BVI News

Party leaders to square off in political debate: Two confirm, one decline

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

At least two parties will have their leaders square off in a political debate scheduled for Thursday, February 21 at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in Paraquita Bay on Tortola.

None of those leaders include Progressives United Chairman Julian Fraser who, according to event organisers, wants no part in the leaders’ debate.

“We tried to get the chairman of each party and the National Democratic Party (Myron Walwyn), and the Virgin Islands Party (Andrew Fahie) have already confirmed. The Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (Ronnie Skelton) is yet to confirm, but Progressives United (Fraser) declined,” debate committee member Eustace ‘Boss’ Freeman told BVI News on Friday.

Attempts to contact Fraser for comment have been unsuccessful. This is the is the second debate Fraser has shied away from since declaring his candidacy for the Third Electoral District.

When invited to a debate against political newcomers Aaron Parillon of the NDP and Dr Arlene Smith-Thompson of the VIP, Fraser neglected to confirm whether he would debate. And with a decline from Parillon at the time, organisers had no choice but to cancel. Smith was the only candidate who expressed a willingness to debate.

As for the party leaders’ debate which is scheduled for 6:30 pm inside the Eileen Parsons Auditorium at HLSCC, Freeman said the purpose of the event is to steer the political conversation in a direction that voters want.

“A lot of times we go out to the rallies and we get distracted by all the festive atmospheres. It is about what they want you to hear. But we have some serious issues at this time, and we want to have a clear understanding,” he said.

“The debate committee believes the debate gives voters an opportunity to zero in on the parties/movements that are vying for office ideology at this crucial time,” Freeman added.

Debate format

Freeman said each political head will give a two-minute opening statement as well as closing remarks. The actual debate will then be broken down into three segments.

In the first segment, each candidate will answer questions that they were given ahead of the debate. They will be asked questions from an online audience in the second segment. And in the final segment, members from the audience will pose their questions to the debating political leaders.

Following each round, candidates will be allowed at least one opportunity for a rebuttal.

Each leader will bring two accompanying candidates from their respective parties to participate in the debate, Freeman said.

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  1. Yes says:

    This is what i have been long waiting for

    Like 15
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    • Blind bat says:

      Well they should ask him why only now he is pushing for stiffer penalties for gun offenders after the Huntums Ghut shooting. Ask him where he was when they were gunning down our other citizens and the little child ata west end….is only now because it’s election time that he wants to get stiffer penalties SMH

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  2. Lamblike beast says:

    What would a debate mean now or prove? All of them are tainted and set in their own ways.

    Like 17
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    • waste ah time says:

      That debate wont change a darn thing because every body know who them voting for already

      Like 10
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      • Yes it well says:

        There are undecided voters who have not been swayed by the present party-like campaigning. Let’s see our leaders think on their feet and how much they know about the issues facing us. I hope they were not provided questions in advance or I would not waste my good time!

    • strupes says:

      just a show

  3. Reply says:

    IMO, Mr. Frasier should reconsider, and Mr. Skelton should confirm. I view Mr. Frasier as one of the underdogs in this race.

    By not participating, he is missing a great opportunity to make his case and put his years of political experience on display. There is no advantage that I can see in staying away.

    Quite frankly, all these party leaders should step up to the podium and make their cases, rather than letting others define them.

    Like 16
    Dislike 2
  4. Me Say says:

    They better decide how they will work together IF there is no clear winner in the election. Now is a good time to show us what they are really made of and who has the best interest of the territory at heart.

  5. Political Observer (PO) says:

    What is hope to be achieved on staging a debate 4 days before the election on 25 February? Will the debate be broadcast or televise? If no, then only a handful of people will see/hear the debate. If it is neither being broadcasted or televised, it is like a tree falling in the forest and there is no one there to hear the sound. “In the first segment, each candidate will answer questions that they were given ahead of the debate.” Nonsense! Is this a take home test? Combatants warring to be Preimier of the VI should be well-versed on national issues, ie, economy, public safety, housing, infrastructure, cost of living, civil service, roads, health, education…..etc. Party leaders should be nimble and quick on their feet. If they are overseas and a reporter pop a question, they are not going to have cheat sheets; they must be skilled in impromptu situations.

    Like 19
  6. PVIM New Fan says:

    Ronnie join the debate so we can hear your plans.

    Like 9
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  7. Call me Ishmael says:

    Mr. Moderator, would you please ask Hon Walywn the following questions:

    – Are you willing to state publicly that you will support a whistleblower law that will apply retroactively to elected officials for any acts of corruption and payments of government funds to them or their wife or family members?

    – Are you willing to reward whistleblowers with a financial reward equal to that stolen from us by a previously elected official? (I hope so, because I am going to get me my own jet and a bigger house or two!)

    – Are you willing to disclose your personal financial statement (and your family members) and disclose their beneficial interests in BIV Corporations?

    – Were you aware of and approve the $7.2M agreement with BVI Airline?

    – Why didn’t your party conduct any due diligence on approving this payment to BVI Airlines?

    – Why were the scheduled payments to BVI Airways made ahead of the contracted schedule of payments?

    – Were you aware that the $1M+ that you allocated for the school wall violated established fiscal management practices?

    – Why weren’t our schools rebuilt as a priority following the storms?

    – Did you know that the cost of the pier was $30M over budget before the last election?

    – Why didn’t the NDP release a financial audit of the Pier Project?

    – Why was the NDP 7 years late in releasing annual audits?

    – Our Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews said, “At this moment in time, in reading the findings of an audit, that doesn’t tell me enough. It doesn’t tell me whether the outcome was the result of IGNORANCE, was the result of INCOMPETENCE, or was something more DISHONEST. And, of course, we don’t jump to any conclusions. I keep an open mind, as you would expect to do,” Matthews said.” HON Walwyn, ARE YOU IGNORANT, INCOMPETENT, DISHONEST OR INNOCENT? PLEASE DO TELL US.

    Like 16
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    • Supine says:

      Great suggestions. I hope to hear the responses soon please

      Like 10
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    • Concerned says:

      Don’t forget to ask Honorable Skelton and Honorable Fahie the same questions, they were there also.

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    • Call Me Ishmael says:

      Touched a nerve!

      What could Walwyn be so nervous about?

      We should soon find out!

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    • @Call me Ishmeal or whatever. says:

      You know damn well you cannot ask the moderator to do that.That is called coaching. For once,please keep your ignorance to your self. If the moderator grills Myron about certain things and don’t grill the others,then something is wrong.

    • @call me ishmael says:

      I think you are from one of the other camps blogging S..t. How can you bring yourself to tell the Moderator what questions to ask Myron. Now is see how the BVI works,people go by what others tells them to do.

      Like 6
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      • Call Me Ishmael says:

        Mr/Moderator, but all means ask each candidate! Let’s hear what they have to say about these most important issues.

        Don’t ignore the issues we are most concerned about. Fiscal mismanagement and corruption are at the top of our list! We need to cleanse ourselves from that plague and move forward with honesty and transparency.

  8. True Dat! says:

    I don’t think this place (HLSCC) is big enough for this event. Get there early folks you won’t want to miss this one.

    Like 7
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  9. Suggestion says:

    not saying that she is the only person that can handle it, but I would like to suggest if Mrs. Stevens Defreitas can be the moderator of this one also. She has proven to keep control in VG’s debate that with the expectation of tension running high, we should enlist a person that has proven to keep control. this will be too important to let something good turn into something bad. Let’s go Mrs. Stevens Defreitas!

    Like 9
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    • Competence says:

      Your suggested moderator is all you know so you don’t have anyone to line hee up with. There are persons living among is who are very accustom of participating in regional and international forums. We just get comfy with the same in every situation.

      On another note, put Dancia on stage. Although not a party she is the leader who will take the BVI forward. Invite her

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  10. hammer says:

    Skelton and Frazer are not in the race, lets go with Walwyn and Fahie. The Debate is on.

    Like 9
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    • BVI says:

      We the people will decide who is in this race not just you and your one-sided views, we it with the VIP and NDP. 30 years of the same the peoples needs New choices

      Like 6
      Dislike 2
  11. Call me Ishmael says:

    Who wear the big boy pants now?

  12. ok NOW says:

    Dancia and kedrick should be invited too because they are independents and could be premier same way

    Like 13
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  13. Hah says:

    Now that Fahie agreed to the debate, Myron need to allow his team to accept debates immediately. Deception is a sin. Telling us your team is the best but knowing otherwise and protecting them from being exposed is selfish and destructive. We would also prefer if the questions were impromptu. We would also like tough questions about stuff that they did or not do during their time in government.

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  14. Mufasa says:

    So Ronnie and Fraser is a new choice??? Smh

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  15. Hmmm says:

    Fraser’s is a highly competent person so what the real reason for him declining?

  16. So sorry for my theory says:

    I’m sitting here thinking, Fraser is laying low. He decline the debate, I wonder if Fraser teamed up with Ronnie. If Ronnie’s Party wins, Fraser will team up with Ronnie. This is just my Theory. If I am wrong then I am wrong but. …..

  17. Rastaman says:

    I welcome this debate. I see that each party leader can by accompanied by two other candidates from their respective parties, which is great! I think Hon Walwyn should select any candidate who is seeking re-election from his party.

  18. VIslander says:

    Hon Fahie, please select ANY TWO of the following candidates from your party to accompany you in this debate:

    – Sharie de Castro
    – John Samuel
    – Natalio Wheatley
    – Vincent Wheatley
    – Kye Rymer
    – Arlene Smith-Thompson

    I already know who Hon Walwyn selecting from his party. He coming with Marlon Penn and Sandy Underhill. He has no other viable option.

    Like 4
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    • @VIslander says:

      those are good suggestions as I think the two that will accompany Hon Fahie will be from that list. But I will narrow it down a bit. I think it will be

      John Samuel(for sure) and

      Natalio Wheatley or Arlene Smith-Thompson (toss up). But we’ll see.

  19. @Vislander says:

    You don’t know S**t.

  20. Virgin Islander says:

    I must agree that any Leader should be a critical
    thinker. Therefore, the questions should not be given in advance. Spontaneously given.

  21. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Why do Andrew, Myron, Ronnie, and Julian need to bring along two or three side kicks? Is it for moral support? The debate is among party leaders so they need to fly solo. Any debate prep should have occurred before the debate. Still asking what is the purpose of having a debate 4 days before the election on 25 Feb. Timing, timing is every thing. Further, the debate is among party leaders so why should Independent candidates, ie, Dancia and Kedric be invited as others have suggested? If you invite two independent candidates, don’t you have to invite all. To do otherwise, would appear like the moderator(s) is making the call as to whom is competitive. That call is for the 14,831 registered voters. The moderator (s) must appear, act and behave non-partisan. If he/she cannot, he/she needs to take a seat and go siddung. Sure professionalism will rule the night. By the way, will the moderators be fact checking the debaters or will it be left up to post debate pundits?

    • Reply says:

      “Still asking what is the purpose of having a debate 4 days before the election on 25 Feb.”

      @PO. As surprising as it may be, in every election, there are always people who claim they are still undecided days before voting day.

      Perhaps, this debate may help those undecided individuals make up their minds.

      On another note, do remember that the party leaders are not only trying to get elected/re-elected, part of their job is not only to get themselves elected but also the other members of their team.

      Their success is inextricably tied to their other members success as well, in case some of these party members who have not sign on to this debate thus far have forgotten or neglected to acknowledge.

      Being at the debate and making a strong showing can only help those present but also the other members of each respective party who are also contesting seats.

      Make no mistake, this election is going to be a very close one, and some people are going to win/loose by very small margins imo. There is nothing wrong with campaigning right down to the very last minute to win, and using every venue available to get out the vote.

      Those who are reportedly staying away are being foolish in my opinion, and throwing away a golden opportunity to change/guide a few more hearts and minds their way.

  22. ST.Thomas says:

    I have never seen a bunch ignorant voters than on the Island of Tortola. Telling people who to vote for, telling the host of the debate what to ask the Canidates etc. I have a family member living on Tortola and the family member stated that people is always asking her who she is voting for or she should vote for…. Your vote is a private thing. No one should be asking or telling anyone who they should vote for. If anyone is at the polling site telling any voter who to cast their vote for should be arrested on the spot.

    Like 6
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  23. Focusonsubstance says:

    All the hoopla around this debate and the noise from these campaigns seem to be drowning out the need to focus on substance like 1. Who will look out for the best interests of the BVI and its people? 2. Who has the track record that really demonstrate that they are the most competent? and 3. Who will not put self over Country and can manage our Territory?

  24. Anonymous says:

    For sure: Most in the VIP will not put country over self. That is guaranteed. So, go put the country back decades if you don’t want her going forward. Not most ah dat current crop deh. Dem all for dem self.

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