Monday, Sep 23, 2019
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Still waiting for more from Pierre Dupuch

Dear Editor,

Pierre Dupuch came out with both guns blazing with another opinion piece on gerrymandering and citizenship on December 2, 2011.  Regretfully, with all his experience as a member of Parliament and cabinet minister, he still offered no serious policy initiatives to help solve the issues of gerrymandering and citizenship that he confirms have been ongoing for generations.

However a few of his comments deserve a response.

1. On the constitutional amendments he says: “We were not allowed to vote item by item, we had to vote for or against the whole thing.”

This is absolutely unfounded and repeats political propaganda.  Bahamians were able to respond yes or no to either of the five proposals that he says “contained some very objectionable sections”.

The proposals were:

• The removal of gender discrimination from the constitution.

• The creation of a national commission to monitor the standards of teachers.

• The creation of an independent parliamentary commissioner.

• The creation of an independent election boundaries commission.

• The increase of the retirement ages of judges from 60 to 65 (or 68 to 72 for appellate judges).

In view of what has transpired in recent years, can these proposals really be considered objectionable?

2. Dupuch says: “Mr. Lowe, along with me and others, fought and voted against it.  In fact, Mr. Lowe was at my side when this happened….”

The fact is I suggested that people vote their conscience on the constitutional amendments, voting for some and against others if they chose.  I remember voting for the removal of gender discrimination and against raising the age limit of judges, for example.

At the time I thought we had Bahamians who might jump at the opportunity to be judges, but in hindsight it appears I was wrong to vote against increasing the age limit for judges.

3. The former MP also said I was at his side that election fighting and voting against the constitutional amendments.

Having supported him as an ‘independent’ candidate, Dupuch did not campaign with me.  He did come to a get together at our home with potential workers and voters, but the fact is, in a letter to voters in the then St. Margaret’s constituency, I confirmed Dupuch’s support for an independent boundaries commission.

4. Dupuch indicates he offered the suggestion that Haitian nationals who lost their documents in the earthquake in Haiti a couple years back should receive permanent residence.

I recall he suggested that the “status of permanent residence would suffice for at least those who have not yet mastered English”.

Permanent residency in those cases might indeed help, but that does not solve the issues, as they relate to the granting of Bahamian citizenship to expatriates in general, Haitian or otherwise.

Maybe he wrote his latest letter in a hurry and forgot a few very important points, but in the interest of transparency shouldn’t the “transgressions” of all political parties be included?  The reality that Perry Christie and the PLP actually passed the constitutional deadline for establishing the boundaries for the 2007 election, which changed the constituencies so candidates had a shorter time to get to know their new areas than Hubert Ingraham and the FNM are currently proposing, seems very pertinent.

Furthermore, each government (FNM and PLP) had granted citizenship to thousands of people during their respective tenures.  Are we all to imagine that this was done with ulterior motives in mind – just so the new citizens will vote for them?  It seems odd that Dupuch would imply that one political party would be motivated to get votes and the other would not, if he is correct that the FNM is granting citizenship to Haitian nationals for this purpose alone, that is.  All politicians are motivated by the desire to get elected I humbly submit.

Hopefully Dupuch will offer up a few column inches on solutions to the gerrymandering and citizenship issues.  They deserve more that emotive responses designed to create dissension.  The country needs and deserves ideas to solve these matters in a more permanent way.

 

– Rick Lowe

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