Budget Debate 2017
20 June 2017
Check Against Delivery
Tribute to Muhammad Ali, who was at the PLPs convention the first year that I spoke to the convention and who if he had arrived after I had spoken, would have left me with no audience. Thankfully, he showed up just after I spoke to the audience was full. Lynden Pindling jumped to his feet leading eh standing ovation. He ran up to me to shake my hand and said: “My boy you are on your way.”
Tribute to E Patrick Toothe Esq who was my pupil master and who died in April of this year. I was unable to attend the service on 26 April but I wish to recognize his passing and to thank him for the training which he gave me as an attorney. I extend my condolences to his family.
I wish to say that just as I did in the Mid-Year Budget debate, I will lay a full copy of the review of the budget in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration on the table. I do not propose to read the review of the figures. I will however put them in the public domain by that device.
Secondly, I have read the statement of the Opposition’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs the Member for St Anne’s. The only reference that I saw to the Foreign Ministry’s work and that was tangential was that the Canadians had issued a further travel advisory for The Bahamas.
We are aware of the advisory and of course it is regrettable that they felt the need to do so. But as we have explained to the Bahamian public before advisories are not exceptional for any country. The home governments have an obligation in law to say what they know about the safety and security of visitors to a country they’re visiting.
We can issue similar advisories about Canada and various neighbourhoods in Toronto I am sure. We have done so with regard to the United States, particularly about Miami. After what happened in Orlando what would the Opposition’s spokesman have us do about that and what should we advise Bahamians about travelling to Orlando? I leave the point there, the answer is so obvious.
We all continue to work hard to crack down on crime.
I propose during this intervention to review some of the matters that have become public concerns about the work of the Ministry. Seek to defend the budgetary allocations and the work we are called upon to do.
I think the Ministry has performed well, given the fiscal challenges and difficulties from ordering toilet paper to having to replace a generator and all the bureaucracy and nightmare delays associated with it. There is a creative fight in the bureaucracy over what some consider the over centralization that is occurring which tends toward less efficiency and not more. The struggle continues.
I wish to thank all those who work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration both at home and abroad for their stellar work in the defence of this country. Our team is led by Sheila Carey the Permanent Secretary, Sharon Haylock, the Director General, William Pratt, the Director of Immigration, William Nottage, Senior Policy Advisor on Immigration. They support a political team of me, the Parliamentary Secretary the MP for South Beach who has direct superintendence of the Detention Centre and The MP for South Andros who is the Ambassador to Caricom.
I turn to Foreign Affairs
On 12 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement:
12 June 2016
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its sympathy to the people of the United States and the people of Florida and the city of Orlando, following the murders of 49 people in Orlando. Orlando is a city with which our country has significant trade and familial ties. The state of Florida is also our closest trading partner. In addition there are significant familial ties with Florida. Our offices in Florida will be monitoring events to ensure that Bahamians are afforded the legal protections in the state and in the city. A diplomatic note will be sent expressing the condolences from The Bahamas.
I have since issued a statatement to the British expressing our sorrow and suport following the assassination of a British MP, casued it appears by hatred because of her views in the referendum camapaign now being held in Britain.
I want to thank the MP for Elizabeth for his thoughtful statement delivered in this place last week when he said the following:
Before concluding I want to speak briefly on the recent referendum. I am very disappointed in the results, in the way our people allowed phobias to complicate the issue. The inequalities on the transmission of citizenship are astonishing, and as a country, we are not in good company in this regard when compared to other countries around the world. I fear that we as a country and a people still may not have matured enough to make decisions in isolation for the betterment of the country, to reduce discrimination in the Bahamas. This was a matter of citizenship, nothing else.
During the course of the campaign to amend the constitution, there was a campaign of deceit and misinformation in the country which was perhaps unprecedented.
This was led largely by a group of clergymen who have simply disgraced themselves by the astonishing untruths which they perpetrated during the referendum campaign. It was simply breathtaking.
In a recent statement to the country, the Government was blamed for missteps in the process. I reject that. There can be no remedy for deceit other than truth. The truth was plain to see but instead of the work of God being done, it appears the work of the devil has for the moment succeeded.
While they crow from the rafters from stopping some shadowy hidden agenda, the people who have suffered are women and children, and the people of The Bahamas. They have set us back a generation. Aluta continua.
I have called for them to find Christ and for them to apologize for that campaign of deceit.
I repeat it here today.
They blamed the United Nations. False. They blamed the yes campaigners. False. There is no one to blame really. However, those who first practiced to deceive are now having to engage in tangled web and blame others.
The results of the vote are what they are. However, what concerns me now is the lingering hate which the debate has engendered and this is particularly against the backdrop of what just happened in the United States and the United Kingdom and how words of hate can lead to destructive behavior amongst the mentally ill and ignorant.
People who are preachers should publicly separate themselves from violence and hate.
This is a liberal democracy not a theocracy. It is a secular state: where there is a separation from church and state. Indeed the Judeo Christian tradition is to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that our God’s. You have to be careful how you trust theocracies when after all it was a theocratic power who handed Jesus Christ over to be crucified; they were more interested in temporal power than in saving souls.
I tell the story of the appearance on the radio after I said the preachers must find Christ. After telling them to find Christ, they went into full attack mode. In defending themselves though, Jesus Christ was not mentioned once, not one soul did they seek to save; they not ask one soul to come to Christ. Busy talking about me and bashing me. Not turning the other cheek out straight out bashing.
I say to them their role is to preach the gospel every day and sometimes use words. In other words, you should live the gospel.
The gospel say all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
We have a substantial job to do in this society to separate ourselves from hate and violence. It consumes us too often every day. You will remember that two people were killed in Adderley Street in the Fox Hill community last week. On the day that occurred a voice note went around saying something like this; “Bey! One nigga just put three in Smokie”
There was a survey done at one of our local primary schools, here is the results of that survey:
A sample of 212 students was surveyed from Grades 4.5 and 6 and the following results were produced:
9 per cent of the students had lost a parent. Of that group 70 per cent lost their father and 25 per cent lost their mother.
How did their loved ones die?
11 per cent of murder
12.5 per cent from accidents
52 per cent of the students surveyed and witnessed domestic violence
20 per cent have a parent living in another country
36 per cent experienced separation or divorce
44 per cent had heard a gunshot
35 per cent knows someone who owns a gun
38 per cent have seen a gun
Remember these are students not yet 12 years old.
The violence is caused by a number of other faults.
The lack of social skills for example. One of the coaches at a high school told me the story of how appalled he was listening to a student athlete talk to a potential school coach in the US about a prospect of being given a scholarship opportunity. This what he said to the US coach:
“Ya… you get my numbers right? Just hit me up. Let me know what’s good but I ga be right here”
Our country interrelates with the wider world. We cannot survive without the wider world. Therefore I found the demonizing of the United Nations and other international institutions in the recent campaign to be puerile and just plain silly and ill advised.
As Minister I defend our membership.
Most of our people want to travel to the United States. That is a very legalistic country. The United States exercises extra territorial influence and jurisdiction over many parts of our lives whether we like it or not. It is the United States government that said that rights trump culture. So we can sit here and stew in our own fat or if we want to engage with the wider world, we had better get with the programme.
The US has their responsibilities too. From a foreign affairs perspective, we follow what is going on in the US. The statement indicates that we were concerned about the violence in Orlando because Bahamians frequent that city. We also intervened with public statements in the Black Lives matter campaign because our young Black males go to the United States and if racial prejudice is being expressed in the United States against young Black males, then Bahamian young males ought to be warned and advised.
The US has to resolve the issue of guns and gun trafficking as it wreaks havoc in our societies. I think we have a thoughtful administration in the United States, headed by quiet a thoughtful leader Barak Obama.
Recently he visited Hiroshima, the city which was the object of the first atomic weapon. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said this about that visit in his column 15 June:
“Hiroshima, Obama suggested, represents a world in which for the first time ever a country possessed the power to kill all of us — and if it had to be any country, I am glad it was America. But today, he said, we’re entering a world where small groups — maybe even soon a single super-empowered person — will be able to kill all of us; therefore we’d better start thinking about the moral implications of where technology is taking us.
“Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines,” the president noted. “The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.”
Mr. Friedman goes on:
“And the only thing that can stop them is from the inside: a meaningful mass movement by Muslim governments, clergymen and citizens to delegitimize this behavior. It takes a village and only stops when the village clearly says, “No more!” And that has not happened at the scale and consistency it needs to happen.”
Frank Bruni New York Times 16 June wrote about the fact that there is a responsibility to treat people with respect and dignity, and to acknowledge their existence not treat them as if they don’t exists because you don’t identify with who they are. He said that even the church in Orlando refused to recognize that it was LGBT people who got killed in Orlando.
Here is what he wrote 15 June in the New York Times:
…There were exceptions, including Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., who wrote a blog post in which he conceded that religion, including Catholicism, “often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people,” and that this contempt can lead to violence. Lynch stressed that the Orlando victims “were all made in the image and likeness of God.”
“We teach that,” Lynch wrote. “We should believe that. We must stand for that.”
Peter Bergen New York Times “Why do terrorists commit terrorism?” wrote on 15 June:
“These stories underline how hard it is to satisfactorily answer the question of why terrorists commit heinous crimes. Human motivations are complex. As the philosopher Immanuel Kant observed, “From the crooked timber of humanity not a straight thing was ever made.” It’s a useful reminder to journalists and politicians alike that human beings often defy neat categorization.
Finally, the Editorial New York Times Threat To Gay Americans:
“While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.”
Mr. Speaker what in my respectful view happened in The Bahamas is that a minority was demonized and dehumanized in this country to frighten people into voting against the rights of women.
I say again, that is not something to be proud about because the only ones who will suffer are women and their spouses, their children and men and their spouses. The bills were simply about giving men and women the same rights in the constitution.
You know that the Roman Catholic Archbishop can’t speak to doctrine unless the Pope approves. That institution is also a legalistic institution going back hundreds of years. Episcopal to a fault. The Roman Catholic church in The Bahamas therefore could not support any measure in this country which would support same sex marriage. They are implacably opposed to same sex marriage. Yet the word of the unschooled was preferred to the word of the Catholic Archbishop. Things get curiouser and curiouser.
The extent of the deceit goes further than the errant clergymen. Here was Bran McCartney who claims that he voted because Dame Joan Sawyer said so. With respect, every who is in the know, knows that Dame Joan Sawyer has been overturned by the Privy Council more times than the garbage can outside my yard
The Leader of the DNA Branville McCartney admits that he voted against the bills even though he supports same sex marriage called civil unions. Here is what he told The Tribune 15 June:
“I think people should have rights but that’s a very touchy situation and something I can’t see happening right now, civil unions and gay marriage. For me personally, when it comes to marriage I have a difficulty. But we must always be careful with rights for people.”
“I have many friends who are lesbians and gays. It’s the world we live in. I pray to the Almighty that we exercise tolerance and we don’t put ourselves in the seat of judgment and we are not there to judge anybody. We cannot be judge and jury because they may have a different way of life. We should not discriminate against a person because he is gay.”
So now having done the damage and voted no, he now says mea culpa. We now know that was not the reason at all. The only people though who suffer are not him but the women of our country and their children.
The Leader of the Opposition in this matter was the most remarkable. It can best be described as hiding in the tall grass as soon as the gun was fired.
Let me remind him of the policy of the FNM on these matters.
Here is what Hubert Ingraham had to say on the subject. That statement by the then Prime Minister has not been controverted by any government in this country since then but it certainly has not been controverted by any leader of the FNM since then.
8th March 1998:
“I believe that the hysteria being created by certain individuals against gay persons visiting The Bahamas and who represents themselves as the leadership of the Christian Council, is becoming irresponsible. I believe that the hysteria is, as is usually the case with hysteria, unfounded. It is also un-Christian.
“An individual’s right to privacy is a basic human right cherished by all people. It is a right which citizens of democratic countries expect to be respected by their Government. Quite simply, it is not the role of the Government to investigate and pass judgment on the sexual behavior of consenting adults so long as their activity is conducted in private.
“Whether a private sexual act between consenting adults is homosexual or heterosexual is not my business, and I do not think it is your business either. We cannot, and ought not try, to dictate or to legislate morality. In any event, all past efforts to do so have always failed miserably. A good example is the success of the laws against adultery. Certainly, adultery is a far greater threat to a Bahamian family life today than is homosexuality. Could we build a jail large enough to house all Bahamian adulterers? Could we exclude all other adulterers from tourists welcomed in The Bahamas. Should we exclude them?”
That was Hubert Ingraham.
Fred Mitchell in Trinidad
6 February 2014
Nothing is more contentious than this issue in our politics that I now raise, given the religious aversion, and visceral reactions to discussion of LGBT issues in our region. Some people see it as striking at the very heart and fabric of our cultural identity. The Bahamas is not an exception to that aversion with many people seeing the discussion as a moral and religious one and not a human rights one. My own political career suffers because of my insistence that in this regard like all other aspects of human life, there must be tolerance at a minimum and we must uphold the principle that the general rights for which we fought as being rights for all people, particularly as a formerly enslaved and indentured people, cannot be derogated from because of someone’s sexual orientation. In other words, when the Charter in Article III says:
“States shall, in the discharge of their legislative, executive administrative and judicial functions ensure respect for and protection of the human dignity of every person.”
That in my view means literally every person and not just confined to what Article V says:
“ No person shall be favoured or discriminated against by reason of age, colour, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, place of birth or origin, political opinion, race, religion or social class.”
The Charter is a 1997 document so orientation was not included and perhaps even in today’s atmosphere cannot be included but the conversation has begun and the pressure from other societies with whom we deal is upon us to consider what our stand is on the rights of all people. Do we as a society for example condone violence against people simply because of their sexual orientation? The answer to that must be no. And if the answer is not no to that, then the charter is not worth the paper it is written on.
The Prime Ministers of Barbados Freundel Stuart and Dr. Denzil Douglas of St Christopher and Nevis have begun public discussions of these issues in their societies. The Prime Minister of Barbados even challenged the Anglican Church on the subject at their provincial synod. That was right and just. The Bahamas has decriminalized behavior associated with sexual orientation.
We have available in aid and comfort to any change to amplify the discrimination provision in the Charter, the constitution of South Africa which admits to orientation as one of the named classes for which there can be no discrimination. There are profound changes throughout the United States and Europe our main trading and cultural partners on this issue. It would be unwise to ignore it.
I often find that in drafting solutions to contentious problems that one solution is a generic one. One solution is that the Charter can become justiciable with enforceable rights across the community. Less coercively, it can be open to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final arbiter of Community Law to adjudicate upon the Charter and declare the rights of individuals for any aggrieved individual seeking an opinion from the court declaring his rights and the wording of the provision at Article V can be reworded to read:
“ No person shall be favoured or discriminated against by reason of including but not limited to the following: age, colour, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, place of birth, origin, political opinion, race, religion, social class or some other characteristic which in the opinion of the Court deserves special protection.”
Of course the short way to deal with this is simply to add orientation as one of the listed characteristics. I have no remit to pronounce on that, however and I do not do so.
What is important is that our leaders have already begun the conversation and that conversation should continue. That conversation should be underpinned with the principles of tolerance and the protection of the law for another disadvantaged group.
The late Myles Munroe went ballistic. Never understanding what was being said
Against that backdrop then do I wish to defend Dame Anita Allen in the face of the withering criticism in response to her thoughtful address at the College of the Bahamas. Here is a Judge, doing what judges do all the time and that is in an academic setting to discuss the pertinent legal issues of the day. Her speech was thoughtful and useful. Yet the backlash from the same group now, embarrassed that they find themselves on the wrong side of history.
Here is what the Bahamas Information Services said about her remarks:
“Dame Anita remarked that no provision of the Marriage Act provides that the purpose of marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.
“She said arguably, the laws of The Bahamas do not discriminate on the basis of sex and facilitate not only marriages of every description but also consummation of the same.
“If indeed there is not law which embodies a qualification that parties to an intended marriage must be respectively male and female, then arguably same sex, transgender or inter sex couples could not legally be refused authorization to marry in either a civil or religious ceremony. And if refused, may well be entitled to mandamus ordering the relevant officials to grant them permission to marry,” she said.
There is no reason in law for her to recuse herself from anything. There is no case before her. She has not pronounced any result, nor fettered her discretion, nor is she involved in self-dealing.
The reason I have gone this route is to ask respectfully these preachers to step back from hatred and division and seek to restore love and peace in this society. And they may say they don’t preach hate. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, and the clear intent to is to demonize a minority group for political gain only because you don’t want women to have equal rights. It is the modern equivalent of what led to the death of Thomas Becket when Henry II said: Who will rid me of this bothersome priest” Henry’s men took that as a signal that the King wanted Becket killed and they killed him.
I say to them preach love and not hate.
I implore them to preach love and not hate.
Tolerance and not prejudice.
Support the rights of women.
While in the Dominican Republic last week, I was surprised to find that a member of the LGBT community was in the DR invited by the Organization of American States to represent the civil society of the Bahamas. She made an impassioned plea for tolerance.
She said how people from her community in The Bahamas were being expelled from their parent’s homes, fired from their jobs, stripped of their dignity by constant taunting in school and at work and on the playing field. That the community is paying for a safe house to ensure that people who find themselves expelled or disposed because of their orientation are properly housed. Talked about the stigma associated with obtaining medical treatment from health care professionals in the country because of moral judgments being made.
I understand all of that. But my main concern is that the demonizing of any group of people must stop and the preachers must step back from their hate, intended or not. Martin Luther King said all that counts is the content of your character. The message of hate has gone forth and they must instead preach love. They must find Christ.
I ask myself do these preachers actually look around and see who is in their churches. Do they look to the left and to the right? Do they think that if these people decided to leave their churches they could survive a Sunday service? Probably be no music for church.
I say preach love, not hate.
Mr. Speaker, the MP for Ft. Charlotte sent out a Facebook Message last evening which urged people to protest because he claims that there might be a secret deal to give economic citizenship to Chinese in The Bahamas.
Here is what he said:
We know that the voices of the Bahamian people are powerful, whenever Bahamians decide to use them. However, there is no stronger message to any government than when its citizens decide to act en masse in voice and in deed.
I urge all patriotic and concerned Bahamians to email, message, text or call all PLP members of parliament, especially Prime Minister Christie, and PLP Chairman Bradley B Roberts insisting that the government disclose ALL of the details surrounding the list of DEMANDS put to them by the Chinese investors and the terms of the DEAL they have agreed to sign with those Chinese investors.
The GIVEAWAYS being negotiated include hundreds of economic citizenships, tax exemptions valued in the billions of dollars, thousands of acres of crown land, hundreds of work permits etc. Once PLP government officials hear your outcry, they will be forced to cancel a terribly bad deal that absolutely does not serve our national interest and that our country simply cannot afford.
Do not believe that you can just wait until the general elections to take action. By that time it will be too late. The damage will have already been done. Some of the PLP parliamentarians and groups here on Facebook that you can contact include: Pinewood Pride, Jerome Fitzgerald, Ryan Pinder,Ken Dorsett Southern Shores, Kendal V O Major, Philip Brave Davis, CV Hope Strachan Seabreeze, Plp Women’s-Branch New-Providence, Plp Fox Hill Branch, Arnold Forbes, Michael Darville, Alex Storr, Young Liberals
It has come to the point where these kinds of falsehoods are trotted around lightly. It was started by a talk show host and continues to have currency.
First I intervened just as I did in this statement about prejudice and racism. Instead of joining me in that call, the Opposition’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs said I was being hypocrite because I called them out for being anti-Bahamian. But while he is entitled to that opinion about my words, I only want to know does he condemn racism.
I again urge caution about racism in the public discourse. Money has no colour and the history of this is quite clear, the Chinese investment came here with the welcome mat of Hubert Ingraham of the FNM, the conditions under which they came here were also negotiated by Mr. Ingraham and approved by him.
There is no special magic in Bahamar’s failure. The developer proved he could not manage his business, he failed to pay the bank and the bank foreclosed. The bank is now a mortgagee in possession with a receiver in charge The Bank can sell it to whom they want.
The House will remember that long ago, the Government announced that economic citizenship was not a policy of this administration. That continues to be the policy. In order for that to change, it would require legislation. That is simply not going to happen.
The current law is that you have to reside in The Bahamas for at least 7 years before you can apply for citizenship of the Bahamas. There are a number of ancillary matters which you have to fulfill before you can do so, none of them have to do with how much money you invest in the country. They all have to do with are you in fact a Bahamian in spirit and in truth.
The truth then is there is no truth to the assertion of the MP on the matter of economic citizenship.
Some of the press have asked about the Dominican Republic and the talks with the Government there. The matter of the exchange of gunfire was discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DR. He spoke immediately with the Commandant of their Navy. The navy said that they received a report about the incident from the fishing company concerned and an investigation is underway. Once that investigation is done then the results of the report will be shared with us.
The point I make though is not what the DR does is that we do. We should enforce our laws with strength and vigour. The RBDF has the equipment to do so and the rules of engagement allow them to use weapons when the call for force is necessary.
I want to draw your attention to the section in the report on the passport office. The passport office faces a number of challenges which means there is significant backlog for passports. This is a combination of equipment breakdowns, transition to new equipment, lack of resources and manpower, the demand for the e passport. The wait is now eight weeks. The passport can be expedited with the payment of the 200 dollar fee.
This fee cannot be waived by the minister. The fee can only be waived on the grounds of medical emergency or student returning to school.
Please plan your trips accordingly.
I wish the public to be aware of the issues around US visas. We are concerned about the anecdotal reports of arbitrary and capricious refusals of visas by personnel in the US consular section. The Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot address individual complaints. US Visa decisions are subjective. But we have raised the concern that people who have been traveling all along unimpeded suddenly seem for no obvious reason to fall afoul of their decision making. This has caused us concern. We are in touch with US authorities about these concerns.
I want to issue some advice especially to parents of high school aged athletes. The US Embassy has told us that the rejection rate of applicants from this age group is about fifty percent. It has raised the question in their offices about visa fraud. The problem appears to be that some schools that students are applying for are not acceptable. They have been engaged in practices which appear to violate trafficking in person’s laws. They give students the promise of scholarships and then when the students get there their passports are withheld, the students have to work for their keep, their passports are withdrawn and they are withheld from access to their parents.
We are asking parents to exercise in light of those facts a great degree of caution in promoting the applications of students to these schools in the US.
Before leaving Foreign Affairs, I would point out the allocation for UN Peace Keeping. Last year this was inexplicably not included in the list of payees and we found out mid-year that we owed some 3 million dollars for UN Peacekeeping. The allocation this year is 1.2 million and this is meant to help reduce that bill.
In turning to Immigration, the issue I think is the fact that we got 1.5 million dollars last year for the Budget for repatriation. This year that has been cut to 800,000. We have made it clear that this is insufficient given that we have spent 1.7 million this year and there is every indication that the migrant population is increasing, particularly from Cuba. We have been assured that we will get the money we need and get it expeditiously.
Further, the public should be advised that there is an uptick in the number of Cuban detainees coming through The Bahamas. These people present serious security challenges for the detention centre. We are working with the Cuban authorities to find more effective ways to move them out of The Bahamas and return them home.
I have read the comments of the MP for Elizabeth on the services for work permits and permanent residence. I agree with the complaints. Efforts are being made to streamline the procedures and to make them more transparent. I think that what is required is a substantial increase in the cost of permanent residence in particular and I intend to make recommendations on this shortly.
Finally, I wish to address the people of Fox Hill to whom I shall be asking for their support for the fourth consecutive time.
I think that we have found the resources to substantially complete the Community Centre which has been used by the community since 2007.
I hope that you are happy with my leadership and satisfied that I have done the best I could in trying circumstances to warrant re-election. I have tried to remain in touch.
I will be dedicating the next campaign to the fight for women’s rights. Having seen what happened in the last referendum campaign I am more convinced than ever that there is a need to address this issue. The issue is not just about the legal rights of women but about their self-image and self-esteem. I am concerned that the Euro centric interests are so dominant that it disfigures Black women and this should stop. Young Black girls should know and appreciate their bodies and faces and see them in a positive image and likeness and not try to reach some ideal which does not exist and which is harmful to their self-esteem and this includes their hair.
I say this against the backdrop of the work which women do in the politics of our country. Like the church, the politics of the country could not survive without the work and support of women. I pledge the remainder of my public life in that fight.
At the same time, I am concerned that the little boys and young men in Fox Hill should be taught their role as protectors and keepers of the peace, not to create havoc and war.
This must start when the children are in primary school. That is why so many of the resources of the state are spent on primary school education. We still need at Sandilands Primary a pre-school. This is a priority for me. Education generally is the key to forward progress. I thank my colleague the Minister of Education for all the support given to the three schools n Fox Hill Doris Johnson, L W Young and Sandilands Primary. The three principals James Clarke, Janet Nixon and Esther Cartwright.
I single out Mrs. Nixon who will with the close of the school year end 45 years as an educator, the last 7 of them as Principal of the LW Young School. I thank her for her leadership and I wish her well in her future endeavours.
I dedicate all that I do to find work for young men and women who bear the brunt of unemployment. I dedicate my every working hour to addressing this problem.
It is left only for me to say God Bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I will support these Budget resolutions.
I now lay the report on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.