Honoured and Distinguished Guests,
My Sisters and Brothers,
I believe that somewhere in Heaven, they’re smiling tonight.
I believe that somewhere in Heaven, Dame Lois Browne-Evans and Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling are smiling tonight.
Smiling, because it is on nights like tonight, when the Progressive Labour Party of Bermuda, and the Progressive Liberal Party of The Bahamas come together, we are the heirs and successors to a Vision – their vision!
A vision that has culminated in our two great political movements holding the trust and confidence of our respective peoples, to lead them towards a brighter future.
And so, my brothers and sisters of Bermuda, I greet you in our traditional way and say:
My friends: I consider it a great honour to be the first Prime Minister from the region to visit Bermuda under this administration.
But the honour is not mine, personally, but that bestowed on the Bahamian people, and in particular, those who support your sister party, the Progressive Liberal Party.
As a country, and as a party, there is so much that we share.
We have a shared history.
We have shared battles.
But most of all, we have a shared people.
As far back as the 1600s, enslaved people, freed black people and others who were deemed a threat to the social order of Bermuda, were forcibly sent to The Bahamas.
I like to think that we still have some of their spirit of agitation, to shake things up and make things better.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and the racial and economic divisions of the 1600s were still oppressive forces in both our countries.
You had the Front Street Boys….
We had the Bay Street Boys.
Each of us has had our fair share against systems of oppression.
But the battle lines drawn against our progressive movement persist.
After years of protest in the fight for greater equality, slowly but surely, things began to change.
First, we defeated and stood shoulder to shoulder with our women to advance the interests of introducing universal suffrage. Now ALL our citizens now have the right to vote.
And when allowed to exercise their right to vote, the will of the majority prevailed.
Our new constitutions brought in greater rights and freedoms for every citizen. Increased access to education, healthcare, jobs and wealth creation means that the lives of the ordinary people who we represent have been improved beyond measure.
Our modern societies that sit among the family of nations are the direct result of these victories.
In helping to found the PLP of Bermuda, Sir Lynden and Dame Lois recognised the shared history of our two countries, the shared values of our two ideologies, and the shared needs of our two peoples.
We must stay true to our respective mandates, and not be tempted to adopt the attitudes of our opponents.
Your promise to ‘Rebuild Bermuda with Bermudians at heart’ has a strong overlay with our promise to deliver ‘A New Day’.
Central to each is the determination to exercise competent, compassionate, leadership for all.
Our shared focus on economic justice and equitable responses to the climate emergency, reflect our commitment to ensure that ordinary citizens are not left behind in this rapidly-changing world.
Let us not doubt our central mission and guiding purpose:
When we run on our working class, progressive economic values, we win.
When we offer opportunity, fairness and hope, we win.
When we stand up for what is right, no matter how hard that is, we win.
The world is changing fast, and natural and man-made activities are throwing up unprecedented challenges.
My brothers and sisters:
In 2022, as we both move forward in servant-leadership of our people, the need for us to lift up and support each other is still present.
Let us continue our mutual support for each of our political efforts in observing the free and fair elections we fought so hard to achieve.
In the 1960s, PLP Bahamas sent individuals to Bermuda to support PLP Bermuda in how to organize and run campaigns.
That has since expanded into mutual electoral support at each election.
We remain grateful that you have observed each election in The Bahamas since your formation, willing us on to go ‘all the way’.
Let us to renew our efforts to work together, and continue our friendly exchanges as witnessed by the visit of Deputy Leader Roban and MP Chris Famous to The Bahamas. Their address to the staff last month at PLP Headquarters at Gambier House about the fraternal ties between us, was very moving and warmly received.
Let us also continue our support and shared advocacy on the international stage.
I was thrilled that Chris Famous accepted our invitation to join our delegation during the meeting of the General Assembly at the United Nations in September. I remain grateful for the warm response he gave to my address.
Tonight, I wish first to make an announcement, and then to extend two further invitations.
First, in recognition of the close ties between our two countries, The Bahamas will appoint an Honorary Consul to Bermuda. This person will assist Bahamian nationals and businesses in Bermuda, and pursue opportunities for growth and development which will be of mutual benefit.
Secondly, I wish to reciprocate your kind offer of inviting us to share in this political celebration, and invite you to visit with us during our next PLP convention. It will be a time for fellowship and renewal, and we would be privileged to have you join us.
Finally, as many of you may know already, next year, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of our Independence. Planning is already underway for the festivities to mark this milestone in the life of our country as a fully independent nation.
As highly-valued and much cherished friends, we would be honoured if you would visit us during the year.
Our national motto charges us to move ‘Forward, Upward, Onward, Together’.
As fellow PLPs, we include you in that national embrace.
My brothers and sisters:
Thank you so much again for inviting us to share with you this evening.
Dame Lois and Sir Lynden have much to smile about.
I bring greetings in the name of the Officers and Members of the Progressive Liberal Party of The Bahamas.
People with a shared history…
People who have shared in each others’ battles…