Mister Party National Chair, Mister Branch Chair, on 4 May 1999, the hardest and most difficult morning in my life dawned.† The woman who was looking after my ailing mother called to say that my mother had collapsed shortly after taking her first morning steps, and that she had no pulse.† And that, as they say, was that.† I had not had a harder blow before, and I have not had a harder blow since.† I imagine there must be something harder but that was the most difficult experience in my life.
I raise that tonight because I wish to lend some level of comfort to those many scores of Bahamians who by telephone and by stopping me in the streets, assured me of their support and of their prayers in the latest of the so-called controversies, that over the illegal migrant population in The Bahamas.
Please let me assure you that I am unrepentant and unreconstructed in my views, my truthful views, and not my misrepresented views.† The truth is the truth.† But as Archdeacon William Thompson
used to say, the truth is spoken in love.† What is the truth and what is it that has so exercised the minds of the Bahamian people over the last few weeks after a few remarks in the Senate of The Bahamas aimed at creating a vital national debate about the state of illegal migration to The Bahamas?
The Bahamian people in my view long for the sure and certain policy of the Progressive Liberal Party in this matter.† They know that it is only the PLP that can protect the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It is only the PLP who can protect the national patrimony.† As Opposition Spokesman on Immigration, I was able to secure last week a statement specifically reviewed by our Leader that underlines the PLPís belief in law and order, that our borders must not be
breached.† And insofar as our resources allow, I believe that the borders of The Bahamas must be securely and if possibly hermetically sealed.
The comments in the Senate inadvertently revealed a deeply held resentment amongst certain sectors of our population that the national patrimony is being undermined.† They see the land being sold out from under them with the blessing of the Free National Movement and Hubert Ingraham.† They see strangers being allowed into the country at will without any immigration permission or status.† And so what Bahamians have been saying to the FNM Government over the past week is: who will stand up for us?
Even The Tribune which attempted on Wednesday to trivialize a serious situation by reducing the matter to a personal fight between two individuals had to ask in its own editorial for action to deal with the illegal immigration population before, according to The Tribune ,we end up like Kosovo and Fiji.† I think that was a bit over the top, but I understand their concern and would never seek to trivialize or turn into a comic event something of such as serious nature.
And so I say to my critics, please donít hold your breath for any further explanations or any apology.† There has been too much talk already.† All of my critics need to turn their attention on the real culprits in this situation the Free National Movement Government.† They are the ones who have the
responsibility to guard the borders of The Bahamas.† They are the ones who are failing daily in their jobs. As Opposition spokesman for Immigration I call upon Hubert Ingraham and Tommy Turnquest the Minister to simply do their jobs.
Mister National Chair, Mr. Branch Chair, let me say a word about how this all relates to what we are doing in Exuma tonight.† It is a story that the National Chair has heard me tell many times.† When I was negotiating my way back into the PLP in 1996, there were two questions which I was asked by Sir Lynden Pindling, the then Leader of the PLP.† One had to do with my views on the abolition of the penalty in capital crimes. The other had to do with a promise that upon my return to the PLP, I was to help to keep the PLP in the news.† No one can say that I have not kept that promise.
And that is an important promise to have kept and an important work to do.† I am from that wing of your party that believes in activism.† My view is that a political party is first and foremost a public instrument, not a private instrument to be kept hidden under a bushel. †And so one thing that you will
know about me is that I have a view.† And within the ambit of the Shadow Cabinet responsibilities that I have you will see me espouse my views.† My responsibilities are Foreign Affairs, Labour and Immigration. I have views. †And I put those forward both in private and publicly, But I say the PLP is first and foremost a public instrument, one that tries to shape public opinion.
I believe that we have to stake out new ground.† We cannot be a 'me too' product, trying to ape the FNM.† We must demarcate ourselves from the FNM.† We must show people this is where we are.† This is how we stand, and let them decide. And I think that from what I have seen, the people are with us, and the next General Election is ours to win or lose.
And so it is incumbent for PLP supporters to remember that and not allow their voices and opinions to be hidden in a crowd.† I have a web site and it is available to every one has a computer at
http://www.fredmitchelluncensored.com I get some 40,000 hits on that site every month.† It gives personal views of the news from a PLP perspective and it has PLP position papers.† So if you need to find
something, you need only pull it up from the world wide web.† There is no reason not to be informed.† It is updated every Sunday at 2 p.m.
Every once in a while a public statement will cause a caffuffle in the public but you must not let that destabilize you.† We are the great PLP.† We must stand up for our party positions and leaders.
It is therefore a great privilege and an honour to be here tonight.† Exuma has always been one of my favourite places.† You lost the election here by 100 votes in the last election.† We expect Exuma to be in the win column next time.† I hope to be able to lead Fox Hill in the win column next year.† It is important that we win this Government back.† Remember that the PLP is the only political
party that has a defined policy of Bahamians first and protecting this country for Bahamians.† There is no drawing back from that. Anyone who tries to draw us into false controversies about who said what in the
newspaper must be forewarned that we will not be distracted.† The problem right now in this country is the ineptitude of Hubert Ingraham's Government.† Our Leader issued† statement today talking about how Mr. Ingraham and his hapless Minister of Finance William Allen are both presiding over the collapse of the offshore sector in this country.† And they have not properly briefed the Opposition on the point, yet they will count on us to lend them assistance.
That is the issue.† Not a fight between two individuals.† The fight is for safe and secure
borders, for a well-run economy.† On all of those scores tonight, we can safely say that Hubert Ingraham is an abject failure.†
Thank you and God Bless!