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Bethel, Mitchell in heated Senate spat

A shouting match erupted in the Senate yesterday, between Attorney General Carl Bethel and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Fred Mitchell.

The exchange happened during debate on the Airport Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which would allow the government to purchase Grand Bahama International Airport.

The row began after Bethel criticized the PLP for not supporting the bill, and when Mitchell responded in defense of his party’s position, Bethel made a comment about Mitchell’s age that he later withdrew, prompting Mitchell’s ire.

“You going to get personal now,” Mitchell shouted.

“You want to go down that road? You want to go down that road? Do you want to go down the personal road, because I could match you, you know?

“I could match you right now. Right now. Every nasty blow you throw, I’ll cut you down. I’ll cut you down if you want to go down that road. So get that nastiness, personal stuff out of here. It doesn’t belong in here.”

Bethel said, “Please. You’re going to cut me down? I’ll cut you down too. Let’s go then.”

Mitchell retorted, “Absolutely. If you try that crap, I will do so.”

Just after the two senators settled down, Bethel said the PLP means Grand Bahamians no good.

“I will say to the people of Grand Bahama, just watch them,” he said.

“They do not have anything good in mind for you.”

Bethel added, “The PLP has nothing good in their hearts for Grand Bahama, any part of it.”

Mitchell, jumping out of his seat, said the Minnis administration has done nothing for the island in its four years in office.

“You have done nothing, nothing, nothing,” he said.

“You have done nothing in four years. No hospital beds, no hotel. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.”

But when Bethel asked for the protection of Senate President Dr. Mildred Hall-Watson from what he called Mitchell’s “pusillanimous” behavior, tempers flared again.

“Madame President, I am asking for the protection of the chair from this pusillanimous behavior,” he said.

When Mitchell asked Bethel to repeat what he said, Bethel told him to Google the word.

“You calling me a coward,” Mitchell shouted.

“The last thing I am is a bloody coward, now. Don’t go there. I keep telling you to stop it.

“…You attack me personally about age and now you are attacking me…get out of here.”

Hall-Watson then asked whether the Senate should suspend, but Bethel said that was not necessary, before reasserting his opinion that the PLP does not mean Grand Bahama well.

Bethel said he was being “relentlessly shouted at and heckled” during his contribution.

However, Mitchell accused Bethel of being “nasty”.

“He is misrepresenting what has happened in here this morning,” Mitchell said.

“I have never made a personal attack against the leader of the government business, never, ever. I wouldn’t go down that road. 

“I have sat in this place from the time he came here, one brickbat after the next. And I have been silent in the face of it. My age is irrelevant. It’s a nasty, filthy thing to say; nasty and worthless.”

While Bethel said he was only expressing concern for Mitchell’s health, Mitchell said: “No, you’re being slimy. That’s what you’re doing. You’re being slimy.”

In spite of the heated exchange, the bill was passed in the Senate yesterday afternoon with opposition senators abstaining from the vote.  

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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