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Tuesday, August 08, 2006 

8th August
Bernadette Christie Tackles Societal Issues
By Tameka Lundy
Lackadaisical civil servants should be fired, Bernadette Christie, wife of Prime Minister Perry Christie suggested as she admitted that the public service "leaves a lot to be desired."

Bernadette Christie
Mrs. Christie, a chartered accountant, lawyer and banker was a guest on the Love 97 flagship programme Jones and Company when she made the declaration.

"You have to be able to fire people who are not doing what they are supposed to do in the public sector," she said while being interviewed by host Wendall Jones.

"There is just too much of that going on where people just sit down and do absolutely nothing and your hands are tied."

It was one of the first interviews that Mrs. Christie has given on such a forum in recent times and came as less than a year is left before the Progressive Liberal Party Government must call the next general election. The PLP took over the reins of governance on May 2, 2002 after the Bahamian electorate voted the Hubert Ingraham-led administration out of office.

Mrs. Christie’s sentiment about the public sector came on the heels of a related suggestion that Mr. Ingraham made last week while he toured the third phase of the sprawling Atlantis property on Paradise Island.

At the time, the Free National Movement leader said he would like to "shrink the public sector and create more jobs in the private sector so that we could have the money to do all those public services that the Bahamian people require rather than just providing jobs in the public sector."

And just recently the PLP government lifted the moratorium on hiring in the civil service said to be necessary to fill positions that were left vacant through various forms of staff movements. It was a move of which some detractors were highly suspicious, considering looming general elections.

Mrs. Christie, who acknowledged that she is not a feminist said the roles of men and women have been blurred over the years and men have been somewhat emasculated by the fairer sex, leading to higher rates of divorce.

She said while it is her view that the man is the head of the household, the reality in some cases is that the woman earns more money. She said this tearing of the social fabric leads to societal problems.

"There is a general malaise; not just with women but with men and women and we need to tackle that and find out why that is that our men seem to be copping out of the system and sitting by while women seem to be moving up the ladder," she said.

"When you have a structure where nobody really knows who is in charge and what their roles are, you are going to find that there will be a certain amount of emasculation and then women are going to complain…So we need to have respect for the division; let a men be a man."

Sharing a bit of inside information, Mrs. Christie assured that her husband is the head of her household. The two have been married for 32 years, 31 of which he has been in active politics.

Mrs. Christie is an enthusiastic supporter of the urban renewal programme, a flagship project crafted by her husband to lead the way in authentic social transformation in communities across The Bahamas. It is designed to address deep seated ills that plague the country and contribute to moral decay. Many observers have opined that the programme will be the prime minister’s legacy.

She commented on its multifaceted approach.

"We cannot just deal with crime, we cannot just deal with youth, you have to look at very aspect of the community and tackle all the different areas of it and then you will find that crime will eventually dissipate," she said.

"But if you say I will tackle crime I am going to send the police in here and see if they can find all the people who have guns, it is not going to work and that is the whole issue of urban renewal dealing with base issues, dealing with the small things."

The programme was initiated in the prime minister’s Farm Road constituency and has since spread to other areas like Yamacraw, Pinewood and Englerston in New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Mrs. Christie was also asked to respond to the government’s aggressive anchor project campaign for the Family Islands that has drawn praise from some of the world’s leading ratings and monetary agencies. She also tackled the apprehension expressed by some about the capacity of these islands for such vast projects with limited infrastructure and resources.

"I think it is too early to say it’s a mistake…The whole plan of what needs to be done on every island for these anchor projects is something that has been looked into. I don’t want you to suggest that no one is thinking about these things," she told the show’s host.

"Just last week I heard the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health discussing the very issue of Exuma. Of course these things have got to be put into place….[It is] definitely not an ad hoc situation."

Mrs. Christie also defended her husband’s work ethic, dismissing those who have criticized him as lazy. She also ventured to say that the personality which Mr. Christie displays in everyday interactions is genuine.

No stranger to the campaign trail, the prime minister’s spouse said she would be back in the saddle across the islands, rather than going door to door in New Providence.

The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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