What was Senator Montague drinking at the JLP’s Central Executive meeting?

News post October 2, 2015

Shadow Minister on Mining and Energy, Robert Montague

FORGIVE us if we seemed stunned by a call for a national summit — in

effect a rare call to put country before politics — from Jamaica Labour

Party (JLP) Chairman Senator Robert Montague in a speech at the party’s

Central Executive on Sunday.

Again, readers may need to forgive us for wondering if Mr Montague’s

statement to the JLP’s highest decision-making body outside of annual

conference was pre-approved by the leader, Mr Andrew Holness.

“Let’s have a national summit, let us settle on a national agenda, and ring fence it from partisan political tug of war.

We can do it, let’s do it for Jamaica. Let’s sit down within a week,”

urged Mr Montague, who is also the party’s shadow minister on mining

and energy.

“As we move towards a general election, let’s be mindful that the

harsh realities of our economic situation will not go away by wishful


As we reviewed the latest IMF (International Monetary Fund) country

report, we, as a responsible Opposition, want to discuss some specific

ideas and solutions with the Government, the workers representatives,

civil society, the private sector, and academia,” Senator Montague said

to wide spread applause, we are told. Said Mr Montague: “Let us settle

some issues and national priorities, not shouting from political

platforms, but sitting facing each other in the interest of the country.

We have sacrificed too much, come too far, under this IMF programme, to lose the gains in an election campaign.”

This call should bring joy to the hearts of all patriotic Jamaicans

who have longed for this national unity approach to the running of our


We in this space have on several occasions advocated for a new

Opposition template that would eschew the old oppose, oppose, oppose

mantra and political pointscoring, even when the national interest was

begging for the contrary.

We agree wholeheartedly with the senator when he said: “We must and

can dig deep within our patriotism, put aside political one-upmanship

and settle on a national agenda.

Let the summit not be an endless talk shop, but a forum to: place

workable solutions, within our realities; to save the jobs of hundreds;

reform our tax code; and grow the economy.”

Importantly, Mr Montague suggested that his call had no preconditions and nothing was left off the table.

His wide-ranging list for discussions covered water; unemployment;

the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); crime; pension reform; economic

growth; community development with rural and urban development;

agriculture; energy; and education.

“Let’s commit to finding a common ground, let’s take some things from

the political platform, let’s as responsible leaders, behind closed

doors, in the interest of national good, set and agree on national goals

and priorities.

For the good of the nation, let us put aside partisan and sectoral positions in the interest of Jamaica,” he urged.

One week clearly would not be enough time to organise such a summit,

which would not be a first. Naturally, many will be sceptical of Mr

Montague’s apparent Damascus-like conversion.

Many will be looking for the trick behind his statement. It would not be Jamaica if it were not so.

But we would like to suggest that, as a country, we take him at his

word. Hopefully, this is a party position and not just that of one man

who has seen the light.



Published By: The Observer

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