306 total votes.
By TANEKA THOMPSON
Tribune News Editor
AFTER foreshadowing that some of her Senate picks were likely to shock the public, leader of the Official Opposition Loretta Butler-Turner announced Monday night that she had selected controversial talk show host Rodney Moncur to be appointed to the upper chamber.
Mrs Butler-Turner also revealed that she had appointed former Senator Monique Gomez and political newcomer Jude Knowles to the opposition’s Senate bench.
The selection of Mr Moncur is likely to raise eyebrows and prompt questions, as many of his views are divergent from Mrs Butler-Turner’s stated positions.
Mr Moncur is not shy about vocalising on his conservative views. He has called birth control pills “evil” and “cancerous” and has frequently marched for all convicted murderers to be hanged.
Host of the radio talk show Freedom March, Mr Moncur has recently used the platform to advise people not to register to vote or take part in the 2017 general election.
A justice of the peace, he was also a vocal critic of the June gender equality referendum, calling the exercise “witchcraft” and erecting a billboard outside his office urging people to vote ‘no’ to all four questions.
Mrs Butler-Turner campaigned for the ‘yes’ vote. In June, she told this newspaper that Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis should accept some responsibility for the referendum’s failure.
While she was minister of state for social development in the Ingraham administration, Mrs Butler-Turner tabled a marital rape bill in Parliament, which proposed to make spousal rape a crime. After loud outcry and pushback from various sectors in the community, including Mr Moncur, the bill was shelved.
In her statement last night, Mrs Butler-Turner said her choices for the Senate “reflect a need to collaborate” and “find common ground.”
“I am pleased that Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling will, on my advice as leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition and after consultation with my colleagues, appoint to the Senate: Branville McCartney, Monique Gomez, Jude Knowles and Rodney Moncur,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“As I have said previously, some of the choices may strike some as surprising, but a major theme of these appointments is inclusion from a broad cross-section of Bahamians.
“The Bahamas is in economic crisis, paralysed by criminal violence and a precipitous decline in the quality of life for most Bahamians,” her statement added.
“The country needs the talents and energy of a myriad of individuals who want to contribute to rescuing and renewing our country in these perilous times.
“The choices for the Senate reflect a recognition of the need to collaborate, find common ground, and in particular, give voice to the difficulties and hardships experienced by every part of society, especially the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our country.
“There is strength in diversity, and it is a testament to their love of country that these Senate appointees agreed to collaborate in the interest of a common goal, namely rescuing the Bahamas from the quagmire of corruption and incompetence of the PLP.”
Mr McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), was appointed leader of opposition business in the Senate last week.
Mrs Gomez, an attorney, resigned from the Senate two weeks ago, shortly after Mrs Butler-Turner and six other FNM MPs removed Dr Minnis as leader of the Official Opposition through a petition to Dame Marguerite. She resigned because she was one of four senators who were appointed to the upper chamber by Dr Minnis. Mr Knowles is a fisherman and contractor who hails from Long Island.
Mr Moncur is former leader of the now defunct fringe party, the Worker’s Party. He also ran and lost on the DNA’s ticket for the Bain and Grants Town constituency in the 2012 general election.
In May, he told The Tribune that he thought the gender equality referendum was “witchcraft,” urging people to vote against the changes in order to “save women” from themselves.
“We need to save our women from foreign men and from the four bills of this referendum. My group is completely in opposition,” Mr Moncur said earlier this year.
“We are not listening to any arguments from these vote ‘yes’ people. We are not going to reason with them. We are opposed to the woman having the right to pass citizenship (and) we do not want foreign men to have equal rights as a Bahamian man.
“We are opposed to the man passing his citizenship on to his children if he is not married. The man should be married having children. The fourth one is the most sinful one of them all. To insert the word (sex) is immoral and indecent. I do not trust the government. This entire exercise is confusion and underhanded work. I believe this is Obeah, this is witchcraft,” Mr Moncur said at the time.
In early 2012, when the controversial marital rape issue returned to the spotlight, Mr Moncur posted to Facebook: “Marital Rape in the Bahamas is a non-issue. It is the works of the devil! God’s holy name we praise.”
Mr Moncur also wrote that then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham withdrew the bill after “thousands of descent (sic) Christian women objected to this evil.”
“That’s the end of that,” he said. “Let us not let the devil destroy holy Christian marriage!”
It should be noted that Mr McCartney had also objected to the bill.
Last night, Mr Moncur told The Tribune he was “honoured” by the appointment from the “decent” Long Island MP. While he would not say how he and Mrs Butler-Turner would reconcile their opposing views, he called on people not to be “jealous” but to instead pray for him.
He said his one regret is that his wife is not on the island to celebrate with him at this time.
When asked how he and Mrs Butler-Turner would work together given their different opinions, Mr Moncur told The Tribune: “At this stage I don’t want to be caught up in that. I don’t want to make it too controversial. I ask friends and foe not to be jealous but to celebrate the fact that after I began a march for a better Bahamas from 1974 . . . powerful forces have denied me an opportunity, but I persevered.
“I ask the country to pray for me and I ask friends and foe to be happy for me.”