The Free National Movement has ratified five more candidates for the next general election, including two newcomers to politics.
The candidates to receive ratification tonight are Courtney Coulibaly for Centerville, Vandea Stuart for South Abaco, Carlton Bowleg for North Andros and the Berry Islands, Duane Sands for Elizabeth Estates and Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson.
The big picture
The Free National Movement has ratified thirty candidates so far, with a total of eleven new faces for the upcoming election. It remains to seen if controversial parliamentarians like Frederick McAlpine and Lanisha Rolle will be ratified.
FNM candidates ratified to date
Michael Pintard–Marco City
Frankie Campbell–Southern Shores
Iram Lewis–Central Grand Bahama
Reuben Rahming–Pinewood Gardens
Adrian Gibson–Long Island
Shanendon Cartwright–St Barnabas
Ricky Mackey–North Eleuther
Dionisio D’Aguilar–Free Town
Donald Saunders–Tall Pines
Jeffrey Lloyd–South Beach
Marvin Dames–Mount Moriah
Renward Wells–Bamboo Town
Michael Foulkes–Golden Gates
Darren Henfield–North Abaco
Travis Robinson–Bain and Grants Town
Adrian White–St. Anne’s
Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson–Exuma and Ragged Islands
Felicia-Antionette Knowles–Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador
The Free National Movement, like many people, is awaiting the opposition’s acknowledgment of its connection to Canadian Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard, who is awaiting trial for alleged sexual assaults against women and underage girls at his Bahamas estate, Nygard Cay.
In a press statement following the PLP’s accusations that the FNM is using Facebook advertisements to attack its credibility, the FNM said, “Davis has a moral obligation to come clean and acknowledge the pain and suffering these women say his top donor caused to so many. Until Davis does, he leaves many Bahamians to wonder who he looks out for, other than himself.”
Why it matters
A four-part docuseries, Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard, on Discovery+ recently aired internationally, examining Nygard’s rise to power while highlighting interviews with Peter Nygard’s alleged victims and former employees who reveal dreadful stories about him. One person testified that Nygard collected passports, locked them in rooms with codes, to prevent them from leaving the estate. Watch this link to hear Jane Doe No. 3 describe what happens when she met Peter Nygard when she was 15 years old:https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1850004547561
The big picture
Nygard is known as a close friend of the PLP, donating millions of dollars to the party during its time in office in 2012. In fact, a video circulated showing former Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson receiving payments from Nygard which totaled $94,131.10 over an 18-month period.
Nygard’s former videographer Stephen Feralio captures Peter Nygard talking about Perry Christie winning the 2012 Bahamian election on a cellphone. Visit this link to hear Nygard’s reaction to the 2012 election:https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1850003523643/
What the FNM says
“The alleged victims of Nygard’s abuse deserve justice. All Bahamians deserve to know the true details of how the PLP elite turned a blind eye to the conduct of a man U.S. prosecutors described as a callous, sex trafficking billionaire.
“Clearly Davis’ dismissive attitude towards these serious allegations proves he has a lot to learn about true leadership if he ever hopes to earn the trust of the people to lead our country.”
“Sadly, for Davis, it is relevant to Nygard’s alleged victims – some who claim they were basically locked in cages as their predator, lurked around waiting to abuse them. The Bahamian people deserve answers now. And when members of Davis’ own party admit they benefited indirectly from Nygard’s financial largesse to the PLP for their campaigns, even more questions are raised.
What Davis said in the past
At the release of the docuseries, Davis told the Nassau Guardian that the PLP’s relationship with Nygard in the past.
And back in December when Davis was asked to offer his commentary on Nygard’s behavior while in the country, Davis said, “Peter, what’s his name?” Davis asked.
“My position in respect to what I heard or [have] not heard about him is that I’m more concerned about what this election is going to be about.
“I’m not concerned about a foreign action that has been brought against a foreign person who may have had an incident in the Bahamas.”
Featured Image: (Submitted to CBC by Stephen Feralio, Nygard’s former videographer)
Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis is tangling with advertisements on Facebook which he claims are disseminating false information about his party.
As election season heats up, Davis said in a press conference today that the Free National Movement is responsible for using social media advertisements to spread propaganda.
Why it matters
Political candidates suspect that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis will call an early election. In recent weeks, the political campaigns have intensified as both the FNM and the PLP have ratified candidates in preparation for when an election is called.
The big picture
Both political parties use social media to reach targeted audiences. In fact, it is believed that the platforms played a significant role in the 2017 General election where the political parties disseminated party rhetoric.
What Davis says
“Their strategy is to buy and lie their way through a campaign. Anyone with a phone or internet connection knows what I’m talking about.
“People are complaining to me about the toxic, deceptive ads every day that seem to be unavoidable.
“…The FNM is running a garbage juice campaign, filled with garbage juice lies,” Davis said.
Davis claims that his party has identified 11 fake Facebook groups running paid active anti-PLP campaigns from their pages.
“They are not real. They have no staff. They cannot be contacted. They do not produce, or post or advertise content except for anti-PLP and occasionally some pro-FNM content,” he claimed.”
He said these ads are “filled with disgusting lies,” which he says are about him and the newly ratified candidates.
Davis says his party will soon announce the measures it will take in regards to Facebook and its allowance to run “fake sites.”
Former Minister of Health and MP for Elizabeth Estates Duane Sands said he is not crossing the floor to join the Progressive Liberal Party.
After a social media post suggested that Sands will follow in the steps of Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller who announced his decision to become a member of the Progressive Liberal Party on Wednesday, Sands gave a definite response.
“The devil is a liar,” he said in a Facebook post.
Sands resigned from his Cabinet post during the COVID-19 pandemic after controversy arose surrounding the entrance of a private plane through the closed border after a couple donated test swabs.
Since his resignation, Sands and Prime Minister Hubert Minnis seems not to see eye-to-eye, with Sands revealing discrepancies with Hurricane Dorian victim numbers. And on Wednesday, Sands said he will not support Minnis’ extension of the emergency order to October 31st.
Since then, many have anticipated that Sands may leave the party for the PLP. Now that Sands has ruled that out, Sands may contend for the FNM leadership.
While others laughed at Sands’ response, Debra Sands said, “He will start his own party. He is a leader, not a follower.”
Doreen Deleveaux played with the idea of Sands becoming a member, and possibly the leader of the Democratic National Alliance. Ronnie Sands agreed and implored Sands to “run with the DNA.”
Golden Isles Member of Parliament Vaughn Miller announced in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that he will become a member of the Progressive Liberal Party, having left the Free National Movement in 2019 to become an independent candidate.
Miller who is also a pastor of Resurrection Ministries International Church, said he sought consultation with God, his wife and church leaders before he made his decision to join the opposition party.
Miller has offered to run 2022 in the Golden Isles constituency for the PLP, and will now be seated near the opposition in the HOA until the next general election.
Vaughn Miller’s history in Golden Isles
Miller won the Golden Isles constituency in 2017 by 3,374 votes, beating PLP’s Michael Halkitis by 56 percent of the vote.
But when Miller left the FNM in 2019, he lost the support of the area’s association.
As Miller jumped ship to the PLP, a new question arises. What changed about the PLP? The PLP has not yet proven that they have changed and that they can lead the Bahamas . Why now?
Was the switch for political survival? Miller can now be expected to be used as a prop by the PLP.
Miller in his speech during the debate, never gave his reasoning for joining the opposition, only to say he talked with Opposition Leader Philip Davis and that he always desired “to help people.”
“It is time to do what is best for me,” Miller said.
Davis in a press statement, said, “I have been speaking to Miller for some time. I think his experience mirrors that of many Bahamians who wanted to believe the promises made by the Free National Movement in 2017, but who came to realize that his governemnt has neither the intention nor the capacity to keep those promises.”
Chester Cooper described Miller’s switch as a “jubilant day.”
“A glad day, a glorious day as we welcome Miller to the party,” whom he said he always admired.
What’s next for Vaughn Miller?
Miller’s chances of winning in the 2022 as an independent candidate was slim to none, as Bahamians rarely select independent representatives for their constituency.
His chances of winning as a PLP candidate is also slim.
Although Miller offered to run as a PLP candidate for Golden Isles, it is yet to be seen if he is the party’s strongest candidate for the area in 2022.
Will his constituency follow his path to the PLP or will it remain an FNM stronghold in the next general election?
Miller will face an uphill challenge from the FNM candidate for Golden Isles.
Covid-19 has thrust the Bahamas in uncharted waters and like the rest of the world, the country has implemented curfews and lockdown measures to contain the spread of the infectious disease.
Attorney Wayne Munroe filed a lawsuit on behalf of 21 people, on the constitutionality of emergency orders, many of whom are business owners negatively affected by the orders, and other individuals charged and convicted for violations of the orders.
Now, two former prominent members of the Bahamas judicial system have ‘butt heads’ in the public domain, over the legality of the lockdown orders.
For the first time, the public has witnessed a fight between two well-respected women of the legal society.
Who are they?
Dame Joan Sawyer
79-year-old Justice Joan Sawyer is the former Chief Justice from 1996 to 2001 and former President of the Court of Appeal, where she served until 2010, when she retired.
Since leaving her post, Sawyer favours talk-shows, delivering fiery rebukes of politicians and their political decisions.
In 2016, she butt heads with Former Deputy Leader of the Free National Movement Loretta Butler Turner and Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard over the gender equality referendum, when Sawyer said she would vote ‘no,’ despite not reading any of the proposed questions.
At the time, Butler said of Sawyer, “What really bothered me and most Bahamians is the fact that persons like Dame Joan Sawyer have reached the pinnacle of their legal career, she retired as the chief justice and the fact that she was able to make such strong pronouncements in the absence of facts, really gives me reason to question the motive.”
In 2017, Sawyer rebuked several government initiatives of the Christie administration such as value added tax and Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. Dame Joan criticised the festival where women make themselves “exhibits”.
Dame Anita Allen
72-year-old Dame Justice Anita Allen served as Justice of the Supreme Court of the Bahamas in 1995, and was elevated to Senior Justice in 2005. Allen is the former President of the Court of Appeal, having retired in 2017, a position which she has held since 2010.
She succeeded Joan Sawyer and became the second woman to hold that post, and is the current law reform commissioner for the government.
Allen is married to former Free National Movement Cabinet Minister Algernon Allen.
Why the Opposition and Dame Joan Sawyer agree
Since the implementation of the emergency order, the Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis opposed the orders, citing social and economic impact on the country.
Attorney Wayne Munroe, who ran for the PLP in the 2017 election and is vying for PLP nomination in 2020 said, “We continue to say there is no state of emergency and that the emergency regulations are unconstitutional.”
He has not only filed a lawsuit for 21 people against the government, but has since filed a personal action against Dr. Minnis after a group of people were arrested on Tuesday morning for protesting against the immediate seven-day lockdown.
And recently, Sawyer, a prominent voice, has also come out against the orders, referring to the lockdowns as “house arrest” and “detention.”
“By ‘detention,’ I mean, telling us when we can leave our homes, when we can exercise, when we can go to the shops, telling us when we can get married, how and when we can bury our dead relatives, among other things, telling us when we can go to a doctor or a dentist as well as how many of us can go to church at a time, how long we can be in church and so on and so on,” Sawyer said.
“…It (government) has exercised an exorbitant power on the pretext that they are concerned to save lives from this “deadly virus” by detaining every person in The Bahamas — except for persons they have in their wisdom deemed “essential workers,” she said.
Sawyer likened the emergency orders to dictatorial practices of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.
“If your argument is correct, there is nothing wrong with the government inflicting torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on people who have not been charged with any breach of any law let alone the orders of the administration during a declared period of public emergency.”
On whose side is the government?
Dame Allen supports a national lockdown implemented by the government and has called for stricter measures.
Highlighting the exponential increases in cases, she said, “If this (the COVID-19 numbers) continues, our medical capacity will be exhausted and we will all be in trouble.”
Allen then criticizes opponents of the lockdown like Attorney Wayne Munroe and Justice Sawyer, saying, she believes the lockdown is necessary.
Allen said, “The message regarding the seriousness of the situation and the absolute necessity for everyone to adhere to the protocols put in place for our protection is being garbled and diluted by people waving the Constitution and wrongly proclaiming the unconstitutionality of lockdowns, curfews and quarantine during a state of public emergency.”
She continued, “Moreover, if the science warrants a lockdown, and in my view it does, there should be a full and complete lockdown for a week with no businesses open, and a partial lockdown the week after, only allowing for food store and pharmacy runs!”
The next day, at 8pm, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis implemented a 7-day lockdown of Grand Bahama and New Providence, which experienced surging cases.
Minnis in his immediate implementation of the 7-day lockdown said, “Indeed, as noted by leading jurists in our country, the requirement for the constitutionality of various provisions is that is that they are ‘reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of the emergency.'”
“Indeed, our Founders fathers wisely placed in our constitution provisions allowing the Governor General to declare proclamations of emergency. Such proclamations exist to allow the Government to act to protect the people in times of great national crisis.”
Minnis continued, “If the Government did not have the Emergency Powers there would be mass death in The Bahamas beyond the imagination of most. Those who tell you the Emergency Powers are not necessary are unserious and dead wrong.”