Against the background of a no-confidence motion filed against St. Kitts & Nevis Premier Dr. Denzil Douglas and the defection of two senior cabinet ministers, a new breed of young political leadership dedicated to rejuvenating the ruling Labour Party which has governed the twin islands for the past two decades has emerged.
Canadian-educated electrical engineer Konris Maynard and Cuban-trained medical doctors Terrance Drew, Vance Gilbert and Norgen Wilson, who is also an Army officer, are among the list of party candidates heading into the next elections constitutionally due to be held no later than January 2015.
Maynard completed his Master’s at the University of Waterloo five years ago after earning his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine campus in Trinidad.
The six-time national calypso champion said he’s now ready to serve Kittitians.
“I relish contributing to my community in a positive way,” said Maynard who is a facility supervisor at Sol St. Lucia in the British Virgin Islands. “When the call came for me to step into the political arena, I was ready because I am rooted and grounded in the principles of the Labour Party. Studying abroad presented me with a perspective of what we have back home. I also was privileged to see what good development looks like and I think that can be attained in St. Kitts & Nevis under the right conditions and with the right people in place.”
Maynard, who is also an accomplished actor and debater, is the West Basseterre candidate. He replaces former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor who resigned from his ministerial post last January and subsequently quit the party.
Drew, Gilbert and Wilson went to Cuba in 1998.
“We lived together for a year before splitting up and going to different universities in the country,” Drew said. “We however often interacted at social events during our time in Cuba and developed a close relationship.”
Drew, who returned to St. Kitts last June after completing his internal medicine residency at the Paul Foster School of Medicine in El Paso, Texas, is excited to be on the Labour team.
“Getting into politics at this time, for me, was a natural transition,” said Drew, who replaced former Cabinet minister Cedric Liburd as the Labour Party’s candidate in St. Peter’s parish. “I have always been part of my community and I love giving back. I also taught before entering medicine. For me, it’s all about serving people and what better way to do that than through politics. I grew up in the Labour Party and I believe in its principles. Aligning myself with this party was an obvious choice.”
Maynard and Drew accompanied Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Earl Martin to Toronto last weekend for the Friends of Labour (Toronto) appreciation event last Saturday night.
“We sent these young men to study overseas and they have now come back and are contributing in a major way,” said Martin who has been the East Basseterre Labour Party representative since 1993. “It’s spring time for the Labour Party with the young and bright being part of the process. They are our future.”
Martin was among the first batch of Kittitians sent to study in Cuba in 1982.
“There were three of us, but I was the only one from that batch to graduate in 1989,” he said. “At that time, Cuba was not well liked and there was no job for me when I came back home. I had to go into private practice and I think that was the inspiration for me to get into politics.”
Over 100 Kittitians and Nevisians have graduated from Cuban universities and the vast
majority are utilizing their professional skills and training in the twin islands.
“They are in various areas ranging from engineering and medicine to accounting and some of them went back to Cuba to transition from general practice to specialists in radiology, surgery and gynaecology,” said Martin who served in various ministerial portfolios, including housing, public works, utilities, transport & posts, health and women affairs.