It is interesting to note the baying of opponents of the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) calling for the resignation of the Hon. Minister Alfred M. Sears (PLP-Fort Charlotte) as Minister of Works & Public Utilities due to what they call his ‘admitted misleading of the House of Assembly relative to whether or he had received an email from the Ministry of Economic Development on the continuation of an oil hedging proposal for Bahamas Power & Light’.
They say that by first telling the House that he had received no such email, only to ‘admit’ later on that after careful research he (Sears) discovered that he had, in fact, received such an email after checking his antiquated laptop. The Ministry of Works & Utilities is one of the largest, if not the largest cabinet portfolio m with thousands of employees and contractors. It is plausible that papers and memos could well be ‘lost’ in the sheer volume of the same.
Sears is a ‘smart’ and ‘learned’ individual with extensive experience in governance as a King’s Counsel and former Attorney General. I have known the Honorable Minister all of my life, certainly from my years as a teenager and a founding member of The Bahamas Federation of Youth, which was lead at one time or the other by the now Doctor Samuel P. Bain, a distinguished educator. I served as Secretary-General. We in the federation were avid supporters of the late great and deeply lamented Lynden Oscar Pindling, as he then was and the philosophy of the budding PLP, without apology.
I never observed anything duplicitous about brother Sears then or in his subsequent legal and political careers. As a devout Catholic and a man whom I know to be a Christian, I am satisfied that he would never have ‘lied’ on the Hon. Prime Minister & Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, KC, (PLP-Cat Island) or deliberately ‘mislead’ parliament on the question of an email on hedging or anything else. Why would he have wanted to do that and what would have been the political benefits?
Allow me, Editor, to state, upfront, that even though I consider Sears a lifelong ‘friend’ I hold no brief for him, on a personal or professional level nor am I one of his spear carriers. He and I have ‘clashed’ before and, more than likely we will do so again. I will not, at this time, go into details but suffice it to say that Sears is an honorable man. His facial persona and some of his other characteristics, like with so many other individuals, inclusive of myself, may lead some people to see him as aloof and an elitist of the highest order. That, however, does not translate into him being duplicitous or less than honorable.
It is to be conceded that the main ‘job’ of opposition to any ruling administration is to oppose and oppose almost all of the public policy positions of the former. In doing so, all available constitutional; legal and political tools must be deployed. In so deploying, however, it must be clear that the bar for facilitating or even demanding the resignation of a sitting cabinet minister and member of the House of Assembly, is high. Enforced resignations do not come willy-nilly.
Yes, it is true, in most cases, that we here in The Bahamas follow what is known as the Westminster system of governance and adhere to what is loosely referred to as ‘Constitutional Conventions’. These are not tantamount to ordinary ‘law’ nut, traditionally they have the ‘force’ of law. There is any number of precedents, especially over in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, et al. In all of those precedents, however, direct evidence would have been available to show that the relevant minister or MP would have ‘mislead’ parliament either to secure a personal advantage or benefit. Does the same apply in the instant case of Sears? I say a plain and simple no.
If I were an advisor to Sears, and I am, thank God, not his partisan, I would advise him, first of all, to apologize publicly and on the floor of the House of Assembly, to the Prime Minister for an embarrassment meted out to him, weeks ago. Secondly, Sears should also issue an abject apology to parliament and the nation for having ‘misspoken’ relative to the now-admitted email without initially verifying the facts. He is an abled lawyer and should have realized that no advocate worth his salt would make a vacuous statement in a court of law much less parliament.
Calls for his ‘resignation’ are premature and designed for mere partisan brownie points and to cause, which is absolutely, not possible, and a distraction from the important work which the hardest working and most capable Hon. Prime Minister in recent memory and his administration is all about. There is absolutely no need for Sears to resign. He must, however, place more urgent focus on doing his job and getting those things that need to be addressed, addressed.
Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.
Business Consultant & Talk Show Host