New governor’s appointment is about state of the economy

  • Historic first: Rena Lalgie will succeed John Rankin as governor  (Photograph supplied)

    Historic first: Rena Lalgie will succeed John Rankin as governor (Photograph supplied)


The history of our governors would be an interesting study. Uncovering their roles and purposes would be like reading the mind of Britain.

I’m also sure if one were to research the finer details of their governorships, it would be full of intrigue. For a good portion of the first century, the governors were like corporate heads.

However, as the British influence and hold on North America deepened, Bermuda’s significance to that development — hence, the role of the governors — became largely military. All the governors tended to be former generals or admirals.

After the Cold War ended in 1991, we will note the governors chosen came more so from the diplomatic circles rather than military. With that in mind, the latest appointment is of particular interest because she comes from the treasury department.

Given Bermuda’s precarious economic circumstance, it may be in fact a logical sequence. Being that it’s the first lady governor is momentous and then also the first black governor is of equal note.

Speaking historically, with pun intended, they say any time a black gets a job, it must be some tough things about to happen.

We can rightly assume she did not come to bathe in perks, or float around enjoying a pomp and ceremony with a privileged retirement role as a thank-you for serving the Empire.

We all recall when Phil Butterfield was appointed as the head of Bank of Bermuda HSBC. With no disrespect for his intellect and ability, we thought as a black appointee, it was the beginning of a new era — little did we know, at the time, it was actually the closing of the books on an era past.

I recall having romanticised about what a black governor-general or similar role one may have had for a person under a more evolved constitutional construct for Bermuda. Never dreamt England would send a black governor. So in that regard this appointment is a bit anticlimactic.

Notwithstanding, Britain today is far more pragmatic than the Britain of 50 years ago. This governor may indeed have the right chemistry to relate to Bermuda’s contemporaneous relationship with Britain and the world. She may be able to broker the kind of attitude among the people that fosters a healthy diplomatic relationship with Britain.

However, putting on my spectacles, I think her real purpose is more related to the state of the economy. I think she is “boots on the ground” to oversee that we do not fall or drive off a cliff. Ultimately, Britain has a fiduciary responsibility and the veto pen, which has rarely ever been used, may at least be near by and filled with ink as a just-in-case.

No matter who the governor is or would be, these are not happy times for Bermuda, times that could make their tenure difficult. The country is treading near the edge of a socioeconomic meltdown.

This new governor must be given the respect to carry out her role and it is to be hoped her tenure will not only be known as novel because she is black and female, but momentous because it was the right person to help guide us through a difficult period.

She will have three independent senators to pick and it will be curious to see the types of senator she chooses. Only a few independent senators stand out in my recall, Arnott Jackson topping the list.

There were a few other such as Norma Astwood, who could sincerely hold their objective positions as well, but Jackson towered over the Lower House at times, and displayed the senior position that the Senate was meant to be.

The Senate is not meant to be a benign, almost clerical stamping house for the Parliament; rather, it is meant to highlight where necessary the insufficiencies that have developed in the Lower House and allow the public to have a second look.

The new governor will have to not only find candidates that understand what is happening in the legislature, but also understand the people and be able to effectively articulate all the concerns and repercussions related.

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Published Jul 10, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 10, 2020 at 7:43 am)

New governor’s appointment is about state of the economy

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