Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine yesterday blasted Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis after he failed to fully address calls for the resignations of two Cabinet ministers at a Free National Movement (FNM) event on Friday.
On Wednesday, when asked about the resignation calls, Minnis said, “The PLP can ask for anything. That’s their job. They are opposition. They are to oppose everything with sense. But I’ll display that some things they say do not have sense. So for those who listen to us on Friday, they would hear.”
But McAlpine said the Free National Movement (FNM) administration seems to lack integrity.
“That should’ve been priority,” he said.
“If you tell the people that you’re going to do something, then people expect to hear from you. The Bahamas is waiting to hear the prime minister’s take on what the chief magistrate had to say concerning his ministers concerning the trial of corruption that was held as it pertains to the Frank Smith case.”
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis called for the resignations or dismissal of Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames after the acquittal of Smith, who is a former PLP senator and Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) chairman.
On February 3, Davis called on Dames and Sands “to do the right thing”. He said if they fail to do so, the prime minister should fire them.
McAlpine, who was the only Grand Bahama FNM MP not at the event on Friday, said the public is “still waiting for an explanation” from the prime minister.
Referring to the firing of three MPs last year, he said, “You fired three persons because of the Westminster system. I think the greater problem is [that] the prime minister said when he would’ve held this meeting [on Friday and] he would’ve addressed the issue as it pertains to his ministers, Dames and Sands; he did not do that.”
He added: “Whether they should resign or not, the reality is that [in] any other Commonwealth country where the Westminster system is practiced, if a judge would’ve given a scathing report or damnation upon a Cabinet minister then it is the responsibility of the leader, which is the prime minister, to at least tell the public his views based on what was said.”
Last year, Minnis fired McAlpine from his post as chairman of the hotel corporation and he fired Travis Robinson and Vaughn Miller from their posts as parliamentary secretaries after the three FNM MPs voted against the government’s plan to raise value-added tax.
The prime minister said he fired them in line with principles of the Westminster system.
Miller has called for “fair treatment” in light of the magistrate’s criticisms of Dames and Sands.
Smith was charged in 2017 with abusing his position as chairman of the PHA after the award of a $516,000 contract to Barbara Hanna, the owner of Magic Touch Cleaning, to clean the critical care unit of Princess Margaret Hospital.
In her ruling on the matter, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt decried the “egregious” conduct of both ministers.
Ferguson-Pratt found: “There is not a scintilla of evidence to support the fact that there was a meeting between Barbara Hanna and the accused prior to the award of the contract.”
During the course of the case it was revealed that Sands awarded a second contract of $1.8 million to Hanna, three months after Smith was charged.
It was also revealed that Dames met with Hanna before she made an official complaint to police.
Last week, during a joint party branch meeting, Davis told a crowd of PLP supporters that he does not support corruption in any form.
However, on Friday, Minnis said Davis’ comment was a “laugh-out-loud” moment.
The prime minister called the PLP the “very definition of corruption”.
But McAlpine said he disagrees with Minnis.
“The PLP is a political organization in this country [that] has served in [government],” he said.
“There have been people in the PLP that we might have…somehow thought that their behavior might have been considered corrupt but that has yet to be proven in a court of law.”
He added: “Just how we can throw stones at the PLP, stones can be thrown at the FNM with similar accusations. Does that make the FNM a corrupt group? I don’t think so.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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