It has come to this: no more party favours
His ears had to be ringing all weekend and by the time the last video nasty involving one of his trusted lieutenants hit the mainstream media, David Burt had had enough.
After months of preaching and imploring that the Bermuda public follow the rules and observe health guidelines around the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Premier had been placed yet again in an invidious position by those who should know better.
So the boys’ club had to be broken up.
Were these first-time offenders, the Premier might have had some wiggle room in explaining away why the status quo must hold firm. But Wayne Caines and Zane DeSilva have been down this road before and have form for scoring own goals — some of them quite spectacular.
Although Mr DeSilva’s more extensive political career is pockmarked with potholes of controversy, it is Mr Caines who dug himself a hole so deep he may never be entrusted again with such responsibility.
It is his ministry that took on the role of enforcer from the moment shelter-in-place was launched in April, followed by full lockdown and the four phases of reopening the Bermuda economy.
Which we have still not completed!
It was Mr Caines who proclaimed “you lot are not taking this serious” when Bermuda residents acted the fool in typically laid-back, islander fashion and didn’t obey the rules for social-distancing and community gatherings when the lockdown ended. It was the minister who chided a fast-food restaurant for not observing established protocol and threatened its closure.
How must the management of Mr Chicken have felt when it awoke to the news that the same minister and his tourism counterpart were treating Phase 4 like an audition for America’s Got Talent?
How must the infamous beach girls have felt? You remember, that group of six or seven who endured a week of shame for not observing physical-distancing or wearing masks at the first time of asking after the lockdown — and then made the questionable decision to share their photo on social media. (The videographer from Friday night is experiencing that same feeling right about now.)
What about those who are $3,000 lighter in the pocket after being caught out after curfew? Or those who could not afford to pay the fine in court, lost their liberty and now have a prison record?
Each of these groups will have felt justified in having a proper gripe had this ministerial faux pas passed with merely a slap on the wrist.
Especially in the case of Mr Caines, whose transgressions in a short three years since he took office had mounted with no small degree of frustration.
He may never live down the London cereal café gaffe for as long as he remains a public figure, but his questionable judgment extends to being spotted by a member of the public talking on his mobile phone while driving one-handed near the airport.
And then driving through the City of Hamilton in prolonged conversation with a motorist who was clinging on to his car and compromising road users.
If it is possible that Mr Caines may find favour in future — surely not before the next General Election — this has to spell the end of the high road for Mr DeSilva after a second Cabinet divorce in the Burt administration.
The silver fox, who stepped down or was asked to step down as Minister of Social Development and Sport in January 2018 — not long after breaking ranks to support Ewart Brown’s quest for an ultimate $1.2 million government payout over lost health earnings — most recently tested the patience of the electorate with his mystery shopper cruise to Bermuda when money was tight and with an objectionable decision to board a cruise ship when such vessels were increasingly at the heart of the brewing Covid-19 storm.
It is inevitable that benefit of the doubt would have been sought for both men. No one can argue that they have not worked extraordinarily hard to get Bermuda through this crisis. Especially Mr Caines.
Press conference after press conference after press conference. Question after question after question. Update after update after update.
But it is that same propensity to be seen, to be a publicity hound, if you will — a term from a previous editorial that did not go down so well in the “Second Family” — that reared its head again. And this time, enough was enough.
It had been said that Mr Burt dare not go to the extreme and swing the axe, particularly because options are so thin on the ground outside of his existing Cabinet.
But the timing of this hot mess in the Blu Grill and Bar Restaurant is eerily ironic, coming as it did only hours after government backbencher Renée Ming made a stirring point during the House of Assembly’s motion to adjourn in emphasising the under-representation of women in the Houses of Parliament and in other places of influence.
She did so without fear of rebuke as “unapologetically ambitious, unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman”.
So does Mr Burt have options? Sure he does. It’s just a matter of whether what once would have been an epiphany is now a moment of clarity where he sees that a woman is worthy of better than a one-in-four chance of gracing the corridors of power.
With a double stroke of the pen, those calculations have suddenly improved to one-in-three and, as far as a certain Member from Constituency 1 is concerned, “it’s time for us as women to stand up and be respected”.
Ms Ming should be among the leading candidates for a promotion from the back benches, but where she goes is not so straightforward and the Premier may be forced into another shuffle. The only obvious replacement for Mr Caines is Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, who has only just started to sink his claws into the municipalities after the widening of his reach from within public works — and from there goes the domino effect.
The only persons who can feel happy about this turn of events are the political vultures and some members of the One Bermuda Alliance who may now believe their party has a pulse.
But make no mistake, this is a sad day for the country. A day when elected leadership was no better than the lowest common denominator. At its core, it tells us who we are.
The people of Bermuda feel disrespected.
Not so much because Wayne Caines and Zane DeSilva were having a good time at this charity dinner/birthday party — whatever it emerges this knees-up really was — as they deserved to blow off some steam after seriously hard graft in the wake of a spring sent from hell.
But because after three months of they and their leader reminding us effusively not to tear it, they have abused their privilege, have become a byword for hypocrisy and have deserved to be torn a new one.
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