Bahamas the
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Pintard triggers House uproar

A bitter row in the House of Assembly between Opposition Leader Michael Pintard and Leader of Government Business Obie Wilchcombe yesterday over Pintard’s attempts to speak on the recent controversy surrounding the minister of immigration led to the governing side moving to prematurely end debate on the Governor General’s Volunteer Society Bill.

Pintard, who was the third MP to speak during the debate, said he wanted to use the last 12 minutes of his speech to speak on Minister of Immigration Keith Bell’s admission that a group of Chinese construction workers at the British Colonial Hilton construction site had irregularities in their immigration status, but weren’t taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre because it was “unnecessary”.

Pintard has accused Bell of forcing the release of the Chinese workers. According to Bell, the irregularities found at the work site “were expeditiously cured by the employer”.

As the opposition leader spoke on the issue, Wilchcombe stood and asked that the rule of relevance be enforced.

“He is not going to, as he usually seeks to, drift all over the place,” Wilchcombe said.

“We are not talking about certain matters today. We are dealing with this bill.”

House Speaker Patricia Deveaux agreed.

The rule of relevance is usually brought up in the House when the governing side wishes to stop members from speaking on controversial topics.

The Minnis administration also used the rule to quell the then-opposition Progressive Liberal Party from bringing up controversial issues in the House during some debates.

Pintard told Wilchcombe, “You don’t have the ability to muzzle me.”

Pintard continued talking about Bell. The speaker intervened, saying, “Let us stay on course.”

But Pintard spoke over her.

“I have a right for a portion of my contribution to address matters on national importance,” he argued.

The speaker said, “I have never stripped any member of the opportunity to speak in this place. Members, you all take full advantage of coming to this place and disgracing the floor by speaking on whatever you want to speak about other than what is presented before us. It is a disrespect to this place and to the people of this country.”

The speaker said, “We are not talking about immigration today.”

By this point, Wilchcombe again rose to his feet and began arguing with Pintard as the speaker repeatedly tried to bring order to the House.

But Pintard and Wilchcombe kept arguing.

Even when the speaker stood to her feet, a sign that all members must sit and be quiet, Pintard and Wilchcombe did not stop.

“Members, the speaker is on her feet,” she shouted.

Finally, the two MPs sat and went quiet.

“Moving forward, we are here to debate the Governor General’s Volunteer Society’s Bill. That is what I want to hear coming out of members’ mouths,” she said.

“It’s already warm in this place (the AC was not working).

“I don’t need us straggling all over the place. Let’s speak to the bill. Let’s go back to being partisan to our rule books.”

To Pintard, she said, “Honorable member, you will have an opportunity to speak to that. The press is here if you want to speak to that. Go outside and have a press [conference]. Right now, we are talking about the Governor General’s Volunteer Society Bill.”

When Pintard rose to resume his contribution, he pressed on about Bell.

The speaker shouted, “The disrespect for this chair will not be tolerated.”

Pintard retorted, “Every person in this House has talked about other matters while they are on their feet. Every member. What are you afraid of? What are you afraid of?”

Meanwhile, Wilchcombe was also on his feet shouting back at Pintard to follow the rules.

The speaker again took to her feet and screamed out, “Members! I am on on my feet and I am asking members to take their seat for the last time.”

But the two MPs kept shouting at one another.

“Listen,” the speaker bellowed.

“Honorable members, this is the last time I am calling for members to take control. I will tell you, I will exercise Rule 88 and if I have to persistently call for members to conduct themselves, I will exercise my right in this place.

“This is not a playground. This is where we come to do the business of the people.”

Rule 88 deals with order in the House and the speaker’s ability to name and suspend unruly members.

Pintard said, “I have addressed the issue of the bill before us. There are other matters that I wish to address on behalf of the Bahamian people and the people of Marco City (his constituency). I reserve the right to do so. Every member in this House…”

Wilchcombe stood on his feet, prompting Pintard to shout, “This is not a point of order.”

But the speaker recognized Wilchcombe, even as Pintard shouted, “It is not a point of order.”

Pintard added that he would not yield to Wilchcombe.

Wilchcombe shouted back, “You don’t have to yield. I have not been sent anywhere. You are the errand boy, not me, bro.

“I ain’t never work for nobody. Never. That’s all you ever do.”

The speaker screamed over Wilchcombe and Pintard and asked them both to take their seats.

As the speaker took counsel from the clerk of the House, Wilchcombe moved to have the question put, a signal that the governing side wished to end the debate.

The speaker acquiesced.

Pintard screamed out “shame” as Deveaux spoke.

Seemingly angered, Deveaux jumped to her feet shouting out, “This is the last time … Sergeant-at-arms, get ready because the next one who raise they voice in here, the next one who gets up out of context in here, will be going down the red carpet.”

Pintard kept shouting “shame” from his seat.

The motion, that the bill be read a second time and committed, was passed, thus ending the debate.

Wilchcombe then moved that the House suspend until Monday, July 17.

The speaker nearly passed the motion before realizing that he meant July 24.

“I’m so mad right now, y’all don’t know,” she said.

In all, the House met for one hour and 38 minutes.

Yamacraw MP Zane Lightbourne and Nassau Village MP Jamahl Strachan spoke on the bill ahead of Pintard.