CHIEF MINISTER’S REMARKS AT THE
ROAD TOWN NDP RALLY FOR THE LAUNCHING OF AT LARGE TERRITORIAL CANDIDATE ELMORE
Ladies and Gentlemen: We
gather this evening to launch a candidate for Territorial representative.
We are here tonight to
honour our democracy and the tradition of communal involvement that we all hold
And, perhaps most
importantly, we come together on this occasion as a way of paying proper tribute
and lasting respect to our colleague and dear friend, the late Hon. Paul
Our thoughts and our
prayers remain with his family, in particular his beloved wife Leona.
Leona wanted to be here
tonight, but sadly another death in her family has prevented her from joining
us. Our deepest sympathies are with her and let us all resolve to extend our
hands to her and the entire family during this sad time.
And let us further resolve
that the finest tribute we can offer Paul Wattley is to keep his memory alive in
our minds and hearts.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Standing here this evening as we convene this meeting of the National Democratic
Party which Paul helped lead and which he believed in so passionately – we are
reminded that political parties and elections are not about personalities or
about power – they are about fulfilling a mission.
Paul Wattley was a man on
a mission. He had a vision for this Territory and he believed in that vision
with every ounce of his being.
It was a vision of hope
It was a vision rooted in
his enduring love of this Territory and his profound belief in the future that
we could build here.
And it was a vision as
bright and energetic as that wonderful sparkle that always glimmered behind his
And so tonight, ladies and
gentlemen, we join together as a party, as a movement and as a community to
reaffirm our commitment to helping carry out Paul’s mission.
My friends, two years ago,
the people of the BVI gave this Government a clear and solemn mandate to bring
change to our Territory.
After so many years of
lost opportunities, of misspent tax dollars and of failed leadership – the
people of the BVI said: Enough.
It is time for a new
direction. It is time for new thinking. It is time for a brighter day.
And for the last two years
it has been my honour and my joy to work each and every day with the people of
this Territory to help deliver that change.
This work has not always
been easy – but nothing worthwhile in life ever is.
But we have met this
challenge with strong spirits and with glad hearts.
We have worked everyday to
do the right as God has led us to know the right – and we have humbly
endeavoured to do his will knowing that no effort of flawed men is ever perfect,
but that only be striving for perfection can we truly fulfill duty.
We have had moments of
frustration and moments of great joy – but through it all we have never wavered
in our fundamental faith that the guiding hand of God would lead us on a
straight and true path;
And we have never had
cause to question our core belief that it is the duty of our generation to lay
the foundation for a stronger future.
Because, ladies and
gentlemen: above all else, this Government believes in the potential and the
possibility of the people of the BVI.
And it is on the basis of
that belief that we have worked with all our energy to open the doors of
We have focused our
attention on growing the economy and creating jobs.
Toward that end, we have
provided unprecedented support for small businesses and new entrepreneurs;
We have revised the tax
code so that the tax burden would be shared more fairly – and as a result every
working family in the BVI is now paying less in taxes than they did last year;
We have made major
investments in our national infrastructure including new piers and docks from
Anegada to Jost Van Dyke;
We have purchased the land
where the Virgin Gorda airport sits in order to allow its continued operation –
and we have improved the airports on Anegada and Beef Island;
And most recently, we have
taken a major multi-million dollar loan from the Social Security Board that will
be used to build and improve roads here in Tortola and throughout the Territory.
This major road building
initiative will not only create the modern infrastructure we need – but will
also provide meaningful and important work for our petty contractors and
construction companies – further expanding our economy.
And we have made a major
commitment to strengthening our vital tourism industry and making sure that its
benefits are shared more widely than ever.
In order to meet that
goal, we have moved forward with the new national service training program – the
first of its kind in the history of the BVI.
We have amended the Hotel
Aid Ordinance so that small properties of three rooms can now enjoy the same
benefits as larger hotels;
We have conducted
extensive marketing efforts around the world;
And we have purchased
Prospect Reef – which will soon be reopened as a functioning business hotel, as
well as a world-class training centre where the next generation of BVIslanders
will learn the art of hotel management.
Thanks to these efforts
and the hard work and ingenuity of the people of the BVI, our economy today is
strong and getting stronger.
Last year we set new
records for tourism with hotel occupancy rates exceeding 65%.
And as we have worked to
grow the economy and create opportunity, we have reinvested the fruits of our
success to provide more and better services for our people.
That starts with our
commitment to provide quality healthcare for all.
To meet that imperative we
have established the first Hospital Board in our Territory’s history – to staff
the Board we chose some of the leading medical experts not just in our
Territory, but in our entire region – and this group is already making our
healthcare system more effective and more accountable to the Ministry of Health
and the people of the BVI;
We have made major
investments in our clinics in the Sister Islands to make sure that quality
service was available when it is needed, where it is needed;
We have encouraged our
young people to consider nursing and medicine as career paths and have provided
scholarships to support them on their way – and we are tremendously pleased that
today there are more young British Virgin Islanders studying medicine at the
University of the West Indies than at any time in our history;
And we have completed the
new annex at the hospital that will mean more beds, more up to date facilities
and better service for patients.
Quite simply, where other
Governments have talked about delivering better healthcare, talked about
expanding the hospital, talked about reforming the system: we have actually
And as a doctor I could
not be prouder of the outstanding work that has been done by the men and women
of the public service and all those who do so much to make our healthcare system
work for the people of this Territory.
And in that same spirit of
forward thinking we have worked to address some of the most critical challenges
We have proposed and
passed the historic Immigration Law, which has finally established a fair
process for dealing with those who seek to join our community;
We have taken on the
challenge of making our Territory’s capital a place we can all be proud of, so
we have invested in a wide ranging beautification process;
And we have delivered on
one of our most important pledges from the last election: we have made education
priority number one.
Ladies and Gentlemen: of
all the work this Government has done over the past two years, nothing makes me
prouder than the accomplishments we have seen in the effort to educate our young
people and prepare them to succeed in the world.
We have invested in our
schools at all levels – building new facilities, renovating and improving
existing facilities and bringing new technology to our students.
We have brought the
National Curriculum project forward and starting next month students throughout
the Territory will be benefiting from a curriculum that is updated to meet their
We have given special
attention to strengthening the Community College and ensuring that this critical
institution is put on the path to continue to be the thriving centre of learning
that it is today. Toward that end, we have worked tirelessly to help streamline
the operation and put the College’s financial house in order – and we are
pleased to say that outlook for the College is now bright.
So long as we have
anything to say about it, the H. Lavitty Stoutt Community College will continue
to meet its vital mission long into the future.
And in one of the finest
achievements of our first two years, we have delivered on our promise and
created the BVI’s first Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.
In just its first year of
existence, this new Department is already showing incredible promise, sponsoring
after-school activities from sports, to art, to choir.
Seeing our young people
compete in the recent Choir Competition - -the first in our history – and
listening the pure and sweet voices of the winning Virgin Gorda team – we all
saw first hand how much good can be accomplished when we make the right choices
for the future.
And so, ladies and
gentlemen, it is truly fitting that now as we face this special election, that
we stand before you, the people of the BVI, and offer up a man who is ideally
suited to helping carry on the work of building a better future.
It is a cliché to
introduce somebody by saying: this man needs no introduction.
But in this case – that is
literally the truth.
This man has been a rock
in our community for as far back as most of us can remember.
The young men and women
who will be voting for the first time on September 5th hadn’t even been born
when Mr. Stoutt was completing his first decade of service in the education
It is no exaggeration to
say that this man raised entire generations – providing his wise council, his
steady hand, and his endless supply of patience, good humour and true love for
the young people of the BVI.
Wherever you look around
and see a strong, smart, confident young BVIslander stepping up to positions of
responsibility and leadership in this community, you can be certain that this
man had a hand in shaping that person and preparing them for their road ahead.
Mr. Elmore Stoutt truly
embodies the best virtues of the public servant – a man who puts the greater
good ahead of personal glory; a man who serves without question and answers
duty’s call; and a man who will never stop working to build a better tomorrow
for all BVIslanders.
We are honoured to present
him as our candidate and to support him in this election.
And we ask all of you to
stand with him, too.
Because make no mistake –
this election is important.
We are brought to this
vote by the saddest of events. The passing of our friend and colleague Hon. Paul
Wattley still sits heavy in our hearts.
And we know that there is
no better way to honour his beloved memory than to pick up the torch and move
Paul would never have
stood for us to lose our focus even in the face of hardship and tragedy. If he
were here tonight, he would look us in the eye and tell us: there is work to be
He would have told us that
he ran for office because he wanted to see his vision fulfilled. And all who
knew him can testify that he would never have allowed us to stop working until
the job is done.
And so that is what we
We must continue to
improve our healthcare system by building the hospital and bringing a new health
insurance scheme to the people – and we will not stop until the job is done.
We must continue to
improve education in our Territory by building the new High School and investing
even more in opening opportunities for our young people – and we will not stop
until the job is done.
We must continue to grow
the economy by aiding our local businesses and further strengthening tourism and
financial services – and we will not stop until the job is done.
And ladies and gentlemen
we must, we absolutely must continue to give the people of this Territory the
kind of clean, honest and trustworthy Government that is free from the failures
of the past – and my friends I promise you we will not stop until the job is
We are going to keep on
working for you because that is what you asked of us when you gave us your trust
and your vote two years ago.
And with Elmore Stoutt by
our side we will continue to march forward toward the better future we can all
My friends: the BVI is on
the move – we are heading in the right direction – and we are not turning back.
It is my pleasure to give
you our friend, our teacher and your next Territorial Representative Mr. Elmore
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