Thank you Mr. Speaker
I stand to pay tribute to our parliamentary colleague, George Smith, a giant of a man who was a stalwart in this Honourable House;
A Cabinet Minister;
A political historian par excellence;
A son of the Exuma soil;
A forefather of this free, modern, democratic and independent state called the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; a dedicated public servant;
A Bahamian nationalist, an unrepentant advocate for the progressive movement and an ardent defender of all that was Bahamian.
His distinguished record of public service began with advocacy as a young member of the National Committee for Positive Action (NCPA), a think tank, policy advisory body, and an advocacy and pressure group that became the voice of progress and change among the Bahamian masses during the turbulent 1960’s.
He and countless other freedom fighters stood on a platform of social justice and in the vanguard of change as he tirelessly advocated for Majority Rule as an active participant in the modern political development and evolution of our nation.
George Smith would officially enter frontline politics on 10th January 1967 at the tender age of Twenty-Seven when he contested the Exuma seat as a candidate of the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party.
He was unsuccessful in the 1967 general elections.
Following the untimely death of Uriah McPhee and a decision by the governing PLP to take the nation into another general election to secure a decisive electoral mandate, George again ran for Exuma. This time he was successful and he served the community of his birth with distinction or Twenty-Five consecutive years.
He was party to many pieces of historic and groundbreaking legislation in this Honourable House and his contributions to the pivotal events in Bahamian history will and must be memorialized.
In the march to national independence, George was one of the signatories at the Constitutional Conference in London in 1972 – a conference that laid the groundwork and legal framework for Independence the following year, 1973.
His service as chairman of the inaugural Independence Secretariat which coordinated the preparations for Independence and all of the connected celebratory events essentially etched George’s name in the annals of Bahamian history as the birth of a new nation emerged.
As an executive, George is perhaps best known in his capacity as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries & Local Government, where he superintended the
accelerated production of agricultural and marine products, goods and services that led to the economic empowerment of many Bahamians.
He also served as the as the Minister of Transport.
As the Chairman of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, George was instrumental in introducing cellular services and as Chairman of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas, he led key developments in our tourism sector.
As a diplomat, George served ably as the non-resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Singapore.
I note George’s most recent assignment in public service as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for our 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations.
Suffice it to say, George’s commitment to our nation extended beyond his professional achievements.
He was a mentor, a friend, and a trusted voice who helped shape the discussions that have propelled The Bahamas forward.
Today, we also fondly remember our dearly departed brother and the role he played in mentoring the next generation of political leaders in the country. He was quite proud to be able to shepherd the career of its now MP Chester Cooper, who is the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Investment and International Trade and Deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party.
George was steadfast in his dedication to empowering ordinary Bahamians, and his tireless advocacy for progress and change will remain his enduring legacy.
His life and legacy will continue to inspire generations of Bahamians and his memory will forever be etched in the annals of our nation’s history.
Such is the meaning of life Mr. Speaker.
I shall miss him.
On behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas, I extend deepest condolences to George’s children, Gina, Gigi and Andrew and his wider family, most especially his brothers, Robert and Philip and his nephews and nieces, especially Frank Smith.
May he rest in peace.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.