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The Douglas clan should close ranks around Magistrate Behanzin

By Dr. Emanuel Finn
Sunday 5/08/2011
@ 10:45 p.m.

Prime Minister Skerrit appears to be determined on dismantling what’s left of the Douglas political dynasty by any means necessary. Last year Sean Douglas was fired as the government’s press secretary.
rosie douglas
Former Prime Minister Rosie Douglas.

The Skerrit government decided not only to renew the contract of Magistrate Tiyani Behanzin (formerly Robert Douglas and the late Prime Minister Rosie Douglas’ son) and also refused to call him to the bar. MP for Portsmouth, Ian Douglas was demoted from the post of Attorney General to Minister of Legal Affairs.

But Ian needs to be reminded of an old African proverb and family history: ‘When your friend’s (cousin’s) beard is on fire, take some water and sprinkle yours because it will be next’. Premier Patrick John fired his dad Mike from his cabinet post. Will Prime Minister Skerrit fire Mike’s (Ian) son?

Unlike Tiyani‘s, first cousin Ian is widely regarded as a Douglas who has lost his way and is not living up to his full potential as a qualified professional and one who belongs to a family with a history of success. Ian was taped expressing his dismay and lack of trust for Skerrit and his ill treatment.

Soon after the taped conversation went viral, Skerrit told a Labour Party rally in Portsmouth that Ian is a brother and a friend. Was Ian treated as a pitiful prodigal son at the rally?

The disdain, disrespect and contempt with which Skerrit treats most members of the progeny of RBD, Mike and Rosie is sad and shameful. The name Labour and Douglas have been synonymous especially during Labour’s two depressing decades in the political wilderness while Rosie and Mike (may their souls R.I.P) kept the party alive.

During that time Skerrit was a member of the youth wing of the DFP- the Young Freedom Movement.

My admiration for the Douglas clan stems from an appreciation, high respect and recognition of the dynamism, sacrifice and political contributions of Rosie and Mike to Dominica and of RBD as a man of vision who came from the peasantry.

The clan has also been an icon in Dominica’s business and academic landscape. While Dr. Atlee Douglas taught me high school General Science, his youngest brother Dr. Montgomery (Monty) Douglas gave funny jokes on the DGS’ balcony during recess about the political arguments and disagreements among RBD, Mike and Rosie.

After reading the book ‘Reaching for the Top -The Extraordinary Life of the Late Robert Bernard Douglas’, written by oldest daughter Ms. Euphemie Tingale McIntyre, I understood the discipline, sacrifice, hard work and ultimate successes of RBD.

The book mentions RBD’s election victory as a member representing the Northern constituency in the House of Assembly (legislature) in 1954 and the very emotional and painful exchange of letters that Rosie sent to his father ( and the family) from a Canadian Jail in 1970.

Unfortunately, RBD died in 1988 long before Rosie became Dominica’s Prime Minister in 2000. Also first son (the late) Mike was the leader of the Labour opposition and a former Minister of Agriculture, Communication and works and Deputy Prime Minister.

Washway Douglas pulled away from the Labour party and publically began talking about the direction that the ruling Labour government has taken, involving massive scandals, corrupt practices and the amassing of large amount of personal wealth by Skerrit.

He was involved in launching the failed ‘Real’ Labour Party with other dismayed long time core party members and supporters. Older brother McIntyre conceded on a radio that ‘Tiyani was politically victimized and that he is convinced that Rosie would feel betrayed if he was still alive today’. Gone are the days when Mike and Rosie firmly anchored the north for Labour.

Like the phoenix and similar to the resurgence of Rosie and ‘true’ Labour, maybe a Douglas (not Ian) will rise again because political fortunes are cyclical. Skerrit’s questionable 18-3 victory at the polls and his quick ascendancy to power due to unforeseen circumstances should not be a deterrent.

In 2000 when the UWP government announced a snap election, Rosie wooed Skerrit with an attractive undisclosed sum of money when he was on the verge of declaring his DFP candidadacy for Vielle Case.

Now is the time and opportunity for the Douglas’ to publically close ranks and rally around the magistrate. Washway and McIntyre have taken the first courageous steps. This action is necessary to preserve their place and legacy in Dominica’s history with dignity and respect.

The rest should follow not only because blood is thicker than water, but because it is the right and noble thing to do. They ought to do if for any other compelling reason for RBD, Mike and Rosie. Otherwise, history may not be kind regarding this issue to the surviving members of the Douglas clan.

tropical gourmet

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