REMARKS BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE PERRY G. CHRISTIE:
Tonight we have gathered in great numbers in the great constituency of Elizabeth to give thanks for the great electoral victory that was won here just a year ago, and to give thanks and praise to Ryan Pinder MP and his constituency generals and stalwarts for a job well done on this the first anniversary of Ryan’s election to the House of Assembly.
We recall tonight that the victory that was won here was not a victory that was won easily. Rather, we won with the odds heavily stacked against us. After all, we were the Opposition party going up against the mighty army of the Ingraham government; a government that was determined to win at all costs.
Indeed, the Ingraham government threw all of their resources into the fight but they still came up short. They tried every trick in the election book but they still couldn’t pull it off. They thought they had it in the bag, all wrapped up, but they were in for a big surprise on election day because when all was said and done, when all the votes had been counted and re-counted, it was Ryan Pinder and the PLP who were victorious.
And it was a good thing for Elizabeth and for our country that it worked out that way because Ryan, in one short year, has proven himself a winner. This guy is the real deal! All during the campaign I told you that in Ryan Pinder you had a good man who was part of a good team with a good message of hope for Elizabeth. And time has proven that prophecy right.
Indeed Ryan has been even better than expected. His social compassion, his energy, his vision, his fearlessness in debate, his intellectual depth, and his personable nature have endeared him not only to the good people of Elizabeth but to PLP’s all over our country.
Make no mistake about it: Ryan has proven himself to be a key member of the new generation of future leadership that is taking shape within the PLP. I expect even greater things of this young man in the years to come. Indeed I am confident that Ryan Pinder is destined to play an important, possibly even an historic, part in the next generation of leadership that is emerging within our great party.
So I am proud to stand here tonight and to congratulate Ryan on the first-class job he has done in his first year in office as the Member of Parliament for Elizabeth and to wish him well as he begins his second year as the voice for the hopes and aspirations of the people of Elizabeth in the House of Assembly, and as their protector and advocate-in-chief. It is a challenging role but one that he has risen to splendidly as I am sure he will continue to do in the future.
O’ and by the way, poor Duane Sands! Although I congratulate him on his appointment to the Senate, it is apparent from his public pronouncements that the good doctor just hasn’t got the message yet! And I know for certain that Hubert Ingraham hasn’t got the message yet either! They look like they want to have another go at Elizabeth next time around. Well, all I have to say to that is “Bring it on”! The result next time will be no different, except for one thing. The next time around, Ryan will beat Duane so bad, Duane will give up politics for good and return to the operating room where he belongs. He may be a good doctor but he really is no politician. And when it comes to Elizabeth, Dr. Sands is a man without a future. And you can tell him, I said so!
But returning to the main theme of the evening, I really do want to express my gratitude not only to Ryan but to all his generals and all the members and supporters of the PLP here in Elizabeth for not only standing up to the power and might and inducements of the FNM in the bye-election a year ago, but also for staying the course over the 365 days that have followed. The cohesiveness of the branch here, the enthusiasm and energy of our members and supporters here, are a template for what we need for the PLP in every other constituency in our country.
I spoke with Andre Rollins this morning.
You heard him speak to you a short time ago.
One year after being a candidate in the Elizabeth Constituency Bye-Election – he has elected to join the PLP.
We welcome him in our ranks – we know him to be a well trained intelligent young Bahamian with a solid vision for The Bahamas and strong ideas of how best it can be governed. We know the soul searching and analyzing that he has gone through and we are pleased that at the end of a long and thoughtful process he has chosen the PLP as his political home.
I look forward to Andre’s involvement and the contribution he will make to our planning and preparation for the forthcoming General Elections. He is an example to young Bahamians of the PLP’s willingness to involve in a meaningful way young Bahamians in shaping and influencing the PLP’s plans and strategies for the development of The Bahamas and the empowerment of our people.
Like thousands of other young Bahamians he has turned to the PLP as the Party that will put people first and secure the future of young Bahamians.
I want you all to know that, as the Leader of the PLP Dr. Rollins has joined us without discussing with me any preconditions or concessions of any kind. His approach pleases and impresses me and it leads me to say that I am most sincere in my belief that there is a role for Dr. Rollins in the Public Affairs of our Country and I look forward to our holding productive discussions with him.
We know that the FNM is very good at smoke and mirror politics.
But we are assured that the Bahamian people will know with certainty the PLP’s contribution to the well being of the economy with respect to the groundbreaking ceremonies of Bahamar, the new pre-clearing terminal at the Lynden Pindling Airport, and the National Stadium. The PM at the opening of the Reef Condo, on Paradise Island just after the 2007 general elections acknowledged that political parties sometimes reap what they did not sow. Bahamar sowed by the PLP and reaped by FNM but good for The Bahamas.
Tonight, I recall standing with Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian some distance in the rear of the Cable Police Station and sharing a vision of Bahamar and the incredible positive impact it would have on the economy of The Bahamas. I think of how strongly my colleagues Members of Parliament worked on policies to bring about maximum use of Bahamian Labour. Meetings with Bahamar, meetings with the Contractors Association, The National Congress of Trade Unions and the Trade Union Congress – another example of the PLP sowing and the FNM reaping. But good for the Bahamas and Bahamian Labour.
Lynden Pindling International Airport
We will watch the opening of this new section of Lynden Pindling International Airport and we will do so with pride because this is another example of one Government sowing and the succeeding Government reaping.
The selection of the Manager was made by my Government after two of my Ministers: Obie Wilchcombe and Glenys Hanna-Martin together with officials of the Government had engaged in a worldwide comprehensive survey of the airport Managers. The recommendation that we award the management contract to Y.V.R.A.S. was primarily influenced by their experience in operating pre-clearing facilities and by reputation for building into the design and features of the airport facilities prominent aspects of local culture.
I do not propose to boycott the commissioning ceremonies as did the FNM when we named the Airport after Sir Lynden Pindling.
As has been said even though a government may have the good fortunate of reaping what it did not sow the most important result is that the country benefits as will the Bahamas in this case.
I once said in the House of Assembly that when the new stadium is commissioned I will be sitting somewhere in the audience and I will wonder to myself how many Bahamians will know that this idea came from the fact that I was a former athlete with some international success and that I had in my Cabinet Neville Wisdom a former successful track and field coach and that together we led my Government into agreeing to requesting by way of a gift the new stadium which will enable the hosting of major sporting and other events.
I had the opportunity today to thank the Chinese Ambassador for his patience as we continued to press him for substantial improvements of the original plans. When the stadium is opened this summer it will represent a wonderful demonstration of our vision for The Bahamas but another real example of that dynamic that we sowed it and the FNM reaped it.
At our mini convention in Freeport in January I announced that the PLP did not agree and will not support in the House of Assembly and the Senate the sale of any of the shares in BTC to Cable and Wireless.
2. We will vote no on the transfer of 51% of BTC to Cable and Wireless.
3. We put the Government and Cable & Wireless on notice of our central position that the sale to Cable and Wireless is not in the national interest and when we return to Government we will re-examine all of the provisions of the deal and we will aggressively renegotiate the terms of the agreement that we deem repugnant to the national interest.
We will continue to provide comprehensive statements of our positions and reasoning of the propose sale to the Bahamian public.
4. We respect our Union Leaders which is why they were at the table in negotiations with the PLP rather than hearing second hand what the Government was doing behind their backs.
5. I repeat what I said in Freeport, and I quote “We assert, as a fundamental principle, the commitment to build a true share owning democracy in The Bahamas. In pursuance of that principle, we propose, when we win office again, to aggressively explore lawful ways and means by which Bahamian ownership of BTC can be enhanced, through the offering of shares to the Bahamian public, with appropriate controls to prevent the concentration of shares into the hands of one group or family, whether Bahamian or foreign. We believe that BTC should then be opened to competition and the telecommunications market liberalized as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter. A BTC, owned by a wide cross section of the Bahamian community, could purchase the best management expertise and technology to provide the Bahamian and foreign business community a competitive world class and affordable service like the Bank of The Bahamas.
6. We believe that this course of action is in accordance with the wishes of the country and is consistent with our Party’s core values and constitution which states: “To obtain and maintain for the Bahamian people, a fairer and more equitable distribution of the wealth of The Bahamas so as to provide more security and dignity for the less fortunate.”
And that brings me to the final part of my message this evening, which is this: we need to begin now to mobilize in earnest for the next General Election. It ain’t long now. I expect that now that Baha Mar is beginning to roll and other projects are in the works, the Prime Minister may call an early election. We must be ready for it if he does! If he doesn’t call it and instead goes deeper into his term, we will have lost nothing by having prepared for an earlier contest.
But whether he calls the General Election later or sooner, either way, I am supremely confident of one thing and it’s this : With God’s help and yours, we will be the next Government of The Bahamas!
There is no doubt in my mind about that. I keep my ear to the ground and everywhere I go in Nassau, in Grand Bahama, and in the Family Islands, I hear the rumble of change. People are sick and tired of this uncaring, insensitive, arrogant government that doesn’t know how to listen and doesn’t know to govern. So the next time around, I have no doubt that it will be PLP, ALL THE WAY!
But in this business, you can’t take anything for granted. Only a fool would do that. Instead, we have to begin at once to put our Party machinery in tip-top shape. We have to do it from the ground up; from the constituency level all the way to the top where I sit. We all have a role to play and we can waste no time in joining together to make sure that we are in a state of maximum readiness for the next Election whenever it is called.
The internal bickering and back-biting must therefore stop. We need to come together in unity and in common purpose on all and in each of the constituencies. Unity must be our watchword. Common purpose must be at the core of all our preparations. There is no time to lose. We have to get ready now. There is much to be done and the time we have to do it in is dwindling fast.
So let’s get on with it – and let’s do it with the same fellowship and camaraderie and mutual goodwill, and with the same enthusiasm and energy that ensured the success of our campaign here in Elizabeth exactly a year ago. We did it here in the Bye-election and we can do it all over our country in the next General Election.
We did it before and we will do it again!
So join with me as we begin our march to victory; join with me and all your brothers and sisters in this great Progressive Liberal Party; join with me as we set about the task of winning the government back so that social justice and economic prosperity can be restored to our beloved nation.
PLP! ALL THE WAY!