The United Workers Party mourns the loss of an iconic St Lucian citizen, Wilfred St Clair-Daniel, who served as the Speaker of the House of Assembly for 27 years, making him the longest to serve in the position of House Speaker to date. St Clair-Daniel was first elected to the position of Speaker in 1967, on the recommendation of the former premier of St Lucia, the late Sir John G M Compton, and served continuously until 1979.
Due to the surprise defeat of the United Workers Party at the polls in 1979, a new SLP administration under Sir Allan Louis took the reigns of power, which resulted in a new Speaker being elected. After three disastrous years of governance, the Labour Administration of 1979 eventually fell apart, thus paving the way for general elections in 1982.
To no surprise, the United Workers Party was returned to power and Sir John G M Compton once again sworn-in as Prime Minister, and again St Clair-Daniel was returned as Speaker of the House of Assembly, where he then served for 15 years ending in 1997. St Clair-Daniel was born in June 1923 and was educated at the Methodist Primary School and later at the Castries Intermediate School.
Upon leaving school he worked as a teacher and during the Second World War he served at the headquarters of the Windward Islands Garrison of the South Caribbean Force, to which in 1945 he was awarded the War Medal. St Clair-Daniel also worked in the Curacao in the oil industry with the Shell Oil Company for four years, but he was better known for his career in journalism.
He started out as the assistant editor at the Voice Publishing Company of St Lucia in 1952 and was later promoted to the prestigious post of editor in 1962, where he served until 1969. St Clair-Daniel was also a founding member of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) along with the likes of the late Sir George Mallet, Herman McVain and Hunter J Francois.
In 1957, he unsuccessfully contested the Anse-La-Raye/Canaries seat against the SLP's Martin Jn Baptiste. Despite not winning a seat as a member of the PPP, St Clair-Daniel was often admired for his political platform performance at public meetings. According to his friend and former colleague, Ira D'Auvergne, "Crowds would gather just to hear St Clair speak.
This man was fascinating. Just a fantastic speaker!" This description by Ira D'Auvergne may have no doubt have been the impression also left on Sir John Compton by St Clair-Daniel's speaking skills, possibly leading to Sir John's decision to nominate him to the post of Speaker.
But as it stands now, this is just mere speculation. Ira D'Auvergne also opined that to date, no one has ever come near the level of St Clair- Daniel's ability as Speaker of the House of Assembly. "He served with honour, dignity, excellence and above all else impartiality."
Aside from politics, St Clair- Daniel served on the Saint Lucia Tourist Board for 18 years, including one term as its Chairman; he also served as Chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Tourism Association from 1974- 1979, and as Director of the Caribbean Tourism Association. St Clair-Daniel was a founding member of the Archaeological and Historical Society, in which he served as its President.
A Founding member and vice president of the St Lucia National Trust, Chairman of the Boys' Brigade Island Council and Chairman of the St John Council of St Lucia. In his private life, he was a devout Methodist and served for many years as a Lay preacher. He received several decorations during his life of service, including the Commander of the British Empire and Commander of the Order of St John.
Above all else, the United Workers Party will greatly miss Wilfred St Clair-Daniel, and look forward to more young people filling the void left by the passing of these iconic Saint Lucians. May he rest in peace!