FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — The Progessive Liberal Party held a mass rally at PLP House in Freeport on Friday, March 19th. Below, find remarks by Shane Gibson, Fred Mitchell, Ryan Pinder, and Philip ‘Brave’ Davis.
Remarks in Grand Bahama PLP Rally D. Shane Gibson Member of Parliament Golden Gates:
Mr. Party leader and Mrs. Christie, Mr. Deputy leader and Mrs. Davis, Mr. Chairman and Mrs. Roberts, Parliamentarians, party supporters and fellow Bahamians good evening.
I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to be here tonight to share with you at a very pivotal time in the History of The Bahamas and more so in Grand Bahama. A song writer penned and sang a song many years ago “you are always on my mind”, and Grand Bahama you know from my many contributions that I have made Parliament you are always on my mind.
It breaks my heart to see these shameless FNM representatives here in Grand Bahama, day after day allowing this island to deteriorate to the position that it is in now. To think that this was once known know as FNM country, and to see the way you have been treated, no wonder why today Grand Bahama is known as PLP country. The question is asked day in and day out, what is the FNM doing to improve and expand the economy of The Bahamas and in particular the economy of Grand Bahama. The resounding answer is absolutely nothing. They are at their best in their minds, when they criticize the PLP. Some of them have become known only because they continue to attack Shane Gibson and the work he has done in housing, which is clear that without mentioning my name, they would have nothing of substance to say.
They have become Pro’s at finishing off projects we started and useless at initiating projects on their own. Their claim to fame is now, the PLP started it, but they had to finish it. Well if we start a project and their lies and deceptions got us voted out of office and they become the Government, is it not their duty to complete those projects? Then again they could not even do that right, as they foolishly stop reviewed and cancelled too many contracts.
Then they have the nerve to be jet setting all over the place spreading their teeth with smiles as big as their egos opening projects started by the PLP, while pretending that the projects are theirs.
Bakers Bay, Albany, Baha Mar, Anatol Rodgers school, TG Glover school, Straw Market and LPIA, all started by the PLP. All they did was stopped some, added a comma here, or a full stop there, then claimed it as theirs.
Then after treating Grand Bahama so badly, they are trying to hide it from the rest of The Bahamas by downsizing the staff at Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas northern service and canceling the nightly newscast, and who did they get to lead this charge of downsizing, Michael Moss, Kenneth Russell, Laing, Kwaisi Thompson, Verna Grant and Neiko Grant. All Grand Bahamians. They should all hang their heads in shame.
Then while Grand Bahama is suffering from the highest unemployment numbers in its history, these MP’s are riding around in their air conditioned cars with their windows rolled up and cell phones to their ears pretending that all is well on the island. Well Grand Bahama, you have a chance and the power to make wrong right, you have a chance and the power to do to them what they are doing to you, you have a chance and the power to pay them back. You have a chance and the power to show them who the boss is. You the people…YOU are da boss, YOU hire and YOU fire.
I want you to look carefully at what is going on here, this clueless and spiteful Government comes into power complaining about what the PLP did or did not do and in their usual hypocrisy they do worst than what they complained about. They cancelled the contract of the Heritage school because they said that Mcdonald’s bid was too low, but they gave Fletcher Mcintosh an extra one million dollars when they claimed that his contract was too low. Notice the trend, FES is able to get all of the Government’s major contracts here in Grand Bahama and they don’t see a problem with that. I guess FES must be the only contractor qualified to handle large Government contracts.
Then you have those heartless Government Ministers who sit idly by watching the customs department suffocate the businesses of an already failed economy by placing unreasonable demands on them at a time when they should be given a grace period to get their affairs in order. It seems to me and to many others that between this Government’s neglect of Grand Bahama and Customs Department squeeze on Grand Bahama, they are both hell bent on bringing business in Grand Bahama to a screeching halt.
The Immigration Bahamianization policy needs to be fine tuned to make it more relevant to today’s realities.
Perhaps potential employers wanting to hire persons in certain disciplines can be required to advertise not only in the papers but also on special notice boards set up on Cable Bahamas and ZNS as was previously done through the Labour Report that was discontinued due to ZNS and Cable Bahamas requiring payment for such notices.
Perhaps both entities can be encouraged to provide the service as a community service especially during these tough economic times.
Foreign managers being required to supervise Bahamians should be required to undergo a mandatory orientation, short course as to the cultural nuances of The Bahamas; We can use cultural GURUS such as James Catalyn and Arlene Nash and others to put on short courses for these persons so that they could be prepared to work in The Bahamian Workplaces.
We are one of the few countries that don’t have such a program for expatriates and this contributes to many of the industrial dispute problems we face especially in the Hotel and industrial sectors of our economy.
We need to put in place social safety nets for workers as well. Many companies are closing without any provisions being put in place for workers to receive their severance packages.
Having laws is one thing but ensuring that employers put in place a safety net for workers should they have to close their doors suddenly is extremely important.
The closures of the Royal Oasis, the Gladstone Farms and more recently the Rick Hayward restaurants in Grand Bahama all speak to the need to have a safety net that protects the severance packages of workers to guarantee that the monies will be in place to pay them their packages should (God forbid) any business have to close its doors suddenly, and there can be any number of reasons why closures can happen suddenly, fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. There is currently no protection in the statutes for workers in those categories, as was the case in Bimini with the burning down of the Complete Angler, there the workers went to the Tribunal but they got nothing because the court ruled that the fire was an act of God.
Mandatory pension plans must be put in place as soon as economic circumstances improve.
The employment act needs to be overhauled. Notice pay and severance pay need to be more clearly defined.
The definition of unfair dismissal needs to be broadened to include dismissal of persons engaged in jury duty, sick leave and family leave. Provisions need to be adjusted to reflect modern realities.
I DAVID SHANE GIBSON tonight recommit myself to working on your behalf through this great party of ours The Progressive Liberal Party. Whenever I am called upon to engage in this battle, I will advance forward and my name is depicted in the Bible in the David and Goliath story.
Remarks by Fox Hill MP Fred MItchell:
It is an honour and a privilege to be with you tonight as we continue on the march to victory in the general election.
Hubert Ingraham is a big bluffer. Now that he has heard that some of his Members of Parliament may be wavering, that some of his party members do not think that it’s a good idea to sell BTC, he is threatening to call elections.
This is part of being a bully. You try to threaten your opponents. URCA is now threatening GEMS radio and Steve McKinney. This is the same agency that is supposed to be independent but which the Prime Minister said he would direct to stop hiring foreigners. So did he direct URCA to interfere with Steve McKinney and GEMS Radio? We say to Steve McKinney, we are with you my brother : stand firm. Say no to the national bully. Still stand.
And so we ask tonight, did a politician direct Customs to raid Andy Schaefer at Robin Hood and jeopardize 300 jobs because he too dared to speak up?
So Hubert Ingraham, don’t bluff me about elections. I say bring it on my friend. Call the elections. We ready now. Don’t bluff. Just do it.
You will remember that our Party leader at the last meeting that the party held in Nassau on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday told Hubert Ingraham that he does not have the mandate to sell BTC. The only thing he can do in the circumstances is to call a general election. The leader said call them sooner rather than later.
So I want to echo that tonight. Don’t bluff. You are so bad and biggetty: call the elections. Let’s rumble. May the best party win. I know that tonight more than ever the country needs the PLP.
I intend to vote no when the vote comes in the House on BTC along with all of my PLP colleagues. I urge all FNM MPs and Senators to join us and vote no. I support the call for a division when the vote comes so that each and every Bahamian will know who voted to sell out their country next week.
I want to address some matters local to Grand Bahama.
When we were last here, we came shortly after the 200 people were fired from Our Lucaya. Following those dismissals, the Minister of Labour came to Grand Bahama and announced a number of measures. It has been some time now, and the question is, have those things that he announced worked? Was he speaking the truth when he announced them?
I have heard from some former employees of the company about what the Minister of Labour has announced and they say that his assistance has largely been a failure. The FNM has misled the country and the people of Grand Bahama on what has been done for the workers of Our Lucaya.
First, all employees now know that the unemployment benefit was not a new benefit but the same benefit that had been in place prior to the layoffs. So that was nothing new. What they did not tell employees was that they will not get the unemployment benefit until their severance pay has run out. So if you get nine months termination pay, you don’t get any unemployment benefit until that nine months has expired.
Secondly, this is a great problem because in many cases people owe their mortgages and car payments. So when their termination money was paid, the banks immediately took all of the money. So the result was that there is no cash in your hand, you have no job and you cannot collect unemployment. So you are immediately at the mercy of the Department of Social Services.
Thirdly, the Minister said that those workers who wanted training for new jobs and positions could get that training at the College of The Bahamas and BTVI . One thing though, when some of the former workers went to BTVI and COB, those institutions did not know what the people were talking about. COB and BTVI read about it the newspaper like you and me. The Minister forgot to tell BTVI and COB.
This is typical of FNM propaganda, just say anything to get rid of you and then worry about the details later.
Fourthly, there was no proper advice on how to spend the money that the former employees got. Those who managed to get some money from the mortgage man got no proper advice. The complained that the way things were set up at the special sessions organized by the Minister, it did not allow for sufficient privacy for people to feel comfortable about expressing their anxieties and concerns. Again, not thinking things through properly, simply rushing for propaganda purposes.
Fifthly, there was the promise of jobs at Sandals in Exuma and Bimini Bay in Bimini. Now the people in Bimini and Exuma found this most interesting. They cannot get jobs in Bimini and Exuma but people from Grand Bahama were being told to come to those islands to get jobs. Well of course it’s the Bahamas so you can go anywhere but the point the people in Exuma and Bimini are making is that as far as they knew there were no jobs to be had in those islands either.
And I found it surprising because in Bimini, Bimini Bay has announced that they themselves had laid off people from their employ.
I am advised that four people have taken up positions in Bimini of the 200 that were fired from Our Lucaya. Exuma is a difficult proposition. One is because Sandals has a reputation for being a difficult employer, and is in a wage dispute with the residents of Exuma. The other issue is that to move to Exuma or Bimini you face the prospect of travel expenses, room and board, all of which make the money that you get paid fritter away. So the worker in Grand Bahama has to ask him or herself, is it worth it to move?
Lastly, the question still remains: was the layoff done in accordance with the provisions of the contract of employment with the trade unions.
Tonight then, I want to repeat what our leader said when he was here last week. We love this city. We cannot afford to see it fail. We intend to keep the government’s feet to the fire in order to save this city. We say that it is incredible that you have five FNM MPs, three of whom are Cabinet ministers and not one peep from them in the midst of this crisis in Grand Bahama.
That should tell the people of Freeport something.
So as I leave you tonight, I end where I began to Hubert Ingraham, don’t bluff us about elections. Bring it on and let’s rumble.
PLP all the way!
Remarks by L. Ryan Pinder, Elizabeth MP: Mr. Party Leader, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Mr. Deputy, Hon. Brave Davis and Mrs. Davis, Our Chairman, Officers and Members of the great Progressive Liberal Party here in Grand Bahama. Good Evening!
This evening, we are here in Grand Bahama, and I don’t have to tell you how bad things are, the suffering Bahamians are going through, the suffering Grand Bahamians are going through. See, a Government who is more concerned about things and not people is a failed Government, a Government that concentrates on the special interest and not every Bahamian. The Prime Minister might be a fighter, but he isn’t fighting for you. The FNM is a failed government which has branded their legacy – they say The Bahamas is Moving in a New Direction under and FNM Government. I say, yes, they are right, the Bahamas and Bahamians have never experienced the pain and suffering like they are doing now. The Bahamas has moved in a new direction, that direction is backwards.
FNM Self-Proclaimed Legacy
The FNM say talking fool is a dangerous thing. I agree, I tell the Prime Minister and his band of jesters, stop talking fool and be real with the Bahamian people. The FNM claim that they have produced more opportunities and jobs for Bahamians – I ask you Grand Bahama, how many jobs has this FNM produced for you? We have record unemployment in the country, and more and more jobs are being lost every day. Yes, talking fool is a dangerous thing FNM.
The FNM Government claim they have provided expanded social protection. If this Government had not failed the Bahamian people, expanded social services would not be required. By creating an environment where more are unemployed, businesses are going out of business, expanded social services is needed for many just to survive. If this Government had the ability to truly provide opportunities and empowerment for all Bahamians, expanded social protection would not be required. Yes, talking fool is a dangerous thing.
The FNM Government claims they are transforming the nation’s infrastructure. Taking pride in things and not people is nothing to be proud of. You can build a new road, but if you can’t afford to put gas in your car, that road does you no good. A compassionate government would be more about people than things, a PLP government will be more about people. Yes, tell this FNM Government, talking fool is a dangerous thing.
This FNM Government is taking pride in the better delivery of government services. What services could they be talking about? Will this FNM Government ever understand, the people are hurting, Bahamians are crying out for opportunity and empowerment but the FNM is not listening, they think everything is A OK. This kind of talking fool is indeed a dangerous thing. This is a time for serious reform, serious Government, serious plans. This FNM Government needs to wake up to the reality of the Bahamas in which we live. Let us show this FNM Government, talking fool is a dangerous thing.
Lastly this FNM Government is bragging about enhancing national security. I ask, are they just blind, are they out of touch with reality? Year after year we experience increased crime, record murders and violent crime. Bahamians are living in fear. This FNM Government has failed Bahamians in reversing successful and effective crime prevention strategies of the PLP such as Urban Renewal, all at the expense of the Bahamian people. Where are the progressive national security policies of this Government, there are none. Tommy Turnquest, talking fool is a dangerous thing.
If this is their platform, if this is their legacy, they have nothing to be proud of. If they are judged on their record, it ain’t long now.
The Progressive Liberal Party will be the next government of the Bahamas, and Perry Gladstone Christie, the next Prime Minister of the Bahamas and we are prepared to govern so as to empower all Bahamians, prepared to lift this country up and ensure that all Bahamians share in the economy of the Bahamas. The PLP team, the next Government of the Bahamas will bring hope to those who feel hopeless, bring policies for the people, and not merely things. Let us be clear about on thing, a PLP Government is for the people, for all the people, a distinct difference from what we see today from the FNM.
Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t believe political rhetoric should be the order of the say but sound plans and programs which you will find at the core of the PLP’s message in this election! We have no bag like Papa, but we will have a message of Peace Love and Prosperity for all!!! We are committed to a National Economic Plans which will create not just jobs, but careers and expand our economy and empower all Bahamians. And in doing so, you can rest assured, we have a special place for Grand Bahama. In our plans for economic empowerment, Grand Bahama will have a special place. For too long you have been neglected. The type of empowerment we believe in is a belief in what the Bahamas could be if its government shared the priorities of the people and believed in their ability to create and innovate and own. A PLP Government will support education and entrepreneurs, home ownership and a future. With our current candidates in Obie Wilchcombe, Greg Moss, and Dr. Michael Darville, you have inspiration, you have hope, you have a future you can depend on.
Before I close, I want to speak about a young man, a student at the College of the Bahamas I met today. He is from Freeport, an independent voter. He expressed his shock that there has not been a clear vision for the advancement and empowerment of Grand Bahamians and the economy of Freeport. With 5 MPs, and 3 Cabinet Ministers, no vision has been put forth. I reassured him, the PLP has a plan, a dynamic plan where Freeport will serve as an international hub of trade. It requires investment, dedication and commitment, but it’s a good plan, and under the PLP Government, it will happen. So I want to speak to him, and all of you out there, Hope has arrived to Grand Bahama in the form of the Progressive Liberal Party. We will restore your hope, when you feel hopeless.
PLP!!! PLP!!! PLP!!!
Remarks By Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis: Ohhhhhhh look at the People!!! Grand Bahama We ARE READY NOW!!! Mr. Party Leader, Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and Mrs. Christie…Parliamentary Colleagues and Bahamians all across the country and around the world…Goodnight!
Grand Bahama! Tonight I must confess that I stand here with a heavy heart! I am burdened by the suffering that you have been facing! My mind is consumed with your concerns…your pains…your strife! Since I was here last, 200 more Grand Bahamians lost their jobs. These Bahamians were more than likely the sole breadwinners of their homes. They provided the means by which their entire family ate. Now their jobs are gone. The pain and suffering has gone up higher!
In the face of the economic challenges that Grand Bahama is experiencing I would expect a good Bahamian government to do ALL in its power to ease the suffering of its people! I would expect a good Bahamian government to redirect the tax revenues that it collects from Grand Bahama to the people of Grand Bahama! I would expect a good Bahamian government to partner with the GBPA; not to antagonize them! I would expect a good Bahamian government to sit down with the business community and work with them to find ways to preserve jobs and lower the cost to consumers! I would expect a good Bahamian government to assist laid-off workers to use this time to re-tool and re-train!
This corrupt government that cares more about greasing the palms of its rich supporters has done absolutely nothing. They have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from Grand Bahama and have given nothing back! Where are the social outreach programs? Where are the disbursements for housing, utility and food allowances? Where is the hand that will help you to stand on your own feet? Where is the plan to bring relief to Grand Bahama? When I was here last I told you about the windfall the government is set to receive in taxes from the BORCO sale. How much of that will make it back to Grand Bahamians? Didn’t Papa say, “WE GAT THE MONEY?”
On top of that, during the FNM government’s term they have done little to work with the Grand Bahama Port Authority. At one point, Papa even got into a war of words with Sir Jack! Did this war help or hurt Grand Bahamians? Grand Bahama these are serious times and serious times call for serious leaders! This is no time to be playing politics! This is no time to hold grudges. This is no time to allow your personal feelings to get in the way of the survival of our people! This is no time to lose your head. This is certainly no time to be reckless!
You can’t bad mouth a business person Wednesday afternoon, saying that, “He is not good for the Bahamas”, claiming that they should not have been allowed to have a business and then THAT SAME NIGHT, Customs raids that business and expect people not to think that it was planned! That is stupid! It is the action of a man that is clearly drunk with power! He should be thrown out of the door! Put outside the house and sent away packing; Grand Bahama…VOTE THEM OUT!
We need serious leaders; leaders who care more about people than they do themselves! Leaders who are more loyal to their country than they are to their Party! Leaders who believe in the people!
The FNM asked the voters of the Bahamas to trust them. They campaigned on trust – A Matter of Trust. It appears that the voters did trust them. Trust however works both ways. How can you trust someone who doesn’t trust you? They do not trust you to:
Run BTC, Head URCA, Head HR at URCA, To Be the Director of Works, To be President of COB, To Head the Department of Public Prosecutions or Build roads.
A matter of trust they say? TRUST MY FOOT! Auntie in Cat Island Always use to tell us, Boy, ya can’t TRUST a LIAR! Grand Bahama…VOTE THEM OUT!
People now often like to say there is no difference between us in the PLP and them fellas in the FNM. They like to say that we have more in common than apart. There is a difference though and a mighty strong one at that!
– The PLP believes in the Bahamian people! – The PLP believes in people over things! We believe in education over roads and in Bahamianization over garage sales! This you can count on! This you can take to the Bank! This you can set your clock to: Perry G. Christie and the PLP care about you! Our Party always puts ordinary Bahamians first! We will always listen when you speak!
All this foolishness that the government has done would have never happened on our watch! Not a day like it!
A PLP government would NOT have fired ZNS workers and civil servants during a recession! We would not be about the business of shutting off the electricity of thousands; so school children cannot do their homework. A PLP government would NOT cut funding to the Loan Scholarship Scheme yet spend over $200 Million dollars on roads! A PLP government would NOT have raised taxes on the poor and then give concessions to the rich! A PLP government would NOT hurt farmers and slash the grants like the FNM did to farmers all over the country! A PLP government would never kill the middle class and ignore the cries and the pleas of the people! A PLP government would NOT have done these things because of its central belief: A GOVERNMENT MUST SUPPORT THE PEOPLE!
A government is supposed to help you when you getting mash up! It ain’t supposed to mash you up more! A government is supposed to give its people first opportunity; not deny them in favour of foreigners! This is what separates us from them! We are for Bahamians! Bahamians first!
Grand Bahama…I SAY VOTE THEM OUT!
As I close tonight, I want to say one last thing to you. Grand Bahama…listen carefully. There are moments in the life of a country that go on to define it for years to come. There are single moments in time that forever shape the future. Our moment is NOW! We are facing what is perhaps the most important fight since Majority Rule and Independence! We are fighting to maintain control of this country and economy for Bahamians!
This is our moment Grand Bahama! This is our time to act! We need you to save our Bahamas for the next generation of Bahamians! This is a movement Grand Bahama that is beyond PLP vs. FNM, race colour or creed. This is a battle as Sir Lynden once said, “For the soul of our Nation!
Join us! Come with us! Go to out and register to VOTE! BE BRAVE GRAND BAHAMA! Show them this is now PLP COUNTRY!!!!
Vote for your future! Vote for your country! Vote for your children! Vote PLP!