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Bizarre exchange as MPs clash

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Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean has been accused of “hiding behind parliamentary privilege and lying about people” by Independent MP Terry Lister.

The two men traded veiled barbs during an often boisterous debate in the House on random drug testing for MPs — a motion which Mr Lister brought before the House.

However, Mr Bean maintained that he spoke in analogies, and that at no point did he openly accuse Mr Lister of anything.

Rising to speak, Mr Bean said he was sure his remarks would have the media “listening intently” as the Opposition Leader spoke on another potentially controversial topic.

“So I am going to be careful in what I say, unless three or four words that I use become the front page for a week.”

Saying that the issue under debate was on a question of morality, the Warwick South Central MP noted that “honourable” was the only title demanded of one another by Parliamentarians.

“I have already been politically crucified for being honest,” Mr Bean said. “Today again I will be honest, because in front of my name it says ‘Honourable Leader of the Opposition.'”

Mr Bean asked MPs how they would react if he'd had an employee put in prison for drug smuggling using his business.

“What if I was an elder in a church, but got kicked out for stealing from the church while committing adultery on my wife?” he asked.

He asked how the House would react if he ended up in hospital after getting beaten up for committing adultery with his neighbour's wife.

The PLP head then hypothesised how MPs would view it if he deserted his constituents after canvassing under one Party's banner but “being rejected for the third time in a leadership contest”.

Mr Bean raised the scenario of him, as a sitting Minister of Government, giving “one of my political cronies an $8,000 consultant's job in Government” — and made reference to a man being fired for sexual misconduct and child abuse.

Mr Bean closed by saying: “I asked all these questions, and for the response I will yield to the honourable Member of Parliament from Constituency 33 to answer.”

Several MPs subsequently rose to continue the debate, including Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, who accused Mr Bean of spewing “toxicity and vitriol”.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said Mr Bean's remarks in the previous week's session, when he accused Government of “lady of the night politics” during a debate on status for PRC holders, “almost caused me to lose my religion”.

At the close of the debate, Mr Lister told MPs that Friday's debate was “not about drugs — it's about leadership”.

“What we saw here at one point was an example of poor leadership,” he said, adding that he felt “sorry for anybody who continues to support the failed leadership”.

Saying it would do the people who trusted him a disservice if he didn't respond, Mr Lister said: “It was said that I wanted to pay my crony $8,000 a month. That crony goes by the name of Anthony Santucci, chairman of the PLP.”

Mr Santucci is in fact the former party chair, with Maynard Dill currently chairman.

Mr Lister went on to say that Mr Santucci, over a five-month period, was paid $40,000 to develop five bills for Transport — only three of which came before the House.

Mr Lister said he felt Mr Santucci had “lied to me and treated me unfairly” during his earlier bid for the post of PLP leader, when he ran against Paula Cox.

“Why would I do Mr Santucci a favour if he never helped me? Because, foolishly, I believed in Bermuda — I wanted to do what was best for Bermuda,” Mr Lister said.

He then added: “I stole money from my church and was kicked out? Can you believe such a thing? Nothing like that ever happened. Was I ever kicked out of church? No, I was never kicked out of any church.”

He said claims made against the One Bermuda Alliance by the Leader of the Opposition had made “my mouth fall open”.

Mr Lister said he'd been injured in a fall near the Railway Trail and that “no one beat me up at any time”.

“What would people think if they said Terry Lister took bribes as a Minister?” he continued.

He also asked what people would think if he were seen buying Guinness at the Maximart and drinking it while driving.

Mr Bean rose on a point of order, observing he had “struck a chord” and saying he'd never accused Mr Lister of anything.

“I said, what if Mark Bean did it,” he added, over an increasingly boisterous One Bermuda Alliance. “Who the cap fits, let them wear it.”

Mr Lister went on: “What if I, Terry Lister, regularly went down the back of JB every week and regularly bought my marijuana from somebody?”

As OBA MPs drummed their feet in approval, Mr Lister closed. After a lengthy debate, the drug testing report was approved near 5.30pm.

Neither Mr Santucci nor Mr Bean would comment on the matter yesterday, but Mr Lister told The Royal Gazette that he had brought Mr Santucci's name into the debate for clarity.

Mr Lister dismissed the statements as “wild accusations” and “lies”.

He also said: “We have to be concerned about the utterances from Marc Bean. For three Fridays in a row, we've had them. We've heard him talk about giving an illegal substance to a three-year-old, and talk the following week about ‘open legism', which offended females and many males. On the third week we get a brazen attack on a senior Member of Parliament who served 20 years for his country, being professional and leading beyond reproach. In Mr Bean's political dealings, you have to wonder what next week brings.”

He called the PLP head “unpredictable, totally volatile”.

Asked if he had raised his concerns with Mr Bean or with the PLP, Mr Lister said he had no relationship with Mr Bean, adding: “He is a rude little man.”

Independent MP Terry Lister
Opposition Leader Marc Bean
<p>Online recordings unavailable</p>

A bizarre exchange in the House of Assembly between PLP head Marc Bean and Independent MP Terry Lister drew swift interest from online commentators.

At least two people posted the recording online over the weekend — but the links subsequently became unavailable.

The same happened to the online streaming of the House of Assembly, which is a public document.

While the morning session was posted on the Parliament website, the afternoon session containing the words of Mr Bean and Mr Lister was not accessible.

Speaker of the House Randolph Horton yesterday said he did not know anything about the link going off.

During the debate, Mr Bean denied targeting Mr Lister and said he had spoken only in analogies.

He rose on a point of order, saying: “Never once did I accuse the honourable Member of anything.”

Asked about it yesterday, Mr Lister responded: “If so, why then why did he refer specifically to Constituency 33?”

On the question of complaining to Mr Horton, Mr Lister said: “That’s a valid point. I’m going to leave it. If the Speaker wishes to deal with it, I leave it in his hands.”

The Parliament website is down this morning, with visitors getting an error message if they go to www.parliament.bm.

A House of Assembly spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette that there was a problem with the site and efforts were being made to fix it and to get the audio from Friday online as soon as possible.

“We are trying to figure out what’s wrong now,” she said. “I can’t tell you any more than that, because we don’t know.”

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Published June 17, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated June 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm)

Bizarre exchange as MPs clash

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