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NATIONAL ADDRESS BY THE LEADER OF THE PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY

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Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Q.C., M.P.
Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador
Party Leader

My Friends, this coming election will be an historic one, likely the most consequential election since Independence.

This election is about so much more than a choice between the PLP and the FNM: this election is about our country’s survival. 

Everywhere we look, we see chaos and collapse and crisis.

As one brave doctor said the other night, “We are past the breaking point”.

She was referring to the breakdown of our public health system, but I think that’s how a lot of Bahamian families feel right now, too – past the breaking point.

Our hospitals are stretched beyond capacity, affecting not just our ability to treat COVID patients but everyone else, too. 

Our economy is stuck, with too many Bahamians still left out; for those lucky enough to have jobs, wages are often too low to keep up with the cost of living.

We are seeing armed robberies in broad daylight, as desperation increases.

The same handful of wealthy families keep getting wealthier, while the doors of opportunity are slammed shut to everyone else.

In the midst of this suffering and tragedy, the government is asking you for a new mandate. They are asking you for a vote of confidence.

But the Prime Minister cannot solve the crisis – his incompetence is the crisis.

Any responsible government would have spent the last few months preparing for a surge of COVID cases, as the more transmissible Delta strain became dominant around the world. But that’s not what this government did. They were too busy preparing to campaign.  

They didn’t listen to Bahamian doctors and nurses; they allowed travelers in without negative COVID tests; they failed to surge resources to our clinics and hospitals; and until last week, when the US donated millions of vaccines to the entire Caribbean region, we were hundreds of thousands of doses short. They were so inept that we were seventeenth in the region to offer vaccines to our people.

He and his colleagues are shockingly disconnected from the reality on the ground right now.

In the midst of a terrible health crisis and a brutal economic crisis, they are boasting about saving lives and livelihoods.

They are asking you to believe up is down, black is white, terrible is terrific – and their contempt for you is such that they believe you will.

Their failure to acknowledge reality is an admission of failure and defeat. They’ve given up. They’ve given up on the country, and they’ve given on you.  They can’t do better than this, and they don’t think you deserve better, either.

We see the same pattern over and over – a failure to plan, then a last-minute scramble to put Band-Aids on gaping wounds – and then millions in propaganda to convince you they’re doing a great job.

They have never presented the country with a comprehensive plan for COVID or for an economic recovery. That’s because they have no solutions, only campaign slogans.

That’s why, two years after Dorian, the billions pledged have vanished, and the people continue to suffer.

And even as our doctors and nurses cry out for adequate resources to treat the sick, the government continues to hide hundreds of millions of secret pandemic spending. A government that came to power promising transparency has offered nothing but secret deals and cover-ups.

We can’t take five more months of this, let alone five more years.

My fellow Bahamians, there is a better way forward.

We can come together and, step by step, move our country and our people forward.

We have a COVID-19 Action Plan – a plan which follows the science – free and expanded testing to keep up with outbreaks, effective contact-tracing, and a public education programme that provides people with access to medical professionals. We don’t believe in threatening people or talking down to them – we believe in providing you with the information you need to make medical decisions for yourselves and your families.

In fighting COVID, it’s time for a new approach – a new way and a New Day.

We can’t wait until COVID has disappeared to jumpstart our economic recovery – we need to be able to do both things at once.

And on the economy, I want to be very clear: I don’t think small changes are going to do it.

We’re going to need big, transformational changes. 

That’s why I’ve worked with my Deputy Leader to recruit an excellent new team of candidates, who will be ready on day one to partner with the people of this country to take our country in a new direction. 

That’s why we’ve centered our campaign on our Economic Plan. I hope you’ll read it for yourself instead of letting anyone tell you what to think.  I know that if you do you will see that we have innovative solutions that would transform our economy.  Our Plan is a vision for a more dynamic, more resilient, more inclusive economy – it’s a vision for change.

It’s a vision for a New Day.

We have a Blueprint for stabilizing the country’s finances, providing immediate relief to the suffering, revolutionizing education and training for the 21st century, diversifying the economy and creating opportunities across the country.

Because I look around at the talent in this small country, and I know we can do big things.

I see a new generation of Bahamians who are hungry for change, for opportunity, and for progress.

This campaign isn’t going to look like other campaigns in the past. We’re working hard to find ways to reach you, talk to you, answer your toughest questions – and still keep you safe. 

We welcome your questions about our plans to get people back to work and to create a fairer economy.

And friends, we can’t wait for you to meet our candidates – chosen because of their commitment to people, their expertise and excellence in their fields, and their drive to move this country in new direction. 

You probably know many of them already, because they are women and men of distinction, who are already contributing to their communities.

They will not be hidden away, merely propping up a tyrannical leader, one who refuses to answer questions, who openly insults the public and members of his own team.

It will be a New Day!

My friends: have you asked yourselves why the government is calling an election at the worst moment yet in this pandemic?

They are calling it because they have to – not because they want to.

They have been using the Emergency Orders to hide hundreds of millions in secret pandemic spending, and they can’t afford for the details to come out before the election.

The food assistance contract – how much went to food for the people, and how much went to wealthy FNM donors?

This government cannot afford to have an independent Speaker of the House who is willing to require that they answer questions like that one.

That is why they do not want Parliament back in session.

They are also having a terrible time raising money to fund their budget. We have heard from reliable sources that they intend to raise your taxes.

We think it would be immoral to ask people for money they don’t have. But they don’t have the ingenuity to think of another way – and they are too afraid of their wealthy donors to raise their taxes.

Remember last time, they said they were against VAT, then came in and raised it 60%?

That’s their plan again.

Don’t let their lies about taxes fool you this time.

Lies are all they have left.

They’re going to lie about taxes, just like they’re lying about me.

But friends: look to the truth!

Many of you already know me.

I invite the rest of you to ignore the lies – get to know me better.

My journey was only made possible because of the opportunity of the Bahamian dream, a dream which is now sadly out of the reach of so many.

If you trust us to help deliver that dream, my team and I will spend every waking hour working to bring about that opportunity for every person in this country.

I am the grandson of Cat Islanders, who didn’t have much, but they made sure I knew the difference between right and wrong.

I am the son of hard-working parents, who taught me to work hard, and promoted the virtues of public service.

Supported by the love of family, friends and colleagues, I am now blessed to have an opportunity to lead a country that I love to a better day, to a New Day.

Get to know me, Philip Edward Davis… But please, you can call me ‘Brave’!

My fellow Bahamians:

As surely as we lift our heads each day to the rising sun, know that with the PLP a New Day is coming.

You deserve a government who will tell you the truth about the state of our country, and what is being done in your name and on your behalf.

You deserve a government that will focus on the right priorities, who will not waste millions on sidewalks, while the Bahamian people are hungry and homeless, and while the healthcare system is in a state of collapse.

You deserve a government that will put you first, not one that will say anything to get elected and the next day raise your taxes.

You deserve a competent government: the Progressive Liberal Party built every major institution in our Bahamas, and is ready to build the new institutions for the 21st century.

You deserve a compassionate government, one that genuinely cares for the people, that would find it unconscionable to leave the remains of loved ones in a trailer for over a year, then not even attend their burial.

We have a New Team, with a New Plan, because we are all ready for a New Day, when all

Bahamians can have access to the kind of opportunity and community that was part of the Promise of Independence.

Our job now is to take our message to every home and every household, to every island, rock and cay, to every street, road, alley and corner, in every yard and every homestead, and tell everyone, tell everyone that A New Day is dawning!

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Join us.