Participants of the Love 97 talk show, Issues of The Day, were of the view that Save the Bays, along with its international hedge-fund operator, is using the courts to muzzle Members of Parliament and to limit their free speech. Lawyers for Save The Bays, [the FNM’s super PAC], filed an injunction against Members of Parliament in the Supreme Court to stop Members of Parliament from discussing Save The Bays and their questionable practices revealed in their emails. Justice Indira Charles says Members of Parliament can be in contempt of court if they discuss Save The Bays’ emails dealing with the Louis Bacon and Peter Nygard matter.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr. Kendal Major, and Members of Parliament spoke out in disdain against this act by Justice Indira Charles, who is violating the principles of separation of powers, which are critical to a parliamentary democracy. The Speaker of the House believes this to be a blatant breach of Parliamentary Privilege and that all Members of Parliament and Senators should be enraged at such an occurrence. He said, “As Chair or Speaker, I defy this or any other attempt by any court to direct or affect in any way the conduct of business in this place.”
The Speaker, Dr. Kendal Major, had previously said that the judiciary has no jurisdiction over parliament and that the interlocutory injunction against the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fred Mitchell, the Minister of Education, Jerome Fitzgerald, and Attorney General Allison Maynard Gibson violates the principle of separation of powers.
Lawyer and Director for Save The Bays, Fred Smith, and his lawyer, Ferron Bethel, were named in a resolution in Parliament for the Committee on Privilege to determine whether they should be held in contempt of The House of Assembly.
The hedge fund billionaire’s efforts through Save The Bays may have the impact of creating a constitutional crisis. He is using the Supreme Court of The Bahamas to attempt to restrain and muzzle Members of Parliament from speaking on Save The Bays’ emails. The Speaker and Members of The House of Assembly deny that the Justice has the right to place an injunction on it’s members, and the Supreme Court Justice claims these Members will be in contempt if they defy her injunction and discuss the Save The Bays’ emails.
This has created a conundrum in The Bahamas of what Members of Parliament are able to say and what they are not able to say. Attorneys for Save The Bays feel Members of Parliament ought to be restrained from speaking on certain matters and Members of Parliament believe that Save The Bays is desperate and in their desperation have committed an error on this.
The conclusion by some is that the system is being abused by a foreigner. The same foreigner has sued the Prime Minister, The Deputy Prime Minister, The Attorney General, and now in this matter, is using the courts to muzzle the Parliament of The Bahamas. Many feel that billionaire bankrolling Save Da Bays has offended many parties with his constant use of The Bahamian courts and the system to attack the Government of The Bahamas to achieve his own agenda, and should be considered a persona non grata and asked to STAY OUT The Bahamas!
Some Bahamians are shocked that the separations could be flaunted with and misunderstood by people who should know better.
One prominent businessman stated, “Isn’t it ironic that a proponent of free speech, as Mr. Fred Smith is, would now seek to muzzle the entire media of The Bahamas and the Parliament of The Bahamas?”
This businessman thinks it’s a cynical move based on an innate desire of Mr. Smith to humiliate institutions of this country. “My absolute contention and belief is that his history, his perceptions, reflect almost a hatred of things Bahamian. He has aligned himself with foreign interests, who do not care about this country. [His hedge fund backer] doesn’t even live here but would seek to bring about fundamental change to institutions.”
The gentleman asserts that these individuals would seek to put their fingers on the scale to determine who governs The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. He admonishes Bahamians to be very careful.
“No matter what political party you support, we should remember that this is our country and we will make the determination ourselves without being influenced by persons who have sold themselves to foreign interests. This is so offensive. Whenever Mr. Smith goes to court, it is most times things against The Bahamas.”
He asks why Bahamians are afraid to, as he puts it, “put the bell on the cat.” He feels that either you are for The Bahamas or against The Bahamas.
As a Financial Consultant, he went on to explain that the economy of The Bahamas is about a $9 billion economy and one wealthy individual can hurt the country. He suggests that if someone is cynical enough and knows how to work the levers of power, and knows how to influence public opinion by hiring the right media and public relations person with unlimited money, they can bring The Bahamas to its knees.
The question was asked, “Who can balance the 1.7 billion dollars being used [by SAVE DA BAYS BACKERS] against the duly elected government of The Bahamas and thrown against the bureaucracy of The Bahamas?” Bahamians ought to be very careful what foreign persons are allowed to do when they are in The Bahamas as guests; and even though they are entitled to certain rights and privileges, the primacy of the national interest must be paramount.
It has been expressed by some that this conundrum cannot be allowed to continue—this state of confusion between the House of Parliament and The Courts of both sides wanting to call the other in contempt, cannot continue.
The fact is that the House of Assembly is regulated by the Speaker of the House of Assembly. The Speaker determines what is allowed and what is not allowed in the House of Assembly. The Courts should not control what the Speaker allows or disallows in the House of Assembly. The Speaker determines what is offensive and should not be allowed and seeks to prevent any offense to the ordinary citizen based on the rules of Parliament. Laws are made by Parliament and laws are interpreted by the Courts. The Courts cannot tell a Speaker of Parliament what to say or tell its members how to behave in The Parliament. It is in the purview of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Another Bahamian feels that if we are not careful we will allow Save the Bays to change our laws and its racists financiers hurt Bahamians! Democracy has been threatened to the core of this country some have said. It appears that persons that have money are ‘buying out’ people in this country. It is extremely important to carefully guard the democracy of The Bahamas.
The Chairman of the Committee of Privilege in the House of Assembly, Damian Gomez, said he is troubled by the whole matter of the Court placing an injunction against the Members of Parliament. He expressed in the House of Assembly, “We have to take the doctrine of separation of powers seriously.” He explained that he has been a champion for the rights and independence of the Judiciary all of his adult life, and that this is the first time he is aware of that a Supreme Court Justice actually sought to tell the Members of Parliament what they cannot say in the House of Assembly.
A number of individuals feel that if we can watch what Save the Bays is doing to The Bahamas, why haven’t we taken action to declare the persons behind them persona non grata and invite them to leave The Bahamas!? There is overreaching sometimes by various people on some matters, which can create serious damage. We ought not to let such overreaching and disrespect to our country of laws create such a constitutional crisis.
We report yinner decide!