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PM says Davis would have been a ‘disaster’, but it’s just more rhetoric

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

In attempting to give himself a pat on the back for his response to the still-looming COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis sought to call out Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis by saying if Davis had been leading the charge, he would have been a ‘disaster.’

The reality of it all though seems to show the Prime Minister’s comments as more rhetoric than fact.

At the beginning of the crisis, when the Emergency Powers were first formulated and then enacted, the Opposition Leader cautioned that the Prime Minister was rushing to close the borders and that this action would bring unintended consequences. It did. Thousands of Bahamians were laid off and the country’s ‘bread and butter’ industry was effectively shut down.

Still, Prime Minister Minnis maintained that under his watch and his directives, the right thing was done. “At the outset of the pandemic, with the need to act quickly, he failed a primary test of leadership and proper judgement informed by medical science and good public policy,” said Minnis of Davis in his budget contribution Monday.

“He initially failed to understand the nature and the severity of the pandemic that was on the way and that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives globally. It is often good to have a doctor in the house,” the Prime Minister added.

The PLP has countered that Minnis’ ‘too soon’ reaction to the pandemic actually resulted in ‘chaos’.

A statement from Senator Michael Darville defending Davis noted that “the record is clear: Brave Davis has from the start supported evidence-based measures to keep Bahamians safe from COVID-19.” The PLP leader had said at the pandemic’s outset, there was no evidence to support a total shutdown of the country.

Darville’s statement further notes that once the Emergency Powers were enacted, Davis moved to mobilize a COVID-19 task force which was co-chaired by Darville and public health expert Dr. Melissa Evans to monitor the pandemic and offer collaboration in the national fight.

It is a matter of public record that Davis supported the emergency orders in Parliament and urged Bahamians to comply with them. It is also a fact that while the PLP’s COVID-19 taskforce offered several instances of sound advice to assist with the efforts to keep the potentially deadly viral infection at bay from Bahamians, the Minnis Administration acted on some of those recommendations without collaborating with the authors of those ideas and without giving them any credit.

The statement continues, “When there were discrepancies between agencies of the government on COVID-19 protocols, it was Mr. Davis who suggested to the Prime Minister that all branches of government gain access to the expert advice shared with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The Prime Minister agreed to this suggestion.

“Many of the critiques and recommendations offered by Mr. Davis regarding the Emergency Orders were eventually adopted by the government, including altering the ill-advised and poorly executed alphabet grocery shopping order and our party’s vigorous defense of the right of Bahamians to return home from abroad under specific conditions and following health guidelines.” Let’s not forget about the decision to implement monitoring of those being quarantined – the Minnis Administration, initially ignored this suggestion by the PLP and then came back to implement it after it was discovered that health officials had lost track of several people who were supposed to be isolating at home.

“The Prime Minister,” the statement reads, “does not have a record of accomplishment to run on; apparently he is hoping to obscure that with distortions about Mr. Davis.”

Rather than a response in rhetoric, Darville asserts that the PLP Leader “stood up for Bahamians throughout the last few difficult months. When the government’s process was flawed, discriminatory and arbitrary, it was important to say so. When the government’s enforcement of emergency measures favored the rich and FNM insiders, it was important to say so. When it was lunacy for the government to prosecute a teenager for selling coconut water, or fine the homeless and a person fetching water to clean up after his grandparents, it was important to say so.”

He further reiterates his belief that the Minnis Administration under the direction of Dr. Hubert Minnis has not done enough to develop the nation's testing capacity and he has repeatedly called on the government to do more.

“It's true that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is a doctor,” the statement concludes, "but it’s also true that he has committed a number of errors from the Office of the Prime Minister on a daily basis.”

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