The battle is on!
The conflict has been simmering for almost the fullness of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) current tenure, thus far, as the governing party in The Bahamas.
Rev. Frederick McAlpine, the Member of Parliament for Pineridge, one of the five constituencies in Grand Bahama controlled in the House of Assembly by the Free National Movement, almost from the outset has been expressing views that differ with the position of his party, during his presentations in the House of Assembly and on the outside.
It has been said, although Rev. McAlpine never gave credence to it, that he was upset when not named by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to be included in the Cabinet of The Bahamas. Instead, Dr. Minnis appointed Rev. McAlpine, Bahamas Hotel Corporation Chairman. The reverend seemed marginalized in that position.
He spoke out with consistency, against the government, on certain national issues, emphasizing always, that he was presenting the cases for his constituents and others unable to have their voices heard. He, in essence, built a support base of note. In fact, when in a “last straw” act, Dr. Minnis fired McAlpine from his chairmanship post for not supporting the increase of VAT (Value Added Tax) from 7.5% to 12%, the Pineridge MP appeared to be emboldened.
A large crowd, which brought him to tears, rallied around Rev. McAlpine upon his return to Freeport, after the firing.
Now, the prime minister looks to be taking on Rev. McAlpine one-on-one.
PM Dr. Minnis leveled a blast at Rev. McAlpine from a town meeting he held on Crooked Island last week.
“Let McAlpine hear you, one who lives in Grand Bahama (and) wants the entire Grand Bahama to suffer. I could not believe what he said.”
It was a personal attack in the naming of McAlpine, who struck back.
“It is unfortunate that my leader of the party and prime Minister of The Bahamas, under whose government I serve the people of Pineridge, has expressed to the people of Crooked Island and not Grand Bahama that I wish for them to suffer, or that I want the people of Grand Bahama to suffer. Grand Bahama has been suffering for the last 15 years plus and it is unfortunate that since the last year and five months, that suffering has widened under our governance.
“While I did not think that the government’s purchasing of the Grand Lucayan was the best idea economically, I, like most Grand Bahamians, have accepted the fact that the government has purchased and, they have stated the intent to sell sooner rather than later. It would be far more impressive if the prime minister, as opposed to speaking to Crooked Island about the purchase of the Lucayan Strip, would come to Grand Bahama and speak to us of what the business plans are for the purchase of these hotels, how the government proposes to operate them until they are sold and what’s the alternative if they are not sold within the projected six-month time frame,” Rev. McAlpine was quoted in a Freeport News article.
The reverend actually echoed points expressed in this space before.
There are indeed many questions the government needs to answer, regarding the forward movement of the purchase process.
It seems, what Dr. Minnis has succeeded in doing, is actually broadening the support base of Rev. McAlpine.
No doubt, Rev. McAlpine welcomes the expansion of his platform through a one-on-one battle with the prime minister.