PLP MP to be asked to join Cabinet — Cannonier
Craig Cannonier was yesterday sworn in as the new Premier of Bermuda by Governor George Fergusson, to the thunderous applause of supporters, colleagues and family.
It is understood that the new Cabinet will be sworn in later this week.
The ceremony follows a 19 to 17 victory last night for the One Bermuda Alliance in the general election.
Earlier yesterday, former Premier Paula Cox officially resigned as leader of the Progressive Labour Party after losing her seat in the House of Assembly.
Premier Cannonier said that he would keep a promise to invite a member of the PLP to join the new government — but he declined to specify whom, adding that he had not yet had a chance to speak with them.
Mr Cannonier also said he did not intend to reconvene the House of Assembly before the end of this year.
In a speech broken several times by emotional applause, Mr Cannonier thanked colleagues and friends, calling himself “humbled and excited, excited for my country and for our people”.
Promising change and togetherness, the new Premier said he was committed to “building a Bermuda that works for all people, for all Bermudians”.
“First we are going to get this country working again for the people,” he continued. “There is no more important task right now than to grow jobs to end the hardship felt by thousands of families.”
Second, he said: “We are going to bring people together, we're reach out to everyone, building cooperation and support, eliminating all forms of discrimination, extending the absentee ballot to students abroad, making this the last election they are denied a voice in the decisions of this country.”
After another burst of applause, Mr Cannonier added: “And to the many Bermudians living abroad, who left for a job or who fled intolerance, I want to send a simple message out: come back to us.
“Come back to building the better Bermuda we know we can build. Your country needs you. Your country needs all your skills and all your dreams right here at home.
“Let this be the start of Bermuda's renaissance — with trust, and communication and cooperation, with the people truly working together, moving forward, on and on, as one people, one Bermuda, Bermudians.”
He finished: “This is the moment, this is the day, to start moving forward together, for a Bermuda that achieves social and economic equity for all, leaving no one behind.
“That's the promise of this election. That's the change we need. And now it's up to us to make it happen.”
Fielding questions afterwards, Mr Cannonier said the OBA victory at the polls was a sign that Bermudians felt their leadership was “not doing enough to work with our people together”.
He said members of the PLP had “extended their arms to me and I will be extending my arms to them to ensure that we truly move forward together”.
But he said the first priority would be to “look at the financial situation of our country because once we do that then we can truly start setting about some realistic goals as to what it is we can and cannot do.”
Asked about when Parliament would open, Mr Cannonier said he had been “very much frustrated at how long it takes to get things done”, but indicated there wouldn't be a new Parliamentary session before the year's end.
He also spoke highly of former Premier Paula Cox, saying he had the utmost respect for her and would continue to work with her.
Prior to Mr Cannonier's oaths, Mr Fergusson told the crowded room that Ms Cox had visited to offer her resignation as Premier, followed by Premier-Elect Mr Cannonier, whom he invited to form a new government.
Family, friends and many members of the new OBA Government packed the room at Government House, where it was standing room only.
Mr Cannonier spent a few more minutes with Mr Fergusson before coming out of Government to loud applause from his supporters.
Bob Richards said it felt “great” to be back in Government. “A lot of changes had to take place.
“We've made those changes, we've got a great team, new enthusiasm, vision, energy and I think that we are the guys to do what needs to be done. It's a big job.”
It was pointed out that he and Grant Gibbons were the only OBA MPs who had experience in Cabinet.
Mr Richards served as Government Senate Leader and Minister of Telecommunications for a brief spell in 1997 before the UBP were voted out of Government.
Dr Gibbons has far more experience as a Cabinet Minister. He was also a Senator when first appointed as a Minister, heading up the UBP's Management and Technology Ministry before moving on to the Finance Ministry. Mr Richards said their experience was a plus.
“Those of us who have been there before may be relied upon to help the others.”
Asked if he was happy with taking a ten percent pay cut as a Minister, Mr Richards indicated that the pay cut could be more.
“We have the flexibility to make it larger if we want.”
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