Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, the prime minister of The Bahamas said that governments will be put in situations where they “have to make discriminatory or unconstitutional decisions against their people in the interest of the advancement of their nation”.
I was not alone in my astonishment at his words; even his member of Parliament, the member for Tall Pines, needed an explanation of his shocking words. In response, the prime minister persisted in maintaining that governments might be placed in circumstances that require unconstitutional decisions in support of his warped understanding of “national interests”.
For the prime minister’s enlightenment, governments may only act constitutionally. Governments have no power or authority to act or do otherwise than in accordance with the constitution.
For some time now, many commentators have suggested that the prime minister has become drunk with the power vested in him, which empowers him as the “competent authority” to place restrictions on our civil liberties. Thankfully, those restrictions must have end dates that prevent undemocratic politicians from circumventing the constitution and legislating by decree as dictators do.
The prime minister knows that to protect the public’s health he is able to lawfully restrict/control entry to the country, by any and all persons including citizens, residents and visitors, by requiring that such individuals undergo prior testing and/or are quarantined upon arrival if not pretested. The most recent emergency order that does exactly that is not unconstitutional.
And it would not be undemocratic to prevail upon Bahamians not to travel to COVID-19 infested places. Nor is it unconstitutional, in the interest of public health, to prevent passenger movement between our islands.
Indeed, it seems to be that the “competent authority” was convinced by someone to step back from his ill-conceived plan to ban US commercial airlines and ships from calling on Bahamian ports. Instead, the new emergency order establishes standards that all incoming passengers, including Bahamians and residents as well as visitors, travelling via commercial airlines or vessels, must meet to disembark in our country.
The reason the prime minister must be scripted is crystal clear – the man has undemocratic instincts.
The prime minister does not recognize or accept the limits of his authority in a democracy governed by the rule of law.
And, regrettably, he has a cabinet that is missing in action, AWOL!
– A concerned Bahamian Democrat