Cannonier says no to UBP policy apology
The One Bermuda Alliance leader and a former United Bermuda Party premier refused a call from the Premier to apologise for past immigration policies.
Craig Cannonier, the OBA’s first premier and now Opposition leader, declined to apologise because the OBA had “nothing to do with the past of the UBP”.
He added: “This tying us together is pure politics and it’s gutter politics by a premier that is lost for ideas on what to do with this country.”
Mr Cannonier was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, called for an apology from the former UBP, which was formed in 1964 and dissolved in 2011, and the OBA, which contested its first General Election in 2012, for “what their immigration policies did to this country” at the Progressive Labour Party’s delegates conference, held in Hamilton on Monday.
Mr Burt said: “A large part of what makes our immigration debate so toxic is that neither the old UBP, or its new creation the OBA, have ever apologised for what their immigration policies did to this country.
“The unjustly applied discretionary grant of status, the grant of the vote to people who had been here for ten minutes, the deliberate recruitment of certain demographic groups to the exclusion of others and not one word of atonement or recognition of what they did to create the divided society we have today.
He added: “Humble yourselves, publicly accept what you did, show some remorse and then maybe this country has a hope of healing the divide.”
But Mr Cannonier said that the OBA had attempted to create immigration policies that would help to stimulate the economy after it won the 2012 General Election.
He also criticised Mr Burt for a failure to create a comprehensive immigration policy designed to give Bermudians a reason to stay on the island.
Mr Cannonier said: “People are leaving the country, so Bermudians are paying more taxes and increased taxes because this premier has not gotten off his behind and done something about immigration.
“We were promised something in September or July and here we are now almost going into Christmas and nothing has happened.
“And then he sits here and hypocritically says ‘we’re going to blame the UBP for back in the day and we’re going to bring the OBA in on this’ and they haven’t done anything about it?”
Mr Cannonier added: “Unless this government gets on its feet and does something, talking about the past is not going to get us where we need to be.”
He said: “I’m a black male, I recognise the atrocities of the past and what took place in voting rights and the like.
“But what we need to be focusing in on right now is what do we do about here and now.
“We need to be creating new wealth and you don’t create new wealth by spending all your time looking in the rear-view mirror.
“If you want to go forward, you’ve got to look through the windshield.”
Sir John Swan, who was UBP Premier from 1982 to 1995, also declined to apologise.
He said: “We act based upon the circumstances of the time.
“I’ve been out of politics for the last 25 years so I’m not prepared to apologise or comment any further on the subject.”
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