Sunday, October 30, 2011

The marriage of politics and crime in The Bahamas is a long standing one shrouded in silence

Gangster’s Paradise Part 1

By Ian G. Strachan

Crime and the political class

There is no greater problem facing The Bahamas, as far as the average Bahamian is concerned, than violent crime.  Unfortunately, violent crime is itself merely a manifestation, a symptom of deeper problems, troubling weaknesses in our systems, institutions, communities, families, psyches.  Some of the weaknesses are beyond our control – such as our size, our geographical fragmentation and proximity to the largest consumer society in the world.  Others exist because of our own neglect, incompetence, complicity, fear and ignorance.

It seems sometimes as if we want with all our hearts to do away with the shameful symptoms of our disease: Murder, rape, armed robbery, as if these were ugly, painful lesions on a pretty face, but we have no matching zeal to cure ourselves of the disease that lurks deep within, creating these conspicuous eruptions.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the vexing matter of crime in The Bahamas.  We will try to be guided by the research and considered thoughts of those who have already dedicated time and effort to these problems (because I have no interest in re-inventing the wheel).

Where we are

First, let us put our current situation in The Bahamas in perspective – regional perspective.  Here, we are alarmed at our murder rate.  I don’t wish to say that the alarm is misplaced, but I’d like to look at the murder rate for a moment as a regional phenomenon.  Where do we stack up?  In 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trinidad and Tobago had 472 murders or 35 per 100,000 people.  The Dominican Republic had 2,472 murders or 24 per 100,000.  St. Lucia had 44 or 25.2 per 100,000.  Puerto Rico had 983 murders or 26 per 100,000.  Jamaica had 1,428 or 52 per 100,000; Dominica 15 or 22 per 100,000 and The Bahamas 96, or 28 per 100,000 people.  (Police now say we only had 94 in 2010.)

The Caribbean nation most like our own demographically and historically, Barbados, had 31 murders in 2010.  By comparison, the U.S. had five murders per 100,000 people, Canada had 1.8 per 100,000 people, Japan and Singapore had 0.5 murders per 100,000 people and Germany 0.8 per 100,000.  You can see then that as a region we are recording very high murder rates compared to the industrialized countries.  In fact, the Caribbean has many of the highest murder rates in the world.  I could not find murder rates higher than The Bahamas’ anywhere outside of the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.  Before this series is done I shall have discussed that phenomenon with some of our criminologists and sociologists.

Crime is much, much broader than murder, as we know, but murder captures everyone’s attention because it is the most serious, most shocking of crimes.  A 2007 World Bank report on crime and its impact on development in the Caribbean noted that: “The high rates of crime and violence in the region have both direct effects on human welfare in the short-run and longer run effects on economic growth and social development.”

That should sober us.  Crime and violence have deep seated economic impacts.  The report also noted that “the strongest explanation for the relatively high rates of crime and violence rates in the region – and their apparent rise in recent years – is narcotics trafficking.”

The drug trade drives crime in a number of ways: Through violence tied to trafficking, by normalizing illegal behavior, by diverting criminal justice resources from other activities, by provoking property crime related to addiction, by contributing to the widespread availability of firearms, and by undermining and corrupting societal institutions.

Perhaps most importantly, the report warned that in trying to reduce crime, violent crime especially, “There is no one ‘ideal’ approach.  The common denominator is that successful interventions are evidence-based, starting with a clear diagnostic about types of violence and risk factors, and ending with a careful evaluation of the intervention’s impact which will inform future actions.”

Whose side are the legislators on?

Over the next few weeks we’ll discuss a variety of crime fighting strategies available to us in this country.  But I wish to begin by discussing the role lawmakers and aspiring lawmakers have played in sanctioning, enabling and rewarding criminality in this country.  To put it bluntly, our politicians must choose sides: Either they are on the side of those who are accused of committing crimes or they are on the side of the rest of society.  They should no longer be able to have it both ways.  What do I mean?

We have sitting members of our Parliament and men aspiring to sit there, who have represented and continue to represent, accused drug dealers, accused rapists, accused operators of illegal gambling houses, accused murderers.  I distinctly remember interviewing a very accomplished politician once, a man at the center of many of the nation’s most important political events of the last 50 years.  This gentleman boasted to me of the number of accused murderers he had gotten off (it was close to 30 if I recall correctly).  His intention was to convince me of his legal prowess.  Instead I was chilled at the thought that this legislator, this champion of our democratic achievements, had also possibly had a hand in freeing nearly 30 cold-blooded murderers.  Someone’s got to do that job; I understand that.  But I cannot accept that it must be my elected representatives.

I have mentioned on a number of occasions the troubling fact that the Member for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, and now deputy leader of the PLP, Philip “Brave” Davis, was the lawyer for the most wanted drug trafficker in this country, Samuel “Ninety” Knowles.  But Davis is not special, nor is he unique.  We simply happen to remember the name of his most famous client.  What about Carl Bethel, Desmond Bannister, Dion Foulkes, Alfred Sears, Glenys Hanna-Martin, Branville McCartney, Damien Gomez, Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Wayne Munroe?  Who have they defended over the course of their careers?  How many people accused of violent crime, or of brazenly flouting our laws, have they defended for a handsome fee?

These men and women will no doubt defend themselves by insisting they are not doing anything that is contrary to the rules of our Westminster system.  They will no doubt ask why they should be singled out and denied a living while physicians, accountants, engineers, businessmen are allowed to conduct their affairs and are subject to no such criticism if they serve or aspire to serve in Parliament.

I believe all MPs should be full time and should not be allowed to work for anybody else while they serve the people, first of all.  But that aside, the practice of law must in my view be treated differently, since the business of the parliamentarian is to create laws.  Doctors make a living making people sick (they’re not supposed to anyway).  But the criminal defense attorney makes a living helping men and women evade punishment who are, in the considered opinion of police, guilty of violent crimes.  I repeat:  Someone’s got to do it.  But if you do, how dare you then ask me to make you attorney general, or minister of this or that, or member of Parliament.  And how dare you give speeches about how you feel for suffering victims.  What kind of country is this?

What is the message you send to the street thug, the murderer, the drug lord, the rapist, the arm marauder, or to the impressionable admirer of such people, or to the victims of such people, when you choose to represent them before the courts and potentially help guilty men escape justice – not just before you run for political office, but while you hold such an office?  Yes, we are all innocent until proven guilty, but with 1,000 lawyers, I think it is safe to say that criminals won’t have too much trouble finding legal representation.

The 41 men and women who sit in the lower house and those who sit in the Senate should be people who have spent their whole careers defending and building us up, not defending and assisting those who are tearing us down.

The marriage of politics and crime

There’s more.  The marriage of politics and crime is a long standing one shrouded in silence.  Remember the 1967 Commission of Inquiry into the connections between organized crime in the U.S., casinos and the Bahamian government?  Remember the 1984 Commission of Inquiry into drug trafficking and governmental corruption?  How many arrests and incarcerations of Bahamian politicians on charges of corruption have occurred in the last 50 years? What has become of the so-called investigation into the handling of Crown Land for instance?

And what connection has existed between politics and the numbers business?  How far back does that connection go?  To the very heyday of the majority rule struggle?  And how many politicians, FNM and PLP, walk the streets campaigning with accused criminals on bail, or ex-cons or men “known to the police”?  Do their services as campaign generals buy them immunity?  Free legal help?  In the fight against crime, we must strike at the root.  Zero tolerance begins in our own house –  the House in Parliament Square.

Oct 24, 2011

Gangster’s Paradise Part 2


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Frankly, the easy accessibility of handguns in The Bahamas is a cause for consternation and a national issue that should be effectively addressed... Illegal firearm sales and smuggling operations within the archipelago has led to a number of killings of youngsters—most likely with drugs, money or women as the central figure of a dispute... and has created a breeding ground for the criminal element (drug traffickers, gangs, migrant workers, terrorists, organized crime, etc) to access these dangerous weapons and cause mayhem

The Great Gun Trade-In


THESE days, maniacal criminals are increasingly using guns as their weapon of choice as they disrupt the serenity of our once tranquil islands, going on murderous rampages, robbing families of loved ones and callously committing heinous crimes with no regard for the law. That said, it is high-time that the government imposes a heavily promoted amnesty (28-30 days) for the turn over of illegal guns whilst instituting a no-questions-asked, gun buy-back programme.

Although there will likely be challenges and valid concerns such as the uneasiness about persons possibly using money’s given for trade-ins to purchase weapons, genuine interest for public safety dictates that something must be done and that those fears, whilst likely, will not be predominant.

The wave of gun violence that appears to be sweeping across the streets of New Providence week after week has left many residents terrified by the thought that this small island is becoming like the Wild West as we are constantly inundated with reports of the grisly carnage caused by gun violence or told about high-speed chases and dramatic gun battles between rival gangs or of emboldened outlaws engaging the police in gun fights.

As of today, there have been 109 murders for the year 2011, most of which involved a gun. These days, gunshots are fired from cars—in broad daylight— on busy thoroughfares, in bustling neighborhoods, in crowded nightspots and hoodlums have no qualms about nonchalantly engaging the police in shootouts.

The growing trend of anti-social behaviour is rapidly leading to a state of social chaos, where boorish persons barbarously roam the streets like wild animals engaging in feral, homicidal behaviour to indulge their unabated anger. The senseless actions of uncivilized, dim-witted persons are rapidly casting the Bahamas in the image of a crime-ravaged hellhole on the brink of social implosion. There is no wonder why Bahamians—stricken by fear—have voluntarily chosen to live in virtual imprisonment, locked behind iron bars (windows), bolted doors and screens, and sheltered behind iron gates. In their state of paralysis, law abiding Bahamians have become more distrustful and are swiftly arming themselves with cutlasses, shot guns, bats and other safety measures to ensure their security.

Admittedly, I am a licensed gun owner and I support the right of Bahamians to legally bear arms, particularly in instances such as hunting or self-defense. Moreover, I would support a greater issuance of hand gun licenses to those Bahamians who meet the strictest of qualifications. As it stands, as a policy of the government, the issuance of hand gun licenses is strictly within the purview of the Prime Minister.

'Black market'

The Bahamas, a country with a recently proposed regime for implementing stricter gun laws, has seen a proliferation of guns/ammunition on its streets that I’m told is easily accessible and for hire to any deranged criminal. Undoubtedly, the spiraling street warfare in this country—particularly New Providence—is fuelled by the alarmingly high importation/smuggling and circulation of illegal firearms (from assault rifles to hand guns) primarily from the United States, that has given raise not only to the lawless behaviour that we now see but also to a ‘black market’ that profits on the trade of illegal weapons.

Frankly, the easy accessibility of handguns is a cause for consternation and a national issue that should be effectively addressed. Illegal firearm sales and smuggling operations within the archipelago has led to a number of killings of youngsters—most likely with drugs, money or women as the central figure of a dispute—and has created a breeding ground for the criminal element (drug traffickers, gangs, migrant workers, terrorists, organized crime, etc) to access these dangerous weapons and cause mayhem.

A few years ago, in a speech given at the CARICOM-US Partnership to Combat Illicit Trafficking in Arms Seminar, held in Nassau, National Security minister Tommy Turnquest said that the illegal trade in small arms, light weapons and ammunition was creating an “illicit trafficking phenomenon” as the illegal migrant and drug trade has created a single criminal enterprise.

‘Engaging Persons’

According to Mr Turnquest:

"Such criminal enterprises are engaging persons across national borders in much the same way that legitimate multi-national businesses do, bringing serious distortion to the concept of globalization."

"Whether arms in such enterprises are exchanged for money or for drugs, or are used to protect illicit shipments of persons or commit murders, assaults, robberies and other crimes; to intimidate and threaten and to enhance status, or other reasons, they contribute to the widespread availability of firearms in the region.”

The Bahamas is extremely vulnerable to the trafficking of nearly all illicit items—including small arms and automatic weapons—primarily due to its central location between the air and sea routes of North and South/Central America as well as Europe.

It is therefore imperative that we implement gun trade-in and buy-back programmes, similar to those adopted by places such as Baffalo (NY) and Atlantic City, to encourage persons to fork over illegal firearms to the authorities. Furthermore, a conscientious effort must be made to curb the importation of other potentially lethal weapons such as low power air pistols, replica guns and paintball guns. Sadly, it seems that our strict gun laws may only affect those law-abiding citizens, as thousands of handguns remain in circulation and outlaws are constantly packing heat, while striking fear into the hearts of already caged-in residents.

I would propose that such a programme is financed by an asset forfeiture fund, using seized money or money garnered from the auctioning of seized properties belonging to persons convicted of criminal acts such as illegal drug smuggling.

Frankly, the government, corporate partners and the church could highlight such a programme using the airwaves, the pulpit, disc jockeys in clubs, marketing companies, etcetera, whilst also affixing a firm deadline that concludes both the amnesty and buy-back period.

Indeed, a gun buy-back initiative should be inclusive of a multipronged approach. Individuals turning in unlicensed firearms should be given gift certificates and/or, more so—in conjunction with a cooperating banking facility—these persons could be issued pre-paid cash cards in varying denominations, which bear the monies collected from their turn over of such dangerous weapons. There are some jurisdictions that even incorporate a guns-for-groceries approach. For such a programme to work, the types of guns/ammunition and buy-back monies must be categorized—that is, $25 for all non-working guns (inclusive of pellet and BB guns); $80 for rifles/shotguns; $200 for handguns; and $350 for assault weapons (eg, Uzis, AK 47s, etc).

Reduce arsenal

Indeed, whilst a gun buy-back campaign can yield mountains of guns, due care must be given not to have the approach bastardized by gun dealers and/or collectors who may wish to unload cheap or old guns at a profit and careful accounting must be taken of the guns collected at all gun buy-back outlets. The goal is to reduce the arsenal particularly within the inner city and effectively bring about a widespread disarmament across the archipelago.

The police should also check their databases to determine the number of gun owners who are not up to date with their licensing and get on with the business of seizing these firearms and apprehending these persons.

Instead of pontificating about petty political matters, the church could have a huge impact in the fight against violent crime and the removal of guns off of the streets. In fact, there should be an amnesty period where unlicensed gun toters can feel protected if they take a gun to one of the many churches in our communities.

Furthermore, in taking guns off the streets, we must launch a practical, effective campaign that incorporates the government, the private sector and the public. There should not be a hint of the petty politics and political gimmicks portrayed by many self-serving politicians!

Gain intelligence

In the Bahamas we may soon need to establish an agency or department similar to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agency in the US, whose sole purpose would be to gain intelligence and crackdown on the illegal weapons trade. These days, it is imperative that the police force continue upgrading its armaments as I continue to see officers on the beat without bulletproof vests and carrying six-shooter (.38) revolvers that they hope would counter the sophisticated, high-powered weaponry of criminals that wear body armour and carry guns with magazines that hold 15 or more rounds.

Police officers must be heavily deployed in those boroughs with the highest instances of crime and must strengthen their relationship with certain communities, thereby bettering their intelligence-gathering abilities.

Published: October 29, 2011 in the column Young Man’s View in The Tribune’s ‘The Big T’
Caribbean Blog International

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Branville McCartney and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) are really creations of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) ...If the PLP and FNM had offerings that wowed the people, McCartney would never have created his party ...But because he senses a national dissatisfaction, he pushes forward

So much passion about Branville McCartney

thenassauguardian editorial

It is always interesting reading your letters and commentary – especially the pieces written on politics.  Lately much has been sent in about Branville McCartney, the Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town and leader of the Democratic National Alliance.  Some of it has been published; some will be published.

The common theme from the well-written pieces, to the average pieces is that there is great passion about McCartney.  Some argue aggressively that he is ‘the One’ who will lead The Bahamas to prosperity; some argue that he is an arrogant upstart, who is not prepared to be prime minister.

Two of our columnists of late have dedicated significant space to McCartney.  Dr. Ian Strachan, an English professor and political commentator, dissected McCartney and the DNA in recent pieces in our National Review section.  Simon, the writer of the Tuesday column Front Porch, who defends Hubert Ingraham and all things FNM all the time, waged war against the green party in successive columns in recent months.

Beyond those who send thoughts, or publish in the paper, there is obvious interest in the community about this politician.  People always ask our reporters and editors, “What do you think about Bran?  You think he has a chance?”

The attack on McCartney in the House of Assembly last week by South Abaco MP (FNM) Edison Key helped lift McCartney’s profile as much as it raised questions about his conduct as a minister in Ingraham’s Cabinet.  Key alleged that McCartney petitioned him for work for his law firm while he was a minister.  McCartney rejected the allegation.

What was most interesting is that McCartney was quite aggressive as he argued his innocence in the House.  A longtime political observer, who was there during the incident, said McCartney said at one point, “Old man, sit down.”

Whether he said this or not, is beside the point. That comment, perfectly, encapsulates the fascination with McCartney.

Bahamians want change to a political order that no longer inspires them.  Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Opposition Leader Perry Christie are historic figures.  Few men going forward will ever hold elected seats in Parliament for more than 30 years and be prime minister.  Both men have done so.

The problem is that at the latter part of your career, when you have served for so long, people have already seen the best of you.  And in times of crisis or malaise, those same people wonder if someone else, someone younger, someone with new and different ideas, might not be better suited to take a try at fixing common problems.

We are not arguing that McCartney is ‘the One’.  He has much to prove in the months to come.  It would be a major achievement if his party wins a few seats.

But, we must acknowledge that many Bahamians have not been satisfied with the direction the country has been heading in for many years, spanning PLP and FNM administrations.

McCartney and the DNA are really creations of the PLP and FNM.  If the PLP and FNM had offerings that wowed the people, McCartney would never have created his party.  But because he senses a national dissatisfaction, he pushes forward.

What he should not be attacked for is offering for higher public service.  More young Bahamians, educated and trained, need to step forward to help their country.  The tone of some of McCartney’s critics is excessive.  To sum it up, they appear angry that he would dare challenge the established order.

We live in a democracy – the more choice for the electorate the better.  Competition should help refine the two older parties.  The green party is no threat to our country.  Whether it survives or not after the general election, it is just another part of our political evolution.

Oct 26, 2011

thenassauguardian editorial

The public is fed up ...In cases where bail can be given, they want it given ...Of course, with the amended bail act magistrates can no longer grant bail in serious cases, such as murder, armed robbery, rape, attempted rape and the various offences involving firearms

Magistrates starting to open their eyes

tribune242 editorial

AT LAST, public exasperation at the lenient manner in which cases are handled -- especially for accused with well established criminal records -- is getting through to the magistrates.

In the delay of the trial of two men and a woman charged in a major gun and ammunition seizure case yesterday, the magistrate told the prosecution to make certain that defence lawyers were given all relevant statements. She then set a date for trial and warned defence counsel to be prepared to go ahead on that date so as not to waste the court's time. Also, she did not want the public to be given a negative impression of justice in the court system.

Unfortunately, the public already has that negative impression. It is now up to the courts to dispel it, not only by efficiently handling cases, but by more frequent denial of bail.

The public's criticism does not just rest with the magistrates. What many of our letter writers say about some defence lawyers is unprintable.

Bahamians know that many of the court delays are from the Outer Bar, and the pleading for leniency for hardened criminals comes from the mouths of many of those pleading attorneys.

The public is fed up. In cases where bail can be given, they want it given. Of course, with the amended bail act magistrates can no longer grant bail in serious cases, such as murder, armed robbery, rape, attempted rape and the various offences involving firearms.

In these cases, magistrates have to take into consideration the need to protect the safety of the public and public order. The need to protect the safety of the victim of the offence and the nature and seriousness of the offence and the nature and strength of the evidence against the defendant.

Another -- and it appears recent -- element that seems to be slipping into our court system is a defendant's attempt to select his judge.

Last week, the Appeal's Court turned down such an appeal calling it "forum shopping".

Accused of drug conspiracy, the defendant tried to get his case moved from the court of Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethel, by claiming bias.

The higher court found no bias against him on the part of the magistrate, but did find an attempt by him to "forum shop". This is something that has to be stopped in its tracks before it gets out of hand.

In his contribution to the House debate on the crime bills, Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell challenged government to live up to its promise of reducing crime through criminal justice legislation.

However, when it came to the witness protection bill, Mr Mitchell complained that it was unconstitutional to deny the accused the right to know his accuser.

It would seem that Mr Mitchell not only wants his cake, but he wants to eat it too. Prime Minister Ingraham described what would happen to our judicial system if essential witnesses were not protected.

Last week, the cruel death of a man -- a case of mistaken identity -- should have sealed Mr Mitchell's lips forever on the issue of witness protection.

The dead man was a case of mistaken identity. The bullet was intended for a witness in a murder case. This was the second time that his assailants had missed him. He is now in the witness protection programme.

In the House, Mr Ingraham explained the need for such protection.

"It is the duty of every citizen," he said, "to report the commission of a crime, to cooperate with the police, to give evidence in court if they are called upon to do so, to assist the police in the execution of their duties and to go to the Supreme Court to serve as a juror.

"In order for a citizen to carry out that duty the citizen must feel safe, must feel and indeed know that they are going to be safe not going to be intimidated, not going to be hanged, that their family are going to be safe, and unmolested because they are simply doing their civic duty.

"Whenever that can't happen, the citizen is not inclined to cooperate, is unwilling to cooperate; if he's unwilling to cooperate we are unable to have prosecutions, we have a state that cannot enforce its laws and protect its citizens from criminal activity."

We recall the outcry when airline passengers resented being searched before boarding an aircraft -- it was unconstitutional and demeaning many said.

Today when faced with either giving up that constitutional right or being blown to smithereens, they stand in long lines, meekly taking off their belts and shoes, emptying their pockets and taking their turn walking through a metal detector. In choosing between their constitutional right and their life, they chose Life.

Today, that is what Bahamians will have to accept with the witness protection programme. In some instances, accused persons will have to give up their right to know the person giving evidence against them, in return for the witness's evidence and to make if possible for government to grant Mr Mitchell and all Bahamians' wish to reduce crime through the criminal justice system.

October 25, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Policymakers and other interested parties would need to closely monitor the national debt situation to ensure that the nation’s economy remains healthy and that our living standards are not threatened by excessive public sector debt

The national debt

thenassauguardian editorial

Governments, international agencies, rating agencies and most businessmen regard the level of national debt to the size of the economy (GDP) as one of the most important economic indicators in assessing the current and future health of the economy.

The national debt consists of funds borrowed directly by the government plus any debt of the government corporations which have been guaranteed by the government.

Governments usually borrow funds when there is a need to undertake capital projects (office buildings, schools, roads, docks etc.) and the revenue from taxes is insufficient to cover the capital works.

The size of any economy determines the level of potential taxes that could be collected to meet government expenditure needs for, among other things, education, health, law enforcement, social welfare and of course, debt servicing of any loans taken out by the government.

Current and future living standards in any country are influenced by the amount of resources applied by governments, on a yearly basis, to education, health, national security, social welfare and other public sector areas.

In order to ensure that sufficient resources are available on a sustainable basis for those fundamental public sector functions, good fiscal management compels governments to restrain the growth in debt servicing to a level where it does not threaten to crowd out and push aside the needs of the other important sectors of society.

In many third-world countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the public resources from tax revenues to finance public debt have exceeded the public resources allocations for education and health; a position considered by many as an undesirable path towards the lowering of living standards.

In an attempt to address poor policy choices by governments, international agencies such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank and the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) which provide economic advice on a global basis, urge governments to try and keep debt ratios (total national debt as a percentage of total national output or GDP) to a reasonable level.

In the case of developing countries such as The Bahamas, the level suggested is somewhere in the region of 40 percent.

Most countries, particularly those in the developing world, have fallen short of that objective.

Indeed, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago at 26 percent, many developing countries are in the high 80s (Barbados) or, in some cases the ratio exceeds 100 percent, (Jamaica at 123 percent for example), while the European countries have set the debt to GDP ratio at 60 percent as the desired level for their community.  Our nearest neighbor and largest trading partner, the United States, has a debt to GDP ratio that stands at an unusually high level of 97 percent.

When a country’s debt to GDP is high, it implies that the country is struggling and could have difficulty servicing its debt.

Currently The Bahamas’ ratio is in the high 50s and growing.

It is not yet in troublesome territory, but given the trend over the past few years and the growing commitments to further borrowing, including the Chinese loans and the associated capital needs of the utility companies, there is surely some cause for some concern.

The policymakers and other interested parties would need to closely monitor the debt situation to ensure that the nation’s economy remains healthy and that our living standards are not threatened by excessive public sector debt.

Oct 25, 2011

thenassauguardian editorial

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bahamas: Increases in population lead to increased crime ...while increases in gross domestic product (GDP) lead to decreased crime

Study keys in on causes of crime

By Candia Dames
Guardian News Editor

A new scientific study by a College of The Bahamas researcher has concluded what may come as no surprise to policymakers: Increases in population lead to increased crime while increases in gross domestic product (GDP) lead to decreased crime.

“If you know what your population growth is going to be, the government would have to increase GDP by a certain amount to keep the crime rate at wherever their quota is,” said Dr. Yan Lyansky, an assistant professor in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Technology.

Lyansky has come up with a mathematical formula, which he said could accurately predict what the rate of crime would be at any given point in the future based on the population of The Bahamas and the size of its economy.

“Everybody is worried about crime, but according to the numbers it doesn’t look different historically from what’s been going on a very, very long time ago,” he said.

“What I mean is when you talk about population growth, you’re going to naturally get more crime and everything looks consistent.

“It looks like maybe in more recent history there is little more of a spike but there’s not enough data for that to analyze.”

The paper is one of the studies that will be presented at COB’s 2011 Violence Research Symposium on November 3.

The goal of the research conducted by Lyansky is to find the best predictors of violent crime in The Bahamas.

“We assume that the government will be able to change policy to lower the crime rate if it knows the determining factors that influence crime,” said the study’s abstract.

The paper notes that crime has been an escalating problem in the Caribbean.  In The Bahamas, the general public perceives that crime is out of control, it adds.

The paper also says, “The police commissioner is under pressure to find a solution to the problem.”

The study says that as the population increases, the government may need to invest an even greater proportion of its resources in dealing with crime as the number of crimes increase.

It adds, “Government policies should be designed to increase the prosperity of the nation, but what this data shows is that when the country can not position itself to compete or can not cope with external shocks, then crime would be expected to rise.”

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Lyansky said, “We can predict exactly where the crime rate’s going to be moving forward, given the fact that it has been very accurate in the past.”

He said that many people who speak about crime and the causes of crime — including some authorities — do not speak from a factual position.

“A lot of the things that are written about crime, that I’ve read, and the explanations that I’ve heard make me shake my head.  They’re not going to help advance a solution,” Lyansky said.

As an example, he said, “The police commissioner, he was close to my house one day giving a talk and his explanation was that it’s all based on drugs and you know, that’s a bunch of nonsense and the reason it’s nonsense is I would actually have liked to make a correlation between the two, however, there is no data on drugs, drug usage or anything here so to make a blanket statement like that, it’s just a statement.

“You’re not actually going to be making progress from [those kinds of statements].”

Lyansky said there are so many inconsistencies in explanations some people provide regarding the causes of crime that it’s impossible to make any scientific determinations about them.

Speaking of the importance of scientific research, he said, “It gives you a better predictor moving forward.

“…If you need GDP to increase and you know the population’s going up, you need to do this to GDP and hence that would be a basic way (to fight crime).”

Oct 24, 2011


Sunday, October 23, 2011

All the pillars of society - the government, the opposition parties, the church, the judiciary, the security forces, the educational system, the family to name a few - must work cooperatively and congenially for the reduction of crime in our Bahamas ...The blame game is most dysfunctional and, at best, divisive...


PhD, LLB (Hons) CLE

KINDLY allow me some space in your valuable column to make a few comments on the issue of crime in The Bahamas.

In recent times, it has become fashionable and convenient for those who were themselves at one point or the other, in one capacity or the other, in charge of our country to make public proclamations on the cause of crime and to point fingers at others for the same.

Nothing is wrong with this as it keeps focus on the problem but, in all of it, the proclamations appear to miss the real target. I will return to this point later.

One has heard the Leader of the Official Opposition pontificate about who is responsible for the crime wave we are experiencing and as to what he would do about it if he and his party were returned to political power.

It appears, however, that he has conveniently forgotten that he and his party had five years to deal with this said problem of crime but he and his party did little or nothing to solve the problem and they were removed leaving the problem to grow and fester.

When the crime, at the material time, touched personally, the Leader of the Official Opposition, there were many promises of what he was going to do to get to the bottom of it but, alas, nothing was done. The problem remained unabated.

The Leader of the DNA, like the Leader of the Opposition, has blamed the present government for the problem of crime going so far as to hold the Minister of National Security personally responsible for the problem, quite conveniently forgetting that he was a senior member and Cabinet Minister of the now governing party and therefore shares part of the blame.

While one acknowledges that the crime issue is one of grave concern, leaders as well as those aspiring to be political, religious and social leaders ought not to allow themselves to make pronouncements on this most serious issue based on emotions, spite, political pandering, personal, arbitrary and ascriptive criteria or on poorly understood facts or principles. To do so is to be divisive and it bodes no one well nor does it contribute to the solution of the problem which should be the aim of all those who engage in the debate on the issue.

With all the noise in the market place about crime, particularly crimes involving murder, the salient point that is being missed or ignored or not understood or factored in the analysis is that no one, not the government, not the Minister, not even the parent or spouse of the murderer can prevent a murder unless the murderer makes his intention known prior to carrying out the act.

Even so, one may articulate an intention and may not follow through on the expressed intention or follow through may be delayed.

Murder is ideally personal and, in most cases, private, even if it is committed in a public way. Some murders are spontaneous.

Thus, because murder and other violent crimes can only be prevented if one has prior knowledge of their impending incidence, it is shortsighted and, in many ways, unfair, in one's view, to hold any one personally responsible for them save the perpetrators.

It is for this reason that when the accused of a murder or other crime is convicted of his crime, not the government, the minister or his parents, is punished personally.

This is not to be construed to say crime cannot be prevented for surely certain measures can be put in place to discourage or reduce its incidence, but this will only be effective when we as a society have a clear understanding of the root causes of crime in our society.

Not the causes of crime in the US or other Caribbean territories as published in reports and textbooks, but those causes, if any, characteristic to The Bahamas.

The factors involved in causing crime are varied, multifaceted and, some cases, interrelated and, as such, any number of or any combination of them can synergise in any individual or group of individuals to result in the commission of a crime.

What we, as a society, need to do is to try through detailed and valid longitudinal scientific research, to identify, if we can, those factors, conditions, circumstances, community characteristics, family variables and even national linkages that are common among murderers and perpetrators of other violent crimes that may be trigger factors and therefore attempt to identify and develop and apply practical ameliorative strategies.

Even so, we may, at best, only make a small dent in the problem.

If we can, that would be a starting point from and on which we can build and learn. Crime is not a simple issue in any society.

There is no simple or easy solution therefore. If there were, other more developed and advanced societies would have solved it a long time ago because they have been grappling with it longer than we have.

All the pillars of society - the government, the opposition parties, the church, the judiciary, the security forces, the educational system, the family to name a few - must work cooperatively and congenially for the reduction of crime in our society. The blame game is most dysfunctional and, at best, divisive.

October 20, 2011


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Branville McCartney and his Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party is not ready to govern The Bahamas

DNA not ready to govern

By Kevin Evans

I would like to comment on the ongoing saga surrounding the leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town, Branville McCartney.  While I commend the Bamboo Town MP for chiding his parliamentary colleagues for not disclosing their financial assets to the Public Disclosure Commission for the years 2009 and 2010, I take strong exception to him calling Opposition Leader Perry Christie a wimp and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham a bully.

Both Ingraham and Christie have been in the House of Assembly since 1977.  At that time McCartney was probably just in primary school.  Ingraham and Christie have more than 68 years of combined experience in our parliamentary system.  Branville McCartney, on the other hand, has been in Parliament for only four-and-a-half years.  He served in Ingraham's Cabinet as minister of state for immigration.  He resigned from the Cabinet in early 2010 and he severed ties with the Free National Movement (FNM) earlier this year.

After McCartney left the FNM, he founded the DNA party.  The sudden formation of the DNA after McCartney's exodus from the governing party might very well be an indication that the Bamboo Town MP was planning all along to start his own political party; perhaps as early as 2010.

Remember, in early 2010 McCartney told a Nassau Guardian reporter that he had no intention of resigning from the FNM.  He also told the same reporter that he believed that the FNM was the best party for the country at that time.  So why the sudden change and what's this all about?

McCartney’s ambition

When he was introduced to the constituents of Bamboo Town as the FNM's standard bearer in 2007, or thereabouts, McCartney probably already had ambitions of becoming prime minister after only completing his first term as MP.  Never mind the senior FNM MPs who have faithfully toed the party line for years.  I never heard of Branville McCartney before 2007.  In fact, before 2007 I had never seen him before.  Ingraham ran him in a constituency that has been considered a safe seat for the FNM.  Had it not been for Ingraham, McCartney would not have been in the position he is in today.  Had McCartney ran as an independent candidate in 2007, he would have lost his election deposit.  The FNM has made him, politically speaking, what he is today.

Perhaps McCartney, in calling the prime minister a bully, was simply doing what all opposition parties are expected to do: Oppose the sitting government.  Or maybe the Bamboo Town MP was attempting to gain much-needed publicity.  As the saying goes: All publicity is good publicity.  When McCartney and the DNA came out of the blocks, they had momentum.  The party, however, has lost that momentum during the past few months. The DNA is losing its mojo and appeal.  This is why McCartney has fought hard to stay in the limelight.  Perhaps this can also explain why the Bamboo Town MP has sought to oppose the FNM government on almost every position it holds.  McCartney at times appears to be opposing the Ingraham administration just for the sake of opposing.

Is the public losing affection for McCartney?

Be that as it may, it is crucial that the DNA make the newspaper headlines every week if it wants to remain relevant to The Bahamian people.  The party simply does not have the clout of either the Progressive Liberal Party or the Free National Movement.  I believe that it was the prominent American journalist Margaret Carlson who once said that attention is a depreciating asset.  McCartney and his DNA party would do well to heed this warning.  Bahamians are always looking for the next new thing.  That is why so many Bahamians were euphoric over the initial unveiling of the DNA party.  But it now appears as if all the excitement has cooled down.

McCartney is obviously a very confident man.  He really believes that the Bahamian electorate will support him and his party in 2012.  There's a very thin line between confidence and arrogance, however.  That McCartney and his cadre of inexperienced DNA candidates would even dare to challenge the two most important political parties in Bahamian history tells me that they are biting off more than they can chew.  McCartney is asking The Bahamian electorate to entrust the nation to him and his team of candidates who have little to no experience at running a government.

I think that it would be more prudent for Bahamians to stick with either the FNM or the PLP.  Both of these parties have worked hard to build this nation since majority rule.  Besides, at least we know what we are getting in Ingraham and Christie.

McCartney hasn't even served out his first term as MP, yet he wants to be prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  Ingraham and Christie had been members of Parliament for many years before they became prime minister.  In fact, Christie had served an astounding 25 years before he became prime minister in 2002; Ingraham had served 15 years before he became this nation's chief executive in 1992; and Sir Lynden (Pindling) had served over 10 years before he became premier in 1967.  Furthermore, Ingraham was elected to his position as party leader during the FNM's convention in 2005.  On the other hand, the DNA has not yet held a convention.  In my humble opinion, the Bamboo Town MP is just too inexperienced for such an important position.

DNA government would harm country

I am afraid that if the DNA wins the 2012 general election, the party might very well end up running this country aground.  With all due respect to McCartney and the DNA, I don't believe that they are ready to govern The Bahamas.

Being a successful business person does not mean you are ready to sit around the cabinet table and make decisions that will impact the lives of over 330,000 Bahamians.  Managing a grocery store or a laundromat is way different from managing a country.

Handling the finances of a law firm is not the same as handling the finances of a nation.

Right now the DNA candidates are way out of their league.  The candidates are way in over their heads, with all due respect to them.  Maybe it would be best if the DNA candidates all get involved with local government.

They could gain much valuable experience at the local government level before attempting to get into the big leagues.

Oct 21, 2011


Face to face, does the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader - Mr. Branville McCartney have the political pedigree to challenge or face-off with Mr. Hubert Ingraham - the governing Free National Movement (FNM) leader? Or will he be manhandled on the ground?

Ingraham lays into McCartney


As elected officials continue to place their partisan egos in front of a unity of purpose and passionate commitment to a well-reasoned vision for the country’s upliftment, one wonders whether Bahamians will focus on the issues and demand more of their elected leaders during the next general election cycle.

As the election draweth nigh, crime can without doubt be identified as enemy No.1. Quite frankly, if crime is not seen as being effectively dealt with the current government would be doomed in its attempts to enhance its political fortunes come election day. Frankly, issues such as unemployment, the economic downturn, poor agrarian productivity, political corruption, inconveniences suffered as a result of road works (in the minds of some), electricity stability and costs, et cetera, must be seen—by the Bahamian people— as being effectively addressed.

He’s ready for a fight

With a general election on the horizon, we’ve seen a Perry Christie renaissance and based upon Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s recent performance in the House of Assembly—as he addressed the race for the Bamboo Town seat—a reinvigorated FNM leader who is back on the electoral warpath. Frankly, the Prime Minister (PM) essentially dressed DNA leader Branville McCartney in a clown suit last week, hitting him with a political sucker punch and challenging him to a showdown in Bamboo Town—which will unquestionably be a political melee featuring three “leaders”, past and present, of splinter/third parties.

By allowing the Bamboo Town seat to remain untouched and in issuing his challenge to Mr McCartney, Mr Ingraham effectively shifted the spotlight/pressure on McCartney to prove his leadership mettle and political strength by, for one, winning his own seat. Of course, beyond a hand gesture suggesting that Mr Ingraham should meet him at the polls, and a few other utterances whilst seated, Mr McCartney was mum and said nothing for the record—having been the source of jovial, laughter-filled moments shared across the aisle by FNM and PLP members.

Indeed, the ground has effectively been loosened under Mr McCartney by two political titans who, in apparent cooperation in sending two former fringe party leaders as their standard bearers to challenge Mr McCartney, seem to think that he’s a latecomer who has become too big for his britches.

This week, as I watched Mr McCartney sit—stone-faced—as he got schooled by a political mastermind, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps PM Ingraham saw a bit of a younger, more politically apt/mature, Hubert Ingraham in him. Moreover, after Mr Ingraham’s blistering commentary, Mr McCartney—who has levelled verbal jabs at Mr Ingraham in the press and in other forums, appeared to cower in his presence, dumbfounded and—on national television— being exposed as a paper tiger in what appears to be an exploitable mismatch. Stand up Mr McCartney!

Face to face, does McCartney have the political pedigree to challenge or face-off with Mr Ingraham? Or will he be manhandled on the ground? Admittedly, Mr McCartney is a superb MP and has a strong foothold in his constituency.

That said, there are also those persons who would ask if the PM—based upon his comments—would prefer that the PLP win Bamboo Town, or even the government, rather than his younger political nemesis. Such questions abound, particularly in an age where progressive nations such as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have seen the emergence of a younger generation of leaders and potential successors—regardless of gender.

Certainly, with three parties vying for the hearts and votes of the Bahamian electorate, the stirring and impending electoral drama is lining up to be a political circus with plenty of suspense. Whilst contentious politics is woven into the fabric of Bahamian society, beyond the partisan bickering and preening egos, the issues and concerns of the Bahamian people must not and should not be ignored or cast into the background.

As election season heats up, certain MPs are beginning the mad dash to their respective constituencies with the hope of being given another chance. The coming months, for some Bahamians, will be the first time they have seen their elected representative in nearly five years. This upcoming general election is a time for Bahamians to vote conscientiously and let the power of their votes resonate throughout the archipelago.

On the judicial system

National Security minister Tommy Turnquest should be given a pat on the back and a congratulatory hoorah for his recent remarks regarding the judicial process in the Bahamas. He spoke the truth and, for amazingly showing that he has the cojones to speak it, he deserves two thumbs up!

Frankly, the Bahamas’ judicial system is an archaic mess that has long been neglected to the point that case backlogs and disorganization has led to various sadistic criminals roaming our streets—time after time on bail—whilst frustrating the police and creating openings for criminals to prey, yet again, on another ill-fated victim.

Quite honestly, crime is ravaging our society, causing law abiding Bahamians to live as prisoners in their own homes as the criminal element wreaks havoc in different corners of our archipelago.

Terribly mismanaged

Indeed, the criminal justice system—over the years—has been grossly mismanaged. In recent times, lawlessness has become the order of the day as criminals realize that with the right attorney—and a complementary molasses-like judicial system—their cases would be delayed and buried in our higgledy-piggedly court system and that they could be granted bail to roam, with little or no restraints, in a matter of hours, days or a few months. How many murders, armed robberies and other serious crimes have persons on bail been suspected of, and charged for, committing this year?

Police statistics compiled from 2001 to September 2007 has revealed a significant increase in the number of persons that have been granted bail. In 2001, five people were on bail for murder, rape and armed robbery; six persons were on bail in 2002; five in 2003; 47 in 2004; 39 in 2005; 107 in 2006 and more than 200 in 2007. Wow, one can only imagine the statistic for 2011!

In order to fix the nation’s defunct judicial system and in turn alleviate the logjam, more judges—natives and foreigners—must be sought after for appointment to the bench and efficiency must be the order of the day among court officers/staff. One can see that a step has already been taken in the right direction with the construction of new court rooms and the current Bills before Parliament addressing crime.

The price of justice in this country is too high, too prolonged and simply Third World! Kudos to you Mr Turnquest for saying what so many jelly-belly politicians were too afraid to say!

Published: October 22nd, 2011

Column: Young Man's View, The Tribune's 'The Big T'

Caribbean Blog International

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Branville McCartney - Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader fails at convincing me that he truly understands the challenges and limits imposed on those who are governing The Bahamas... or worse yet, he doesn’t care about reality; he wants to sell us fantasies

Gone Green? Part 2

By Ian G. Strachan

“The DNA is here to create the same paradise for Bahamians that only tourists and foreigners seem to enjoy. The DNA is here to encourage you to dream beyond your wildest imagination; we are here to dare you to think the unthinkable, to do the impossible.”  -Branville McCartney’s address at the launch of the Democratic National Alliance, May 12, 2011

This week we continue our discussion of the career of  Branville McCartney, Member for Bamboo Town and leader of the Democratic National Alliance.

McCartney’s departure from Ingraham’s Cabinet seemed impulsive to me, poorly thought out.  His explanations weren’t very convincing.  I wasn’t convinced that he had a serious philosophical difficulty with the FNM (Free National Movement) and I wasn’t clear what he meant when he said he wasn’t being utilized fully.

His promise to challenge for the leadership of the FNM was bold and refreshing, yes, but ultimately foolish, since you ought never to tell a man like Ingraham that you are coming for him.  You just come for him.  Even if he had the opportunity he wanted to challenge Ingraham at convention, I seriously doubt he would have met a fate that was any different from the one meted out to Paul Moss, someone with a better political mind in my opinion than McCartney.

Since launching the DNA, McCartney’s remarks have simply confirmed my impression that he is playing a game and if he wins, we may lose.  What really is the difference, in terms of philosophy and vision, between the FNM and the DNA?  The PLP and the DNA?  Why does the DNA exist—outside of the fact that Ingraham refuses to leave the FNM and let McCartney lead?

And the DNA leader fails at convincing me that he truly understands the challenges and limits imposed on those who are governing this country—or worse yet, he doesn’t care about reality; he wants to sell us fantasies.  Witness these remarks from his maiden speech as DNA leader: “Imagine sidewalk cafes, well-lit streets, rows of theaters especially designed for young Bahamian playwrights, and a downtown that is world renowned and envied by the rest of the world, with Bahamian art and craft galore! . . . Imagine a Bahamas where citizens are no longer prisoners in their homes; where burglar bars are not a necessity . . .  Imagine a tertiary institution that attracts students from around the world and joins the top ranks of colleges and universities around the world. Imagine a Bahamian Harvard. Imagine these possibilities! . . . If we put people first, then perhaps we would no longer boast a national grade point average of a D that has made the outside world question our brilliance and our intelligence.  If we put people first, perhaps it will move to an A that will once again make us the respected and competitive, intellectually brilliant nation that we were meant to be and that many expect us to be; not only regionally but globally.”

I’ve said this before: the language, the tool of the “lotioner” is hyperbole.  PLP leader Perry Christie and McCartney specialize in exaggeration and overblown rhetoric.  Ingraham, the bulldog, specializes in red herrings, the tactic of distraction.  COB a Bahamian Harvard?  Harvard has a $32 billion endowment.  The Bahamas’ budgeted expenditure this year is $1.9 billion.  No more burglar bars in Nassau?  Really? The DNA will deliver that?  The city of Nassau will be envied by the world?  A model city, sure, but envied?  By the world?  The Bahamas will have an A average in its schools?  Really?  Every student will have an A average?  Christie couldn’t have done a better job at painting pies in the sky.

Then McCartney proposed that the country deny children born to illegals the right to apply for citizenship—ever.  This is a reckless and foolhardy proposition.  Rather than ensure the nation’s security it would undoubtedly endanger it.  McCartney is gambling here: demagoguing really.  Trying to capitalize on fear and paranoia.  Dividing us instead of uniting us.  All Bahamians of Haitian descent, Jamaican descent, all Bahamians whose parents or grandparents, out of desperation, came here illegally should note well and vote accordingly.  I for one will not vote for a party that proposes something so destructive and inhumane.  Yes, we must guard our borders, yes we must work toward a system of legal Haitian migration for purposes of employment, but I don’t see how dooming children to statelessness creates a better Bahamas.

McCartney then accused the FNM of being in the pocket of the Chinese and challenged them to reveal who financed them.  He himself refused to reveal who was financing the DNA. How does that make sense?  How is that a new political approach?  If you are going to demand that people be transparent, shouldn’t you first be transparent yourself?  Otherwise you are just like all the rest – playing the game.

And recently, he criticized Ingraham for not running in Bamboo Town and sending Cassius Stuart instead.  Was he serious or was this a bad joke?  Why on earth should Ingraham run in Bamboo Town?  Will McCartney run in North Abaco?  Does he imagine he will win in North Abaco?

I am not convinced that McCartney is experienced enough, thoughtful enough, skilled enough to lead this country at this time.  What I see is someone who too often is shallow, a “lotioner”, someone posing as firm, determined, and possessing a vision.

When I mention McCartney’s weaknesses to DNA insiders they tell me it’s a team effort.  But McCartney wants to be prime minister, the most powerful office in the land and I just don’t trust his judgment.  I have some serious doubts about the competence of some of the people he has entrusted with major responsibilities in his party.

And I think he moved too soon.  And moving too soon tells me one of two things: either you really don’t understand how politics works in this country or you have a monumentally over blown sense of your political capital.

He has certain qualities that make him an excellent candidate--until he actually speaks. And when he speaks he either utters facile nothings or he reveals a willingness to say anything to gain an advantage.  That makes him at best reckless and at worst desperate.

But I may be wrong.  I probably don’t speak for the majority of Bahamians.  We know what an empty talking PM looks like.  We also know what headstrong leadership without vision looks like.  We want better.  I know there is a yearning for change in Bahamians of all generations.  We want and need inspiring leadership.  Strong, innovative, competent leadership.  I just don’t think McCartney and the DNA are what we want them so desperately to be.  Nonetheless, the DNA will probably gain more votes than any third party in the last 20 years.

People have to choose the better of three unpalatable options in this election.  And it ain’t gonna be pretty.  Is it better to go with the devil you know or the one you don’t?  Certainly, the PLP and FNM have themselves to blame for a lot of what they will suffer in 2012, because they refuse to renew themselves, despite the people’s yearning for rebirth.

Now, there’s another possibility: I may be dead wrong in accusing McCartney of delusions of grandeur.  McCartney may well know the DNA can’t win it all (I don’t think he’ll even win his seat in Bamboo Town). But he may be gaining immense pleasure from knowing he’s going to give Christie and Ingraham fits.  He may also have concluded that he has nothing to lose and that by losing in 2012 as head of the DNA he sets himself ahead of anyone else who may be aspiring to lead the PLP or FNM in 2017. And that would make him a lot more savvy a politician than I have given him credit for being.

Oct 17, 2011

Gone Green? - Part 1


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Branville McCartney's Contribution to the Government’s Package of Crime Bills - Tuesday October 18, 2011 - House of Assembly - The Bahamas

Contribution by

The Honourable W. A. Branville McCartney,

M.P. for Bamboo Town

Leader, Democratic National Alliance


The Honorable House of Assembly

On Government’s Package of Crime Bills

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am indeed humble to stand before you today on behalf of the good constituents of Bamboo Town.

Mr. Speaker, the past 4½ years have been quite interesting regarding the representation of Bamboo Town. I have had the great honour of meeting many persons, young and old and have made lifetime friendships. Many programs were developed from day one, such as the “Precious Jewels” senior citizens program, the youth program, after-school homework center, adult computer classes, Thy Brothers Keeper program and free legal clinics were offered. Community meetings were held especially when there were pressing national issues, such as the BTC sale.

It is truly amazing the attention Bamboo Town has gotten recently.

The Member for North Abaco said last week that Bamboo Town is his “tings.”

That he is coming to get his “tings.”

It was said that Bamboo Town would be a “test case.”

It was further said that persons running in Bamboo Town are in a certain league and not in the league of the Member for North Abaco and Farm Road.

Indeed, the Member for North Abaco said that if the FNM is not successful in Bamboo Town, his most worthy opponent the official leader of the Opposition Party, the PLP, will be successful and the Member for North Abaco seems very satisfied and content with that.

What is most striking to me, however, is the fact that the Member for North Abaco, a few days before the commencement of this debate said he does not want Bamboo Town to be eliminated as a constituency by the Constituencies Commission. Of note, the Member for North Abaco said that if the Constituencies Commission comes back and report that they have eliminated the constituency of Bamboo Town, he would not accept it! The good member just informed Parliament on the formation of the Constituencies Commission and made such a comment, declaration, command before the Commission meets—that he, the PM, would not accept a particular decision if made by them. With regard Sir, the Member for North Abaco is wrong, wrong, wrong!! AND out of order! The member assertion is unconstitutional! It goes contrary to Article 69 and Article 70 of the Constitution.

For the record, in May of this year when the Member of Parliament for North Abaco and his cabinet came to Bamboo Town to apologize for sending me, it was stated, Bamboo Town was FNM. At that time, I told the good Member, if Bamboo Town is FNM, I challenge him to run against me—leader against leader. I subsequently said that if Bamboo Town is eliminated, as the leader of the DNA, I could determine which constituency to contest and that the North Abaco constituency has not been ratified as yet by the DNA.

A Crisis of Leadership and Survival Mode

Mr. Speaker, at this very moment The Bahamas and the majority of Bahamian people are in survival mode. They have given up on the government of The Bahamas to fulfill its primary obligation to them, which is to look out for their security and welfare and provide them with the means and opportunities by which they can be first class citizens in their own country. As a result of the failure of successive governments to fulfill its primary obligation to the people, many have now resorted, by whatever means necessary, to taking care of “their own” safety and welfare needs; what we are now experiencing is the ensuing chaos.

You see Mr. Speaker, no matter how some may feel about the flaws and failings of leadership during the late 70s and 80s, many still have an unwavering respect and appreciation for that era of leadership, because their perception is that the leadership was working tirelessly as a voice of the people to champion Bahamian right—rights that have us, as a people, now enjoying majority rule and independence. And even though there are those who, in looking at the root cause of our present state of societal affairs, say that what we see today fed off of and grew from “the rampant drug trafficking and “gangsterism,” which ran wild in the 70s and 80s,” there are those who also credit that era with producing a kind of leadership that was visionary enough to architect and begin the process and promise of Bahamian ownership. If one were to read Sir Lynden’s letters and speeches in his text, The Vision of Sir Lynden, one would gain a greater appreciation of Sir Lynden, the visionary, and see how his vision for The Bahamas, if enacted, would probably have us listed as a developing nation, like Barbados, our neighbor to the south, or by now, a developed nation.

However, the reality is that that era did produce a crisis in leadership and there were those who felt the leader had to go. Visionary or not, Sir Lynden, because of his perceived misgivings, was deemed no longer suitable or credible enough to govern. For some, he was a national embarrassment and, as such, ill-suited to be a role model. According to some sitting right here in the House today, he had to go, Mr. Speaker. I think North Abaco made his position on this matter and Sir Lynden quite clear in his ranting in the House last week.

But since that era, Mr. Speaker, both the members from North Abaco and Farm Road have been given the opportunity by the Bahamian people to reverse the plague of rampant materialism that North Abaco said in his national address has “laid waste to our long-held values and positive social morals.” And for almost 20 years, we as a people have placed our lives in their hands, because they told us that we could trust that they had a vision to get us back on course to the promise that majority rule and independence held for us—ownership and a first world status.

And despite all the speechifying by both in the past 20 years, uncontrolled national debt, out of control violence and crime, a dysfunctional educational system, excessive land and property asset give-away, record unemployment, mounting poverty, a decrepit health system, rampant materialism and did I say out of control violence and crime?—all illustrate to Bahamian people that history is now repeating itself. We are once again having a crisis in meaningful leadership and as a result, we are now reaping another bad harvest.

Mr. Speaker, our purpose here today and for the rest of the week is to discuss the proposed changes to a package of Crime Bills, hoping to enact them as to get our out of control people under control and back in line. As leaders, we distract attention from our own inabilities, inattentiveness, incompetence and lack of self-discipline by blaming the criminal offenders for all of our societal woes.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as many of you know, I for one am a believer that if someone breaks the law, then justice must ensue. So, I hope that what I will say is not misconstrued as me taking a soft stance on the administration of justice for violent and criminal acts, or any act, as a matter of fact, that is in contravention of our stated laws. In no way am I implying that at all.

What I am implying, however, is that we cannot sit back in righteous indignation and simply blame the criminals and the criminally minded, the delinquents and the dejected for our state of affairs without taking into consideration, first, the role that we play as national leaders and public figures in the destruction that we now see in our society.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, as we debate this issue of crime and criminality, the member for North Abaco may himself have failed to comply with certain laws under the Public Disclosure Act. In a public statement sometime last year, the Member said he has not disclosed his assets, as required by law, since 2007. Mr. Speaker, I think you are well aware that for Ministers of the Government, failure to publicly disclose their and their immediate family’s assets, interests and income is an offense punishable by a $10,000 fine, up to two years in jail or both. Additionally, the MP can have his property forfeited to the crown. In making his statement last year, the Member said he was “too busy” to come into compliance with the law at the time. You see, Sir, we have persons who flaunt non-compliance in people’s face, while creating laws that do not apply to them to punish everyone else. But, these young people, who see what’s going on, Mr. Speaker, develop the mentality that if these officials can get away with non-compliance, then why can’t they. They do not know that justice does not work the same way for them until it is too late. They do not understand that the same law that some are above is the same law that will come crashing down on them. In survival mode, however, Mr. Speaker, most do not care anymore.

The average Bahamian sees government officials getting rich while they get poorer; they see foreigners coming to The Bahamas, prospering, while they struggle to live above the poverty line with many not making it. Everyone seems to be making a living off of them, but they have no one who can provide them with ways and opportunities to make a meaningful living for themselves—outside of those that have been in place for almost half a century. Barely able to make ends meet, a number of people have this perception that government has “stop checking” for them.

They feel as if the promise of Bahamians as owners and builders of their own land and destinies—a promise started with Sir Lynden and majority rule and independence—has been lost with North Abaco and Farm Road, and that “everything for Bahamian people are backing up.” Ask the average Bahamian on the street Mr Speaker if they see any real solution to this violent crime epidemic and almost all will tell you, No! They say that unless government “check for the people again, crime is not going to go anywhere no matter what the government does.” What pessimism coming from our people, Mr. Speaker.

But their pessimism, I guess Mr. Speaker, is tied to the words of one writer who says, when [people] are stuck in survival mode, [Their hearts are] not open. [Their] rational mind is disengaged. Making clear choices and recognizing the consequences of those choices is unfeasible. [They] are focused on short-term survival, not the long-term consequences of [their] beliefs and choices,” and as a result, “it is almost impossible to cultivate positive attitudes and beliefs,” particularly in the periods of leadership crisis.

I now turn to examine the Proposed Bills:

The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2011

1. This Bill is long overdue. From 2006 when the Privy Council set aside the mandatory sentence of death for murder there was a need for this legislation. In 2008 in the Court of Appeal case of Maxo Tido v Regina, Dame Joan Sawyer the then President of the Court of Appeal in the judgment of the Court pointed to the need for legislation. The Bar Council called for legislation from 2006 and continued that call up to today.

2. The major error that is made is that the framers of the amendments fail to appreciate that, right now, the sentence of life imprisonment presently means imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict. It is the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy (ACPM) that advise persons who have been sentenced to life to be released early. The Minister of National Security, the Attorney General and at least three government appointees chair this Committee. Life presently means natural life. This was the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case of Forrester Bowe on his re-sentencing.

3. The Bill does not do away with the ACPM’s ability to release persons early and so is really a game by defining life in the exact same way it is now defined. If they wanted you not to be able to be released there would have to be a section like the new section 33A in the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill to rule out the ability of the ACPM to release someone early. That is not included in the Bill and so persons will still be able to be released. If they want to mean what they say they need to say that you cannot be release by the ACPM.

4. This position of someone being sentenced to prison for the rest of their life where, at the time of sentencing it is known that they will not be released is actually contrary to the death penalty jurisprudence. Contrary to what the Member for Cat Island says in his contribution, it is recognized that if someone is so bad and/or their offence is so bad that they ought to never be released from prison and this convict should be sentenced to death. This is the actual definition of someone who should be sentenced to death. There should be, therefore, only two classes of persons: 1) persons who are sentenced to death and 2) persons who are sentenced to a sentence that will result in their eventually being released from prison.

5. In the categories of persons whose murder makes you death eligible does not include the representatives of parties in civil cases or defence counsel in criminal matters whose murder is motivated by their representation. This is not consistent.

6. In the categories of death eligible murders the bill does not seek to define what will be considered to be a murder committed “in the course of or furtherance of” one of the named offences. There have been a number of cases in Caribbean jurisdictions where there have been difficulties in making the determination.

7. The sadistic murder of a child for sexual gratification where no other felony is committed (Bowe and Davis v R-Privy Council para 21); is not included.

8. A planned cold-blooded killing (see Tido v R-Privy Council para 36); is not included.

9. A killing accompanied by unusual violence more than is required to accomplish the killing (see Tido v R-Privy Council para 36); is not included.

It also does not cover some categories of murder that it appears from anecdotal evidence the public considers to be amongst the worse of the worse even when public opinion is stripped of it subjective elements, i.e.:

a). The deliberate killing of a child whether planned or unplanned;

b). The deliberate killing of the handicap whether planned or unplanned;

c) The deliberate killing of a woman known to be pregnant whether planned or unplanned;

d). The deliberate killing of a priest while that priest discharge his vocation or where the killing is motivated by the priest discharging his vocation;

e) A killing where the killing is motivated by the race, gender or sexual preference of the victim (the hate crime category).

The government by not consulting at all before releasing this wave of legislation on the Bahamian people did a great disservice to jurisprudence of this country and the people as demonstrated by the glaring omissions in this legislation that all would agree is already overdue. A mere period of consultation that could have been conducted over the period that the Prime Minister first indicated that this legislation would be forthcoming and now would have resulted in a better product than the product presently before Parliament.

10. Section 3(5) of the Bill in seeking to introduce a 20-year period before there is a review of the release of a minor convicted of murder may well be unconstitutional as it introduces the penal portion of a indefinite sentence being introduced by the Legislature instead of by the Courts.

11. The attempt to reintroduce mandatory minimum sentences by stating a range of sentence by section 4 of the Bill will run into the same issues of whether the specifying of mandatory minimum sentences are constitutionally possible. This sentence will apply to someone who commits a robbery armed with a stick or any other instrument, which need not be deadly. It will also apply to a robbery where the convict intended to simply punch someone or pull the item from the victim.

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill

1. The same issue of constitutionality arises with regard the range of sentences introduced by this Bill for drug offences.

2. There is also an additional issue that it is clear that Magistrates are being recognized as trying serious cases. Article 20 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas provides that the citizen has the right to be tried before an independent and impartial court when charged with a criminal offence. There are a number of recent cases that hold that in order for a court to qualify as independent and impartial the judicial offence has to have security of tenure. Our Magistrates have no security of tenure. It is, therefore, recommended that given that these bills make it clear that Magistrates are dealing with serious cases and will reopen that line of challenge and that the government immediately legislate to provide security of tenure for Magistrates to avoid a potential successful challenge to the ability of Magistrates to hear any criminal matter.

Customs Management Bill and Pawnbrokers Bill

1. Both Bills are necessary and are long overdue. The government has reacted very slowly to regulate these industries that boomed during the economic downturn in circumstances where schemes of regulation exist in many other countries. We are not reinventing the wheel here. We are simply adapting it to meet our circumstances.

Bail (Amendment) Bill

1. The legislature cannot dictate what is a reasonable time to the courts. There are a number of cases that indicate this.

2. This Bill highlights the need to give Magistrates security of tenure in order to avoid challenges to Magistrates pursuant to Article 20 the Constitution (see above).

3. This Bill highlights the admission by the government that it cannot try serious cases in less than three years, notwithstanding the current waste of judicial time occasioned when cases collapse or do not come off. The focus should be on trying persons in a truly reasonable time.

Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill

1. The same comment on mandatory minimum by a range applies here.

2. The same comment on the meaning of life imprisonment applies here.

Court of Appeal Bill

1. It is questionable whether Clause 2 of the Bill is constitutional. In the UK, this is the process of the Attorney General’s reference that permits the Court of Appeal to state the law, but does not permit it to set aside an acquittal. Clause 3 is already the law now and this adds nothing new.

Criminal Procedure Code Bill

1. The increase in the Magistrates sentencing power reinforces the need to give them security of tenure.

2. Clause 5 is good, in that, it means that the firearms licensing officer need not waste time coming to court, but can state the fact of the license in a report.

Evidence Bill

1. The Bill accomplishes something that is inoffensive. There is a potential of cost saving, but a danger that overuse risks a potential of losing the quality of the human presence.

2. There is a need for care in controlling the environment on the other end of the video link.

3. This Bill can be supported, but it is not a game changer in terms of transforming the procedure in criminal trials to reduce the time taken and increase the efficiency of the process. It is a disappointment in this sense. It is not the sort of game changer we advocate like legislating to enable judges to have evidential hearings ahead of the empaneling of jury and the beginning of trials.

Firearms Bill

1. The mandatory minimum raises the same issues of constitutional of minimum sentences and the need for security of tenure of Magistrates raised earlier in this paper.

2. The mandatory minimum sentence of four years applies to persons, who had a license for a revolver, shotgun, rifle or ammunition, but didn’t license it in the six months grace period.

3. Clause 11 creates an offence of possession with intent to supply firearms, but unlike the similar provision of the Dangerous Drugs Act there is no greater punishment for possession with intent of firearms than there for simply possessing firearms. This is wrong in principle; the supplier should attract greater punishment than the possessor.


Illegal Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I was extremely disappointed that there was no mention in the Package of Crime Bills by the government that spoke to illegal immigration. There is no doubt Sir that the influx of illegal immigration contributes to a certain extent to the crime problem. Indeed Sir, some of the illegals that are here were criminals in their own country.

I would have thought that the Government would have amended the laws to include the offence of “Harboring of Illegals.” An offence of this nature would ensure that persons who rent, lease or allow illegals on their property will be held liable to a fine and/or imprisonment or both. It is also a known fact that shantytowns are throughout New Providence and The Bahamas. Nothing is being done by the Government to eradicate these shantytowns. Many of the shantytowns are known to harbor criminals; they are breeding grounds for crime and illegal activity. What is the Government doing about this?

Responsibility of Parents

Drastic times require drastic measures. Sir, there are many crimes committed by persons under the age of 18. Many parents are “donors” rather than real parents. They do not know whether their children are in school, they do not participate in their children’s’ education and at night, they do not know where their children are. In other words, the children are left to their own devices. There is no guidance by the parents! Harden criminals usually start young, with petty crimes. The government should have given serious consideration to making parents responsible by way of fines for criminal acts committed by their under-aged children.

National Services

For the life of me, I do not know why the Government did not consider the introduction of a national service. This, Sir, in my view would have an immediate everlasting effect on many of our young men who are not presently employed.

National service should apply to persons who are unemployed and those who are not able or willing to further their education.

National service would serve two purposes: those men, in particular those on the blocks and idle, would be put in a program that would teach them a trade, transforming them into productive members of their society. They would learn how to respect other people and other people’s property.

Secondly, Sir, in my view, this is a necessary step that this country must take to reduce crime and improve young Bahamians’ way of life!

Laws Relating to Dead Beat Dads

Single mothers in this Bahamas are at a disadvantage in the courts. They are in a position where, more often than not, children are with them and the fathers neglect and/or refuse to support the children. This is a disadvantage to the children, who suffer because of lack of support by the father. The Government should look at the laws relating to child support and put more teeth in them.

Hand Guns

It is my view, that the Government should consider, after consultation with the relevant persons, authorities and the public at large, whether handguns should be issued to certain people. Indeed, Sir, today there are certain people (i.e. businessmen) who have handguns. Sir, there should be regulations that allow certain people to carry handguns and this should be considered by the government. Today, the Prime Minister makes the decisions as to whether people can carry a handgun.


Sir, I heard nothing from the Government, which I thought was fundamental to crime prevention, that certain principles be taught from young in the schools. We need to bend the tree while it’s young Mr. Speaker. It must be mandated that children be taught right from wrong, children should be taught to love your neighbour as yourself, respect, courtesy and how to be your brother’s keeper. This Sir is necessary.

In addition Sir, truant officers should be reintroduced immediately.

Management of the Administration of Justice

Management of the Administration of Justice is perhaps the main reason why there are delays in the Court system. The Government has not informed us how the Management of the Administration of Justice will be improved. You see Sir, you can amend, appeal, revoke, legislate in relation of crime all you want, but if the management of the Administration of Justice is not dealt with (and left in the same position) I find it difficult to see how the implementation of these amendments will be effective if we still have poor management of the system.


Political Leadership has a pivotal role to play in the way young men, in particular, react in their day-to-day life.

When men watch our Parliamentary Channel and see the disrespect displayed towards members, it is not a good example. You must lead by example! When you carry on like a bully what do you expect from the young men watching? When you try to intimidate others, what do you expect from the young men watching? When you display anger, what do you expect from the young men watching? When you show disrespect, what do you expect from the young men watching? The fact of the matter is that some political leaders are bad examples and that transcends into the community.

Indeed Sir, I would encourage political leaders to be good examples for our young men to emulate. But Sir, I also realize that you cannot teach old dogs new tricks!

Part IV: Crime Fighter - Renewing the Vision

My good friend, the Member for Mt. Moriah, constantly tells us that many of these crimes, particularly killings, are committed by people who have problems controlling their anger; so we put in place measures to control the anger for them, but we do nothing to find out why they are angry. Even now, we go to great efforts to enact laws and measures so that we can control the criminal characteristics of our people, but we do not put in the same effort, as governments, to finding out the root cause of these negative characteristics. Despite law on top of law on top of law, nothing changes. WE keep doing the same thing over, and over and over again, expecting to get a different result. And when these things do not work, we say, don’t ask us, we are not doing the killing and the stealing. We say, if you want answers ask the sociologists and psychiatrists.

The Member for Carmichael said in the conclusion to his presentation, “the problems being experienced today did not suddenly come upon us and they were not thrust upon us from outside The Bahamas. We are, today, reaping the rewards of our own inabilities, inattentiveness, incompetence and indiscipline—the seeds of which were sown many years ago.” But not only were they sown during the drug years of the 70s and 80s, they were also sown in the 90s and the 2000s.

I will paraphrase Martin Luther King and say that as a result of long years of oppression and feelings that everything is backing up, because leaders have stop checking for them. A good number of Bahamians have become so drained of self-respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have given up on their dreams, become complacent and settled for almost anything; the resulting bitterness and hatred for having to settle, nourished by their frustration over continued discrimination and disenfranchisement have caused many to turn their anger against society.”

Mr. Speaker, I can safely say that over the past nine months, many of us have watched our country and our lives slowly slip into chaos and disarray. From the disastrous street-work mess that has turned our island into a maze of confusion to the, somewhat, embarrassing devaluation of our country’s economic worth and standing, it would appear that we, as a people and a nation, are sailing in stormy seas on a rudderless and captain-less ship. Abandoned by leadership, society as a whole is left on its own to fend for itself.

Frustrated on all levels, thrown into chaotic disarray with no one to turn to for help, for guidance and for protection, the people, it seems, are now taking matters into their own hands, trying to survive.

For many of us, as law abiding, good citizens, we no longer feel safe and secure inside or outside our homes and our streets, and our neighbourhoods have become like the Wild, Wild West—taken over by unfeeling criminals and people carrying out vigilante justice.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the Democratic National Alliance holds firm to its belief and its position that neither the Free National Movement (FNM) nor the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has any practical solution to our crime problem. The plans that we have gotten from them both, for the most part, amount to miserably misguided, unimaginative and uninformed attempts at rewording or rebranding past failed policies, with none truly seeking to address the root of the issue.

The turn around for our nation, Mr. Speaker, is not going to come as a result of the number of penal codes we put in place, you know. Sad to say, it may not even come with national calls to volunteerism. The turn around will only come with proper and effective administration and management of the country’s systems of social protection and job creation initiatives that will empower people to take care of their own personal needs.

And even this Mr. Speaker, for all we may wish, will not come as long as we have the present leadership that we have in place. For too long they have been in cahoots, playing a terribly divisive game of politics that have divided us as a nation and as a people.

I say to you today, Mr. Speaker, for us to see any turnaround in this crime issue the people must get the feeling that we are once again on the road to progress and for progress to continue in The Bahamas, there is going to be a need for real change from the petty partisan politics that was on full display last week by the Member for North Abaco.

Sir, I am in this position today, because I recognized that there was a void in visionary leadership, I recognized that there was a crisis in leadership, so I took up the charge. I did not enter this race to become the next Prime Minister of The Bahamas so that I could come in the people’s house of business to squawk, cackle and play around like one would expect of leaders in a banana republic. I came into this race, because I wanted to present the Bahamian people with a new kind of leadership, a new 21st Century progressive kind of leader and leadership that would seek to unite rather than to divide; one who recognizes that the scourge that we are here discussing and debating today is primarily the result of a nation left to fend for itself.

In closing Mr. Speaker, I say the Bahamian people need new leadership, because like in the late 70s and 80s, we now have a crisis in leadership and we must be guided through these tumultuous times. The world is changing around us, Mr. Speaker, and in order for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to keep up with what is taking place globally, we need a new kind of leadership who can help us compete on the global stage.

Like I said several times earlier, the push for majority rule and independence promised us that we would be owners—owners of our lands and owners of our destinies. However, this progress has been hindered because successive leaders, since Sir Lynden, have disregarded good ideas from that era and good ideas from each other. But Mr. Speaker when good ideas, compete against good ideas, great ideas lose!

When I moved into Bamboo Town as that constituency’s representative, I intentionally used the color olive green on the sign at my headquarters and whereas some may have perceived this to be my beginning push to move away from the FNM, I saw this as my beginning push to unite Bamboo Town. I relied on my early childhood values to give me the wisdom to recognize that before I was an FNM, I was a Bahamian. I wanted the residents to know that I was not only the representative for the FNMs, but I was also the representative for the PLPs, NDP, BDM and any other resident of Bamboo Town. My aim was to create a community, not a constituency.

Again, Mr. Speaker, our efforts in fighting crime and criminality will call for this same kind of leadership, one who recognizes that we are not islands made up of FNMs, PLPs, DNAs or NDPs, but that we are islands of Bahamians who make up the great Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

No longer should we or can we continue to allow partisanship—encouraged by disingenuous leadership—to drive a wedge between us as we try to get back to creating ONE BAHAMAS, a 21st century, 1st world Bahamas, where people are the most precious resource, where prosperity is measured by the quality of the health, education and the social environment, and the self-esteem of the people; where individual and corporate productivity are synonymous with self-worth and where the love of work is esteemed as a national obligation; a Bahamas where economic diversity creates a broad spectrum of opportunities to challenge all the rich, creative talents, gifts, abilities and ingenuity of the people.

Embedded in these ideas left unfinished by Sir Lynden, Mr. Speaker, are the solution to our crime problems. Embedded in them are the solution to our educational problems, Mr. Speaker. Embedded in these ideas, are the solutions to our health and economic problems. In these ideas, Mr. Speaker, are the vision for creating a ONE BAHAMAS, where people are first again. ONE BAHAMAS, Mr. Speaker, this is the meaning of real change, change we can believe in.

I thank you Mr. Speaker, and unless something pressing comes up, I hope that I will not have to mention my worthy opponents North Abaco and Farm Road again. In my effort to become a more self-disciplined leader, I constantly remind myself that this election is not about North Abaco and Farm Road, but about the Bahamas and Bahamians, particularly our children, their children, and their children’s children.

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