Welcome Remarks by Speaker of the House
at Swearing-In of Governor John J. Rankin CMG
Friday, January 29, 2021, Save the Seed Centre
Good Afternoon, my name is Julian Willock, the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
I thank the Cabinet Secretary for establishing protocol, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentleman.
However, I must acknowledge the Premier Honourable Andrew A. Fahie and our First Lady Mrs. Sheila Forbes-Fahie.
Leader of the Opposition Honourable Marlon A. Penn and your wife Mrs. Joy Penn along with all other spouses here, All Members of the fourth House of Assembly, former legislators and, All those who were kind enough, to accept our invitation to this event including Members of the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament.
This afternoon we are here to welcome and swear-in the Governor Designee, Mr. John J. Rankin as the 14th appointed Governor of the Virgin Islands.
Mr. Rankin, you are here at an interesting time in Virgin Islands’ history. A time when the relationship between Governors who represent the United Kingdom, has been tested, particularly, within the last 4 to 6 years.
You came at a time, when there are discussions, debates, blogs, articles and coffee table talk (in some districts it is called rum shop melee), about the future of the Territory and a path forward.
Governor Designee, you also come at a time, when some believe we no longer need to fly the Union Jack, while others believe in “Long may she rain over us.”
But today, it is my duty to welcome you to the Territory as Governor Designee, soon to be Governor.
And I do so, not with a clenched fist, but with open arms to welcome you to our home, our hospitality, our culture and our beautiful weather, which is much better than Bermuda, if I may add.
You will find a people that are resilient, hardworking, honest, and independent and this must never be taken for granted.
Today, with your swearing-in, it should mark a turning point for improved relations, between governors and the government of the day, between governors and the House of Assembly, and between governors and the people of the Virgin Islands.
We expect you, governor designee, to play your role in improving the relationship where there has been mistrust. Today, we will celebrate a renewed commitment to the rule of law, due process and good governance, not only in theory, but also in practice.
Today, we must pelage on working towards a future, where we can become a more perfect and equitable society, one where the rule of law applies to Speakers, Governors, Premiers, Justices, Commissioners of Police and the common man and woman in the same way.
I know that your legal background will make this easy for you. As Speaker of House of Assembly, it has always been my understanding, that the issue of assenting to a bill, passed by Parliament is a mere formality, as it has been for over a hundred years in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth Parliamentary democracies.
Notwithstanding Section 79 (2), of the constitution, and in that case, you would have raised those matters within Cabinet, where a bill must be agreed to first, before it arrives at the legislature.
But this afternoon, our arms are wide open to welcome you with much humility, understanding and a renewed effort, to have a partnership based on mutual respect, understanding and professionalism.
In this partnership, you must also appreciate the awakening of a people who wish to chart their own destiny, an awakening of a people who desire to be free. And I am encouraged that there is an understanding of the concept of letting freedom rain. We are happy to have you here today, and whatever, I can do from the Legislative Branch to make your tenure here, successful and productive, feel free to call on me.
When I was asked to plan this ceremony, I enjoyed the unweaving support of both the Premier Hon. Andrew A. Fahie and the Acting Governor David D. Archer Jr. They both checked with me almost daily to ensure, that your welcome here today, would be one that fits our values, and our professional standards.
This, to me, speaks highly of their commitment to working with you, and to building on our long partnership, given that these are the two gentlemen with whom you will work with on a frequent basis.
Again, we welcome you Governor Designee Rankin. Feel at home amongst our people.