In defence of Fahy, my friend
I would not normally waste my time in responding to an opinion piece by Christopher Famous for fear of lowering myself to his level. However, given his most recent swipe at former Cabinet minister and Senate leader Michael Fahy, I wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
Mike Fahy is my friend; I will never run from that. He has been unfairly demonised by the Progressive Labour Party and painted as the bogeyman time and time again, which has led him to be one of the most mischaracterised politicians in Bermuda.
I suspect the PLP does what it does because it is scared of what he managed to achieve, despite the political obstacles in his way.
I first met Mike when I engaged with him after a Bermuda Democratic Alliance presentation in 2010. He spoke with passion — passion to see Bermuda move away from the influence of the white oligarchs of the United Bermuda Party and away from the PLP mismanagement and race-baiting political landscape. I realised, despite our very different pasts, that I agreed with him. The meeting was fate.
He was indeed a “chief architect” of the BDA. Frankly, without him, the BDA would not have been. He had resigned a guaranteed post in the Senate under the UBP, and he worked hard as chairman of the BDA to find a better way.
Like me and all of my former BDA members, he was very upset to have to come to terms with the reality that the BDA competing with the UBP would split the moderate, undecided vote at a time when the PLP’s economic policies were destroying Bermuda.
Doing a deal with the UBP meant we lost good people who could not bring themselves to join UBP members. Men such as Sylvan Richards and women such as Leah Scott stayed with us, and the OBA was formed. During that time, Mike was one of, if not, the hardest-working people in the room and I appointed him to the Senate and asked him to be the OBA campaign chairman for the 2012 election. His leadership brought results.
Anyone in the position of leadership knows full well it is burdensome with many potential pitfalls, but, despite all this — and through our friendship — we prevailed.
A white guy born in Canada, as the PLP never fails to remind us, working closely with a black man from St David’s, both fighting for Bermuda and Bermudians. Both of us desirous of seeing the back of the influence of the UBP and changing the Bermuda political narrative.
Our story is actually inspiring, but to some very dangerous.
Our efforts to change Bermuda were constantly undermined, both from outside forces and inside. However, the inside forces were far more powerful and concerning.
Too often when Cabinet agreed on issues that would make a real difference to Bermuda — such as the Pathways to Status initiative — owing to fear and at times cowardice, our colleagues would back down and Mike was left holding the bag. But he brought results.
He was responsible for passing the heritage tax to help St George’s, allowing Twizzys, implementing serious work-permit reform and immigration-law changes that boosted our economic fortunes.
He literally saved the St Regis deal when it was clear the ball had been dropped by others, and led with zeal the government efforts to see The Loren become reality.
He brought about badly needed reform in the municipal government and made numerous changes to planning legislation, and made decisions that created jobs and helped our country — through endorsing Airbnb, assisting with Tucker’s Point and Caroline Bay projects, and the airport deal.
Each one creating jobs for Bermudians.
He was part of the team that bid for World Triathlon Bermuda and convinced Cabinet to back it, the benefits of which we will reap for years to come. He identified significant flaws with the bus service and labour laws, but through our own collective weakness, we could not make the necessary changes. These are just some of the things he accomplished and also tried to push through.
Was Michael the softly soft politician? No. Did he make some errors along the way? Of course. But did he fulfil his duty to serve Bermuda and treat everyone equally? Yes.
There is one thing we can all agree on: you always know where you stood with Mike. Whether you were the Premier, a minibus driver, a professional in international business, a union leader or a hotelier.
He gave answers. Yes or no.
The reputation he had with those that worked with him was that we was firm but fair. He was respected. He got things done and, for that, Bermuda should be thankful. I am thankful. Bermuda is a lot better off for his efforts.
In Bermuda, there are too many who sit on the sidelines sniping and criticising, and there are others who choose to get involved. When we demonise those that “do”, there is a serious risk that it will stop others from participating in our political process.
As Opposition leader, I will not allow that to happen again. Enough is enough. I’m disappointed Mike stepped back. However, he has a young family and a great career ahead of him, both of which often took a back seat as he sacrificed for Bermuda and for what he believed in — that is serving his country.
I urge others to step forward and make Bermuda better.
Mike, I publicly thank you and your family for your service and sacrifice.
• Craig Cannonier is Leader of the Opposition and the MP for Devonshire South Central (Constituency 12)
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