Liz: I’m out of politics
After being a major player in Barbados’ parliamentary life for the past 16 years, former Cabinet minister Liz Thompson is hanging up her political boots.
“My political career in Barbados is definitely over, absolutely,” Thompson told the SUNDAY?SUN following her appointment by the United Nations (UN) as an executive eoordinator for the next global conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012.
“As an international diplomat or civil servant, I cannot express a partisan political position. Clearly, I would comment on political developments particularly as they touch on or concern my portfolio with the UN, but the partisan politics, that’s very much over.”
Thompson, who is due in New York this week to assume duties at UN headquarters, is joining the world body at the level of an assistant secretary general.
She said the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) election defeat by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 2008 and her own loss to Donville Inniss, now the Minister of Health, a position she once held, gave her “an exciting” opportunity to pursue other “professional interests”.
“When I entered Parliament in 1994, I said then that I would serve two terms. In 2004, I said that was going to be my last election and I had told people who were close to me and in the Labour Party that it would be my last election,” she said.
“When we came to 2008, there was a view that the party needed to have some of its stronger people to remain as candidates and I was persuaded that I should remain as a candidate because if I had left St James South at that time, our chances of winning would have been significantly reduced.
“In addition, I had just developed the offshore energy policy legislation and programme and I was very keen to see that through. I was at the time completing specialist training in energy and I very much wanted to be involved in that process. I found that very exciting.
“Once I lost the election, I knew very quickly that I would not run again, that there were other challenges I wanted and that at my age,
I wanted to pursue these other professional challenges now, because I couldn’t do it at 56, or if I had stayed in for another political cycle.”
Thompson, 49, held several ministerial portfolios, including health, energy, the environment, housing, physical development and planning, in the Owen Arthur Administration.
She was chosen by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon as Executive Coordinator for the South ,or developing countries, for what is being called the “Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.”
Ban Ki-Moon also appointed Brice Lalond, a former energy minister of France, as the executive coordinator for the North, the rich states of Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.
“I am deeply grateful to all the leaders of the Barbados Labour Party who reposed confidence in me, giving me the opportunity to have international recognition and the people of St James South who voted for me for three terms and then released me so that I can go on to this level,” she said.
A Cabinet minister for most of her time in the House of Assembly, Thompson served for almost three years as lead spokesman in the Senate,up to last month after Arthur took over as Leader of the Opposition Leader, replacing Mia Mottley.