I have the honour to present the Honourable Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran, B.A. (Hons.), M.Sc.
Educator, public servant and politician, Winston Dookeran has made and continues to make a significant contribution to developments in his country, Trinidad and Tobago, and to the well-being of its people.
Born in 1943, in the village of Rio Claro, South Trinidad, one of seven children of Mewalal and Sumintra Dookeran, Winston Dookeran received his early education in Trinidad. He began his post-secondary education in Canada where, in 1966 he was awarded the degree Bachelor of Arts in Honours Economics from this University; and in 1969 earned the degree M.Sc. in Economics at the London School of Economics. It may be noted that, while a student at this University, Mr. Dookeran served as President of The University of Manitoba Students' Union, a not unworthy office.
In 1966 Winston Dookeran joined the public service of Trinidad and Tobago where his abilities were quickly recognized and where his rise was rapid.
In the early 1970's, Winston Dookeran joined the faculty of the University of the West Indies. In the decade that followed he pursued an academic career both varied and distinguished. Concentrating on economic theory, transportation economics and international economic development, he published in several international academic journals and contributed to academic programs at the University of Leeds and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Over this period he came to be respected throughout the Caribbean as an economist with particular insights into questions of public policy and more especially, into the economic challenges of developing countries.
In 1981 Winston Dookeran was elected to the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago where he emerged as a respected opposition spokesman on economic policy.
Prior to the general elections of 1986, Winston Dookeran played an important part in the formation of a new political party, the National Alliance for Reconstruction, and was the primary author of its platform. Following their victory, Winston Dookeran became Minister of Planning and Mobilization and, later, deputy leader of the governing party. In his early years in government the Minister played an important part in elaborating a framework for the economic and social development of Trinidad. A Canadian diplomat who dealt with Mr. Dookeran in these years speaks of him as "honest, personable, dedicated and hardworking; a politician much liked by his constituents and widely respected and trusted throughout Trinidad and Tobago."
In July 1990 the government of Trinidad and Tobago was the object of an attempted coup. The Prime Minister and a number of his colleagues, including Mr. Dookeran, were taken hostage in their Parliament. Seeking a trusted and respected figure with whom they might negotiate, the extremists released Winston Dookeran from captivity on the second day of the crisis. He became the Acting Prime Minister and, during a difficult period, successfully negotiated the release of the other hostages and the surrender of their captors. The assault on the cabinet was, in a very real sense, an assault on the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty and responsible government. That it could be defended, that the rule of law could be restored and that further violence could be forestalled testifies to the discipline, dedication and strength of Winston Dookeran. Democracy may always be on trial; but Mr. Dookeran's leadership, in a time of crisis, demonstrated that reason can triumph over violence, and that democratic societies can defend themselves without being reduced to the level of those who would subvert them.
Mr. Dookeran remains in the service of Trinidad and Tobago, where having, at a comparatively early age contributed much, it can be supposed that he will yet contribute more.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour and a personal pleasure for me to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you confer on Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba