PM: Give Hall a chance
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Feb 03, 2017
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham may have concerns about the ability of Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall to oversee a smooth general election process, but Prime Minister Perry Christie suggested yesterday Hall should be given an opportunity to prove himself.
Ingraham said on Tuesday his concerns about the process are “aggravated by the fact that the individual responsible for organizing the registry, the parliamentary commissioner, is inexperienced in the conduct of elections”.
Christie responded saying, “I am even surprised at that, but he (Ingraham) has indicated that publicly before.
“We have to give that public servant every opportunity to demonstrate that he does have the capacity and that the work will be done.”
Ingraham pointed to Hall’s handling of the June 7, 2016 gender equality referendum.
At the end of the night of June 7 — hours after the polls closed — Hall was unable to declare the outcome of the referendum, or provide results in many instances.
The following day, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage, who is responsible for elections and referenda, suggested it was more difficult to conduct a referendum with four questions than a general election.
Days later, Hall advised that he had done everything required of him legally.
Ingraham said the delayed Boundaries Commission report will also mean Hall and his team will be challenged in getting the register ready before the election.
Noting that he had dinner with the former prime minister on Wednesday night, Christie said Ingraham did not voice the concerns he expressed to The Nassau Guardian about the delay of the report or Hall’s ability to handle the job.
Veteran hotelier and businessman George Myers also joined the two former law partners for dinner, according to Christie.
“He didn’t raise the matter with me there, so it is what it is," the prime minister said.
“The Constituencies Commission must report as quickly as possible.
"My own feeling is that it does not appear that they are talking about wide sweeping changes.
"Therefore, the necessary work to be done should not be all that difficult for the parliamentary commissioner’s office in being able to ensure that people are able to see whether or not there is a new constituency as indicated earlier, what it is, and to what extent will boundaries of constituencies be altered.
"So, in my case, I go from Mackey Street to East Street in part, to Cordeaux Avenue.
"It’s a huge thing the former prime minister gave to us.”
Christie predicted that most of the polling divisions that were transferred to Centerville ahead of the last general election will be reverted.
The commission met on Wednesday following the morning sitting of the House of Assembly.
The prime minister said he can "only assume" based on the time, the work of the commission will be completed by next week.
In response to questions from the media, Christie said statements by the former prime minister always warrant response, but he was surprised that Ingraham would enter the fray on national matters.
Since retiring following his general election defeat in 2012, Ingraham has rarely offered comment on national matters and has repeatedly declined to speak to the state of the Free National Movement, the party he led to victories in 1992, 1997 and 2007.
“Everything he says deserves a response,” Christie said.
“But, the point is I thought he had put himself beyond this to speak to national matters and not get caught up in the political commentary.
"But, it is what it is.”
On the issue of voter registration, Christie told reporters, “To the extent that there is a malaise in people registering, I don’t know if that has to do as much with the parliamentary commissioner as with the mindset of the people themselves.”
The prime minister added that the government is taking every course of action to bolster voter registration, which at last report was over 92,000 people.
“People have to elect at some stage to determine for themselves whether they want to participate in an election,” he said.
“And, that is the decision that everyone has to [make] for themselves. And presumably they will do that. And, hopefully they will get registered.”