OBA corrects leadership story, says it is open to future change

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  • <B>Who can stand? </B>In this file picture a woman prepares her ballot for last year&#146;s OBA leadership contest. The party has said it is willing to look at changing its rules to broaden the pool of leadership candidates in the future.

    Who can stand? In this file picture a woman prepares her ballot for last year’s OBA leadership contest. The party has said it is willing to look at changing its rules to broaden the pool of leadership candidates in the future.

The One Bermuda Alliance is open to changing its Constitution to reflect the rules under which Premier Craig Cannonier was elected leader, and will be forming a committee to review the governing document.

But in a statement yesterday party Chairman Thad Hollis said this newspaper’s story on the matter contained “misleading comments” about the party’s Constitution.

The party’s constitution had not changed since it was drafted in May 2011 but a provision that candidates for leader must be MPs was waived for its first leadership vote, Mr Hollis said.

“This was done to broaden the potential candidate pool beyond the Party’s 10 MPs at the time; to give party members as wide a choice as possible,” he said.

“Comments suggesting the Party changed its Constitution after this event to restrict leadership eligibility to Members of Parliament are wrong, misleading and misinformed. And then to suggest the party changed the Constitution without membership approval is abhorrent to everything the party stands for.

“The One Bermuda Alliance Constitution is based on principles of transparency and inclusion. To have commentators jumping on something that never happened to suggest otherwise leaves me shaking my head.”

Mr Hollis went on to say that he considered the OBA’s constitution a “work in progress”.

“We want the party to be a modern, living organisation able to keep up with contemporary thinking in Bermuda and elsewhere about politics and the way political parties function in the community.

“In keeping with this objective, the OBA will consider changing the Constitution to broaden eligibility for the election of its party leader.

“A proposed change would see Article 6 .4 of the Constitution changed to allow ‘approved’ OBA candidates to stand for election to be Party Leader. This change would enshrine the rules under which our first leadership election was held in September 2011.”

He continued: “‘Approved’ candidates are those people who have been approved by the Party to stand for Parliamentary election.

“The Constitution, as currently drafted, says candidates for the Party’s leadership must be an ‘MP and an adopted candidate not under disciplinary action.’

“We saw this clause as too restrictive when we were organising the 2011 leadership convention.

“Any proposed constitutional changes would be put before the party at a Special General Meeting of the membership this year. A date has not been set.

“In the meantime, we will formalise the process by forming a Constitutional Committee to review the Constitution and carry forward any proposals for debate and decision by the Party membership.”

Yesterday this newspaper reported that the party had adopted different rules for selecting its leader than for its first leadership contest.

OBA officials contacted for the story declined to comment or did not return messages.

John Barritt, a founder of the OBA, and other OBA members, expressed surprise that the party’s constitution indicated that successive leadership elections would be held under rules that restricted candidates for the leadership to MPs — unlike the first leadership contest which was won by Mr Cannonier who was not an MP at the time.

“I can honestly say that my recollection was that we had adopted a constitution that was in line with the more modern political parties which is the leadership would be open to all members in good standing with the party,” said Mr Barritt last night when informed of Mr Hollis’ statement.

“This comes as news to me and I must have missed the ratification of what’s there now.”

Asked his reaction to the news that the party was now willing to look at changing the rules to broaden the pool of leadership candidates, he said: “That speaks for itself.”

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Published Jan 11, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm)

OBA corrects leadership story, says it is open to future change

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