Hon. Wilfred St. Clair-Daniel
Hon. Wilfred St. Clair-Daniel
Former Speaker of the Saint Lucia House of Assembly, Hon. Wilfred St. Clair-Daniel C.B.E., passed away last Thursday evening at the Victoria Hospital at age 89.
Hon. St. Clair-Daniel was first appointed Speaker of the House of Assembly on May 25, 1967 and served until July 27, 1979. He later served in that capacity from June 6, 1982 to June 17, 1997.
Apart from becoming the longest-serving and most-admired Speaker of the Saint Lucia House of Assembly, Hon. St. Clair-Daniel served in several other capacities during his illustrious career. He was a former editor of The VOICE from 1962 to 1969 when that newspaper fell under the control of the British-based Overseas Newspaper and also did a stint as local correspondent for Reuters News Agency and also worked for the Associated Press.
Veteran journalist, Guy Ellis, who marked his fiftieth year in the field of journalism last year, said he began his career at The VOICE under Hon. St. Clair-Daniel’s close guidance. Hon. St. Clair-Daniel’s influence on the young protégé was immense, as Ellis tells it.
“I picked up a lot by just watching St. Clair-Daniel operate,” Ellis said in a newspaper article that announced his milestone in May last year. “So much so, that when he gave up his position as local correspondent for Reuters News Agency in 1969, he promptly recommended me to succeed him.”
Since the former Speaker’s passing last week, condolence messages have been pouring in from many Saint Lucians who regard him as a man who did his part for people and country.
President of the Senate, Claudius Francis said in a Facebook message last Sunday: “Not only was he my “introduction” to Parliamentary procedure a million years ago, but for some strange reason he took a particular interest in teaching me. Who would have thought that all these years later I would actually be making use of that knowledge? Rest in peace, Mr. Speaker!!!”
Last Tuesday evening, The VOICE spoke with veteran journalist Jerry George who revealed characteristics of the man many still regard as setting the gold standard in conducting the affairs of the House of Assembly.
“I think that most Saint Lucians remember him as a man who stood for principle,” George said. “Whether people may have seen him as being impartial or not as Speaker, Members of Parliament and ordinary Saint Lucians recognized him as a man who was disciplined about what he did. He was very serious in ensuring that Parliament worked very smoothly and in the manner in which it should.”
George added that Hon. St. Clair-Daniel also left an indelible mark on local journalism, which often involved him nurturing budding reporters, many of whom still practise today and pass on that knowledge to others.
“I also think that what he will be remembered most for in terms of journalism is sharing his own personal experience and professionalism by mentoring and training young journalists. At that time, there were no formal training facilities for journalists and no option of going overseas to do that. And here was a man who was not only the editor of the newspaper but also a foreign correspondent for Reuters. So you just sort of felt a need to be drawn to him to gain from him the knowledge and experience he had,” George told The VOICE.
Hon. St. Clair-Daniel was also a key player in the merger of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and National Labour Movement (NLM), thus forming the United Workers Party (UWP). He also worked in the fields of commerce, education and military service.