You have to admire crusading lawyer Fred Smith for his chutzpah and energy in tackling regulatory and human rights abuses that would otherwise almost certainly go unchallenged.
Smith is one of a very few Bahamian professionals who do this sort of thing. And quite often it is on a pro bono basis. Over the past few decades he has undertaken hundreds of cases, many at great personal cost.
Contingency (or success) fees are not allowed in Bahamian legal practice. So as a principal in one of the top law firms in the country - Callenders & Co - it’s fair to say that Smith could be a lot richer if all of his time, and that of the many associates in his firm, was billed at commercial rates.
It was Smith who in 1985 helped set up, and continues to lead, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association - a legal aid and advocacy group formed in response to Loftus Roker’s infamous immigration crackdown - when Haitians were hunted down with dogs. And he is a co-leader of the recently formed environmental watchdog group, Save the Bays.
Over the years, his crusades have annoyed both FNM and PLP administrations - which is generally a good sign - and he has notched up some notable successes, including at the Privy Council level.
Victory and defeat are both replete with irony and paradox. Many a victory is the prelude to eventual defeat and many defeats contain mustard seeds which may be nourished to eventual victory.
Even in losing her bid to become Leader of the FNM, Loretta Butler Turner’s stature has risen in the process. She remains one of the premier political leaders, even though she no longer holds any party post. Notably, though women constitute the largest share of the electorate, no women hold any of the major party posts in the PLP or FNM.
Yards away from the bust of her grandfather in Rawson Square and in the same House chamber where Sir Milo Butler championed the rights of the mass of Bahamians, Butler Turner remains one of the more able and articulate Members of Parliament.
Founded in 1915, the Bahamas Girl Guides Association recently kicked-off its centennial commemoration at Government House with a programme of appreciation and celebration.
The Association has done extraordinary work over the past 100 years, helping to mould many generations of Bahamian girls and young women. Thousands of women, many at the most senior levels of the country, were deeply influenced by their membership in Girl Guides.
The Girl Guides movement, inclusive of Sunflowers, Brownies, Girl Guides and Rangers helped to develop confidence and foster a sense of the possible among scores of Bahamian females.
A Guiding song celebrating this sense of the possible is, “Can a Woman?”, which was sung at the launch of the centennial celebrations, its lyrics highlighting the advancement of women:
“Can a woman fly an airplane? Yes, she can, yes she can! Can a woman build a building? Yes, she can, yes she can!”
The song asks if a woman can be a drummer or a doctor, or fix an engine, as well as do and achieve many other things. The resounding chorus throughout is, “Yes, she can, yes she can!”
Consider the complex of challenges before the international community, especially vulnerable small-island states such as The Bahamas and other Caricom members, as well as various Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Pacific.
The threats range from the effects of climate change with rising sea levels and droughts to human trafficking and the trade in guns and illicit drugs, helping to fuel alarming crime rates and piracy, as well as other security challenges including international terrorism and cybercrime.
Many countries are reeling still from the fallout of the Great Recession with trade and financial services and banking regimes often rigged in favor of the global powers inclusive of governments and corporate behemoths. Youth unemployment is staggeringly high. Income inequality is on the rise.
The unravelling of Dr Arthur Porter’s life didn’t begin in the Bahamas. But it could be said to have ended here - more or less.
Porter is a leading cancer specialist. He became an international lobbyist, and an advisor to Bahamian, American, Canadian and African political leaders. His business dealings stretched across continents, and heads of state were his colleagues and friends,
He now resides in a Panamanian jail, fighting lung cancer as well as extradition to Canada on charges that he arranged $22.5 million in kickbacks, paid to Bahamian shell companies, during construction of a $1.3 billion hospital in Montreal.
Before his world collapsed three years ago, Porter had been the jet-setting chairman of the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee. He had served on a US presidential healthcare commission, had been appointed chairman of the Bahamas Stem Cell Task Force, and was a goodwill ambassador for Sierra Leone, the country of his birth.
“We don’t make choices in politics - others make them for us.” — Earl Deveaux
With less than eight months to go before the next British general election, the opposition Labour Party appears to be having buyer’s remorse over its choice of leader. In fact, there are some interesting parallels with the political situation here.
After Labour’s 2010 loss, the defeated prime minister - Gordon Brown - resigned as party leader and sank from view (although he continues to represent his Scottish constituency). Hubert Ingraham did the same here in 2012, but he also quit parliament, watching as his formerly safe Abaco seat was captured by the PLP in a bye-election.
A few months after the 2010 defeat, 40-year-old Ed Milliband (a former energy secretary) was elected leader of the Labour Party over his older brother David (a former foreign secretary). But the younger Milliband has been unable to galvanise his party.
Critics say he lacks style and authority, despite four years in the job. "What is the vision? What are the values? And more importantly, [what is] the narrative?,” asked one party leader recently. "Because quite frankly, the Tories have a narrative and we don’t."
As a writer in the Economist Magazine put it: "there is very little love for the government but perhaps even less enthusiasm for the alternative. And yet, there is a deep underlying disgruntlement with politics and a broad foreboding about the future.”
He could almost be talking about the Bahamas.
When the dispirited rump of the FNM gathered at the Holy Trinity Activities Centre on May 26 2012, they elected Dr Hubert Minnis, the former health minister, to replace Hubert Ingraham as party leader. He was unopposed. Loretta Butler-Turner was chosen as deputy, the late Charles Maynard as chairman, and Dr Duane Sands as deputy chairman.