Indicating that the People’s Partnership Coalition in Trinidad and Tobago values the support, loyalty and love shown by nationals in Canada and the rest of the Diaspora, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education Fazal Karim says one of the new government’s top priorities is to create a safe and investor-friendly environment for overseas-based residents willing to return home permanently or do business from abroad.
“The people who have migrated are not seen as a net loss to the country because of immigration,” he said at a celebration at Queen’s Park last Sunday to observe the twin-island republic’s 48th independence anniversary.
“In my respectful view, that is sometimes looked at in the context of globalization as an outdated concept.
“If you look at India, China and Brazil which are the fastest developing countries, their brains would have gone abroad, but returned to assist in the country’s development. Trinidad & Tobago can really excel and develop with the assistance of our brothers and sister here in Canada…We need people like you and we need citizens of excellence and goodwill wherever they reside.”
Hundreds of nationals attended the third annual celebratory event hosted by the T & T Consulate in Toronto.
“All of you, by your presence this afternoon, have demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that you care about T & T,” said Karim. “You have underscored the fact that you are concerned about our country’s welfare and that you wish to identify personally with important national events like the celebration of our independence.”
The twin-island republic secured its sovereignty on August 31, 1962.
Karim is the first government minister to visit Toronto since the coalition comprising the United National Congress, the Tobago Organization of the People, the National Joint Action Committee and the Congress of the People defeated the People’s National Movement in last May’s general elections.
Led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was sworn in as the country’s first female Prime Minister on May 26, the coalition captured 29 of the country’s 41 electoral seats.
Karim said the decisive victory clearly indicated that Trinidadians & Tobagonians were fed up with a number of things, including escalating crime, mismanagement of the economy and widespread corruption.
“The people made a statement which was not an act of desperation, but rather a statement of hope,” he said. “They have had enough of the kidnapping, murders, mayhem and incompetence…As we celebrate the 48th anniversary of independence, the People’s Partnership is bringing new hope. What we are dealing with is decades of neglect. We understand and we know that you appreciate that that will not change overnight. But we assure you it will change.”
Ontario MPP, Bas Balkissoon, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and councilor Raymond Cho attended the event which featured a bevy of performers including The Humming Bird Tassa Drummers, poet and spoken word artist Anne-Marie Woods, reigning national calypso champion Macomere Fifi and six-year-old Aaron Duncan who won this year’s T & T junior calypso monarch crown. He’s also the reigning champion at his Newton Boys Roman Catholic School. He was accompanied to Toronto by his mother, Lydia Duncan.
Gift baskets were presented to Steve Clarke, the winner of the “Best Old Time Calypso” competition, the Best Dressed Child, Brittany Dardaine and Best Dressed Male and Female Pat Brererton and Jean Turner-Williams respectively.
Turner-Williams, the secretary of the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Ontario, says she wears the colourful outfit on special occasions, including the Carassauga Festival of Cultures in Mississauga where she has performed.
She has been a vibrant part of the T & T community in the Greater Toronto Area since migrating in 1963.