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
“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
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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