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Free National Movement (FNM) Leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis has been named and suspended from the House of Assembly for its next two sittings.

This after House Speaker, Dr. Kendall Major asked Dr. Minnis to withdraw statements from the House of Assembly to which he refused.

Senior police officers made their way to Dr. Minnis, prompting Opposition MPs to form a human chain, pushing their chairs back, making it difficult for officers to reach their leader.

After much back and forth between the police and Deputy FNM Leader Loretta Butler-Turner, seven of the FNM’s eight MPs left the lower chamber.

Just to put all this in perspective, all this came about after Dr. Minnis refused to withdraw a statement made in the House of Assembly when the house last met on July 17 and 22, which were expunged from the record.

The comments had to do with the Christie administration’s alleged involvement with Lyford Cay Billionaire Peter Nygard.

When the House resumed yesterday, House Speaker, Dr. Major asked Dr. Minnis to once again withdraw those comments, but Dr. Minnis refused.

As a result, the house speaker in turn named Dr. Minnis and asked him to leave immediately.

The FNM chief was then suspended from the next two house sittings.

Following the firestorm, Dr. Minnis addressed reporters and FNM supporters on the steps of Parliament.

“It is my duty as the Leader of the Free National Movement and as Leader of the official opposition, to explain my behavior in the House to members and supporters of my party, and to all Bahamians who love our democracy and cherish our democratic institutions and processes,” he said.

“Nothing that I do or say is meant to cause insult or injury to our democracy or to the House of Assembly where I am privileged to serve as a servant of the good people of Killarney and of the proud party that I am honoured to lead. Our parliamentary democracy precludes personal insults being exchanged between members but does permit members to express reservations and concerns when they believe that others may, in their action, inaction or association, cause harm or insult to our democracy, or bring disrepute to our country.”

Dr. Minnis said his belief, and hence his words, remain as on the first day they were uttered.

“The association of the prime minister and a number of his cabinet colleagues with Mr. Peter Nygard – as reflected in media reports and in you-tube videos produced and released by Mr. Nygard has been judged by many as being most unseemly and outrageously inappropriate,” the FNM leader said.

“Mr. Nygard has made his special interest in stem cell therapy very publicly known. He has similarly made it known that he is a substantial financier of the Progressive Liberal Party and that he was especially interested in having the PLP returned to government, an event which he celebrated in his now infamous video ‘Taking our Country Back’. Both Mr. Nygard and the prime minister have admitted in the media that they had discussed Mr. Nygard’s interest in attracting stem cell research facilities to The Bahamas as long as two years prior to the 2012 general election – while the prime minister was leader of the Opposition.”

Dr. Minnis said he believes the cozy relationship between Mr. Christie, his government and Mr. Nygard is unhealthy for our democracy.

“Indeed, I believe that if the full extent of that relationship was known to the Bahamian people there would be near universal disapproval of it,” he said.

“The same applies to the relationship between the Christie Government and the former Chairman of the government’s stem cell Task Force, Dr. Arthur Porter. As you are aware, Dr. Potter is being held in Panama where he is fighting extradition to Canada to face charges of fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust, secret commissions and laundering of the proceeds of crime to the tune of $1.3 billion, all in relation to Dr. Porter’s former position at the universally highly regarded McGill University in Canada.”

Dr. Minnis explained that Dr. Porter was the Director of The Cancer Centre in Nassau when he was appointed to the Government’s Stem Cell Task Force in November, 2012.

He also explained that Dr. Porter is reported to have made generous contributions to the PLP prior to the 2012 general election.

“If allegations of Dr. Porter’s financial support of the PLP prior to the 2012 general election are true, there is even more cause for concerns by the Bahamian people that the agenda of this Christie-led Government is being heavily influenced by special interest foreign financial supporters,” Dr. Minnis said.

“I believe that it is critically important that I make it clear to the public that the Free National Movement is not opposed to stem cell research provided all the regulations, monitoring mechanisms, and especially enforcement are convincingly and aggressively adhered to — after all we must protect the reputation and the future growth and development of The Bahamas.The Free National Movement is saddened that so many reputable individuals including doctors, other research scientists and public servants have had their hard and dedicated service tied to individuals like Nygard and Porter.”

He said the FNM fully supports responsible, ethical and moral use of science to advance medical treatment and cures for countless medical ailments and conditions.

“We know of and hold tremendous respect for serious studies and experiments being conducted in noted research universities and Institutions around the world including, for example, those close to home at the University of Miami,” Dr. Minnis said.

“We especially respect studies being undertaken by institutions that are regulated and monitored by responsible national oversight agencies with decades of experience like the Federal Drug Agency in the United States. We do not believe that The Bahamas is ready at this time to mount the level and standard of oversight necessary for advanced stem cell research and clinical trials, and especially for the safe and reputable administration of stem cell therapies for financial gain. The FNM is especially concerned about lucrative opportunities being callously exploited by less than ethical special interests groups and individuals in stem cell therapy.”

He said party officials do not believe that such types should be permitted to ambush genuine research interests by responsible, reputable, ethical and properly- regulated researchers.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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