All eyes and ears were tuned in to the opening of this year’s budget season as Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy delivered some much-needed light-heartedness to the House of Parliament during the Throne Speech on Tuesday.
Not only did the Governor General stand out as the epitome of class and elegance, donning fuschia, pearls and one of her signature hats she also broke the ice during what was clearly a high-tension sitting. By just being her usual jovial and down-to-earth self, she brought laughter to the House and the nation.
As usual, she addressed the nation in both English and Kwéyòl. But it was during one of the Kwéyòl segments that Dame Pearlette stumbled upon the predicament of mixing in French and English words into her address, as the words she wished to communicate were fairly new and were not part of the local patois.
While speaking on matters of security and the justice system, Dame Pearlette highlighted the government’s progress and plans to put working measures in place for the protection of the people.
She said: “Pou sipòté sé pwogram sala, Gouvèdman kay mété sèten lwa an plas. Pami yo: An lwa pou potéjé lidantité témwen ki pitèt pé an danjé si moun konnèt kimoun yo wé. Yonn ki kay anpéché moun sèvi machin élektronik, téléfòn yo épi iPad yo…ek…ek tablet yo…pa tablet koko…mé tablet! Bon, nou kay anpéché moun sèvi machin élektronik sa la pou konmèt kwim; épi an lòt ki kay mété an plas démach pou pwan épi manmay anba laj ki konmèt kwim.”
(Translated, this means “To support these programmes, the Government will put systems in place, including a law that will protect the identity of witnesses who might be scared of the dangers of people finding out who they are. A law that will prevent people from using electronic devices like mobile phones, iPads and tablets…not the coconut tablets, but tablets! We will prevent people from using these electronic devices to commit crime; and another law will deal with underage children who commit crime.)
While saying this, Dame Pearlette clearly indicated her struggle to communicate creole terms for the electronic items mentioned, and she played it off with some light humour that caused a roar of laughter both inside and outside the House.
Shortly before that, Dame Pearlette specified the need to promote the push to update the local creole language so that it could remain an importance for the people of the nation.
She said the following while speaking on the same topic of security and the justice system:
“Bagay ka boujé piti a piti. Labowatwa médico-légal-la – sa nou kwiyé an langlé “Forensic Lab-la – ouvè alafen. Gouvèdman canadyen-an kay sipòtè fòmasyon manm Polis, Biwo Potjiwè Jénéwal-la, sa nou kwiyé “The Attorney General’s Chambers” épi Diwèktè Pouswivan Piblik-la (an anglé nou ka di “Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)”. Mé madanm é misyé, èskizé mwen, mé nou ni pou entwodwi sé mo kwéyòl nèf sala an diskou piblik-nou, si nou vlé pousé Kwéyòl-la douvan. Bon, sé pa Francais mwen ka pale, mwen ka éséyé kwéyòlizé francais-a, pas ma kwè nous a di chak lè sa no ka di an langlé…Tell, tell, tell!”
(Translated, it means “Things are getting better bit by bit. The forensics lab has finally opened; the Canadian Government will be providing training for our police, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). But ladies and gentlemen, please excuse me, but we need to introduce the new creole words in public discussions if we want to push the Kwéyòl language forward. Now, I’m not trying to speak French, I’m trying to “Creolise” French, because I don’t think we can switch between English and French each time.”)
Amidst the humour, Dame Pearlette delivered her speech, touching upon numerous pressing topics, including the island’s healthcare services, tourism, agriculture and, of course, the justice system where she said: “Addressing the issues currently facing the justice system is a key priority area for my Government. Justice and the rule of law are among the most durable strands of the fabric of society. Mature democracies are characterized by their ability to provide efficient, accessible justice to all people. My Government is of the view that justice and the rule of law must underpin and girdle every developmental action proposed for our country.”
Dame Pearlette maintained her calm yet authoritative position throughout the speech and quoted the words of the U.S.’s 26th President Theodore Roosevelt, saying: “We must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood and endurance, and above all, the power of devotion to a lofty ideal…”
Following the quote, she concluded by urging St. Lucians to embrace change and to play an active role in creating a “new St. Lucia.”
Tuesday’s Throne speech marked the Second Session of the Eleventh Parliament of Saint Lucia.