Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 25th 2017 Contents A8 news
guardian.co.tt Sunday, June 25, 2017
Gopaul-McNicol: We don't
need an OJT to rebuild party
RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
Starting today until July 9, the Sunday
Guardian will feature the three female can-
didates for political leader of the Congress
of the People (COP)---Dr Sharon-Ann Go-
and Nicole Dyer-Griffith.
In 2006,the COP wasformed by Winston
Dookeran. By 2007, when a general election
was called, the party had gained some mo-
mentum on the political landscape but was
unsuccessful in winning a seat.It did,how-
ever, amass 148,041 votes.In 2010,the party
won six seats under the People's Partnership.
In 2011,Dookeran stepped down as political
leader.PrakashRamadharled the partyfrom
then until February this year. Dr Anirudh
Mahabir has since been acting.
Today, we highlight Gopaul-McNicol.
She said the best part of politics is being on
the ground level with the people, changing
their lives through relevant social /politi-
cal interventions. By the time she was 27,
Gopaul-McNicol had already obtained
a bachelor's degree, three master's and a
Dr Sharon-Ann Gopaul-McNicol
says now is not the time for an on-the-
job-trainee to rebuild the COP and to
"We need an experienced person who
knows exactly what has to be done. I do.
Specifically, in the case of the COP, such
a leader has to be true to the vision and
mission that the COP was founded on
and who remained loyal to these found-
She said in keeping with the COP's
constitution, a leader has to be one who
has never brought the COP into disrepute
either by being sued and found guilty or
by scandalising the COP during the 2010
to 2015 era.
"So when I was asked again by my COP
colleagues to throw my hat in the ring, I
realised that I am one of few people and
certainly the only candidate where there
is a clear match and fit in what is needed
to rebuild our party and our country. So,
here I am."
Gopaul, a licenced psychologist, said
some of the COP's leaders went in their
own direction but the core COP members
were still here waiting for the right leader
She said: "I am pleased that after 31 years
post my doctorate, I still demonstrate the
very qualities that I have always sought
in a leader. The COP members know that
several male and female contenders for
leadership have compromised the COP
by landing themselves in illegal and un-
ethical quagmires. I am not one of those
and would never be."
Asked whether the party was still rel-
evant, she said the COP's policies and
models to solve the problems of the nation
were all very relevant today as they were
ten years ago.
Sharon Gopaul McNicol
COP leadership race
Youth will be in front line
Ten years ago, she said the love for
the party was real. COP members
were never married to a party but
to their country first---a remarkable
transformation in T&T politics, she
On breathing new life into the COP,
Gopaul-McNicol said it was not go-
ing to be impossible because when the
COP was born in 2006, nowhere in
the region was a party so right in its
policies, practices and way of being
with its members.
"There was no racial divisiveness
which attracted then and continues
to attract people searching for a safe
political engine to drive this country.
"As far as I was aware, there was
no tolerance for corruption and un-
ethical conduct and that is why the
COP leadership was punished by its
members in the 2015 election when
they veered away from the principles
of the party."
She said for those reasons, the party
attracted many young people and in
her conversations around the coun-
try, she noted that they bring a new
perspective to challenges.
"As such,in my administration one
would see in the front line the pres-
ence of our talented youths who will
be part of the rebuilding of our party
and our country so they will be part
of the solution."
She plans to have a shadow cabi-
net with shadow ministers and jun-
ior shadow ministers as there will be
shadow MPs and junior shadow MPs
for every constituency.
Building ground support
If successful, she said she imme-
diately plans to build a strong ground
support and said once a new National
Executive and a new National Council
are established she will have to begin
the process in building the ground
support base of the COP from the
"This will be a fundamental change
from the way the COP engaged its
members politically, which was 80
per cent of its time in the media and
20 per cent on the ground.
"The reverse will be actualised in
this new administration. So 70 per
cent to 80 per cent will be on the
She said potential candidates for
local and general elections will be
"By exciting some members who
were experts in their own right in just
about every ministry to come back to
the fold of the COP and serve as shad-
ow ministers would resonate once
more to the citizens of T&T that we
know what has to be done to address
the problems that the average man
and woman in the street face every
day," she added.
She said she was big into trans-
formational politics which involves
changing all the colonial structures
that are crippling society.
(Next week we feature Carolyn
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