"Demoted, but not demotivated".
That was the first comment from Vernella Alleyne-Toppin on the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday.
Referring to the Express article yesterday which reported on her move from Tobago Development minister to minister in the Ministry of the People, Alleyne-Toppin said: "Like you said in the article: "Demoted". But I'm not demotivated."
She said while a movement from "minister of" to "minister in (the ministry)" represented a downward step, she was happy to continue serving the people of Trinidad and Tobago in whatever capacity the Prime Minister saw it fit to assign her.
In response to questions, she said the movement was not influenced by the credit card issue. In March, Alleyne-Toppin was accused of improperly using the Government credit card and was criticised by her own party, the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), which recommended that she apologise on this issue.
"I don't think that is what it (her reshuffling) was about at all, at all, at all," she said.
She said there was never any evidence that she went "shopping" with the Government credit card.
"I used the card expressly for what it was supposed to be used for," she insisted, adding the TOP disciplinary committee agreed and cleared her of any impropriety.
"And somebody will write that someday," she mused.
Asked what factors then led to her shift from Tobago Affairs, she said: "My information is that that was the recommendation of my leader (Ashworth Jack, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People).
Asked whether she and Jack had a good relationship, she replied cryptically: "Ask him!"
She laughed and then added: "As far as I am concerned, we do. I continue to support my leader 200 per cent, and I will not steer away from that. And I have done everything I could to promote the TOP and the People's Partnership as was humanly possible."
Alleyne-Toppin said her reach was going to be much wider in the Ministry of the People. She said she was an anthropologist and, therefore, as sociologist as well, and was equipped to handle the social situations.
She said working under Glenn Ramadharsingh, with whom she had an excellent relationship, she was sure she would be able to serve the people of this country.
"I will work very hard. I will do what is necessary. You know, in a democracy, positions do not belong to the office-holders, they belong to the State. Nothing is fixed in the name of a person. And I am aware of that. I am very happy to work with Dr (Delmon) Baker (the new minister of Tobago Affairs) for the people of Tobago."
"I am comfortable," she said, noting there were thousands of Tobagonians living in Trinidad and elsewhere. She said she would be moving to the ministry in Trinidad.