Official Opposition Leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday said he had no reason to apologise for voting against the 2002 constitutional referendum, saying former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham inspired the results when he “politicised” the vote.
Meanwhile, former PLP Cabinet Minister George Smith became the highest-profile member of his party to apologise for his stance on the failed 2002 referendum yesterday.
“It is never too late to do the right thing,” Mr Smith said in a statement. “And so for my part I apologise for the failed effort in 2002.”
The comments of Mr Davis and Mr Smith came after former Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett said during a Rotary club meeting that “some form of contrite admission” may help persuade Bahamians who are bitter about the PLP’s actions in 2002 to vote “yes” to the amendments on June 7.
Though he wasn’t inclined to issue an apology, Mr Davis said he hopes vindictiveness does not influence people’s decision.
“I would hope no ill-effects (take place from that),” he said. “We’re all motivated by any number of things. There is always this element of payback that exists in many of us. I just hope that they will be able to overcome their disappointment over the failure (in 2002).”
Mr Davis said he could not speak on behalf of the PLP but said he has nothing to apologise for with respect to the 2002 referendum.
“A person would only apologise when they accept that they have done something wrong,” he said. “I don’t know that in the context of the last referendum with the Constitution, I voted ‘no’ but I did so not because I did not believe in the rights of the sexes but rather because it was included in a number of other amendments to the Constitution that bred a lot of confusion and (my vote was a message) not to the bills but rather the whole process.”
He added: “If (the citizenship issues was) an amendment on its own I don’t think it would’ve gotten the response that it did back then.”
Mr Davis also blamed the former prime minister for the failed vote in 2002.
“Recall that when that happened, when the issue became political, and when the then prime minister said ‘whoever wins the referendum wins the election’, you then forced people as it were to decide well, ‘I don’t want the FNM to win so I gon’ vote ‘no’ or ‘I don’t want the PLP to win so I gon’ vote yes.’ That’s what happened. The consequences of that statement by the then prime minister himself divided the country.”
When asked about fears from some that the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill would benefit the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Mr Davis dismissed the worry.
“If you cut it, it don’t make you a woman. If you slice it or add to it, it don’t make you a man. And that’s the end of it,” he told reporters.
While in opposition, the PLP’s parliamentarians initially supported the amendments in 2002.
PLP members later withdrew their support, expressing concern about poor consultation process.
Mr Ingraham’s statement predicting that the party whose side came out ahead in the referendum would win the next election came less than a week before the vote took place, well after the PLP had already withdrawn its support for the referendum and began campaigning to encourage a “no” vote.
The PLP won the general election a few months later.