New OBA senator delivers maiden speech
Bermuda is in danger of becoming a North Korean-style “Dear Leader” state, the island’s newest senator warned in his maiden speech yesterday.
Jarion Richardson, who replaced Nick Kempe for the One Bermuda Alliance, said: “We are slipping towards the ‘Dear Leader’ approach of the North Koreans and soon we will be proclaiming that our political leaders are incapable of flaw or fault.”
Mr Richardson told Senate colleagues that the “backslide has to stop”.
He explained: “Our debt, our healthcare and our immigration problems do not care if we attribute their causes, accurately or inaccurately, to be the fault of one person or group of people, or another.
“They will, they have, infected our economy and civil discourse. Veiled threats and coy digs are not evidence of a brilliant, insightful mind.
“They are evidence of, at best, a spiteful, vindictive motive. And that will be our undoing — nothing good can grow from that kind of soil.”
Mr Richardson, the managing principal at compliance firm Certainty, told Senate colleagues of his time in the Moroccan desert with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, as a Police Constable and his stint as a trainee reporter at The Royal Gazette.
He highlighted two reactions he had received from members of the public since he was announced as the new OBA senator.
Mr Richardson said he was told: “You’ve joined the wrong side” and “you should go sort that party out”.
He said that the first reaction underlined “the challenging situation Bermuda is in today”.
Mr Richardson added that he understood that an adversarial government system would have an “us and them”.
But he said: “Where I think this system goes from the nature of contention into inciting civil discord is going so far as to make our politics a set of absolutes.
“That is, in order for my side to be right, your side must, by definition, be wrong.”
He said that the second reaction — that he should “sort that party out” — also showed the “challenging situation Bermuda is in today”.
Mr Richardson added: “It is not helpful to chastise the OBA.
“The OBA is appropriately named because it is an alliance of very different people with very different ideas, but united in the belief that our similarities are more important than our differences.”
He said that the OBA’s black members had been “stigmatised and its white members are regarded as either puppet masters or aged-out politicians of a bygone era”.
Mr Richardson added that the party had made “the hard play, the sacrifice play”.
He said: “The infrastructure projects, grand tourism events and budget constraints all made them lose the election.
“When it was time to work, with few tools and every sceptic on the island shining a light on them, they stepped up. They didn’t do it perfectly, but they did it.”
Mr Richardson said that he saw his new post and its responsibilities as no different than “being appointed a constable or corporal”.
He explained: “There is a thing to be done.
“It is hard, it will be muddy and dirty and it is not likely that it will make friends — but it’s going to get done because it has to.”
Mr Richardson added: “What we, as a country, will be called to do, for each other and the country as a whole in the next few years will be nothing short of a tremendous exertion and a radical change of thought.
“No matter the challenge, I do believe that we will emerge in a better place.”
• To read Jarion Richardson’s maiden speech in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”
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