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St Mary SE voters casual about Alexis being Canadian

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 12, 2017

THE apparent political jockeying over the citizenship of Dr Shane Alexis the People's National Party (PNP) candidate for the St Mary South Eastern by-election has not gone unnoticed by eligible voters in some quarters of the constituency.

Those with whom the Jamaica Observer spoke yesterday — supporters of the country's two major political parties — were casual about the fact that Alexis is a Canadian seeking to represent them in Parliament's Lower House.

“You have a lot of folks from elsewhere here in Jamaica from overseas with big posts and playing a big role in politics. So I don't have a problem with him running,” Wayne Campbell, a resident of Golden Valley, School Hill, in the Castleton Division, told the Observer.

His neighbour, who goes by the name Jukes, interjected shouting: “Shane all the way.”

The elderly man, perched on a cut-stone wall smoking, said he was only prepared to engage with Alexis.

“A Shane enuh; him alright. Is a cool yute, him good like you. Nobody but him. Ah Shane mi a vote fa. Di man a good man. Di man a Jamaican,” the man said, soon after, declaring his support for the Opposition PNP.

Bystander and supporter of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Ryan Stewart stated that Alexis' citizenship is a non-issue, but said that his vote will be counted under the JLP's column.

“Mi nuh feel no way 'bout it, but I voting for Mr [Norman] Dunn 'cause me see him regular,” Stewart, who appeared to be no more than 25, shared.

Dr Dunn is the JLP candidate vying for the seat, which became vacant after Dr Winston Green's sudden death in August.

Just five minutes up the hill, Nicole Douglas would share her opposing view from that of other community members.

“It shouldn't happen, but if him turn Member of Parliament him still haffi represent me. In any event, wi just haffi work wid who wi get. It's neither here nor there, but in my view, mi wish Dunn win. Mi see Dunn more; all when him a nuh MP yuh see him. Even when Dr [Winston] Green was running, wi see him more,” the woman said, adding that the pharmacist “looks out” for her community.

The 29-year-old said that she has voted twice before for the JLP.

Franky Campbell, who was making his way down the hill with a bag over his shoulder when the Observer met up with him, said the furore about Alexis' citizenship status was much ado about nothing.

“What does the law say? Once you are a Commonwealth citizen, that's what the law says. I okay with it because the law says so. Why am I going to oppose it?” he reasoned.

A group spotted in Bellfield Pen at a small shop shared a different view on the matter. The only woman among them insisted that her MP must be “a born Jamaican”.

“We want somebody from Jamaica; someone weh born ya,” the woman, who gave her name as Yvette White, stressed.

“Dem did go against Mr [Daryl] Vaz, Shahine [Robinson] and a lot of them. So why him waah come now?”

A man following the conversation blurted out that the PNP “is keeping up slackness”.

“How mi feel, mi feel like Mr Dunn is the man; a nuh die-hearted politics because mi vote PNP before, and mi wouldn't vote fi dem again because of dem structure,” Dwaine Clarke said.

Busy working on a tractor over in Richmond, several men defended Alexis' candidacy, arguing that his victory in the by-election set for October 30 is sure.

“Mi nuh hear nobody a complain. We over here nuh care nothing 'bout that. It very okay for him to run and him a get di whole a wi yah so vote. Dr Green a my brethren, and wi a support Shane. Mi nuh meet him yet, but him a get mi vote,” mechanic Tony Gaunlett said, taking on the role of spokesperson for the group of five men.

“Because dem see seh dem cyaan win, the man dem a keep up foolishness,” his brother Vivian Gauntlett added.

A taxi operator, who had two passengers in his vehicle, was inveigled to stop and show his support for Alexis.

“Foolishness JLP a come wid. That is no problem; di man is a Commonwealth citizen. So nothing weh dem come wid nah go work. Wi sure seh Dr Alexis have it. If a donkey or dog, wi a vote fi PNP. So Daryl Vaz fi go one side. Dem have Shane Alexis pon board, dem never know him a Canadian citizen? Dem a hypocrite,” George Sortly affirmed.

A group of residents sitting at a shop in the square of Enfield are prepared to vote for Alexis “rain or sunshine”.

“What his name? Dr Shane Alexis. Who wi voting for? Shane Alexis,” Flavious Laidley shouted when the Observer asked about the latest controversy.

“What the law say? He is a Commonwealth citizen, so di argument done. Mek dem stay, dem love hype up 'bout Annotto Bay box dem when a time fi count, but when Enfield box dem go dung di argument done. Wi nah ask if Shane a go win, wi sure Shane a go win,” another man insisted.

Michelle Williams, a JLP supporter who found herself in the midst of Comrades, said Alexis has the right to run regardless of what anyone wants to say.

She was backed by the group, which argued that Vaz should be the last person to speak on the issue.

“Whole heap a Labourite people have dual citizenship. Mi respect Shane message; him nuh promise mi nothing, him seh him a go work wid wi and wi must work wid him. So a him a get my vote,” another woman said.

The issue of Alexis' citizenship came to the fore on Tuesday, since then the PNP has been reiterating that the newcomer to representational politics has been duly nominated in keeping with the provisions required by the Constitution of Jamaica.

However, the party said yesterday that Alexis, who is married to a Jamaican and lives in the island with his family, will “formalise” his Jamaican citizenship immediately.