Life is like a box of chocolates
Silly season is soon upon us. The country’s parliamentarians reconvene in the House of Assembly in seven days on the promise of behaving significantly better than they did during an extended 2017-18 session that kept 35 generally well-intentioned people — not including the Speaker, Dennis Lister — in such proximity that they visibly grew tired of one another.
No truck having been had with opposing viewpoints, “respect” and “decorum” could be seen hurled past the sergeant-at-arms and out of the second-floor window, winging their way towards Hamilton Harbour, handsomely clearing the docks, and bracing for a wet landing.
David Burt, it would seem, has belatedly accepted this, if you go by his closing remarks in Parliament when our leading politicians went on their summer break.
The buck stops with the Speaker, and Lister has to accept that some of the behaviours were his to nip in the bud — images of Members sleeping in the House being photographed and then circulated in public, ministers going over their allotted speaking time by more than 20 minutes, the alleged “boy” slur that almost led to a punch-up, and female Members being referred to as “that woman”, just to name a few.
The Premier accepts that “childish back-and-forth things ... are not necessarily worth the dignity of this particular office”, nor is it viewed as exactly doing the people’s business, save for the opinions of those vindictive types whose primary objective in life is to see the One Bermuda Alliance’s noses rubbed in it, as opposed to a co-operative government where all 36 voices are valued equally in public service.
That, in essence, is what the people in 36 constituencies voted for.
A new parliamentary season should be exciting, propelled as it is by a Throne Speech of hope and promise. It is fair to say that many political promises from the Throne are unfulfilled rather than intentionally not kept, and it is our role to hold the elected to a promised course — never allowing those we have placed faith in to forget their pledge to the people.
Primarily, though, it is the role of the Opposition, which by the end of July was in danger of being so irrelevant as to be invisible.
Jeanne Atherden at the helm never looked right, her sleepy disposition done no favours by the worst excesses of the aforementioned but short-lived SleepAtTheWheelgate.
The OBA, in particular after the retirements of Grant Gibbons and Jeff Baron, resembled a creaking monolith. The cracks within the camp that ultimately became crevices were unsurprising.
Whether Craig Cannonier is the right man to lead them remains to be seen, but they had to do something to stop the intravenous drip from running on empty, and the early signs are encouraging for those of us who insist governments be held to account.
We are seeing the Opposition and hearing from them almost on a daily basis — reactive and, significantly, proactive — a far cry from the moribund existence under Atherden, whose slowness to engage was exposed in the main, some might say betrayed, by the incessant social-media presence in a leadership vein of former premier Michael Dunkley.
Inadvertently or not.
Those across the walkway in the Progressive Labour Party have taken notice. They now sense a faint pulse in the Opposition and, no matter that Burt pronounced at the start of his delegates conference that Bermuda would be best served by a strong opposition, would like nothing better than to return the OBA to flatline status.
Why else would a party with such an incredibly sizeable mandate take to retroactive political point-scoring?
The election is over; time to run the country.
Yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle, the Forrest Gump-like box of chocolates that it was — with departments and ministries going every which way — was a start.
Contrary to the overarching theme “You never know what you’re gonna get”, the caramel nugget to take from proceedings was the impressively poised Curtis Dickinson stepping in as finance minister, freeing up the Premier to be on the front line of technology and innovation.
Meanwhile, Wayne Caines and Michael Weeks, caught up in sensational headlines in recent weeks, can be portrayed as a tale of two ministers — the former surviving in his ministry despite a shocking public-relations error of his own making, the latter not only losing his ministry but having it then sliced and diced in the wake of embarrassing choices out of his control made by criminally wayward offspring.
But Zane DeSilva, that self-proclaimed and leprechaunish bundle of energy, is back — and with a bang.
Apparently, all is forgiven. Ewart Brown has got his seven-figure compensation, and the former social development and sport minister, who quit that post in a huff at the beginning of the year amid the height of the medical fee cuts scandal, trades up by landing the ministry that bears responsibility for casino gaming.
The optics. You just couldn’t make this up.
Burt, as erudite as any premier to have held that position in modern times, has got to know what he is doing.
Yet, as we prepare to “fall back” to signify that autumn is here in earnest, even his widely publicised brilliance may not be enough to suppress whispers of “Four Seasons”.
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