United Workers Party, UWP, leader, Allen Chastanet, has refuted claims made yesterday by former Police Commissioner, Ausbert Regis, to the effect that a policy decision Chastanet made contributed to Canada imposing visa requirements for holders of Saint Lucian passports.
Regis had said that Chastanet’s decision to scrap outgoing immigration checks to facilitate hassle free tourism, resulted in a number of persons entering Saint Lucia and leaving with false passports for Canada, raising concerns in that country and leading to the imposition of the visa requirement.
In a statement to the Times, Chastanet, a former Tourism Minister, said he was flattered that the Labour Party administration continues to suggest that he was running the government at the time.
But he asserted that this was far from the truth.
According to the UWP leader, there were people going to Canada before the UWP entered office in 2007, during the time of the UWP government, and after the administration left office in 2011.
Chastanet recalled that there were two main areas that those persons were using to claim asylum in Canada – being gay and being persecuted in Saint Lucia, and being a woman and undergoing abuse.
He disclosed that there was even an organization here that was assisting women to get to Canada and obtain asylum.
“I don’t recall there was ever an issue with regard to false passports and so Mr. Regis is arguing against his own statements,” Chastanet declared.
“If in fact the Canadians were concerned about whatever we were doing and we implemented that policy since 2007 and we remained in office until 2011, why did the Canadians wait until 2013 to make any visa restriction changes?”
The former Tourism Minister said he is very proud of the stint the UWP had in office, and of the fact that the then government was seeking to facilitate people without compromising security, since that is the name of the game today.
He told the Times that when he leaves the US, Canada and Europe, he does not go through passport control.
Chastanet asserted that passport control is an added security feature but not one that is necessarily going to capture the kinds of people that Mr. Regis is talking about.
“It would appear that Mr. Regis seems to have his facts wrong, but I forgive him because I know he has been out of his position for a very long time and it is difficult for people to remember that far back,” the UWP leader told the Times.