by Larry Smith
The unravelling of Dr Arthur Porter’s life didn’t begin in the Bahamas. But it could be said to have ended here - more or less.
At age 29 he was the youngest department chief at any hospital in Canada, and was soon offered a top post at the Detroit Medical Centre operated by Wayne State University. He created a political storm in Michigan by firing 7,000 employees to stave off bankruptcy.
In his memoir (The Man Behind the Bow Tie, written with former Nassau Guardian business editor Jeff Todd), Porter says he first became associated with the Bahamas in 2000, when thinking about developing a cancer clinic here.
In Detroit he occasionally saw Bahamian patients, "who convinced me to start a practice on the archipelago. I immediately hit it off with Conville Brown and we agreed to go into business together. It was the first such Bahamian clinic to be accredited by the American College of Radiation Oncology."
While in Canada, Porter was a noted supporter of the Conservative Party, and In Detroit he became a Republican fundraiser and contender for the post of surgeon-general in the Bush Administration.
Porter established a family home in Nassau’s Old Fort Bay gated community. And in 2004, McGill University Health Centre recruited him to oversee a multi-billion-dollar redevelopment project in Montreal.
Ground was broken in 2010 on a mega hospital that would be the largest medical facility in Canada, stretching across 43 acres. According to Porter, “building that hospital was probably the hardest deal I had ever closed.”
So Porter ended up chairing a national task force on stem cell treatment set up by Christie. He noted that the initiative was almost derailed by opposition attacks over paybacks to Nygard and public controversy over a post-election video in which the fashion mogul said he had “got our country back”.