ANAYA NNOSAKHERE, centre, pinning a corsage on Dr Maria Agard new member of the United Progressive Party as leader Lynette Eastmond, left, and other members look on. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
THE POLITICAL PLANS of expelled former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Member of Parliament Dr Maria Agard were finally revealed yesterday.
The Christ Church West MP, who was an Independent, officially announced her membership of the newly-formed United Progressive Party (UPP) during the debate on the annual Appropriation Bill in the House of Assembly.
At the start of the post-lunch session, there was a stir of light laughter emerging from the side of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as Agard, after ascending the steps of Parliament with members of the UPP, including its leader Lynette Eastmond, entered the Lower Chamber.
Although members of the BLP were present inside Parliament Buildings, none entered the House as Agard stood on the Opposition side and swore her allegiance to the UPP.
This move comes after Agard, who had been engaged in an acrimonious dispute with the Mia Mottley-led BLP since her expulsion in November 2015, lost her appeal against that party’s decision in the Supreme Court last December.
In her maiden speech as a UPP member, Agard laid out the party’s agenda, including its views on such issues as mediation, and the legalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.
She charged that Barbadians were jaded and disillusioned by both established parties. She contended that the time had come for the island to establish a new frontier of governance and she believed the UPP would do that.
“Since my expulsion from the Barbados Labour Party, Sir, for nothing more than standing on principle and refusing to subject myself to the victimisation of known bullying, I have associated myself with an excited group of fresh, passionate, intellectually-sound and visionary Barbadians – with clean hands. Bold enough to form a new political party whose policies and visions satisfy my expectation of a new frontier.
“The political group is known as the United Progressive Party. Sir, this political group is led by one of Barbados’ former premier ministers. Therefore, Sir, with respect of today’s debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, I now posit my thoughts and the shared vision of the United Progressive Party for a better Barbados,” Agard added.
Afterwards, Agard, a dentist, told the DAILY NATION just off the steps of Parliament that the House was a fitting place to make the announcement
“We are vying to receive that mandate from the people of Barbados when the election is called. I am exceedingly comfortable with the United Progressive Party. I am excited to be part of the new frontier of developmental goals and good governance and integrity.
“We must be fully committed to the goal of building Barbados. I am fully committed to that and whether I am a member of a formal political party or as an individual, I am committed to doing my part as a citizen of Barbados,” she said.
She confirmed she would be contesting the Christ Church West seat on the UPP ticket.
Eastmond was quietly confident that Agard’s presence would redound to the benefit of the UPP.
“I have always said that Maria is an exceptional person; that Barbados really should have been happy to have her in Parliament. She is brilliant, diligent and hard-working, and to have her join the United Progressive Party is very important for us. She will add considerable value to the team we would already have in place,” noted Eastmond, a former senator and minister in a Barbados Labour Party Owen Arthur administration.