Munroe: Don't use public funds for referendum campaigns

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April 19, 2016

Public money should not be used to fund any side of the issue in the approaching constitutional referendum, Wayne Munroe, QC, said yesterday.

"Either you don't fund any, and that's my view," Munroe said, "or you fund in matching terms, vote yes, vote no and don't vote at all."

The referendum is set for June 7 and a group of pastors opposing the fourth amendment bill is asking the government for "seed funding of $100,000 to assist the vote no campaign".

Bill four would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based on sex -- with sex being defined as biological male or female. But the pastors contend it would leave the door open to same-sex marriages. They launched the vote no campaign on Sunday. The vote yes campaign was launched last week at The College of The Bahamas.

"England is now going to engage on a referendum whether to remain in the EU or not," Munroe said. "There are members of the Conservative Party who are the government who will be campaigning no and there are members who will be campaigning yes.

"They had one for the Scottish independence, and there is a difference between government ministers stating their positions and having position papers produced by their subordinates which will be for them publicly, but in terms of physically funding a yes campaign or physically funding a no campaign, it should not happen at all; otherwise you find yourself physically having to fund a campaign that says don't participate at all because that's a third option."

Munroe sees no problem with the government urging Bahamians to vote yes as it is currently doing.

"The government can take a position on any issue that's up for a vote," he noted. "For instance, the official position of the Conservative Party in the UK was against Scottish independence and I understand that the official position of the Conservative government on the EU referendum will be the vote should be to remain in the EU.

"So you can take a position as a government, which isn't the same thing as spending money to advance your interest."

Prime Minister Perry Christie participated in the launch of the 'YES Bahamas' campaign last week. Christie announced that Senate President Lady Sharon Wilson and former Senate President Lynn Holowesko are the co-chairs of the campaign. They will lead the effort in drumming up support for the bills.

The pastors who have formed the group Save Our Bahamas are urging their congregations to vote their conscience on the first three bills, which address citizenship matters. But on bill number four, they are urging a note vote.

Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church, Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church, Rev. Alfred Stewart of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and popular talk show host Kevin "Minister K" Harris are among the members of the vote no group.

The pastors said "seeing that the government has appointed the yes vote campaign in all fairness in our democratic nation" they intend to deliver a letter to the prime minister asking for funding.

A group of pastors in support of the referendum intend to hold a press conference today.

Candia Dames

Guardian Managing Editor

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 04/19/2016    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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