Press Statement: Fitzgerald responds to Black Friday March

As many of you know, an invitation was extended to members of the Government by the organizers to attend the march on Friday past and while the acceptance of this invitation was met with accusation of event hijacking by the organizers and the subsequent directive to the attendees to turn their backs on us, my individual decision to participate was based on my love and commitment for our great country.

Like all Bahamians, I want a better and stronger Bahamas. This is why I have been committed to public service through front line politics for the past 9 ½ years – to advocate for Bahamians at large, and bring about change for a modern and prosperous nation, where we as a people make the effort to work together on nation-building and collaboratively address the challenges facing our country.

At Arawak Cay prior to the march I had the opportunity to speak with many in attendance. I learned that some persons gathered there because they were dissatisfied with the Government, some because they do not believe the Opposition party is a credible voice to represent their interests and others because they simply wanted to be part of the event. But most of all however, I spoke with people who above anything else, just wanted to put the politics aside and focus on improving our country.

This march was reflective of what the majority of Bahamians want for The Bahamas, which is nation building through a healthy exchange of ideas; a willingness to collaborate to improve our quality of life; communication; and listening to the Bahamian people.

I know this because the past 4 ½ years the Government has placed a priority on consultations, face to face interactions, and social media. Unfortunately however, the majority is often drowned out by the louder minority with a purely political agenda.

The National Development Plan, The Shared Vision for Education 2030, The National Energy Plan and the National Youth Policy among others should not be perceived as PLP initiatives as they have not been derived in isolation but have incorporated collaboration from a wide cross section of stakeholders inclusive of politicians and civil society. We will not win until we are united in a shared goal of building a better Bahamas. This is the genesis of The National Development Plan!

Persons have expressed that the Government must be accountable. I agree. I have said previously that before the end of this year I will be tabling Freedom of Information legislation. I am an advocate for the Freedom of Information Act and the government supports it.

As much as I was proud to acknowledge that this peaceful march was really reflective of a strong democracy at work, I was disappointed that after our Prime Minister took the time to write a thoughtful and detailed response within 2 days to the organizers outlining how many of their concerns have either been addressed or being addressed and inviting them to meet with him to discuss how we can work together on the issues raised, his invitation was flatly and disrespectfully rejected. In doing so, the organizers in a fit of hubris have squandered an opportunity many of those who marched and supported them wished they would have seized instead of issuing threats to hold the country hostage.

Despite what can be perceived as short-sightedness by the organizers, the peaceful display by Bahamians reflects the best of The Bahamas and how the majority of us are invested in making meaningful change. I am glad I took the opportunity to attend and speak with my brothers and sisters and want to assure all Bahamians that we in Government are working hard to enact the change you want to see in the country.

I continue to encourage Bahamians to share their opinions; don’t lose the passion you have for this great country, and above all, don’t let politics and those with a political agenda blind you. We are all in this together and we all have a role to play if The Bahamas is to truly maximize its potential.

The Government doesn’t have all the answers and we most certainly can’t solve every problem. At the end of the day the rate and success of the change we desire as a nation will be dictated by the rate and pace of our change individually and collectively as a people.

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