With the fanfare of the Progressive Liberal Party convention barely over, former MP Leslie Miller is already warning of civil war in the party.
If party leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis wanted a show of unity on the back of the convention, then it hasn’t lasted long.
The issue is candidate selection for the next election. Old warhorses want to ride again, while Mr Davis is eyeing a new stable of candidates. Yesterday he told The Tribune he “expects to have a slate of new candidates”.
PLP officials say they are trying to avoid running losing candidates in the next election – after all, the PLP were roundly drubbed out of office at the last vote. Even so, it is widely expected that Fred Mitchell, who won the chairman post over challenger Obie Wilchcombe, will be picked as a candidate again despite being voted out of his Fox Hill seat.
That doesn’t sit well with the likes of Mr Miller – or his colleagues, so he says. He says he and “about ten” other former candidates want to run again. And he’s threatening to run even if he doesn’t get a nomination, which could take votes away from the PLP at the ballot box.
So what is Mr Davis’ plan? Has he lost faith in his former colleagues? Is he trying to sweep away the candidates that ran under former leader Perry Christie? Is he trying to shape the party in his mold? And in doing so, is he going to create a rift in the party that could last all the way to election day?
Mr Miller points to the likes of Alfred Sears, Michael Halkitis, Damian Gomez and Alfred Gray as defeated candidates that should be chosen to run for the PLP next time. The same old faces, some might say. Mr Miller complains they have been sidelined as chairman Mitchell “don’t look out for his former colleagues”.
Meanwhile, party leader Davis has previously pledged that 40 percent of his party’s candidates will be women – while at the same time not having a single woman in the top posts of his party – leader, deputy leader, chairman or deputy chairman.
A convention is supposed to bring a party together – it looks like the PLP has a long way to go for that to be true.
Is it time to stop chumming?
They called it the year of the shark. It was 2011 – and The Bahamas had declared a shark sanctuary.
Fast forward to today – and incidents involving sharks in our waters, including the death of 21-year-old American Jordan Lindsey off Rose Island.
There have, justifiably, been questions raised about whether The Bahamas is following the right path. Just last week, Bahamas National Trust executive Eric Carey warned there were “back channel” efforts to permit the killing of sharks, to take sharks off the protected list, or even to allow Chinese fishermen to come in and cull sharks down to “manageable levels”.
Let us be clear – there is a lot of money in sharks. From those killed for the shark fin trade – which has pushed shark populations elsewhere to dangerously low levels – to the money made here taking tourists on shark dives.
The path The Bahamas has taken has been a model of eco-tourism, putting the nation at the forefront of shark conservation, but do we need to make course corrections?
Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard yesterday opened a shark symposium with talk of trying to limit chumming - the practice of putting bloody bait into the water to attract sharks. You can see why businesses do it – if they’ve promised visitors they’ll get to see sharks, they want to make sure the sharks show up. The ocean is not a farm with gates and fences – sharks swim where they want, and if they are sure they’ll get food, they’ll return to chumming spots regularly.
The trouble is, that can put hungry sharks right in the vicinity of swimmers and that, as Mr Pintard rightly says, “is a disaster that is waiting to happen”. Worse, it could be a disaster that has already happened given recent incidents.
We lead the way in the world over shark conservation – let’s keep leading the way and ensure we protect both sharks and those who come to see them in their Bahamian habitat.