LORETTA Butler-Turner during the Parliament swearing-in ceremony.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
LORETTA Butler-Turner, the Davis administration’s newly appointed consultant to the Small Business Development Centre, said she is now aligned with the Progressive Liberal Party, shifting further away from the Free National Movement which she once led in the House of Assembly.
Asked if her new role signifies a preference for the PLP, she said: “I have got to tell you very clearly that as an independent candidate in the last election that I participated in, obviously you know that I would no longer have been aligned with the FNM and I’ve had four-and-a-half to five years to look at what the previous party I had been a part of had done. I loved, I truly loved - this is no secret – I loved the PLP’s blueprint for ‘a new day’ and I believe that if I could help to make that a reality, then yes, there’s definitely that shift that you’d like to know about.”
Mrs Butler-Turner’s new appointment and alignment with the PLP are significant developments in her storied public life.
She became the first woman to be Leader of the Official Opposition in December 2016 after most of the FNM’s parliamentary caucus voted to oust former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis from that role.
She was first elected to the House of Assembly in 2007 as the Member of Parliament for Montagu and was elected MP for Long Island in 2012. She was Minister of Social Services from 2012 to 2017. Running as an independent candidate in 2017, she lost her re-election bid and subsequently retired from frontline politics.
Her grandfather, former Governor-General Sir Milo Butler, is a figure of foundational significance in the PLP. Over the years, some PLP supporters have hoped she would follow him and align herself with the party.
During a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Mrs Butler-Turner said she hopes to make a positive difference as consultant to the SBDC.
“…Over the last four-and-a half years my life has been truly devoted especially to young people, in making them more self-sufficient in their dreams and in expanding our economy,” she said.
“I was delighted to be invited to this particular position because I believe that small businesses, micro businesses and self-employment is truly a part of what we need in The Bahamas when we talk about inclusion. So, today it is a great privilege and an honour for me to take on this challenge.
“I am so proud of the fact that people would say most Prime Ministers choose people who are party supporters, who are persons within their advisory. I’m so glad that as a Bahamian, a nationalist, that the Prime Minister saw what I was doing, appreciated it, saw that I could probably be a very good fit for the dreams of the PLP, the ‘new day’ government in expanding our economy.
“Most importantly for entrepreneurship he knows that I have a very strong passion for women so one of my mandates is also to ensure that women in particular are given the ability to build their own businesses. As you all very well know, the majority of our households are run by women.
“As you also well know, there have been so many workers that have been displaced, displaced from their jobs, displaced from their homes by natural disasters, Hurricane Dorian, but these displaced workers have a lot of latent talent, they have a lot of ability to be able to be creative, they have the ability to do things on their own because jobs have become very difficult and so we’ve seen a plethora of growth in that regard and we want to be able to help direct that.”