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houseofassembly

Saturday, November 26, 2022

houseofassembly

Bain and COI Members Strike $1500 Bail 1 Day After Chaos Erupted in Parliament Square

Lincoln Bain, leader of the Coalition of Independents and eight members of his party were charged and released on bail following a clash with police in Parliament Square on Wednesday.

The group was reportedly detained overnight in jail and was charged before the Magistrates court on Thursday morning, facing a litany of charges including unlawful assembly, obstruction, assault, disorderly behavior and resisting arrest.

The group pleaded not guilty then was released on $1,500 bail.

They walked out of the front door of the Magistrates Court where they were greeted by cheering supporters. Bain and the eight accused were seen embracing the happy crowd which  shouted, “Freedom is a must.”

Bain and some members of the group showed up in Rawson Square on Wednesday to give parliamentarians a copy of their immigration proposal and wound up in a fight with officers after Bain was asked to move from the steps and work within the precincts of the square. 

A senior officer physically removed Bain from the steps when chaos erupted and he was eventually carried away in a police vehicle.

They will return to court on December 1.

They were represented by Maria Daxon and Donna Dorsette Major, both members of the COI.

 

 

The House Speaker Is a Bully. She Tramples Decorum in Parliament

Patricia Deveaux is quickly becoming parliament’s most controversial House Speaker, outpacing the past Speaker Halson Moultrie, whom many opined lacked decorum when he served in the position.

Deveaux’s recent tirade has thrust her back into the spotlight during the 2022-2023 Budget Debate when she attacked NEMA’s Captain Stephen Russell from her seat, saying that since he was absent from the Bamboo Town constituency in the aftermath of tornadic activity, he must have been “home, busy watching the game (NBA) last night.”

She then suggested that Russell find a day job. “These people, if they want desk job from 9-5, give them their desk job…You tell Mr Russell for me, if he is listening, you need a 9 to 5 job,” she said.

Opposition Leader Michael Pintard later cautioned that comments against Russell should be carefully considered since he was a private citizen and was not in the House to give a response.

Her anger accompanied by neck twirls, finger-pointing, chest-thumping, and a condescending tone, was on full display when she later addressed St Anne’s MP Adrian White after he suggested she read the House’s rule book.

“Don’t do that to me. Don’t insult the intelligence of this Chair…Let me remind you, that I am an adult, one that is older than you. And I have a 25-year-old daughter…So you don’t tell me about being an adult and having children. I fully know how to be that. I know my job, you learn yours,” before jerking her neck and twirling in her seat.

Deveaux, like Moultrie, lacks decorum, and though it is her duty to take charge of debates and keep order in the House, her actions are overbearing and without demureness, the dignity of the Chair which she represents.

Serving as the 55th Speaker of the House of Assembly, she is the second woman to sit as Speaker, following Italia Johnson who served from 1997 to 2002. Johnson was remembered for her gracious and stately approach to the high office.

Deveaux is a bully, using the Speaker’s chair to display unwanted and aggressive behavior and seeking to denigrate the Opposition while throwing her weight around, taking advantage of the power imbalance in the House.

And, the manner in which Deveaux delivers her commentary is troubling. She is ill-tempered, harsh in her language, and possesses a bad attitude.

In 2020 while serving as the PLP’s National Vice-Chair and as a senior executive secretary in the Ministry of National Security, she made headlines after making an ethnic slur at a PLP rally when she said her party has only “nice-looking people” and not a “bunch of darkies all over the place, heating up the place”. She later apologized.

Deveaux simply does not have the temperament required to be a good Speaker.

House Speaker Berates White for ‘Wrong’ Color Necktie: Don’t Come Back Here in That

In the middle of the 2022-2023 Budget Debate, House Speaker Patricia Deveaux scolded the Member of Parliament for Montague, Adrian White for wearing the “wrong color necktie” in the House of Assembly.

White was making contributions to the debate when Deveaux argued an earlier comment made by White in his speech.

“He’s getting out of hand today. And I ain’t even pick on him cause he ain’t even wearing the right color tie today,” she said to FNM Leader Michael Pintard who stood up to request more time for White.

House Speaker scolds Adrian White Montague MP because of his color choice in neckties.

She then turns to White, “Don’t come back here in that–[It’s either] black, grey [or] blue.”

White responded, “My tie is in accordance with the rules, Madam Speaker.”

Deveaux retorts, “It ain’t. Oh no.”

White then emphasizes that the House rules speak to the wearing of “dark color suits” only.

Deveaux seeks clarification from the House clark and then reiterates, “Dark colors, okay.”

Fort Charlotte MP Alfred Sears then stands to his feet to support Deveaux while reading from the rule book:

“Rule 93 says the dress of the members of the House including the Speaker at sittings shall be dark suits with ties for men and dark business suits or dress for women provided on state or formal occasions.”

He added, “The tie must be consistent,” before sitting down.

Defending himself, White said other ministers were seen wearing yellow ties in the past to which Deveaux said, “Not in here. Not under my watch. Now you cut it out.”

Montague MP Adrian White is seen buttoning his coat suit.

She then impressed upon White to button his jacket.

At the conclusion of his speech, he showed Deveaux an image of a PLP member wearing a yellow necktie.

 

The Sticking Points in the 2022-2023 Budget Communication

Prime Minister Philip Davis presented the Budget in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, which Opposition Leader Michael Pintard believes lacks sufficient details.

Davis promised that the new budget will focus on economic growth, and job creation; assist Bahamians with the cost of living; and will highlight the home and border security.

What Prime Minister Davis says:

  • The new budget provides salary increases for teachers and nurses, including monies owed.
  • The minimum wage will increase incrementally, beginning in July 2022
  • His government will restore funding for elite athletes and programs, and it will provide $1 million for the hosting of the Carifta Games, Bahamas Games and Relay Games.
  • The PLP government will provide a 10% increase in grants for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
  • $500,000 will be allocated for Urban Renewal–education and community programs.
  • Churches, trade unions and burial societies are exempted from property tax.
  • The Davis administration will provide funding for renewable energy and is set to increase its fleet of electric cars.
  • $6 million will be provided for vessels of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
  • $10 million will be provided for catastrophic healthcare.

What Opposition Leader Michael Pintard says

Michael Pintard says the new budget should have been about growth. In a press conference following the Budget reading in the House of Assembly, Pintard with other members of the Opposition asked how will the government sustain and pay for many of the things mentioned in the Budget.

He said Davis should have addressed the challenges the country faces and layout a plan to face the challenges.

Pintard wished that there was an emphasis on price inflation, tax policies, the youth population and their concerns, crime and violence in the country and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority with more focus on Grand Bahama and Abaco following the destructions left behind by Hurricane Dorian.

 

 

 

 

The Emergency Order Was Amended. Is There Still A Competent Authority?

The House of Assembly passed an amendment to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Special Provisions) 2021 in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, seeking to end the Emergency Order which expires on Saturday. But not without question from the Opposition, who queried the controversial title of the competent authority.

The Emergency Order was implemented by the former Minnis administration. This bill seeks to replace it with a few changes.

Who gets the new power?

The title of the competent authority is no longer a part of the new bill. Instead, powers lie within the Ministry of Health which has control of the ongoing pandemic. Particular powers are also given to the Minister of Health Michael Darville who can shut down businesses, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, if it does not adhere to the regulations or if there is an outbreak.

Under the former administration, Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was criticized for the title, which gave him sole powers, on the advice of medical officers, to operate in that vein.

What are the new changes and how will they work?

Aspects of the Emergency Order will come to an end which includes the curfews. However, Bahamians will still be required to wear masks, sanitize, and socially distance themselves.

Businesses are still required 50% occupancy and admittance of patrons showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Businesses must give a protocol document pertaining to its guidelines for operation as approved by the Ministry of Health.

What do others think?

Former Cabinet Minister and Marco City MP Michael Pintard supports changes to the bill but worries that the Minister of Health, Michael Darville may now run the risk of becoming the new competent authority, due to his new duties in the bill.

Pintard thinks the powers are too broad and are similar to powers Minnis once held, which the PLP, when it was in opposition, readily criticized.

“The competent authority, if you’re not extending the emergency powers, should come to an end … in the shortest possible period of time. It was only designed for a short period of time,” he said.

 

Minnis Sworn in as Opposition Leader

Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was officially sworn in on Friday as Leader of the Opposition.

When Parliament meets, Minnis will be joined by other opposition members including St. Anne’s MP Adrian White, Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson and Marco City MP Michael Pintard, Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis, and St Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright.

Following swearing-in ceremony, Minnis said he hopes the government continue with plans to recruit young Bahamians for further education abroad for leadership positions in government entities. Minnis said he will hold the government accountable.

The big picture

Following last week’s General Election, the Minnis led adminstration lost, only winning 7 out of the 39 seats, after battling the fallouts of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Progressive Liberal Party led by former opposition leader, Philip Davis won the 32 seats.

Why it matters

Since the defeat of the Free National Movement, council members met to determine the future leadership of the party. After a vote, the party decided to keep Minnis as leader until November when a convention is held. A new leader will be picked to lead the party forward. Minnis said he will not contest the leadership post.

 

No One Shows Up for Moultrie’s ‘Open Parliament’

After House Speaker Halson Moultrie planned another session of ‘open parliament’ ahead of the General Election, no one showed up in Parliament Square.

Moultrie planned a second ‘open parliament’ for Wednesday, after advertising on social media, despite the dissolution of the House of Assembly.

The flyer advertising the ‘open parliament.’

Controversial Moultrie told Eye Witness News yesterday that the intended event is “the opportunity for the common man to come forward, to demand accountability, transparency, good governance, minimize corruption and access information. That is what open Parliament is all about,” he said.

“This open Parliament would be all about allowing the people to put on the record publicly their displeasure with the way this election is being conducted.”

However, no one showed up and people were seen packing up the empty chairs. Moultrie and Independent Centerville MP Reece Chipman were seen waiting for the expected crowd, but to no avail.

Moultrie’s first ‘open parliament’ was held on the same day the House was dissolved and was attended by various third-party members.

It is not known why Moultrie was not able to attract the crowd he did a few weeks ago.

The big picture

Moultrie and Chipman have broken off from the governing party and both are running as independent candidates in the upcoming General Elections.

Since their departure from the Free National Movement, Moultrie and Chipman have become outspoken and protested the policies of the government.

It remains to be seen if voters will stick with them when they cast their ballots.

Parliament Is Prorogued in a Shocking Move

Update: The Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle returned to the House of Assembly at two o’clock today, to read a second proclamation from Governor-General C.A Smith. Rolle announced that Parliament will resume on September 22.

The House of Assembly was prorogued this morning, one week after parliamentarians returned.

The Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle read the proclamation from the Governor-General.

“The Proclamation whereas by virtue of Article 66 (1) of the constitution, the Governor-General acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister may at any time by proclamation, prorogue Parliament. Cornelius A Smith, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, hereby prorogue Parliament as from the 18th day of August 2021.”

What it means

This means that the current session or a sitting of the House is suspended by an order of the prime minister.

The House was not dissolved, which would mean the House sessions have concluded and House business has come to an end.

The life of parliament still continues.

What the Speaker says

Controversial House Speaker Halson Moultrie said he was not surprised at the move as he had heard rumors of its possibility. But he called the move “unusual” since the Parliament reconvened last week to extend the state of emergency.

Moultrie, who resigned from the Free National Movement, said he had intentions to hold an ‘open parliament’ this morning where he said the public would express its grievances. The ‘open parliament’ was the Speaker’s initiative and was not supported by the government.

Third parties gathered in Parliament Square in preparation for the ‘open parliament’ but were left scrambling and confused after the proclamation of proroguing the House was read.

Moultrie said proroguing the House shows that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is abusing his powers and the Cabinet is demonstrating it is ‘not answerable to the people.’

Moultrie said he will push harder for the separation of powers and for an independent parliament.

Parliament Passes Extension of Emergency Order to November 13

The House of Assembly passed the resolution to extend the State of Emergency to November 13.

At 10 pm, House wrapped up debate on the extension of the Order, with all government members agreeing to the extension.

Opposition members including Leader Philip Davis, Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, and Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller stood to oppose the extension.

What it means

The continuation of the Emergency Order means the competent authority has the jurisdiction to impose mask-wearing and social distancing measures with more restrictive measures like lockdowns and curfews.

The big picture

COVID-19 deaths and hospitalization cases continue to explode. Health officials reported 96 new cases for the country with a strong concentration of new infections in New Providence.

Health officials are also investigating two more deaths that are believed to be COVID-19 related.

On Friday past, a record high of 228 new confirmed cases were reported.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 16,011 cases were reported. 2584 cases remain active.

What’s next

The resolution will be moved to the Senate where it will be debated and passed.

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