Some key questions on independence
Recently, independence advocates have been encouraging people to read the Bermuda Independence Commission report to get answers to questions they may have on the topic. Having taken their advice, I now have questions that weren’t resolved by the report and some questions that were spawned by the report.
1. If independence is a natural progression for descendants of slaves, true emancipation if you wish, why do some independence advocates aspire to be like islands that have retained the Queen as Head of State?
Why do they aspire to be like the islands that have retained royal titles and embrace a system where the governor-general is appointed by Her Royal Highness?
I would have thought that any independence movement that is really about “freeing blacks from mental slavery” would not entertain the idea of setting up a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as head of state.
2. The BIC report addresses the costs of having a governor-general or a president replace the UK-appointed governor, but it doesn’t go into great detail about the appointment, election or selection, process for this person. It also doesn’t go into any great detail about which powers would be retained by the governor-general/president and which powers would fall to the ruling government in an independent Bermuda. I would have thought that this issue would be addressed in detail, because the power wielded by any government in an independent Bermuda determines what kind of freedoms the citizens actually end up with.
3. It is stated that Bermuda would not lose access to the UK Privy Council if we went independent. Is this contingent upon Bermuda remaining in the Commonwealth with a governor-general officially appointed by a UK monarch? If not, what would be the cost of accessing the Privy Council as a republic? Is such access even possible as a republic? More importantly, what would be the economic impact of losing the right of access to the Privy Council?
4. The BIC report speaks to the British citizen rights we currently have, and the loss of those rights should we become independent. While it’s fully appreciated that upon independence Bermudians would lose the right to freely travel, study, reside and work in the UK, the BIC report doesn’t make clear what impact this would have on Bermudians who have already taken advantage of this benefit. Should the outcome be that those Bermudians in the UK would be forced out, what are the terms upon which they may re-enter the UK? The report also doesn’t address the social, psychological and economic, impacts of the loss of access to the UK.
5. If independence is going to result in severing our rights of access to the UK, I would have thought that the report would have explored the topic of Bermudian citizenship. Unfortunately, Bermudian citizenship was deemed to be incredibly complex, and therefore deferred to a constitutional conference. Hopefully the independence advocates address this topic sooner rather than later, because the question of Bermudian citizenship should be answered long before Bermuda becomes independent.
Should Bermuda proceed down this road, I hope that we do so in a manner that reflects both empathy and strategic planning. “Whither the fates may lead us” doesn’t do us many favours in this modern world. I’d even say that “quo fata ferunt” would be our undoing should we go independent without fully weighing up the benefits and costs of such a decision.
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