‘I will run no matter what’
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 09, 2017
Insisting that her nomination for Long Island was “unfairly and unduly revoked”, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday that the people of Long Island want her to run, and she intends to do so, regardless of the “corrupt practices” the Free National Movement (FNM) wishes to carry out.
“I am elected by the people of Long Island,” said Butler-Turner, who was contacted after a letter she wrote to the executive committee of the FNM was widely circulated on social media.
“I have just left my constituency and the people of Long Island want me to run no matter... the corrupt practices this party wishes to carry out.
“The reality is, by revoking my ratification and naming someone else, illegal though it is, I can still run as an FNM.
“But, if I contested who they call their ratified candidate, I then place myself in a precarious position of them saying ‘We’re going to expel you because you are going against the party’, even though their position is flawed.
“... This is a constitutional matter and my letter simply says I will not be party to this illegal process.”
While Butler-Turner said, “I intend to run”, she did not make explicitly clear whether she will do so as an independent or under the banner of another party.
Long Islanders elected an independent Larry Cartwright in 2002 over the FNM’s James Knowles.
Knowles secured 831 votes, while Cartwright got 924 votes.
The PLP did not contest the seat.
The FNM ratified attorney Adrian Gibson, a Tribune columnist, for Long Island on December 21, nearly a week after rescinding Butler-Turner’s nomination for that constituency.
On December 7, Butler-Turner and six other FNM MPs wrote to the governor general to have FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis removed as leader of the opposition.
The move was bolstered by a scathing rebuke of Minnis by Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key, who joined the bid by Butler-Turner and other FNM MPs to unseat Minnis, claiming on December 3 that the FNM leader had betrayed him by denying his nomination.
In the letter addressed to the executive committee, Butler-Turner said the actions undertaken by the committee and council, combined with Minnis’ public pronouncements “clearly demonstrate your intent to sever my legal affiliation with the FNM; the party that I voluntarily supported and joined over 30 years ago.
“Be assured that I do not enjoy, neither do I embrace this posture, but I will not pursue or fight the illegitimacy of this premise, as I have previously stated in my response letter to the secretary general on December 15, 2016.”
She continued, “The ideals and philosophy of the FNM's existence are aligned with my personal convictions – democracy, accountability, fairness and transparency.
“l unreservedly espouse these tenets of my party.
“For these reasons, despite the divergent path we now face, l accept your majority will without opposition.
“I sincerely thank you all for your past support and camaraderie.
“The battles and causes we have fought together will always be held proudly in my heart.”
Yesterday, Butler-Turner said her letter to the executive committee was in response to a correspondence from Michael Foulkes, secretary general of the FNM, advising her of a special meeting on Wednesday.
“The reality is this, the party and the leadership and the advisors of the party are disingenuous in that they have not followed due process in naming a new candidate or a different candidate other than myself,” she said.
“And if we have a party constitution, I would expect that the executive, the leadership and the advisors to that leadership, would advise the leader, since they seem to be unknowledgeable as to what our constitution prescribes.
“And some know what they have done is illegal, and having done that and having severed ties with me in this illegal fashion, I will not be subjected to a bogus or an illegal process that they have undertaken, and that is essentially what that letter speaks to.”
Butler-Turner said she has no idea what will come out of the meeting on Wednesday.
She explained that there is an established constitutional process to be followed with respect to any member who is perceived to have infringed on the party’s rules or done something untoward the party.
As a part of that process, a tribunal of the FNM is convened, the member or members in question appear before the tribunal and once a defense is made, the tribunal determines the outcome.
“None of that has happened,” Butler-Turner contended.
“... You have a party and a leader that... has circumvented the process as articulated in the FNM’s constitution.
“How are we to regard a leader, who wants to lead a country and does not even know his own party’s constitution or who is prepared to undermine the process to achieve an objective? That is the reality that we are facing.”
Minnis previously indicated that a three-person tribunal has been appointed to review the actions of the seven FNM MPs.
On the same day the MPs in question wrote to the governor general, Minnis called on them to resign or face disciplinary action.
But the MPs refused on the grounds that they had done nothing wrong or undemocratic.
The tribunal was subsequently appointed to review the actions of the MPs.
Butler-Turner added that she will not be subjected to a “kangaroo process”.