Sears – A Non-Parliamentarian as Leader of a Party/The Bahamas?

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Former Attorney General Alfred Sears
Former Attorney General Alfred Sears
Dear Editor,

I read with interest the announcement by Mr. Alfred Sears, QC which made all the major
headlines to challenge PM Christie for leadership at the PLP’s convention in November. I
must state that it remains to be seen whether the PLP will have a convention after not
having one since 2009, thereby in my opinion intentionally stifling the voice of its members.
For what it’s worth, Sears’ move shows that he is the only person in the PLP who has the
courage and fortitude to stand up against Christie and stand for democracy. After all, a
convention is the forum in our two party system to challenge for the position of leadership
to lead our great nation.

Despite this bravery, I’ve heard the arguments being advanced already against Sears’
leadership challenge, citing that his bid is nonsensical because he does not hold a seat in
Parliament. A further assertion states that if he is successful in his leadership bid, it will
create a conundrum in government as to who will be the Prime Minister, as this scenario
has not occurred in our nation’s history. This indeed is a valid concern.

With these points advanced, I conducted research to ascertain whether there was a
precedent in the Westminster system or in the Commonwealth of Nations. My research
revealed that there is precedent in the commonwealth for this type of scenario. In Canada,
John Turner, a former parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister, was elected as leader of the
Liberal Democrats in 1984 at the party’s convention and appointed Prime Minister while he
was holding no parliamentary seat. It was understood that Turner would seek election to
office without delay as was the requirement in Canada.

As an alternative option, if Sears is elected leader in November, Prime Minister Christie
can be allowed to finish this current term as Prime Minister in order to give his undivided
attention to completing the Baha Mar and other critical projects between then and the
general elections.

From November to the general elections, Sears, as Party Leader, can focus exclusively on
getting the PLP’s political machinery battle ready for the general elections. This option will
provide the PLP with a clear succession before the general elections, maintain the stability
of Government during a critical period and give certainty to Bahamians and foreign
investors that there will be stability in Government for five years after the general elections
under Sears if the PLP is re-elected. Assuming the PLP is re-elected, to attempt a
succession of leadership within the PLP after the next general elections will create
speculations/uncertainty about whether Prime Minister Christie will serve out the entire
term and identify the succeeding Prime Minister.

While Sears’ challenge may create an enigma in The Bahamas as to how governance would
function, this notion has obviously been tested in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the PLP
could explore the possibility of having a co-leadership with the view that PM Christie would
serve out the term as PM and step down a short period of time before the general elections
almost similar to the USA where the new President is elected in November, but the
incumbent President demits office in January of the following year.

This move can only help to strengthen democracy within the party and our nation. If Sears
is respectful, the PM can focus on matters of governance in his final days while Sears focus’
on policy and preparing the party for the general elections.

I respect Sears for challenging the system to bring democracy back to the PLP and a call to
join what he calls a revolution. His leadership on behalf of the Bahamian people gives us
hope that all is not lost in our country and good men or women still desire to offer
themselves in service and on behalf of the Bahamian people.

Mr. Democrat