Friday, April 23, 2010

Ryan Pinder misses first chance to vote as a Member of Parliament

Ryan Pinder misses first chance to vote as MP
Tribune Staff Reporter

DESPITE enduring heavy criticism for having voted in the United States but never in the Bahamas, Ryan Pinder has yet to cast a vote in his homeland - missing his first chance as the newly-elected MP for Elizabeth.

Mr Pinder is again taking flack for his voting record, this time because he passed up the opportunity to formally support the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Bill in Parliament on Wednesday.

The MP defended his absence yesterday, saying he had a previous engagement, and pointed out that he expressed his support for the Bill during the House debate, describing it as a "fundamental component" of achieving the results he promised to his constituents during his campaign in terms of training small business development.

He went on to declare his intention to vote "every time" in the House of Assembly; however the FNM were quick to point out that so far, the new MP's parliamentary voting record stands at "0 for 1".

Carl Bethel, the FNM chairman and MP for Seabreeze, said he and some of his colleagues had planned to stand and applaud Mr Pinder when it came time for the House to take a vote on the Bill.

He said the MP was noticeably absent from the lower chamber, which led to an outburst of laughter from the governing side.

"We were ready to stand and cheer," Mr Bethel exclaimed. "Because finally he would have voted in the Bahamas. But alas we were denied that privilege.

"We can only hope that before this legislative year is over, Mr Pinder would have exercised his constitutional right," Mr Bethel quipped.

Addressing the chairman's remarks, Mr Pinder said he intends to vote "every time" he is required to in the House of Assembly. However, as for Wednesday's session, the Elizabeth MP said he had a previous speaking engagement that was set "a long time before the legislative session was set out."

"I support the BTVI Bill, and I have expressed that in the House and would vote in favour it. So I don't understand what (Mr Bethel) means. I wouldn't understand why they would jump up and down on a piece of legislation. It sounds juvenile to me and certainly sounds like they are preoccupied with Ryan Pinder and not the business of running this country," Mr Pinder shot back.

However, the MP's former rival for the Elizabeth constituency said that it appears Mr Pinder's priorities are not in the right place.

Dr Duane Sands said: "I think it's a bit disappointing that after waiting such a long time for representation, at the first opportunity that the people of Elizabeth would have a chance to have their voices heard on an important vote, their representative was not available."

Looking forward to the rest of the legislative year, Dr Sands said he hoped the people of Elizabeth's concerns would attract more attention from their MP.

Speaking on the matter before the vote, Mr Pinder told the House he supports the Bill, and hoped it wasn't "too little, too late".

He said: "I support it, Mr Speaker, because I promised my constituents, the good constituents of Elizabeth that I am a 21st century politician, focused on training and small business development.

"This Bill is a fundamental component to achieving these goals, short term and long term.

"This Bill is the crux in developing the skills labour necessary to build today's Bahamas and to ensure economic expansion on a sustained basis from among a segment of our society who may never get the opportunity to travel beyond these borders for tertiary education. So on behalf of the good people of Elizabeth, I lend my support to this Bill which is long overdue."

April 23, 2010