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Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin Contribution to the Constitutional Debate

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Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin Contribution to the Constitutional Debate

Text of Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin Contribution to the Constitutional Debate

Office of The Minister of Transport & Aviation

P O Box N-7132, 3rd Floor, Manx Corporate Centre, West Bay Street, Nassau, Bahamas

T: 1-242-397-5529 328-2701-5 322-4546 F: 328-1324E: or (Secretary)




House of Assembly

Nassau, Bahamas

Wednesday, 6 August, 2014

Mr Speaker, I rise on behalf of Bahamians everywhere

to move the second reading of

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1) The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment Bill 2014

2) The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) (No.

2) Bill 2014

3) The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) (No.

3) Bill 2014

4) The Bahamas Constitution Amendment) (No. 4) Bill

5) The Status of Children (Amendment) Bill 2014

I again thank the good people of Englerston who have allowed me to sit in this Honourable House and to be able to stand in this place on this morning to move a second reading of these Bills.

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Mr Speaker, I wish to begin before commencing this important debate, by first thanking the Bahamian athletes who comprised the Bahamian team and represented our country at the recent Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

Please allow me to especially commend the historic silver medal win by Arianna Vanderpool Wallace in the 50 metres butterfly swimming event and the new national record set in that event and the silver medal win of the mens 4 x 400 metres relay team and for me, especially Chris Brown.

In the case of Ariannas spectacular medal performance, one of the daily newspapers reports that while being interviewed tears flowed and she is

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quoted as saying she hoped that the Bahamian people will understand just how precious the moment has been for her.

#I wanted it so badly for the Bahamas, not just for myself, she said as her voice started to crack with emotion. I had a chance to put the Bahamas on the map and to make people realise that we are a force to reckon with.

#We had all of the other swimmers swimming here and doing exceptionally well, so its been a great meet for the Bahamas.

#Thanks to everybody for their support. Ive been getting a lot of Twitter messages, Facebook messages and emails from people all over the world

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that Ive never met before, but you have been rooting for me coming from such a small country, she summed up. So it means a lot to me.

Mr Speaker, we note in her comments the recurring reference to we and how she perceives her achievement as a collective one shared by us, the


We in this country have been watching and speaking nationally about this young woman perhaps from the days of her pre-teens: she has over the years shown such determination, audacity and courage in seeking to break new ground for our country. She has done this and Mr. Speaker, we are not talking track and

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field, we are speaking of swimming. She is a trailblazer.

Mr Speaker, I wish also to use this moment to say a little something of Chris Brown, who, in my humble opinion, epitomizes much of what is good in our country.

Over time he has become more focused.

He has exhibited greater professional maturity.

He has become more skilled in his craft, while at the same time honing his leadership abilities, purposefully mentoring new and up and coming athletes.

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All the while, with each success, each groundbreaking milestone, he has maintained his humility and constantly exhibited dignity and sober pride in being Bahamian. He has become an exceedingly admirable person, indeed an inspiration in our countrys development.

The one constant has been the heart he has exhibited on the track: wearing the colours of this nation which appears as nothing more than little dots on the world globe;

He has the heart of a giant: the heart of a champion which is so reflective of the spirit of the Bahamian people.

It is that same heart we see in young Arianna.

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In the case of both Arianna and Chris Brown we know the victory is not simply personal to these individuals but are achievements made for and on behalf of the Bahamian people. That is why they speak of the we and not the I.

It is the examples of the likes of citizens such as Arianna Vanderpool Wallace and Chris Brown and the so many others in all the spheres of human endeavour, in the arts and sciences, in cultural exposition, in the daily service to our people and the greater good that are powerful reminders and a material reiteration that we have such a wonderful country.

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It is no accident that I in the beginning of this presentation have used these two examples as a foreword to this debate on citizenship and on the men and women citizens of this country. It is intentional that I have sought to refer to that intangible that powerfully connects us as a people.

I have spoken of these two incredible athletes although there are many examples in our national life.

Indeed these references are key to my case. Mr Speaker, to us, The Bahamas is special.

We have our many vexing challenges and it is because we love and care for and greatly value this country that we do experience grave concern in the face of these challenges; however, Mr Speaker, we must always keep central to our focus that despite

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these challenges at the core we have a great nation and a gifted people: a marvellous citizenry.

And even after 41 years of Independence as we as a people seek to continue shaping our country and properly defining our national identity: we at the same time continue to ensure that our values and mores are strengthened and sustained.

We endeavour to ensure a society undergirded by equity, justice and fairness and to coerce a humane society in which all of our people find a place of wholeness and peace.

Mr Speaker this cannot be mere rhetoric spewed in this Parliament but an absolute and faithful commitment to the healthy growth of our nation.

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This business of purposefully and consciously shaping and moulding and defining and refining our country is especially important if we reflect upon the historical evolution of this country and its people.

Indeed just two days ago we commemorated the anniversary of the freeing of slaves who were descended from Africa, our ancestors, by the public holiday called Emancipation Day.

At one time we diplomatically called it August Monday but the name Emancipation reiterates our journey and places a contextual reminder of our duty to be good to one another.

This is not fantasy or politics or anything other than an historical fact.

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The Debate today begins yet another critical step in the purposeful shaping of our social reality, in the pursuit of equity, fairness, justice, equality.

We are reminded too that this debate is one based on conscience.

There is no whip on any member of this House, at least not on this side of the House. Each member will speak to the Bills in accord with his or her conscience.

Mr Speaker, fundamentally the Bills before this House touch and concern two highly important and sensitive issues: that of full equality under our constitution between men and women citizens and secondly the

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issue of citizenship itself: these two issues are largely intertwined in these Bills.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of citizenship is an extremely emotive issue: it is one that is very personal and intimate to the psychi of our people and in its impact to a country and it is a turf of which Bahamians are highly protective.

The fact, therefore that this issue is now upon the table for decision-making is a matter of great import. It is one that all Bahamians who are eligible to vote must participate in. Each voice must be heard and counted in this matter as it touches upon entrenched provisions of our Constitution and goes to the core of our national reality.

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This is not a PLP/ FNM/ DNA moment: those moments come every 5 years and lots and lots in between. This, however, is a moment that will be of a most enduring and deeply transformative effect.

Today begins therefore a very critical intervention in our nations history and in our social evolution as a people.

It is very serious business.

We are today moving amendments to specific clauses of our Constitution: these are what are called

entrenched clauses of our constitution.

These are not ordinary provisions and the Constitution provides for an extraordinary procedure

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should at any time there be an effort to amend or in any way alter such entrenched provisions.

Article 54 (1) of the Constitution provides-Subject to the provisions of this Article,

Parliament may, by an Act of Parliament passed by both Houses, alter any of the provisions of this Constitution or

(in so far as it forms part of the law of The Bahamas) any of the provisions of The Bahamas Independence Act, 1973.

The Article further outlines a number of Articles in the Constitution including those under consideration today namely Articles 8, 9, 10, 14, 26 and prescribes a special procedure for the alteration of these provisions which relate to the transmission of

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citizenship and the clause prohibiting discrimination which is among the fundamental rights under the Constitution,

Article 54 states that where such provisions are sought to be altered

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