Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday called for an independent and modernized Bahamian Parliament.
Speaking at the Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Minnis told the room of more than 60 delegates of the importance of changing with the times.
“Overall, the focus is on change, and that is a good and needful concentration,” he said. “If our planet, people and nations are constantly changing, how can the instrument by which we govern ourselves remain inflexible?
“There are those among us who hold fast to tradition and resist any amendments to parliamentary rights and procedures.”
Minnis noted that while tradition has a valuable place in our daily lives and in our governance, it should not take away from what is important.
“Tradition, however, must never obscure the reason for the existence of parliamentary governance,” he said. “I am confident that you are not proposing random change, but change with an urgent and very necessary purpose.”
Minnis also called for transparency in campaign financing, which he said is doing serious harm to independence.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, who was also in attendance at the event, denied Minnis’ assertions. “Personally, I believe that we are a robust democracy,” Christie said. “… With respect to this, we have always understood the need for reform, the need to change. We may not have done it as quickly.”
Christie added that a conference with regional counterparts is the best way to do what’s best for the country.
“I want to unequivocally state that there is never hesitation to ensure the advance of democracy, challenging rules like this and being able to set up necessary parliamentary procedures,” Christie said.
The five-day conference is being held under the theme “Modernization: An essential element for the independence of Parliament and the deepening of democracy”.