Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie
Prime Minister and PLP Party Leader
Carmichael, Southern Shores, Golden Isles
Joint Branch Meeting
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Are you with me tonight?!
Carmichael, Southern Shores, Golden Isles –
It is good to see all of you!
When I see you, I can see for myself you are getting battle-ready!
I see you suiting up – ready to fight, ready to WIN because this battle matters – it matters to all of us, to our children, to our communities, our future.
This battle is about deciding whether we are going to go forward or turn the clock back – and Carmichael…Southern Shores…Golden Isles…we cannot turn that clock back!
Tonight I get to do something I love to do – and that is show off the strength of the PLP team – a team with energy and expertise and smarts – a team that works together to move the country forward.
And it’s a real team, not like the other guys. You know our opponents over there, they’re trying to get together and smile for those cameras now, but after all they have said about each other, and done to each other, all the scandals and the resignations and the back-stabbing – a new calamity every day — that over there, that ain’t a team, that’s a straight-up dysfunctional disaster.
That makes me prouder than ever of my team – of hard-working, talented leaders like Ken Dorsett, Michael Halkitis and Keith Bell.
Because PLPs, it has been together, as a team, and as a people, that we have faced down so many obstacles.
When we came in 2012:
– the economy was in shambles
– the debts were piled high
– there were no new investments in our economy
– education and training were terribly underfunded
– there was no plan on the horizon to improve health care or health insurance
– and our borders were not protected.
And friends – today — in so many ways — our country is better, stronger, and standing tall.
I want you to know something – and this is important — I see all the people who still need help. I see all the places where change hasn’t come fast enough. I know too many of our families are still hurting.
But I also know that many of the changes we put in place ARE starting to make a big difference.
For the students who are receiving scholarships – did you know we doubled our nation’s investment in scholarships? – things are changing.
For the thousands of Bahamians who have received training at the National Training Institute, things are changing.
For the fishermen who say that for the first time this country is doing a good job against foreign poachers, things are changing.
For the children with special needs who finally have a school dedicated to their education, things are changing.
And when the lives of our young people and our workers and our entrepreneurs change, our country starts to change.
If you know your history, you know that it is under the PLP that big things happen. Everything we do builds on the values and the achievements of the PLPs who came before us.
One PLP generation created National Insurance, now we are beginning National Health Insurance.
Pindling’s generation founded The College of The Bahamas, and now we have moved forward, with the University of The Bahamas.
Pindling’s generation made it a priority to support Bahamian athletes and students, and now, under this government, we have new athletic stadiums that were designed by Bahamian architects, built by Bahamian engineers and Bahamian workers, owned by Bahamians, with beautiful new facilities that will support a new generation of Bahamian students and athletes.
So that’s what this is all about – that’s why we’re all here tonight – because politics isn’t about the name-calling and the back-and-forth and the noise – it’s about all of us, together, and the kind of country we want to build.
And if you’re going to build a better country and a brighter future, you better have incredible leaders by your side.
Southern Shores, you know who I’m talking about!
Ken Dorsett – he’s been by your side, fighting for you, and at the same time, doing the Lord’s work protecting our country’s beautiful land and water resources.
Did you know, that working together, we expanded the marine protected areas in our country from 2 million acres to 13 million acres?
We all know how important that is – not just to us now, but to our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren.
And Ken Dorsett oversaw a new National Energy Policy, which means more and more of our energy will come from renewable resources, and established a Youth Environmental Corps, and
amended the Electricity Act to provide for solar electricity.
When problems arise, and they always do, in this complicated business called life, Dorsett is in there – with his sleeves rolled up, working hard to move things forward and get the best results for Bahamians.
He knows that national development and growth and prosperity must go hand in hand with protecting our natural resources.
Let’s talk about the economy, Golden Isles! Because Michael Halkitis, your Member of Parliament, is my trusted Minister of State. He oversaw a seamless transition to VAT, which is fairer than the old system, and has allowed us to lower customs duties on more than 100 items.
You know, the FNM knew that putting the country on stable fiscal footing required VAT – they admitted as much — but they didn’t have the courage or the expertise to get it done. But if you have someone like Michael Halkitis on your team, you CAN do big things, and in our country and in the region, Bahamians and neighbors alike have praised how smoothly and efficiently our country has made this change.
When you stabilize your finances, you can do the things that matter to people – you can put in place something big like the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, which is now reviving Bahamian agriculture, creating new opportunities for Bahamian scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs, and replacing foreign imports with produce grown by Bahamians.
Buy Bahamian, PLPs! Show your pride!
Carmichael, I’m looking at you now – because you have a new candidate – and we are all lucky that it’s a man like Keith Bell. You know, his reputation on the force is that he’s the first through the door – not afraid of anyone or anything.
That’s just the kind of hard-charging approach we need to tackle our country’s biggest problems.
In the battle against crime, we cannot let up, and we have to fight on every front. We have:
– recruited and trained hundreds of new police officers
– built four new criminal courts
– doubled the conviction rate against criminals
– reduced the number of violent criminals who are granted bail
– and provided new protections for witnesses and jurors.
We are better protecting our borders from drugs and gangs with hundreds of new Defence Force officers, a new fleet, new bases and new technology for the Defence Force.
When you are talking about something like crime, you never rest, you never let up, and you keep bringing new tools to the fight. The data clearly shows that despite the terrible problems we have with gang shootings, overall crime IS down. The new investments and programs ARE starting to work. And we have to keep working, too, until every home and every street and every community is truly safe.
That’s why while we expand programmes we know make a difference, like Urban Renewal, we also bring new innovations to the table, like a new anti-gang unit, and a new Save Our Boys initiative.
Fighting crime and violence demands more from all of us –
We can build new courts, but we need you to serve as jurors and witnesses.
We can improve our schools, but we need parents to offer stable and loving homes.
We can add police officers to the streets, but nothing beats neighbors who look out for each other.
We have to be partners in building this country!
Changes are happening, the path is clear, and that’s why I don’t want you to only think about HOW the PLP can win – but WHY –
The PLP must win because it’s our party that invests in people, that moves the country forward, that creates new industries and new opportunities.
The PLP needs to win because we can’t afford to go back to an FNM that doesn’t care about you:
– an FNM that underfunds education and training;
– an FNM that ran up massive debts while creating no new investments;
– an FNM that gives its own Cabinet ministers big government contracts;
– an FNM that went $100 million overbudget on the roads and put Bahamians out of business while they did so.
And we sure can’t go back to an FNM that stops and cancels programs and policies that are working just out of political spite!
The PLP needs to win because we have come so far, but there are many bridges left to cross!
The PLP needs to win because the alternative is a party that is so divided and so weak that they will wreck the county, just run it aground.
The PLP needs to win because the courage and the dreams of our forefathers still calls out to us – they began this work, and we must continue it!
So I need you now – our faithful supporters, our troops on the ground, our trusted friends – to ready yourselves for an epic battle. If we win – this country will continue to move forward.
So I ask again – Are you with me tonight?
Can we count on Carmichael staying with the PLP?
How about Southern Shores?
Will Golden Isles stay Gold?
I need you battle ready and committed!
Can we do it together? Can we move this country forward together?
Well let me hear the battle cry then! … PLP! PLP! PLP!