Mr. Speaker,

After a long, courageous battle with the debilitating Parkinson’s disease, Norman Solomon passed away early on Monday morning in Florida.

Mr. Solomon was an outstanding Bahamian and had been for some years a distinguished Member of this Parliament.

Behind his colourful persona Norman Solomon led an extraordinarily productive life.

He had many gifts. He was articulate; he was imaginative; he was enterprising; he was courageous, and he was hard-working.

And he used those gifts to the fullest in his many pursuits which included not only the achievement of his personal aims and objectives but also the fulfillment of the dreams he had for his country.

He was a journalist, a sportsman, an entrepreneur extraordinary, a tireless civic worker, and one of the most competent parliamentarians who ever served in this place. He was a prolific writer and social, economic and political commentator.

Mr. Solomon put to good use any legacy he may have inherited and went on to build a successful business conglomerate which is a credit to the country and especially to the City of Nassau which he loved.

Much of his time, including much of his last years, was dedicated to the promotion of tourism and the fulfillment of a dream and a passion he shared with others for the restoration and further development of the City of Nassau.

Norman Solomon served as a member of the House of Assembly for 15 years – from 1967 to 1982. Those years happened to be some of the most significant in the history of our country.

He was elected as a member of the United Bahamian Party in the election that Party lost. And so, he spent his active political life in opposition politics.

But before joining that party he had caused waves in the political pond by openly criticizing that leadership, a practice he continued as a member.

In fact, his was one of the first voices to declare — in rather colourful language — that in the modern Bahamas that party had become an anachronism whose days were numbered.

An opportunity presented itself with the emergence of a new opposition group in Bahamian politics in the early 1970s.

Norman Solomon was one of those who, under the leadership of Sir Geoffrey Johnstone, participated in the dissolution of the UBP and the formation of a new political party, the Free National Movement.

Mr. Solomon was one of four members of the Opposition who, under the leadership of the late Sir Kendal Isaacs, went to London in 1972 and made significant contributions to the shaping of The Bahamas Independence Constitution.

He showed extraordinary courage in 1979 when he swam ashore at Norman’s Cay and confronted the Colombian drug traffickers who had made that beautiful little island the headquarters for their ugly business.

Furthermore, he reported to this parliament what he had seen at Norman’s Cay and for that some of his property was destroyed and his life was threatened.

During his years in this place, Norman Solomon applied himself with the greatest seriousness to whatever business was at hand.

Those who were with him say that he was, perhaps, the most meticulously prepared parliamentarian of his generation. He held Government’s feet to the fire particularly at Budget time.

That preparation, attention to detail and facility with the language made him an extraordinary parliamentarian and an exemplary leader.

I met Norman Solomon and got to know him upon my election to the House. He had high expectations for me and began to proclaim that I would become Prime Minister before such a thought entered my head.

Norman Solomon was a frequent donor to social and political causes in our country. He especially lamented the lack of attractions underpinning our tourism economy.

Having acquired Ardastra Gardens, he struggled to raise its standard and to increase the variety of the experiences to be had by visitors there. He persevered notwithstanding the failure of the highly popular attraction to turn a profit.

He wanted Bay Street not only to return to its old glory days but to become a new and major attraction for the enjoyment of both Bahamians and tourists.

He believed that a revitalized Bay Street would be profitable for Bahamians, opening new opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The country has lost a great Bahamian. I know that all members will join my colleagues and me in expressing our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Solomon and other members of the family and also our gratitude for his life and service.