Dame Joan ‘Absolutely Mistaken’ On Referendum


George Smith


Tribune Staff Reporter


FORMER Cabinet minister George Smith yesterday said former Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer’s recent comments branding the upcoming June 7 referendum “a waste of time” were “disappointing” and signalled that she is “absolutely mistaken” on the needed constitutional changes.

Her statements, Mr Smith said, may be a “haunting” example of how thousands of Bahamians view the impending referendum.

While Mr Smith said he will not attribute any motives to her “damaging” comments, he told The Tribune that Bahamians should question the motives of other groups in this country that he feels are intentionally attempting to confuse the electorate on what the four constitutional amendments aim to do.

Mr Smith - a strong advocate for the success of the referendum - said Bahamian women, particularly mothers deserve the changes, as “there is not a more noble profession anywhere in the world.”

“She (Dame Joan) and I are both Exumians and I have very special spot in my heart for all Exumians,” Mr Smith said yesterday when he was contacted.

“But I think she is absolutely mistaken and it is disappointing that a woman of her judicial acclaim and personal accomplishments, having served in the Attorney General’s Office and later becoming chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal would make such a damaging statement and said she didn’t read the bills. It’s unfortunate.

“I will not attribute to her any motives beyond maybe she just didn’t think about it. But I do believe there are people and spiritual leaders that are deliberately confusing the public. There are some groups of men out there who believe that women are inferior, you know the misogynists. Then there are others who want to confuse the public that the gay rights movement is behind this.

“It is unfortunate and dishonest.”

Dame Joan served as chief justice from 1996 to 2001. That same year she was appointed president of the Court of Appeal, a post she held until she retired in 2010.

She has attracted fierce criticism over her comments from both sides of the political divide.

On Tuesday, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner questioned Dame Joan’s motives.

Mrs Butler-Turner said what “bothered” her the most about Dame Joan’s comments, was the former chief justice’s declaration that if she did vote, she would vote no, despite not reading any of the proposed questions.

“Dame Joan is misleading the electorate,” Mrs Butler Turner said.

“This is about equality for men and women where they are not able to pass citizenship. This is about equality for our boys and girls. What really bothered me and most Bahamians is the fact that persons like Dame Joan Sawyer have reached the pinnacle of their legal career, she retired as the chief justice and the fact that she was able to make such strong pronouncements in the absence of facts, really gives me reason to question the motive.

“I would think in the regard that I hold her, I would want to know before she speaks to an issue as critical as this, she would be speaking from a position on knowledge, it seems that she has put these statements out there and by her own admission has not read or studied them.”

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has also responded to Dame Joan’s comments.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson, in a statement released Monday night, said the main purpose of the referendum is to ensure that “equality under our laws be enshrined in our nation’s most important legal document.”


sheeprunner12 3 years, 8 months ago

Sooooooooo, what credentials do these persons that seem to have a problem with Dame Joan's assessment of the 4 Bills possess to refute her????

Will we hear any further professional analysis of these Bills from senior QCs or retired Justices that are not political lackeys of the government or opposition?????

That is what we need ......... not Ruby's or other PLPs' brainwashing


TigerB 3 years, 8 months ago

Its my guess he voted no the last time!!


Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 8 months ago

Like most Bahamians I have had enough of the likes of George Smith, Perry Christie, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Sean McWeeney, Sharon Wilson, Rubie Nottage and others like them. You only have to know a little about the abhorrently repugnant track records of these individuals to understand why no right thinking Bahamian should ever trust them. The greedy corrupt disingenuous political backgrounds of people like George Smith should have any Bahamian voter (whether man or woman) with an ounce of common sense and decency running to the polls on June 7th to vote a resounding "NO" to all four of the proposed amendments in order to avoid our country being overrun with a massive wave of foreigners being granted Bahamian citizenship, which is the real intent of these proposed changes to our constitution.


Reality_Check 3 years, 8 months ago

Georgie Portie is a standout embarrassment to all Bahamians, especially Exumians, alive today. The Royal Commission of Inquiry held in the 1980's as a result of the scourge of government corruption in our country tied to Pindling's association with world renowned international drug dealers proved that Georgie Porgie was "on the take" for all that he could get for ensuring a blind eye was turned to the use of Exuma's airstrips by Colombian drug dealers.


sheeprunner12 3 years, 8 months ago

It is for this very reason that the PLP referendum will fail (the OLD Guard) Pingdomites that are still hanging around the trough ............. we need to retire them in the public interest


Greentea 3 years, 8 months ago

I find the comments by bloggers on this page in response to this article disheartening- mired in the past and politricks. Growing up, I was a great admirer of Dame Joan as a legal mind in the Bahamas, but like George Smith and Loretta Butlet suggest- she was dead wrong to comment WITHOUT having even read the bills. That is pure ignorance and shameful coming from someone of her stature. SHAMEFUL. I am deeply disappointed in her. The fact that Smith and Butler- diametrically opposed politically - can both see beyond party towards the necessity of these speaks more for their love of humanity and country, despite whatever past they have- which I am not privy to- than the commenters here. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. A straight YES for me come June 7.


Reality_Check 3 years, 8 months ago

Lime green coloured Greentea we presume!


SP 3 years, 8 months ago

...................... Interesting read on Haitian corruption in high places .........................

Shruti Shah, vice president of the U.S. chapter of the global anti-corruption group Transparency, said the lack of competitive bidding and the political connections of all involved raise conflict-of-interest issues.

“When a government doesn’t do competitive bidding, that is a red flag of corruption itself,” she said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/natio...">http://www.miamiherald.com/news/natio...

Transparency International must be salivating at the prospect of investigating the new pirates of the Bahamas!



John 3 years, 8 months ago

The more these politicians and 'elite' open their mouth an run on, the more determine I is to vote NO!. If there is disunity and dissention among them set, who the hell is really behind this referendum any how? I voting NO, NO, NO, NO! Four times. Which one of the bills say if Bahamian woman go to the states (US) to have baby, the baby is no longer American citizen, but it is Bahamian? So if Doland Trump become president, he can't draft no half Bahamian to go to war...just saying.


Reality_Check 3 years, 8 months ago

If the newborn baby of a Bahamian woman born on American soil is automatically Bahamian from the very instant moment of birth, then the baby could conceivably be denied U.S. citizenship by birth on the basis that the U.S. only permits dual nationality under very limited circumstances and never automatically by birth. The mother could of course then apply for her baby to be an American but that would be no different than the Bahamian mother of a newborn baby born in the Bahamas applying for her baby to be an American. Perhaps the U.S. government is behind some of the wording of these proposed amendments to our constitution and the Bahamian government just doesn't want us Bahamians to know about it. That's a frightening thought, but certainly would explain why the proposed amendments would allow same-sex marriages which some states in the U.S. are already experimenting with.


licks2 3 years, 8 months ago

The Hon Michael Beloff QC who is held to be the "legal mind" that supports the PLP, AG, Ruby Nottage et al on their thinking about the word sex and gender should go and read the rulings of the twenty "best legal minds" and others, including Beloff QC which concluded that "SEX" includes what ya born with and what ya had changed ya birth plumbing to and what certain chemical in the body makes ya feel like!

IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism in at Chateau Vidy, Lausanne, Switzerland in Nov 2015 concluded that "SEX" must include transgendered persons as well!! They insisted that "transgendered" persons female to male can compete in with male in male dominated events and vise versa with male to female persons!

Now if these 'YES" persons are basing their reasoning about Bill #4 is worded in a way that no "loop" will be found in it. . .according to Beloff QC's case law, they are lying right through they "eyeteeth". . .check the findings for the IOC 2015 Committee on gender qualifications for competition.

Anthena Damianos laid out all this dude "guts" about what he did and where he went (Tribune Editorial 29th April 2016). . .but she conveniently "left out" Beloff QC's involvement in that IOC 2015 document!

Madam AG this morning and earlier, Ruby Nottage, all "smart peoples them". . . based the soundness of Bill #4 on reasoning from that dude. . .who over there in Europe saying that "SEX" do not just mean "what ya mar gee ya". . .but what "the doc or drug store gee ya" too!


All them "tricksters" know that Constitution Article 26:1 (4)(5) allows discrimination in marriage by Parliament. . .hence the Article affecting marriage (Matrimonial Causes Act 21:1(C)). As it stands now. . .there is no base for argument for discrimination in marriage that counteracts 26: (4) (5). . .which gave parliament the right. . .but now Bill #4 WILL PROVIDE A NEW CHALLENGE. . .GOVERNMENT CAN NO LONGER BASED MARRIAGE PROHIBITIONS ON SEX. . .THUS PARLIAMENT WILL HAVE TO CHANGE MCA. . .BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A CONTRIDICTION IN THE CONSTITUTION! MCA WILL CAUSE THE CONTRIDITCION. . .AND SINCE PARLIAMENT CAN CHANGE MCA ANYTIME THEY WANT. . .SO WHAT YA THINK WILL HAPPEN TO REMOVE THE CHALLENGE. . .PARLIAMENT WILL CHANGE THE LAW IN THE MCA! IF NOT, IT IS TO WE "DADDY" THEM IN THE UK!

Now yall see why they all "jumped on" Dame Sawyer for "telling on them". . .letting the people know that they playing with yinna. . .she een on they run! And yall see what lawyer Smith was saying when he said that there is no current Constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage. . .MCA does. . .which is done by parliament from the provisions of Article 26:1(4)(5) of the Constitution.


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