know Lam­birds was shut down by the po­lice and its op­er­a­tors charged with hu­man traf­fick­ing, money laun­der­ing, fraud and other crimes?

Into his bouil­lon Pierre dumped Allen Stan­ford, the main op­er­a­tor of a Ponzi scheme that ren­dered hun­dreds of his fel­low Amer­i­cans pen­ni­less while he flew around in his pri­vate jet, feted by re­gional gov­ern­ments in the name of West Indies cricket.

Was Pierre say­ing Dr. Shams was Saint Lu­cia’s Stan­ford? A Ponzi scheme con­man like Stan­ford who was now in “an or­ange suit”—the new black? (Now we know the MP’s fa­vorite TV meal is not In Touch!) Was Pierre say­ing Lam­birds was a Ponzi scheme, aided and abet­ted by gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, as was Stan­ford’s?

How did Shams come to Saint Lu­cia in the first place? In re­la­tion to that ques­tion, Pierre of­fered not a word, not a word, not a word—as mute as he had been on the dis­as­ter also known as Ge­orge Ben­son, the prime min­is­ter’s Great In­no­va­tor!

At Wed­nes­day’s House of Drones fi­asco Emma Hip­polyte of­fered her own ho­ley ver­sion of the un­told story of Lam­birds, but it seemed her main ob­jec­tive was CYA-re­lated. Con­trary to regular pro­to­col, she chose to iden­tify in­di­vid­u­als, at least one al­ready feel­ing the im­pact of IMPACS. But with elec­tions in the air, Pierre was only warm­ing up at his party’s last mar­ket steps out­ing. Fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s Game of Drones, he called Newsspin to throw some fake pearls be­fore imag­ined swine and con­firmed me­dia ter­ror­ists. But more on that, later.

Cas­tries East MP Philip J. Pierre: Last week he told re­porters, in ef­fect, that he re­mained un­con­cerned about neg­a­tive public re­ac­tion to him, un­less it was from res­i­dents of his con­stituency!

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