By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PINERIDGE MP Rev Frederick McAlpine admits while he was disappointed initially about not being appointed to the Cabinet, he now sees it as “a blessing in disguise” so he can better serve and help the people of his constituency.
He said as an MP, his responsibility is to all residents of Pineridge regardless of their politics, and stressed he would continue to stand up for his constituents in the House of Assembly.
The Grand Bahama MP held a non-partisan constituency meeting on Saturday at the Foster B Pestaina Centre, where he revealed plans for the Pineridge constituency and invited representatives from the Department of Social Services, the Ministry of Works and NEMA to address any concerns and questions.
“People know that I am an FNM MP, and I saw somebody asking a question on Facebook about who is the MP’s boss?
“I want to get this clear; I am not a member of the Cabinet of the Bahamas. Yes, I was not appointed to the Cabinet after this being my second non-consecutive time in Parliament. I am no stranger to Parliament; I spent five years in the Senate, I know how the House works. And you all know (former Prime Minister) Hubert Alexander Ingraham would not have kept me there if I was doing fool.
“Was I disappointed? At first I was, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart, not being in Cabinet is a blessing in disguise,” he said as the room erupted in applause. “Me being out and not in is helping me to help you.”
In response to the question on Facebook, Rev McAlpine said: “God is the ultimate boss, but the boss is the people of Pineridge.”
He indicated that no matter what happens, some parliamentary seats are always sure seats for the Free National Movement.
“There are people in the House of Assembly don’t care what they do; they get in again. So the place where they represent, don’t matter if the government change tomorrow, they still going to win. And even though those people in their seats, they can’t help me because they can’t vote for me,” he said.
“. . . People just don’t want people to say ‘yes sir, yes sir, yes sir’ – you get voted out,” said the MP.
Rev McAlpine said when he spoke out in the House of Assembly last week, he was not trying to “usurp authority” or insinuate that the country should not help the people of Dominica.
In the House of Assembly on Wednesday, he broke ranks with his party by criticising Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ plan to relax immigration restrictions for some students and citizens of Dominica after their island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
His stinging criticism came hours after Dr Minnis became tearful while explaining the plan and speaking about the plight of the Dominicans.
“I was not rebuffing our prime minister, I was not rebuking our prime minister, I was not insulting the prime minister, I was representing the views of Pineridge,” said the MP on Saturday, who was applauded by his constituents.
Rev McAlpine said that he felt that the country could assist by way of financial assistance, and should perhaps consider giving $200,000 to Dominica. The country donated $100,000 to the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew last year.
“I also said we can further help them by allowing some of our young men who are not employed to go down to Dominica and assist them and do as the Chinese do in our country, pay our people and the money still come up here,” he added.
Rev McAlpine also noted that individuals had indicated that he was insensitive for asking if Dominican children will be properly immunised before coming here to study.
He pointed out that all Bahamian children must be vaccinated before they could get in any school, and that it should be no different for the Dominican children.
“All I am simply saying is, you can’t make it hard for me, and easy for others,” the MP said. “Am I wrong for asking the questions that are pertinent - I told y’all I would stand for y’all, and keep standing.
“So, whatever we can do to help the people of Dominica, let’s do it in Christian love and charity, but let’s not do it when I know my people roof leaking, when my people can’t get their children in school, when my people sleeping in cars, when my people lights are off, when people don’t have a job and I am not supposed to say anything about that?
“People don’t know where the next meal is coming from. My responsibility is you, and if I am guilty of looking out for you so be it,” he told constituents.
“I am not usurping authority. I respect our prime minister, and I think he is doing the best he can with what he has, but he that got ears to hear, I come to speak for Pineridge.”
“Not one person sitting in that House - all 39 of us - not one of them got a vote in Pineridge. So when I say what they think I must say, not one of them got a vote to help me get elected,” the Hotel Corporation chairman said.
Rev McAlpine announced plans for the establishment of a Pineridge Educational Learning Centre, a community festival; and the Pineridge Constituency Association.