A COMIC'S VIEW: Our heated parliamentary debates are not so bad

HOUSE Speaker Patricia Deveaux.

HOUSE Speaker Patricia Deveaux.


THIS week, thanks to YouTube and a few spare minutes I managed to grab by playing Hide and a Seek with my ten-year-old (note to parents: the laundry room is a great hiding spot), I was able to watch how the Brits get down in their parliament.

I couldn’t resist. After all, our parliament derives from the Westminster system. To judge how our parliamentarians’ behaviour measures up to those in the “motherland,”

I felt it my duty to seek out the source. And boy was I entertained.

If you Google ‘controversial UK Speaker,’ the top hits will direct you to one John Bercow, who, from 2009-2019, was Speaker of their House of Commons. Mr. Bercow’s videos, viewed by millions of people, had titles like “The Best Ever Put-Downs from House Speaker John Bercow.”

Three million people watched that. Another popular video is “John Bercow Gives Boris Johnson A Telling Off.” Boris Johnson, by the way, is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

To say that the videos are wild compared to our parliament is an understatement. For example, there’s a supercut where Bercow screams the word “Order!” with the variance and venom of a practised shock-jock. Which made me envy him and reflect on the fact that I may have missed my calling.

My general takeaway is that the source is always more intense than whatever derives from it.

And that helped temper my opinion on what transpires right here in our little old House of Assembly.

For one, I was somewhat amused and surprised early in the week when our former Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, basically dared our new minister of health, Dr. Michael Darville, to a WWE-style cage match with the words, “You telling who to sit down? Come here and tell me to sit down!”

Apparently, no one puts Doc in a corner.

There were a few other memorable moments, such as when the Speaker of the House sought to bring “order” in her own way and ended up sparring with the Official Opposition about who was acting shameful, disrespectful, and childish, and who was following the rules.

Still, with the rough and ruckus videos of the UK parliament in the back of my mind, I realized that the heated debates in our parliament were not so bad.

The VAT decrease (and increase) was the catalyst for all the tension that made for must-see TV, but by the end of yesterday’s session, a handful of members had made meaningful contributions.

Most of this happened once Speaker Patricia Deveaux decided to step out of the partisan ring and into her actual role as referee. By Thursday, she showed some capacity to keep members on track, both FNMs, and PLPs. If Madame Speaker continues down the road of correcting both sides fairly, she will see order. If not, the Speaker will find herself yelling “Order!” to deaf ears so many times that even Bercow might blush.

A Paper Trail

During his contribution to the House, Central and South Abaco MP John Pinder decided to answer the call and produce his paperwork showing he had thoroughly denounced his United States citizenship, and has sworn his total loyalty solely to the 242.

As someone who - along with other Bahamians- had called on Pinder to do precisely that, I’m happy that he saw the wisdom in finally being fully transparent.

In years gone by, cries by Bahamians to ‘show us, don’t tell us’ have gone unanswered. (Ahem, Ryan Pinder). But maybe - just maybe- the New Day crew will be better.

Hopefully, John Pinder will serve as an example to his colleagues. If not, I will reserve column space for anyone who thinks they are above answering the public they are supposed to serve.

Nuttin’ But Road

Our Prime Minister is out of the country, and the Deputy Prime Minister is out of the country. The minister of foreign affairs, number three, just got back home.

All this travelling and spelunking resulted in Glenys Hanna-Martin, minister of education, assuming the role of Acting Prime Minister.

For the record, this is only the third time in the country’s history that a woman has acted in this capacity. Dame Janet Bostwick and former DPM Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt have also done so in the past.

It’s a big moment in time for us.

It’s no secret that I’m fond of Mrs. Hanna Martin, so I certainly think we were left in capable hands.

I’m not even mad that PM Brave Davis decided to take a detour to Florida after witnessing the historic moment Barbados transitioned from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. I’m just mad he didn’t invite me to tag along as he partied with Rihanna. Or in Miami with J-Lo, Cardi B, and Lizzo at Art Basel.

I’m putting in my request now for the Super Bowl, Brave. Judging by our PM’s newfound wanderlust, I know he won’t miss that.

Pintard Going Hard

One last thought on the proceedings from the House this week; Michael Pintard was the right choice for the Free National Movement.

In parliament, Pintard, the now leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, presents as a new kind of politician.

It was interesting to watch him debate, seeking out the common ground where he could and standing on principle when he felt it was necessary.

It’s not often we see politicians willing to admit their mistakes while also presenting suggestions to the party opposite.

The next few years will prove whether or not this ‘new breed’ of politician can survive in a country where party allegiance decides whether you get a job, promotion, or a verbal beat down and your walking papers.

Even Progressive Liberal Party members seem unsure whether to go ‘beast mode’ on Pintard or accommodate him. In any event, should he survive the next leadership convention, Bahamians will have the final say on what leadership style will best serve us in the future.


JackArawak 1 year, 6 months ago

Tribune, why y’all disable comments on the marijuana article? I have one simple request, please don’t ever stop referring to it as “Indian hemp” I so love the feeling of 1800’s colonialism it gives me


Sign in to comment