‘Saddened’ by state of Island
A political life
Terry Lister has represented constituency 33 — Sandys South — since he was first elected to Parliament in 1998.
He won 1,304 votes in that historic general election, while his uncle and running mate Walter Lister got 1,285. The pair easily beat United Bermuda Party candidates Ted Gauntlett (447 votes) and Ralph Richardson (466).
Mr Lister became Minister of Development, Opportunity and Government Services in the first PLP Cabinet, taking on a number of other portfolios over the years, including Education, Home Affairs and Energy.
He won the Sandys South seat three more times for his party, gaining 483 votes against the UBP’s 296 in 2003; 556 votes against the UBP’s 346 in 2007; and 516 votes over the One Bermuda Alliance’s 397 in 2012.
A chartered accountant, Mr Lister was a partner at Deloitte and Touche from 1982 until 1998. He has also served as chairman of the Berkeley Educational Society and the Berkeley Board of Governors.
He said yesterday he was proud of his parliamentary achievements, including combining the eastern fire services into one unit, introducing CURE legislation, establishing a scholarship for mature students and tabling a green paper on energy.
Independent MP Terry Lister has announced his retirement from politics after 21 years in Parliament.
His decision, revealed at a press conference in the House of Assembly library yesterday, will mean a by-election for constituency 33, Sandys South.
Mr Lister told reporters he was “saddened” to see the current state of Bermuda and felt there was “no point” in continuing as an independent Member of Parliament when it became clear to him that a third political party was not on the cards.
He said he wouldn’t describe himself as “jaded” with the politics of the Island but added: “I think I have been at it a bit too long to play the games that are required to survive in it today. That’s really how I would see it.
“I have always been pretty straight up and I want that back from people and I have difficulty getting that back and so maybe I shouldn’t be in it.”
The former Cabinet Minister, once tipped as a potential Premier, described his “greatest disappointment” as bringing a piece of legislation to the House which he believed had the support of both parties — only for no one to back it.
Referring to his tabling of the failed Liquor Licence Amendment (No 2) Act earlier this year, which would have banned the sale of miniatures in grocery stores, he said: “I felt foolish and I looked foolish, standing up bringing legislation that no one supported. But before I stood on my feet I thought I had the support of the House and I thought it was going to sail through.
“To me that was the ultimate that said ‘you know, this isn’t going to work. This isn’t going to work because my word is my bond and I don’t have that here’.”
Mr Lister quit the Progressive Labour Party in February 2013, having been elected as its MP for Sandys South in 1998 and serving before that for five years as a PLP senator.
He refused to comment yesterday on Marc Bean’s current leadership of the party but did answer a question about his much-publicised parliamentary spat with the Opposition leader in June this year, describing it as a low point for “anyone who heard it”.
During a debate in the House on random drug testing for MPs — a motion brought by Mr Lister — the PLP leader outlined several apparently hypothetical situations where a member of the House acted less than honourably.
Mr Lister appeared to take the remarks personally, accusing Mr Bean of “hiding behind parliamentary privilege and lying about people”.
Yesterday, the retiring politician said: “We have had Parliament for, what, 390 years? We have never had anything like that. That’s a low point for everybody. It came out of nowhere.
“It’s like if I was batting and all of a sudden the umpires just let the rules go and I got six bouncers in a row coming right up on my chest and I didn’t have a helmet on. That was pretty annoying.”
Mr Bean said in a statement yesterday: “On behalf of the Progressive Labour Party, we extend our best wishes to MP Terry Lister on his retirement from politics.
“Mr Lister served Bermuda and the Progressive Labour Party well during his political career, in numerous capacities. Unfortunately, following the 2012 election, he chose to resign from the PLP and sit as an independent.
“We recognise his contribution to our country and thank him for representing his community the past 16 years as a Member of Parliament. We wish him well in his retirement and future endeavours.”
Lynne Woolridge, the One Bermuda Alliance chairman, said: “Mr Lister has had a long and distinguished career in politics. His departure from the Progressive Labour Party’s ranks, so that he could serve as an independent Member of Parliament, demonstrated he was an MP who had the courage of his convictions.
“The One Bermuda Alliance joins with all of his colleagues in the Legislature in wishing him well in his retirement.”
Mr Lister earlier told the press conference: “I want you to note that I have not quit, which is something you do soon after starting an activity and finding that it’s not for you.
“I have not resigned, which is something you do when your timetable becomes cluttered and you are hard pressed to meet all your commitments.
“Retire is what you do after the involvement has run its course and has now come to an end.”
He said he had no interest in joining the ranks of the ruling One Bermuda Alliance and rejected an invitation from former Premier Ewart Brown to “go home” to the PLP.
Rather, he suggested that a growing disillusionment with the Island’s elected politicians was the real reason for his departure.
Insisting he had always put country before career, Mr Lister said: “It’s what I’d like all MPs to believe in — doing what’s best for Bermuda. If we had 36 members up here with that as their goal we’d move a lot faster in solving the problems of Bermuda.”
Acting Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge said yesterday that a by-election in this case “must be held not earlier than 28 days after the issue of the writ of election and no later than two months after the occurrence of the vacancy”.
She added: “In the meantime, residents of constituency 33 should take the time to ensure their registration details are up to date.
“As soon as a date has been set, it will be communicated to the public.”
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