With the selection of a Labour Queen runner-up as Antigua and Barbuda’s representative to this year’s Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show, there is concern that partisan politics is intruding upon the national festival.
On Thursday, the Cabinet announced that Brianna Anthony – who reportedly was first runner-up in the contest staged by the Antigua Labour Party last month – will represent the country in the regional competition, which has returned after a two-year hiatus imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week’s Cabinet Notes say that Anthony, a Jennings resident, and her management team appeared before the Executive, which was “was very pleased with her presentation and that of her team.”
Accordingly, Anthony has been officially approved as the delegate to the competition.
However, a concerned resident objects, telling REAL News the Cabinet should not be deciding who the country’s representative in the Jaycees pageant should be and that such decisions are not the norm.
Selection of a queen has always been non‐partisan, she says, and she is calling for past Jaycees queens, past local queens and the public, in general, to protest.
She is also calling for residents to start a petition to the Jaycees organization.
“… We, the public, must tell them that Britanny Anthony is neither the procedural choice nor the public choice, and that the Antigua public protests,” she says.
Since a local queen show will not be held this year, the woman says that an application process and private judging should have been done.
“Carnival cannot become a part of the Labour Party’s political machinery,” she declares.
She adds that proceeding with Anthony could be at “the reputational peril of the JCI” — which is internationally recognized as a non-partisan service club.
Meanwhile, Harold Lovell, the Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), says that this method of selecting a queen might be considered a small issue, but it touches on a big principle.
Lovell admits he does not know Anthony and has nothing against her; but he believes the Cabinet has done her a disservice by what could be perceived as a partisan — and not a national – selection.
This week, the Cabinet also came in for criticism when, by a reported ministerial decision, a young man was de-selected as Antigua and Barbuda’s delegate to the Commonwealth Youth Forum, 2022, to be held in Rwanda.
Jordaine Pemberton, a member of the National Youth Council, had been selected by the Department of Youth Affairs.
However, a Cabinet Minister is said to have pulled Pemberton and replaced him with another youth, who reportedly has only “observer” status.”
Commonwealth Youth Forum and now Jaycees Queen. What is next? Cabinet going pick a cricketer to play on the National Football Team?” an irate father asks REAL News. “They going too far now; too far!”
A teacher agrees that these latest Cabinet decisions are examples of “overreaching.”
“Why don’t they go and undo all the damage they caused the young people with this marijuana free-for-all? That is where the Ministers ought to put their energies and stop destroying the lives of people’s children,” she says in disgust.