By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE PLP should suspend or expel party members who fail to support the four proposed constitutional referendum bills, former PLP Cabinet minister George Smith said yesterday.
Mr Smith was speaking to The Tribune about the PLP National General Council’s decision not to suspend Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins for his scathing criticism of the prime minister last year.
He said while Dr Rollins did not hurt the party’s interests, members who vote against any of the four constitutional amendment bills would be offending the party’s core principles and interests and would therefore deserve punishment.
He made particular reference to Marco City MP Gregory Moss who said recently that he is prepared to campaign against two of the proposed constitutional amendment bills if they are passed in the House of Assembly.
“The (MP) I see us having a problem with (as opposed to Dr Rollins) is Moss,” Mr Smith said. “The man is threatening to campaign against two of the constitutional bills that we want to pass in order to ensure gender equality. If he or anyone votes against the bills, they would have acted against a position the party has adopted. He would be inviting the party to deal with him and if he campaigns against any of those four bills he is inviting the party to expel him.”
Mr Smith, a former MP for Exuma, said attempts by PLP members to prevent the success of the anticipated constitutional referendum would equate to “harming the party and harming women”.
He said: “Women, with some exception I believe, want those bills passed. And some men want at least one of those bills passed. If (Mr Moss) and others do what they say they will do, they are inviting the party to deal with them. That would be a major issue. When the actions of people rise to the level that it harms the party or offends a core principle of the party, action must be taken.”
Mr Moss has denounced the second and fourth constitutional amendment bills tabled by his government.
The second bill involves allowing Bahamian women, who marry foreign men, to secure for their spouse the same access to Bahamian citizenship that Bahamian men have in the Constitution for their foreign wives.
Bill number four would make discrimination against people based on gender unconstitutional, by inserting the word sex into Article 26 of the Constitution. Some have argued that this bill may inadvertently pave the way to legalise gay marriages.
Mr Moss recently said: “For my own purposes, I will campaign against those bills widely.”
When asked to respond, Prime Minister Perry Christie recently dismissed Mr Moss’ threats, telling the press he does not care about the politician’s “personal views.”
“…He could do those things,” Mr Christie said. “I have no interest in his personal views. None. All I would want is for this: for my friend to be able to say to me, ‘prime minister, this is my position.’ That’s all. The point is I have been in public life for a long time and I know how these things work and I know the outcome.”
Mr Moss has long been critical of the government and its policies.
Last year, during his budget contribution in the House of Assembly, Mr Moss also said the government’s implementation of value added tax (VAT) will hurt rather than help the poor.
When the VAT bill was passed in the House of Assembly last August, Mr Moss joined the seven opposition members present in voting against the legislation.