KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Even after a 21-minute warning, Senator Vynnette Frederick, opposition shadow minister for technology, ended up with egg on her face in Parliament on Tuesday as she was unable to say what “LTE” means.
Frederick’s warning came as she asked Prime Minister and Minister of Technology Dr. Ralph Gonsalves “Question 18”, one of the four parts of which asked, “What if anything is being done to improve the CITE-SVG website?”
“I hope that with the next question, to make it intelligible … to those who are listening, that the Honourable Senator would explain the meaning of the … abbreviation …” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves then told Parliament that “CITE” means the “Committee for the Integration of Technology in Education” and proceeded to give a 20-minute answer to the questions.
Frederick then began asking “Questions 19”, saying that “the USF” initative by telecommunications company LIME “to provide wireless online connectivity to schools and other locations around the state is indeed important.
“Given the popularly held view that LTE technology is capable of facilitating island-wide wireless connectivity, will the Minister of Technology please indicate …” she was saying when Gonsalves asked what “LTE” meant.
“Well, I am giving you an even better explanation than what it means. It’s the proliferation of technology by wireless means throughout any given country. That’s the name of the technology. It’s called LTE,” said Frederick, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) founder and former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell, dubbed “Miss Facebook”.
“… You are asking me about LTE. Explain to the House what LTE means,” Gonsalves said to Frederick.
“I was doing that, Mr. Speaker, not by saying what LTE stands for, which is not an explanation,” responded the senator, who is the brain behind an opposition education initiative called “Vincyclassroom”.
“But it stands for something,” Gonsalves responded as the Speaker also asked, “What does it stand for?”
“What exactly it stands for escapes me at the moment. I don’t have the document with me at the moment to tell you specifically what LTE stands for. Will the minister assist?” Frederick said, adding that she was deferring to Gonsalves.
“Mr. Speaker, LTE has a precise meaning, just like CITE,” Gonsalves responded.
“I defer to you, Minister, for the specific meaning,” Frederick said.
“Honourable member, if the question is not intelligible, then-” Speaker Hendrick Alexander interjected, to which Frederick responded: “But it is intelligible to the Minister to whom it is directed and I defer to him for the meaning of LTE.”
“No, no, no. You are asking me the question,” Gonsalves said as the speaker added: “We will have a difficulty with the question if, as minister, or the person to whom the question is being directed, you don’t have an intelligent meaning,” the Speaker said.
“So the question is being determined to be unintelligible to the minister?” Frederick asked.
“Mr. Speaker, do you know what LTE means? We are speaking the English language. If the Honourable Member is asking a question and she doesn’t know what it means …” Gonsalves was saying as Frederick muttered: “I can’t remember what it means,”
“Mr. Speaker, I would help her. It means Long-Term Evolution Technology,” Gonsalves then said.
“I am much obliged to you, Mr. Minister. I look forward to your answer. Grateful for the clarification,” Frederick added.
“It is important, because if you ask something, you must understand what it means,” Gonsalves said.
Opposition lawmaker and West Kingstown representative Daniel Cummings then said the development was childish.
The speaker said it was not childish and he was taking “strong objection” to such a statement since questions asked in Parliament must not only be for the understanding of the persons to whom they are asked but for the information and education of every Member of the House and the public.
Gonsalves then went on to say that LTE technology was not generally available in this country.