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Dame Joan: Fitzgerald Has No Justification

Former Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald.

Former Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

AMID continued silence from Prime Minister Perry Christie over Jerome Fitzgerald’s admission that he solicited lucrative contracts from Baha Mar, former President of the Court of Appeal Dame Joan Sawyer insisted there is no way the Cabinet minister can justify his actions, which she sees as an alleged breach of the Prevention of Bribery Act.

Dame Joan said corruption and “wickedness” under this government is applauded, making the Christie administration the “worst” government she has ever seen.

The former judge also said she was “shocked” by The Tribune’s revelation yesterday that a company owned by Mr Fitzgerald’s mother was given National Insurance Board (NIB) insurance contracts two months after the 2012 general election without the matter going out for bidding.

However, Mr Fitzgerald has said his mother’s company has held contracts with government and quasi-government agencies for at least 15 years prior to his entry into public life as an appointed senator in 2007.

There is nothing to suggest that Mr Fitzgerald or his family members have done anything wrong in relation to the NIB insurance contracts, and there is no evidence - unlike in the recent Baha Mar controversy - that he sought to lobby for his mother’s company to get the business.

Meanwhile, Dame Joan said while it was possible that Mr Christie did not know about Mr Fitzgerald’s perceived impropriety, she said the probability of this was “unlikely”.

Speaking of the country’s leadership prospects, Dame Joan said Mr Christie’s recent actions have shown a “flippancy of mind and a lowness of character” and likened Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to a “donkey”. She said if God used this animal to warn people in the Bible, then He could “make something out of Dr Minnis”.

During an interview yesterday on “The Nahaja Black Show” on ZSR radio, Dame Joan weighed in on a wide range of national issues including the impending general election, Baha Mar and the revelation that “shameless” Labour Minister Shane Gibson received $94,000 from Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard for reported campaign donations and community initiatives.

According to the Prevention of Bribery Act, it is an offence to gain an advantage by receiving “any gift, loan, fee, reward or commission consisting of money or of any valuable security or of other property or interest in property” of any kind.

It goes on to state that an advantage also means “any office, employment or contract; any payment, release, discharge or liquidation of any loan, obligation or other liability, whether in whole or in part.”

Dame Joan said yesterday: “I was shocked and the only thing that I was able to see was that his mother was given a contract from National Insurance. I don’t blame him for taking care of his father and mother, I believe in the fifth commandment.

“But I do have a problem with him using his office for your personal benefit or the benefit of your family. It is completely unethical. It is deeper than the Constitution. It is a matter of conscience and good conduct.

“It is (an alleged) breach of law that could be tried in court, but guess who has the say? The Attorney General (Allyson Maynard-Gibson). The Attorney General of course you know is not like (former Attorney General) Paul Adderley.”

She explained that Mr Adderley was from the “old school”.

During a later segment of the show she added: “There is no way he (Mr Fitzgerald) can justify what he has done. Is it possible that the Prime Minister didn’t know about these things? Anything is possible. Is it probable? Unlikely.

“Does the Prime Minister himself have any relative who has a contract with Baha Mar and does that not put him in the same position?”

Leadership

Dame Joan went on to make several piercing observations of the men at the helm of the country’s three major political parties.

Her comments seemed to give the impression that she was endorsing the FNM.

“I don’t care what they say about me. I worked with the UBP from 1958 until 1967. I worked with the PLP. I was in the government service with them with Sir Lynden Pindling until they changed in 1992. I continued to work with the government service until the FNM changed. I worked with the first so-called new PLP with their first term. I worked with the FNM when they came back in 2007 until they left in 2012.

“I have seen all complexions of governance in the last 50 plus years in this country. And this I will tell you is the worst government that I ever seen in this country. Because the corruption is looked at and not even winked over (but) applauded. Wickedness is applauded.”

Pointing to Mr Christie sticking up his middle finger at a political event in February and his comments in April that it could be easy to “piss away” public funds, Dame Joan said each scenario was a testament to the Prime Minister’s character.

“To me that shows a flippancy of mind and a lowness of character that is unbelievable for leadership. Second thought? Second chance? In another country? You think it could happen in America? They voted for (President Donald) Trump but they impeached (former President Bill) Clinton.”

She added: “I don’t look at Dr Hubert Minnis’ personality and so on. What I look at is I say ‘Lord you were able to use a donkey to warn so perhaps you can make something out of Dr Minnis.’

“Because that’s what I say about myself. I tell people if God can use a donkey he can use anyone. He used me, a donkey, to bring the Privy Council out of London for the first time in its history, why can’t he use Dr Minnis?

“I am saying it the way I see it,” Dame Joan also said.

Comments

TheMadHatter 2 years, 10 months ago

Respectfully Dame Joan, yes God can use a donkey....even Dr Minnis he could use...but why cause God the extra effort when we have Bran and his excellent team right there ready to lead?

Don't use a donkey when a real man is available.

I pray the people will not believe a donkey is their only choice.

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thomas 2 years, 10 months ago

".but why cause God the extra effort" Are you serious?

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DDK 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm tempted to ask whether there is a difference between a donkey and an a _ _, but that would be rude.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

Fitzgerald should be put under a lot of pressure just thinking about a Royal Commission of Enquiry to be held starting this summer to thoroughly investigate the large scale government corruption that has occurred in recent years. We so desperately need a Royal Commission of Enquiry into the rampant corruption involving Baha Mar, Bank of The Bahamas, the gaming web shops, Crown Land, etc. Without a Royal Commission of Enquiry the next government will be emboldened by the feeling of impunity to take the Bahamian people to the cleaners on an even more horrific scale than Christie and his elitist political friends and other cronies have done. For the Enquiry proceedings to be independent, thorough and free of government interference of any kind, three highly reputable and well qualified foreigners from our region should be appointed to conduct the Commission's investigations and report on its findings. At least one of the Commissioners should be a renowned litigator of the highest calibre with ties to a major law firm in our region. Another should have expert multi-jurisdictional banking knowledge in the field of wealth management to facilitate tracing funds that have been squirreled away by corrupt government officials in financial institutions and clients' accounts of law firms both here and abroad. The third Commissioner should have expertise in forensic financial investigations and civil law proceedings. The Commission should be mandated to submit a written progress report to the Bahamian people within 18 months followed by a final written report within 30 months. All of the proceedings should be videotaped for later scheduled unedited televising to the Bahamian public during evening hours. The Royal Commission of Enquiry, if given the broad powers and financial support needed to properly carry out a well defined mandate, would undoubtedly result in the recovery of mega millions of unjust riches effectively stolen from the Bahamian people. Every voter in the upcoming general election should have great pause for concern that neither Minnis nor McCartney is firmly and passionately committed to holding a Royal Commission of Enquiry for the purpose of eventually pressing formal charges against those corrupt politicians and other government officials where it could easily be proven they have committed serious major crimes through the abuse of their office.

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alfalfa 2 years, 10 months ago

If the PLP win the election, Fitzgerald will probably be knighted. No consequences for his actions from this government. Anyone remember his accomplishments as Minister of Education, which is supposed to be his job? Think hard and let me know. Maybe the D National Average, and the conditions at the schools have miraculously improved, and I just missed it.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 10 months ago

"#She added: “I don’t look at Dr Hubert Minnis’ personality and so on. What I look at is I say ‘Lord you were able to use a donkey to warn so perhaps you can make something out of Dr Minnis.’"

Dame Joan een nobody friend. I like her. Lol.

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Economist 2 years, 10 months ago

Come on Birdie, where are we when we need you comments on the learned judge.

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realfreethinker 2 years, 10 months ago

Economist I am waiting with bated breath to hear from birdie on this one

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Dame Joan has been vilified by political personalities .......... but her insights are piercing and direct ........ She will be a perfect person to serve as an advisor to the next PM (guess who??)

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 10 months ago

Maybe Bran will ask Dame Joan to serve as GG so the people can know there is true justice and nonpartisanship in that post.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 10 months ago

It is plain to see the Dame does not care not even about herself.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 10 months ago

Dame Sawyer a member of the bitter old women's club. She is a FNM and she is within her rights. But the truth be known the PLP paved the way for her. she is not objective and she makes comments about subjects she has not even read.

As for comparing doc with a donkey. I make it my business not to call people ill names.but it is her God given right to vote for a donkey if she so chooses.

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