PLP called out to back People’s Campaign
Wayne Perinchief, the former Minister of National Security, has challenged the Progressive Labour Party to state explicitly whether it supports the People’s Campaign.
If it does, he called on the party to boycott the scheduled February 3 parliamentary debate on the airport redevelopment deal.
Mr Perinchief was speaking during a question-and-answer session at the People’s Campaign’s third public meeting held at St Paul AME Church Centennial Hall in Hamilton on Saturday night. Among those in attendance were Ewart Brown, the former premier, whose brief appearance was punctuated by a statement, and former PLP MP Dale Butler.
Much of the evening was concerned with the People’s Campaign manifesto, focusing on the economic empowerment of Bermudians through individual and collective efforts, as well as through demands made from the ruling One Bermuda Alliance.
Speaking to the leaders of the People’s Campaign chairing the meeting — Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress — Mr Perinchief called on the group to urge the PLP to make its position clear.
He said: “The ‘people’s movement’ needs to get the PLP to come out and clearly state what its position is going to be. They need to be urged and educated in strategy — you don’t go to Parliament just to talk shop.
“They should boycott that session when the matter is raised, and walk out.”
The Royal Gazette reached out to David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, and received a response last night from a PLP spokeswoman praising the People’s Campaign for “an excellent job raising the awareness of important issues such as the widening economic gap in Bermuda”.
The statement added that standards of living for most residents had declined over the past four years, with Bermudians seeking to reverse the trend. “The People’s Campaign’s opposition to the airport privatisation deal is understandable given the 16 per cent return the Canadian company Aecon will earn, which is underwritten by Bermudian taxpayers. The OBA’s plan will see airport fees increase by 136 per cent, and will see all of our airport revenue go to a Canadian company while Bermudians taxpayers retain significant expenses. This substantial loss of revenue will mean less money for Bermudians priorities, such as upgrading our public schools.”
While the statement did not specify whether the PLP openly backed the movement, it said that the Opposition would continue to press for full disclosure of the 30-year airport project before any vote in Parliament. “We remain focused on ensuring Bermudians know exactly what the OBA have committed to give away to a Canadian company that is getting a 30-year contract without a tender,” the statement added.
About 150 people turned out for Saturday night’s meeting, giving enthusiastic applause when Dr Brown strode through the centre of the hall to the microphone just before 8pm, with a handful even taking to their feet.
Dr Brown thanked those present for “keeping the candle lit” before quoting his “good friend” Kwame Ture, a Trinidadian-American formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, who became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement: “In the midst of a battle, heighten the contradictions and prepare for the confrontation.”
Many of the issues that have been discussed in the previous People’s Campaign meetings were reiterated on the night, with the subjects of the controversial airport deal, free education and better scholarship opportunities for less economically empowered Bermudians, affordable healthcare and the need for a living wage met by enthusiastic support.
UPDATE: this story has been amended to include a response from the Progressive Labour Party
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