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From the Nassau Guardian Friday 20 May 2022

In his own words as reported by Candia Dames:

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Michael Pintard yesterday made it clear that former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis does not speak on the FNM’s behalf, and suggested the continued public posturing by Minnis is actually working against what the FNM is seeking to achieve as an official opposition.

Asked whether Minnis’ recent statements on various national issues and his public posturing are helpful in fostering party unity, Pintard said, candidly, “No, it is not.”

He also suggested that Minnis is not being a team player.

“He is speaking for himself,” Pintard told The Nassau Guardian. “In terms of ongoing consultations, etc., I reach out to him as a member of the caucus in terms of periodically running things by him. The reverse does not happen.”

He also said there is a lesson that former leaders can learn from the behaviour of other former leaders from both major political parties.

Pintard pointed to former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who has remained in the background after his time as prime minister and, while not naming former Prime Minister Perry Christie, he also noted that the former Progressive Liberal Party leader has been doing the same.

“It is a wonderful model for other leaders who have recently left office and those who will leave office in the future to follow,” Pintard said.

“There is a convention on how you behave as a former leader.”

Asked whether he thinks Minnis has been operating within that established convention, Pintard said, “I’m going to leave you to draw that conclusion.”

Pintard became leader of the FNM last November, just over two months after the FNM suffered a major election defeat under Minnis’ leadership.

Unlike Ingraham in 2012, however, Minnis, who won his Killarney seat, did not bow out of frontline politics. Though he suffered a significant loss in support in his constituency, Minnis has determined to continue to serve in opposition.

He opines on various national issues, often blasting the current prime minister, Philip Davis, and the Davis-led administration on their policies. 

This week, Minnis called on the government to raise taxes on the rich to help poor people grappling with inflation.

Pintard said the FNM is an inclusive organization that still benefits from the contributions of members who may not be as active as they once were.

“The success of our organization largely depends on drawing on the experience, network of persons that have assisted our organization over the years,” he said.

“This is precisely why I would be prepared to work with all former leaders, deputy leaders, [chairmen] and others who have served in different capacities and I have reached out to many of them, inclusive of all the living former leaders; everyone without exception, including Dr. Minnis, and for the most part they have been helpful.

“They have not sought to compete with what the party is attempting to do or to any way undermine what the party is seeking to do.”

The FNM leader added, “All former members of Parliament and ministers, inclusive of leader, are welcomed to work within our team system to help the party construct the vision for the future, to fulfill many of those items that were in our platform …

“… A former Cabinet minister is welcome to be a part of us looking at what new legislation or amendments are required, what new adjustments [need to be made] to existing policies, what kind of programs we may need to move forward, or projects, and so we welcome them.

“But in those cases where persons are minded to use the influence that they would have acquired over the years of playing a pivotal role in the development of the country, to compete with what the new team — and that new team is 50-plus persons — have now agreed would be the strategic [direction] that we are going in, anyone operating in that way is not seeking to contribute to the development of the organization and putting us in a position where we are clearly seen by the public as the best choice for managing the country going forward.”

Responding to a question, Pintard said he does not feel threatened by Minnis.

“Not in the slightest way do I feel threatened,” said Pintard, who was a minister in Minnis’ Cabinet.

“We are very optimistic about the way in which our team is coalescing in Parliament as well as the officers corps nationally and throughout our constituencies; and any debates that we have that are vigorous and spirited, we welcome those, because we believe out of those spirited debates, we are going to crystalize the best pathway forward.

“If you are asking, as I hear you asking, if any member with stature in sharing their views is not consulting or working within the team concept, is that unhelpful to us? I would categorically say yes it is unhelpful to us, but it will not deter us from forging forward and being successful in communicating to the public what we stand for as it relates to legislation, policies, programs and projects. And so, we are optimistic about the party and where we are headed.”