housespeaker

Thursday, October 28, 2021

housespeaker

Five Things to Know About New House Speaker

Bamboo Town MP Patricia Deveaux was appointed the new Speaker of the House of Assembly and presided over her first session on Wednesday, during the Opening of Parliament.

In her opening address, Deveaux said she will ensure timeliness, order and fairness in the House.

She follows Former Speaker Halson Moultrie, who has been described as the most controversial speaker in Bahamian history.

Here’s what to know about Deveaux

  1. She is the 55th Speaker of the House Assembly.
  2. Deveaux is the second woman House Speaker in Bahamian history, after Italia Johnson.
  3. She served as the PLP’s National Vice-Chair and as a senior executive secretary in the Ministry of National Security.
  4. She made headlines in 2020 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”. Deveaux later apologized.
  5. She will be assisted in her role by Deputy Speaker Sylvanus Petty, the North Eleuthera MP.

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.

Moultrie’s Dream of ‘Open Parliament’ Becomes Political Rally

House Speaker Halson Moultrie’s ‘open parliament’ concept quickly turned into a rally as third-party candidates and independent members of parliament joined forces to disparage the government and its policies.

Two weeks ago, Moultrie announced his initiative for the public to express its grievances and said it was a move to show the independence of the House. Without support from the government, Moultrie attempted to launch ‘open parliament’ before it was revealed that the House would be prorogued, which came as a surprise to many.

Moultrie, Independent MP for Centerville Reece Chipman, Leader of the Coalition of Independents Lincoln Bain, former FNM Bamboo Town parliamentarian and leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement Cassius Stuart and Democratic National Alliance Leader Arinthia Komolafe joined forces under a tent erected in Parliament Square, to preach their displeasure with the government.

Supporters dressed in their respective party colors crowded the tent, ignoring the social distancing protocol.

“Change ain’t coming. Change is here” the crowd shouted as Bain made his way to the podium.

“…I did not come here to deliver an eloquent speech, I came here to start a fight. Ladies and gentlemen, the only way to get our country in order is to start a fight.

“…It seems like when we talk, they don’t listen, so it’s time for us to start a fight,” Bain said.

Stuart then chanted the COI’s slogan and said the country needs a revolution, as he decried the country’s economic system. He asked, “How do we move forward? How do we build our nation?

“Stop depending on the foreign investors,” he said.

Komolafe said crime and the healthcare system continue to burden the country.

Pointing at the House of Assembly, she said, “That House right there is not working for us. It is now closed. Your concerns are not being heard and your concerns are not being addressed,” to shouts of agreement from her supporters.

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.

Moultrie Dramatically Recites His Poem About Vengeance

House Speaker Halson Moultrie incorporated a poem of vengeance in his most recent speeches in the House of Assembly on Monday.

After the presentation by Ft Charlotte MP Mark Humes during the Budget Debate, in which Humes conceded that he will continue living although he was not renominated by the Free National Movement, Moultrie commended Humes saying, “You seem so happy in your presentation” adding that he admired “the joy” which Humes showed.

Surprised that Humes expressed no ill-will toward the party despite not being ratified, Moultrie then quoted a recent poem he had written, that expresses his retaliation.

Here’s the poem Moultrie wrote and quoted in the HOA

Every man’s origin is the womb
And every man’s destiny in the tomb
Life is the interval that exists between the womb and the tomb
So it is between the womb and the tomb, let no man presume that D Halson Moultrie was sent here to be consumed
For such an assumption is a rebuttable presumption
And any perception of a threat could lead to the acceleration of your own death
And while I don’t advocate the commissioning of a kind, I will get on my knees and say to the mind, and God help you if I have to pray over you, Psalm one, zero, nine.

The big picture

Moultrie is known for launching tirades in the House, often expressing his displeasure for the “disrespect” he believes the executive branch of government shows the parliament.

In February, Moultrie resigned from the Free National Movement, citing his personal convictions, and later stated that he will run as an independent candidate for the Nassau Village constituency in the upcoming general election.

 

Photo credit: The Nassau Guardian

 

Moultrie Calls Out PM and Abruptly Adjourns the House. Here’s Why

In a surprising move in the House of Assembly today, House Speaker Halson Moultrie suspended the House session, setting a new date for parliamentarians to meet after the clerk tested positive for COVID-19.

But before adjourning the House, he openly rebuked Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and Government Business Leader Renward Wells for permitting the House to meet despite the positive case among staff and the parliament not being sanitized before meeting.

Moultrie said he reached out to both Minnis and Wells to determine if House should still meet today, and determine the measures staff should take, only to receive a message from Minnis saying, “noted.”

Another staffer, who Moultrie said should have been in quarantine, Asharan Lightbourne was “called upon to be here this morning, in breach of the request or the instruction of the speaker that [she] should be in quarantine,” he said.

The big picture

Since the advent of COVID-19, Moultrie has been calling on the government to pass a resolution to meet in hybrid form or virtually to prevent chances of more parliamentarians from contracting the virus. But those calls were not adhered to.

Why it matters

A staff member tested positive for the virus. Though not identified, it is believed to be the chief clerk as he was noticeably absent today. The Speaker described the staffer as the “closest person to him in the House.”

The staffer came to work on Monday and Tuesday showing symptoms of the virus, but returned home early after not feeling well. However, came back to work last week Wednesday when parliamentarians met.

His positive diagnosis was revealed yesterday.

What Moultrie is saying

Moultrie said parliament is in breach of its own order. “This is my final straw when it comes to the disrespect of the speaker. According to the rules, when the behaviour of a member is creating disorder, the speaker is authorized by rule 88, subsection 9 to adjourn the parliament until the circumstance is fixed,” he said.

“I don’t pick fights or wars, but if you want war, you will get a war. If you don’t want a war, don’t start one.”

Referencing Minnis who earlier stated that he read a book on wars, Moultrie continued, “So don’t come in this parliament talking about reading books of war. More than one person in this parliament read books of war.”

State of play

Because of the adjournment by Moultrie, the next session of the House will be May 3 at 10 am.

Moultrie is a Case of Sour Grapes, Leaving a Bad Taste?

Since Independent House Speaker Halson Moultrie’s exit from the Free National Movement, he has created quite a stir, revealing a private conversation he’s had with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.

Moultrie appeared on The Hit Back with Nahaja Black, disclosing the government’s intent to call an early election in 4 to 5 months, and further divulging Minnis’ plan to send him as an ambassador to London in an effort to shuffle the party and its candidates as it prepares for general election, whenever that may be.

Moultrie’s revelation comes after he resigned from the governing party, opting to become an independent member of parliament. He cited the lack of “autonomy and independence of the legislature and judiciary, accountability and transparency, freedom of information and respect for the constitution” as a reasoning for his departure from the party.

But his decision came as no surprise as Moultrie has often lambasted the government as House speaker, recently criticizing the government for the condition of his office, complaining of the mold and inoperable bathroom facility. He said he will not “sit here idly by as the presiding officer of this Parliament and accept such conditions.”

Moultrie once hit out at Minnis, while claiming there was no discord in the party, suggesting that the prime minister was acting like a “demigod – like a person who is a maximum leader, a person who could just dictate,” he told reporters in November.

Moultrie’s behavior is similar to that of former minister of Health Duane Sands, who turned on the party after his resignation from the Cabinet post. Though Sands remained with the party, he criticized his party at every term, questioning the government’s vaccine rollout plan and its emergency orders in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One month after his resignation in May, Sand’s derision for his party went as far back as the passage of the Hurricane Dorian, accusing the government and other ministries of deleting hundreds of names from the list of missing people, without explanation, although the apparent removal of names would have occurred when he was the minister of health.

But unlike Sands, Moultrie’s gripe with the party has done nothing to help his public image. He is already known as a poor representative for the Nassau Village constituency, where area residents feel like he has neglected them, providing no meaningful change for the area. If he was ratified as a candidate for the area, it is almost guaranteed the government would lose that seat.

Sands, on the other hand, has grown as a good representative for Elizabeth Estates, often seen canvassing and cleaning the area and seemed to be well-liked by the constituents. The government has a good chance of winning this seat, though he has yet to be ratified like other members of his party.

It remains to be seen what will be Moultrie’s next move, whether he will run as an independent candidate for the Nassau Village constituency or retire from politics, which may be a better option.

Moultrie Resigns FNM To Become Independent Parliamentarian

House Speaker and Member of Parliament for Nassau Village has formally resigned from the Free National Movement, becoming an independent member of Parliament, according to a letter seen circulated on social media.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the FNM, Sefrent Rolle, Moultrie says “with immediate effect, I formally end my seven-month consecutive withdrawal from the  Free National Movement, by tendering my resignation thereby cancelling my membership.”

The big picture

Moultrie joins Centerville MP Reece Chipman and Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller in resigning from the party to become independent parliamentarians. Miller has since joined up with the Progressive Liberal Party.

Why it matters

Moultrie in recent times has publicly criticized the government, citing his convictions on the lack of autonomy and independence of the legislative body.

In the resignation letter, he makes mention of the faults he has with the party, again citing, “convictions on fundamental essentials of democracy and good governance such as the separation of powers, autonomy and independence of the legislature and judiciary, accountability and transparency, freedom of information and respect for the constitution.”

Moultrie in Spat With Davis Denies Reports of Minnis Acting Like a ‘Demigod’

House Speaker Halson Moultrie  said the media reports that he referenced the competent authority as a “demigod,” is “false.”

Moultrie’s comments came in the House of Assembly on Thursday during the debate on the extension of the emergency order to January 31.

Opposition Leader Philip Davis while arguing against the renewed emergency order, said it gave the impression that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was someone of divine status.

Davis said, “There is a view emerging that the member (competent authority) might be a demigod.”

The issue is, the label “demigod” was attributed to Moultrie as reporters spoke to him on the sideline of a constiutency event. Moultrie then called for the autonomy of Parliament, which he believes is held hostage by Cabinet.

He told reporters at the time, “We have developed situations where the leader or the prime minister in these jurisdictions can function like a demigod–like a person who is maximum leader, a person who could dictate.”

When PLP Leader Philip Davis used the term to describe Minnis in the House, Moultrie then presumed that Davis was underhandedly using the words attributed to him as quoted in the newspaper, to describe the competent authority.

Moultrie said, “You are sliding down a slippery slope. It is clear what the honorable member for Cat Island and San Salvador is attempting to do. And what you are attempting to do, you are trying to attribute something to a member in this parliament (Moultrie himself) that was falsely reported in the newspaper. And so I would advise you to…

Davis then interrupted and said, “I said emerging. I never attributed that comment to anyone. I didn’t ask. I said a view is emerging that the member may be a demigod. I attributed that to no one.”

“If you feel as if I’m talking about what you have been saying, that’s not it.”

Many Bahamians have expressed issue with the competent authority as they say he is operating without the consent of the Cabinet and solely by his own authority.

Moultrie Hands Over Office Key. What Changed and What Happens Next?

House Speaker Halson Moultrie turned in office keys to the chief clerk of the House of Assembly after 3-years of complaint about a ‘run-down’ office space.

Since Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that Cabinet will not meet in its office due to a leaking roof, Moultrie renewed a call for the government to renovate his office, giving an ultimatum.

Moultrie promised that he would hand in the keys on October 31st, if nothing was done to correct a leaking roof, mould, lack of bathroom facility and running water and an office that he says is deemed a security risk.

And he did just that on Friday.

Leader of Government Business Renward Wells said in the House, that the government would address Moultrie’s concerns. But that has not happened yet as most members remain quarantined. Minister of Works Desmond Bannister promised in 2017 that the the ground floor of the Senate building will be renovated to accommodate the Speaker’s office.

Is Halson Moultrie still Speaker of the House?

Yes. Moving out of an office space has nothing to do with his position as House Speaker. He has not resigned from the position. So, he remains Speaker.

In fact, Moultrie said he has no intentions on resigning. Halson said, “I made it very clear that I will not be resigning as Speaker.”

The parliamentary proceedings will continue and Moultrie will continue to function with respect to the administrative functions.

However, if the government wishes to have Moultrie removed, house meetings will be discontinued for a given period of time and house will bring a vote of no confidence against him.

Can Moultrie resign from the FNM party and continue to serve as Speaker?

It was surprising for many to hear Moultrie lambast his government for its handling of the issue and some members of the public suggested that he resign from the party while sitting as a Speaker.

But this cannnot be done. Moultrie serves at the priviledge of the Prime Minister who appointed him. If Moultrie resigns from the party, he will be removed as Speaker of the House.

He was elected from among the members of parliament who won their seats in the 2017 general election.

At the next House’s sitting, Moultrie will still be speaker.