EDITOR, The Tribune
On a personal level I admire and deeply respect Ministers Duane Sands (Health) and Marvin Dames (National Security). Despite my being a PLP, to this very day, I could not support the former MP for Mount Moriah and, as a part of my civic duty, I supported and voted for Dames. In the case of Sands, I was an adviser and semi-confidant. In fact, during one of my radio talk shows, I privately told him to seek a reconciliation with the then leader of the fractured FNM, Dr. Minnis. He apparently listened to that advice and, today, he is creased up in Elizabeth (after multiple rejections at the polls) and a cabinet minister to boot with one of the largest budgetary allocations, second only behind Education.
Dames has been a very successful member of the Royal Bahamas Police force back in the day. He’s benefited from expensive educational and training exercises paid for by the Bahamian taxpayers. He is, in my view, highly intelligent and possesses a degree of commonsense. As I stated above, I actually supported Dames in his quest to enter the halls of parliament through the great constituency of Mount Moriah. So, no sensible Bahamian is able to deny that I was instrumental, in whatever way, in getting these two members into the House. They are challenged to refute this, if they dare.
Brother Sands, God bless his soul, based on constitutional conventions, along with Brother Dames must offer their respective nominations or be fired from cabinet. It is as simple as this. Individual ministerial responsibility is crucial. All Bahamians know that I support the Hon. Minister of Tourism 150% out of 100%....so you understand that my political support for Dionisio transcends mere politics. He was/is dead wrong, constitutionally speaking, with his public utterances in support of his embattled colleagues.
While I am able to appreciate friendship and political loyalty, when it comes down to the observance of our constitution and its traditionally binding conventions, as a trained lawyer who would have specialized in constitutional studies, both Dames and Sands, as much as I love them, must fall on the proverbial sword.
In the 1960’s, over in the UK, a senior politician and cabinet minister, John Porfumo, was obliged to resign from the House of Commons and the then cabinet led by then Prime Minister Harold McMillan. It was publicly disclosed that Porfumo was having a sexual affair with a woman who later turned out to be a prostitute who was engaged in an side affair with a Soviet Naval Attache at the same time. Porfumo fudged and later confessed to knowing and being with the woman. He was duty bound, via constitutional conventions, to resign office.
In both Sands and Dames cases, it is not that they would have lied but rather the apparent and gross “involvement” with the initial stages of the now infamous Barbara Hanna complaint. Dames is a politician and no longer a police officer so, in my opinion, he should never have interviewed or interacted with a complainant in a potentially criminal case with political overtones. His involvement sent, according to the trial magistrate, a chilling message, whatever it might have been.
Sands, as minister with responsibility for health matters and facilities, again in my opinion should never have, unilaterally, according to some sources, awarded am enhanced cleaning contract to Barbara Hanna while the police were investigating certain issues. Sands should also have recused himself from all involvement with Hanna so as to abide by the Latin maxim: ‘Not only must Caesar’s wife be clean, she must appear to be clean...’ Hanna, according to Sands, was a financial donor to his campaign in Elizabeth. One of her sons, actually campaigned for Sands, by his own admission.
And so, my favorite FNM cabinet minister and member of Parliament, bar none, the Hon. Minister of Tourism. while being the smartest and most savvy individual that he is from a business point, is dead wrong to suggest that neither of his embattled colleagues did anything that would warrant resignations or terminations. What else could he or any other member of this cabinet be expected to say? Remember Jerome ‘Moon Beam’ Fritzgerald? ‘When you touch one, you touch all...’
Today nothing has changed. The Most Hon. Prime Minister, is incapable of digesting much less understanding what constitutional conventions are all about. Remember the facilities up at Nassau and Delancy Streets? The Hon. Leader of the iconic PLP and government in waiting, must latch onto this issue like white on rice and not let go. Constitutional Conventions have the force of law in the UK. Here in The Bahamas, however, they are observed more in the breach than in observation.
My leader, Brave, is a learned barrister and Queen’s Counsel, the law that he has forgotten 99.5% of this FNM regime, inclusive of legal eagles like Carl Wilshire Bethel and Elsworth Johnson (another FNM whom I counselled and advised during the 2017 general elections) will never know. My boy, Dionisio, is the best Minister of Tourism, ever, be his a natural immovable rock when it comes down to law; parliamentary procedures and constitutional conventions. To God then, the Divine Originator of the first constitution, the Bible, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND H. BODIE, JR.
February 23, 2019.