PM: outgoing governor general was pained to dismiss me
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday commended outgoing Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling for the exemplary service to The Bahamas over the past five years as governor general, saying she has set an “example for all future governor generals”.
“Mr. Speaker, as I stand here I want to thank Dame Marguerite Pindling, who I [think] did an outstanding job and she has fit the role,” he said ahead of his budget contribution yesterday.
“She carried the position with dignity, pride and respect and I want to personally thank her on behalf of both myself, my wife, the government, and the people of The Bahamas.”
The prime minister recalled the opening of Parliament in May 2017, which he said could have been a disaster if it were not for the “grace, poise and professional manner” of Dame Marguerite.
He said the copy of the Speech from the Throne intended for the governor general to read never arrived, and she was forced to read a 20-page pamphlet that was printed in such fine print, he, even with his glasses, could not read it.
He said he was concerned at the time whether the speech was not delivered intentionally to embarrass his administration or the governor general.
“I do not know whether it was sabotage or not. Everyone became very concerned as to what was to be done. I had my copy with me and I asked them to give that to the governor general, but I was concerned Mr. Speaker because she is older than I am; she wears glasses like I do, and even with my glasses I could not read it. She took that little pamphlet Mr. Speaker and she read that in a professional manner with no mistakes, with no mistake — not one. Mr. Speaker, that was a most outstanding presentation I have ever seen done.
Minnis welcomed the incoming governor general, C.A. Smith, and expressed confidence he will do an excellent job. He added that Dame Marguerite has set an “example for all future governor generals” and a precedent for the esteemed office.
Smith will take office on June 28, the Cabinet Office announced Monday.
He will become the 10thBahamian to hold the Office of Governor General.
Dame Marguerite will demit office that day.
Dame Marguerite, widow of former Prime Minister Sir. Lynden Pindling, served as governor general since July 2014.
Yesterday, Minnis recalled the events of December 7, 2016 when seven former Free National Movement (FNM) MPs wrote to Dame Marguerite expressing a vote of no confidence in him as the then leader of the opposition, and asked that he be removed and replaced by then Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner.
He said, “11:20 a.m., and 20 seconds beyond that… in 2016, sitting in that same chair where the leader of the opposition [sits] I was dismissed; fired from my position by my then colleagues — not this crew, they wouldn’t do that,” he said.
“I would not bring dirty linen out here.”
The prime minister said at 6 p.m. on the same day he was summoned to Government House where the governor general presented him with a letter of dismissal, but she was pained to do so and almost shed tears.
“Before she presented me with a letter of my dismissal, she said to me that this is not what she wanted to do, [that] this was very difficult,” Minnis recalled.
“And Mr. Speaker, watching the governor general, she almost broke down in tears because she said to me this was not right, and she knew that pain I was going through because her husband had gone through similar pain throughout his career.
“I reminded the governor general Mr. Speaker that she has a job to do, and regardless [of] how she may feel about me, she must do her job and it has nothing to do with her personally.
“I understand what her job is and what she must do. She reluctantly Mr. Speaker gave me my letter of dismissal at 6 p.m. on the 7th of December, 2016.”