COMMENTARY: Ambassador Crispin Gregoire: a debonair, experienced and highly respected statesman

Crispin Gregoire. Photo: UN

Dominica’s former UN Ambassador Crispin Gregoire outlined to Dominicans that the difference between commanding a respected prime ministerial and presidential authority and the easily-dismissed petulance of Dominica’s constitution has far reaching consequences. Mr. Gregoire was the keynote speaker at the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) 32nd Annual Delegates Conference which was held on Sunday, August 6th, 2017 in Roseau. The late PM Dame Eugenia Charles founded the DFP.

Mr. Gregoire who remains highly popular in his home town of Grand Bay in the South, also spoke out about the last two questionable General elections in Dominica which were filled with irregularities. This was echoed in December 2014 by the former Chief Electoral Officer in Canada and Head of the Commonwealth Secretariat Electoral Observer Mission (EOM) to Dominica, Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley. He said that electoral reform, campaign financing, women in politics and the size of the voters list are some of the areas that need to be addressed. The OAS also has similar concerns over Dominica’s electoral system and processes.

Gregoire implored elected leaders and law enforcement officials including the courts, to act and behave responsibly during the execution of their duties and in their roles. Gregoire was the campaign manager for the Dominica Labour Party in the 2000 elections which ushered the late Rosie Douglas into power after defeating PM Edison James and the United Workers Party (UWP). After Rosie died in office, he became the ‘chief Lieutenant’ of his successor, the late Pierre Charles, his childhood friend.

In 2002, Ambassador Gregoire who has a distinguished background in diplomacy, international development, and global civil society, was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Dominica to the United Nations by PM Charles. During his 8 years in that post, he served as Dominica’s delegate to the International Criminal Court, and as a Member of the UN Committee on NGOs, and the UN Decolonization Committee. He was active in trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and led the initiative for the annual UN International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery. Prior to joining the Office of the President of the General Assembly, he served as Chief, Strategic Monitoring and Support of Caribbean Country Offices, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at UNDP.

Ambassador Gregoire holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Columbia University and a Master of Education Degree from Howard University. His research has focused on nonprofit governance, Indigenous People of the Caribbean, and geothermal energy development in Dominica. Prior to joining the Dominica Foreign Service, Gregoire worked in Nigeria as a Program Consultant with the Ford Foundation’s Office for West Africa for six years. He later worked in global civil society development as Director of Global Programs at the BoardSource, Inc. in Washington, DC.

In 2010 Mr. Gregoire was separated from the UN Mission after he expressed frustration with the Skerrit led Labour party administration and its foreign policy posture and the strong allegations of government corruption. According to well-placed sources, Mr. Gregoire felt that the direction that the country was heading under Roosevelt Skerrit and the international image of Dominica was not representative of the original Dominica Labour Party ideals. The source continued by saying that the alleged sale of diplomatic passports to international crooks, criminals and vagabonds was deeply troubling and it was not something he could contend with and be party to. Another disturbing allegation is that there was very little or no proof that the lucrative proceeds from these diplomatic passport transactions were making it to the State’s treasury. The names of the ambassadors were allegedly not made public by the Skerrit government.

After the separation from the Dominica Mission, Gregoire has largely remained silent. In spite of his absence from the public, many informed Dominicans did not forget his invaluable contribution to Dominica’s foreign policy goals at the UN and what it meant to be a true statesman. His departure from this post was a great loss and an unfortunate development for Dominica. Mr. Gregoire stayed with the Labour Party during its 20 plus lean years in the doldrums. He was also the campaign manager when Skerrit contested the 2005 elections which result in his victory and consequently to his consolidation of power.

Gregoire was appointed United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Chief of the Caribbean Strategic Monitoring and Support Unit of the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, following his separation from the Dominica Mission. In that position Gregoire served as the principal advocate at New York headquarters for the five Caribbean-country Offices located in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname. He provided oversight and management support to these country offices, served as a broker for mobilization of additional resources for their programs, built strategic alliances with donors and other resource organizations, and managed the Caribbean Regional Program undertaken with the CARICOM and OECS Secretariats. Further, he worked in the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly organizing the first-ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

But Gregoire’s timely and poignant message at the DFP delegate’s conference stressed upon the fact that Dominica’s constitution needs to be respected, integrity of elections should be guaranteed, the rule of law should be ensured, and that a public servant’s role is to serve the public. He underscored that there should be a maximum two -5 year term limits for the Office of the Prime Minister and that the Integrity Commission Legislation should be re-amended to allow for civil society participation. He said that Dominica’s diaspora communities should be engaged and play more of a critical role in the island’s development, not just at election time. He contends that dual citizenship should not prevent Dominicans from seeking and holding high office, and expressed real concern about an economy which is largely dependent on the sale of Dominica’s citizenship.

The Ambassador also served a five (5) year engagement as Director of U.S Save the Children-Dominica Field Office in the 80s. His take-home message and reminder to the delegates and country is that Leadership is about good public policy, professionalism, competence, accountability and transparency, fairness, partnership and character. He strongly advised the DFP leadership that it is imperative that an accommodation and arrangement plan be implemented with the UWP to contest the next general election. His message was to motivate and inspire, not to rage and whine.

In a very sad development, the DFP General Secretary said that the state-owned Dominica Broadcasting Service (DBS) Radio did not carry the event live while both Q-95 FM Radio and Kairi FM provided live coverage. The Secretary said he made several calls to DBS to have the convention carried live, however, he was told that the party had to make available the address of the keynote speaker. Was it because the DBS General Manager found out that the Ambassador was the keynote speaker? It is understood that in the history of political conventions in Dominica, no DBS manager has ever requested an advance copy of the keynote speakers’ address as a pre-condition for carrying the proceedings live.

The following day after the DFP delegates conference, Ambassador Gregoire flew to Beijing with the UWP Parliamentary Opposition leader Linton as part of as a seven member delegation at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party. This is a poignant example that this statesman’s actions and positions are a refreshing testament of a true patriot who is undeterred by the disturbing political dynamics and depressing state of affairs in his beloved homeland. He is determined to stay the course in order to get Dominica back on its feet and on the right track again. He is showing a preparedness to work collaboratively with any one or party who puts country and conscience before the trappings of political power for profit or private prosperity, and enrichment of anyone or class of men and women.

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Dumb
    August 26, 2017

    Good one, malFinni. He did well for ‘himself’ with the support of the Labour Party. Can you publish a follow-up sequel on his contribution to anyone and anything in his village of Grand Bay? Even now this great patriot wants to change the constitution just to accommodate him because he doesn’t want to give up his prized American citizenship. He wouldn’t even pay for washing his vehicle from his pocket. He charged it to the country he loves so dearly. US $100 for every wash. Come on malFinni write cause he is really loved in his village. What about making such a ‘great deep low mat’ leader of a combined UWP/DFP coalition – collusion – co- illussion whatever. If I could write I too would write.

  2. Be Good
    August 25, 2017

    highly popular where ? NO WAY he is only looking out for him self

  3. Help
    August 25, 2017

    % are you for real? Do you really want to put your fingers in the Dominica treasury? Is that the reason why you have continued beating a dead horse? Not even your loyal and faithfully supporters believe in that Skerrit Must Go Crap. %,after you latest escapades in China, I thought you came back rejuvenated, instead you came back from China with the same bankruptcies.

  4. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    August 24, 2017

    A remarkable career and trully national interest position by Ambassador Crispin Gregoire.. I await to see if Tony Asataphan has any comment on what is reported here re the Dominican Constitution and democracy..

  5. August 24, 2017

    Besides holding high diplomatic office, what has Mr. Gregoire achieved for Grand bay and Dominica? What Mr Finn has done is list the personal achievements of Mr. Gregoire. This resume is seriously lacking.

    • Tjebe fort
      August 25, 2017

      Point, you will never know what Crispin did during his time in New York for example. I have great respect for him but I agree that Emanuel is using far too much flanel here to make him look good. Crispin does not need this kind of propaganda. Emanuel is outdoing even GIS in this I’m afraid, leave that for vain people like Skerrit who wallow in this kind of glorification. Crispin is not a life insurance or a hamburger you have to peddle, he is a solid, down to earth man and his achievements can stand on their own.

    • Affa
      August 25, 2017

      Oh come on girl, all of this was achieved for Grand bay and Dominica. Impeccable credentials!
      Any gov’t with half a brain would embrace this man’s knowledge and expertise on many levels. And many governments have, except this one, and that’s for the petty reason that they didn’t like Pierro who appointed him. So they threw the baby out with the bath water, even after introducing them to and single-handedly got them started on geothermal developement which they are taking all the credit for, and he doesn’t even mind. A self-less individual.
      He has done a lot for Grand bay, tangible, intangible and behind the scenes. Don’t even go there.

  6. Really
    August 24, 2017

    Steeewpps and more steeewpps to you.When he was with the DLP you did not have anything good to say about him now you singing a different tune.

  7. %
    August 24, 2017

    Mr Gregoire you are indeed a great Dominican who has served your country in an exemplary manner,and a TRUE Labourite indeed.Thanks sir for disassociating yourself from this present fetid mess exploiting the name DLP.Its an abuse of the name really,since this present party dont even seem to have an ideology or philosophy.UWP has one,DFP has one..The ruling regime (government)seem to be the party.When was their last delegates conference?Do they have a constitution?.The good labour party of the past had these organs oed and functional,and respected them.How many of these people in this DLP know what being in opposition is? Do they even mention the names of past leaders,or Africa? Do they believe n state institutions?Why are all institutions dismantled? I dislike men/women who are driven by greed and corruption.
    SKERRIT MUST GO
    SKERRIT MUST GO
    SKERRIT MUST GO NOW

    • %
      August 24, 2017

      Oops had these organs oiled and functional

    • KiD ON THE BLOCK
      August 25, 2017

      UWP GO HOME. Useless Wicked People

  8. Dominican
    August 24, 2017

    Crispin Gregoire says that Dominica’s constitution needs to be respected and I support him in that. Consequently we can not appoint members of parliament that have dual nationality. I fully understand that Mr, Gregoire may still have political ambitions and good luck to him but changing the constitution to enable individuals like him to keep their valuable second citizenship would only legitimize what his adversary was accused of doing.

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