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Davis says govt trying to silence opposition     

The decision by Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Don Saunders to order the sergeant at arms to remove opposition leader Philip Brave Davis from the House of Assembly on Wednesday evening was “clearly over the top”, Davis told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.

Saunders ordered Davis out after he refused to stand down and instead insisted on defending Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, who was being chastised by the deputy speaker as she attempted to make a point of order.

The opposition leader told The Guardian, “I was just trying to be heard and to point out that he is the speaker and the speaker is supposed to be there to protect members, one, and to be the referee in the debates between the members of the House.

“It was not his role to get involved in the fray and I thought that he was getting involved in the fray when he started to chastise the member for Englerston and I wanted to correct him and to stop him from doing that.

“Well, he would not allow me to speak, he wasn’t allowing the member for Englerston to speak and he wanted to go on with some lecture. That’s not the role of the speaker. He’s to be ruling on matters not lecturing members, and I was trying to get him to just listen to us and he decided he didn’t need to listen to me, I need to shut up.”

Hanna-Martin told the deputy speaker that while he had scolded her about not sticking to the relevance of the debate on a compendium of insurance bills, he had allowed Dionisio D’Aguilar, the minister of aviation, to use the entirety of his contribution to speak on an aviation matter that had nothing to do with the bills at hand.

As she attempted to explain that D’Aguilar had been misleading in certain statements during his contribution, the deputy speaker lectured her about trying to address matters he said she had already addressed as the minister was making his contribution.

But Saunders said yesterday his admonition during Hanna-Martin’s contribution was not directed specifically to her, but to all members about the need to remain relevant to the debate so that they don’t need to ask for more time to speak to the bills because they used up time addressing unrelated issues.

He said, “Davis and Hanna refused to allow me to address her request or to continue to express my reasons why I would not accept her point of order. In any event, the debate/contribution was finished and I felt that there was no need to continue on the aviation issue further. That is clearly within my discretion and right under the rules to do so.”

Saunders added, “The real issue is the fact that they both refused to respect my continuous request that they take their seats and allow me to speak. They were both shouting at me and were very disrespectful.”

He accused Davis and Hanna-Martin of playing political games.

For his part, Davis said what transpired was “typical of this administration”.

“Their whole objective is just to silence the opposition,” he insisted.

“They cannot take criticisms at all or advice. The arrogance and petulance of the deputy speaker, when I reflected on it, it occurred to me that because of what may have happened that morning, the deputy speaker saw an opening to say ‘I better show that I can be the real speaker in here and if I put the leader of the opposition out, that might endear me to my bosses and they might want to appoint me as the speaker’, so perhaps he’s auditioning.’”

Davis was referencing the latest round of criticisms of the executive made by House of Assembly Speaker Halson Moultrie who on Wednesday morning suggested from the chair that the Minnis administration is dishonest, disrespectful and into darkness.

Asked what message he thought the deputy speaker was sending in ordering him removed from the chamber on Wednesday evening, the opposition leader said, “The message is that we’re not going to tolerate dissent. We are the majority in this Parliament. We can decide whether you speak or not speak and if you don’t like it, lump it – as we would say in the old days. And if you don’t like it, I will continue to put you out of the House.”

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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