Boundaries report delayed
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 11, 2017
Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr. Kendal Major said while he had expected the final report of the Boundaries Commission to be tabled in Parliament on Monday, “much to my disappointment”, several “unprecedented and mitigating factors”, including information leaked last month, impacted the commission’s work.
Major, who chairs the commission, said he will “continue to anticipate a report from governing members and also the opposition with respect to recommendations as we go forward”.
It is unclear when the commission’s report will be finalized and tabled.
“There has been a leak of some proposed information that made it on social media and in the dailies much to the [disappointment] of the chair and [it] certainly undermines the process, and makes this somewhat unprecedented that we, who are sworn to secrecy, somehow, through our deliberations, matters such as this are leaked to the public,” Major said.
“And so that has caused great contention within the rank and file of the commission, and it is important that you know that the chair is certainly displeased about that.”
Information obtained by The Nassau Guardian last month revealed that the commission recommended the creation of a new constituency.
According to the information, portions of Fort Charlotte, Bains Town and Grants Town, Centerville and Englerston will be redrawn to form a reconstituted St. Cecilia.
Before the holiday break, Major confirmed that the one new constituency to be created would be St. Cecilia.
At the time, Major said the government was largely agreeable to the commission’s changes to the boundaries.
It remains to be seen if those changes will stand or whether there will be further changes.
As he addressed parliamentarians on Monday, Major also said the change in the make-up of the commission also slowed the process.
After becoming leader of the Official Opposition last month, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner appointed St. Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman to the commission, replacing East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest.
“The apparent revocation for the member for East Grand Bahama and the new member, now the member for St. Anne’s, [has resulted in] a slowing of the process and that also has been unprecedented in that regard,” Major said.
“There is no fault there, however; it is what it is.”
The speaker also pointed to the low voter registration numbers, which play a large part in guiding the commission’s work.
As of last week, there were over 76,000 registered voters for the next general election; a far cry from the 134,00 registered voters five years ago.
Major urged parliamentarians and the public to do their part to encourage registration.
The last changes in boundaries came in 2011.
Other members of the commission include Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, Marathon MP Jerome Fitzgerald and Senior Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs, the deputy chair of the commission.