One’s own personal and collective feelings must always take second place to the interest of the people.
This was the sentiment expressed by Dr Godwin Friday in Parliament this week, where he was sworn in to serve as the Leader of the Opposition for a second time.
Friday, the president of the New Democratic Party became the Leader of the Opposition for the first time in 2016 when Arnhim Eustace stepped down from the post.
The parliamentarian officially returned to the position during the first session of Parliament since the 2020 General Elections, in which the NDP won only 6 of the 15 constituencies, albeit securing 474 more votes overall than the ULP.
Friday said on Monday that he is honoured to serve in the House of Assembly and will continue to do his best on behalf of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“…I thank my colleagues on this side of the House for imposing confidence in me once again and informing the Governor General of their support for me to be the Leader of the Opposition. I take that role extremely seriously…,” he said.
Friday said the people have spoken through the declaration of votes in each constituency on November 5, which saw the ULP retaining nine seats to form the government under the first-past-the-post system.
He added that Vincentians have also spoken in their votes for the NDP, which have resulted in his party obtaining the popular vote in SVG.
“Both are equally important principles in our form of government and must be given recognition as we go forward in this term of government. And certainly, those of us on this side of the House feel it our duty, our obligation to ensure that all public policy matters and debates that go forward, that that expression of the confidence of the people is manifest in whatever we do,” the Opposition Leader said.
Friday further congratulated all new members of the House.
He told new members that putting themselves forward as a new candidate or accepting the position of senator is an honour, which he hopes that they will take with “a huge dose of humility” because they ultimately represent the people who have placed their trust in them as parliamentarians.
“…I congratulate everyone in this chamber and hold us all to the highest standard of representation on behalf of the people who we profess to love so much,” he said.
New to the opposing side of the aisle is Fitz Bramble, the parliamentary representative for East Kingstown. He replaces former opposition leader, Arnhim Eustace who, upon his retirement from active politics was the longest serving parliamentary representative for the constituency.
Senator Shevern John was also sworn in on Monday. John, who ran on an NDP ticket in North Windward, replaced lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste as one of two senators on that side of the House.
Friday also congratulated the Speaker of the House, Rochelle Forde on her election to the position. Forde is the first woman to be Speaker in SVG and Friday said he looks forward to working with her in the House of Assembly.
“I anticipate and expect and will demand that you in the performance of your duties will do so with the impartiality required by your position and using your experience, your training, that you will conduct the affairs of the house in the highest level of professionalism and within the spirit of democracy,” he said.
The Leader of the Opposition added that “we are in a parliament which is really a place for us to be talking and so debates in this honourable house should be allowed to represent fully the interest of the people who stand up on behalf of those who send us here”.