Although fired twice during his political career, Hon. J. Alvin Christopher still believes that he is capable of leading the Virgin Islands and the first step was to breakaway from the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) to become Chairman of the People's Empowerment Party (PEP), a new political movement launched last evening, March 29.
The room at Maria's By The Sea was filled to capacity with sympathizers and political observers from the governing National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Opposition Virgin Islands Party, both very familiar with Hon. Christopher, having included him on their election platform previously and then firing him.
For now, PEP is keeping their cards face down, preferring to disclose their deck of contestants for the next General Elections at a later stage.
The launch was a coming out party for the executive that includes former People's Patriot Alliance (PPA) member, Natalio Wheatley as president; Elford Parsons, vice-president; Claudette Rymer, secretary; Julia Christopher, assistant secretary; Dennis Rhymer, treasurer; Lorie Rymer, public relations officer; Sunny Prince, sergeant-at -arms; and Glanville Penn, chaplain.
Chairman, Hon. J. Alvin Christopher displays a previous campaign material during the launch of the People's Empowerment Party (PEP) at Maria's By The Sea, March 29.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Following their presentations, Wheatley and Christopher fielded questions from reporters related to their decision to leave their former parties and their prospects of becoming Premier, but for the most part they appeared to have telegraphed the questions.
Wheatley explained to reporters that he resigned from the PPA via email, while Hon. Christopher indicated that technically he was a delinquent member of the VIP, having not paid dues for several years, noting that there was no structure within the party that allowed for this.
Hon. Christopher was first elected as an independent candidate in 1995, then was elected under the VIP banner and then elected as a NDP candidate. He was subsequently re-elected as an independent candidate and then ran with the VIP at the 2011 Elections.
"I was not fired once, I was fired twice," Hon. Christopher corrected a reporter.
"I personally don't believe that the people worry too much about the party which I was in. They were more concerned about the confidence and trust that they paced in me that I would stand regardless of wherever I am for what is right, what is fair and what is just for the people not only for the Second District, but the entire Virgin Islands," he further explained.
He said when he left the VIP the first time, he didn't jump ship, but he was fired by the leadership for his principles and what he believed.
"The details I will not go into; they have not gone into it," Hon. Christopher shared.
He recalled that he was was sitting at home when the leadership of the NDP approached him and asked to join with them and help form the Government.
"Because of my influence in politics at the time and my popularity, it was an easy victory for them [NDP] because they were nice boys; they were well dressed and looking good. We were of the opinion that they might bring about the change that we were thinking about, but we were wrong. When they followed the same path of the former, I stood the same place where I stood before. I will not bend, I will not bow [and] I will not burn. The people of the Second District believed in that and sent me back," Hon. Christopher stated.
Asked about his departure from the VIP to likely pursue the position of Premier, Hon. Christopher replied, "I am well prepared, well poised and well informed to be the Premier of these islands."
Wheatley said the PPA was a good experience and one that he learned from.
"If you hear a similar message it's because we have similar problems today still. Of course organizations sometimes have a difficulty and a struggle to be able to build themselves properly and we must every day reevaluate our situation and ensure we are in a place that we could make the best contribution to the virgin Islands. We must not be so narrow minded to think that perhaps one day we supported an organization that we cannot reevaluate and make a better decision going forward into the future," Wheatley stated.
According to PEP, the ratification of its constitution has been endorsed by approximately 40 persons.
The party has stated that building district committees; informing the public about its aims, objectives and principles; and engaging in various political activities are the main priorities of PEP in the months immediately following the launch of the party.