Gibbons joins the exodus
Veteran One Bermuda Alliance politician Grant Gibbons announced his retirement from politics at the close of the House of Assembly last night.
Dr Gibbons, the MP for Paget East and Shadow Minister of Economic Development and Regulatory Affairs, told Parliament his resignation would come into effect on Monday.
“It’s time to go,” the 65-year-old senior statesman said. “For me, 25 years is enough. It’s time to focus on other things like family and business. It’s time to make way for new blood, someone who is prepared to make the commitment, who can bring substance and passion, and who will have Paget East and Bermuda’s best interests at heart.”
Dr Gibbons said that while he was stepping away from politics, he would remain a member of the OBA.
He said: “I remain a supporter of the One Bermuda Alliance and what it stands for. I will remain a member of the One Bermuda Alliance.
“Although recent unanticipated events may now influence the impact of my decision on public opinion, I can assure this honourable House and the public that my decisions to retire from politics and when to retire from politics were made long ago.
“Now I look forward to continuing my family’s legacy of public service; just not as an elected Member.”
Dr Gibbons reflected briefly on his accomplishments from his first piece of legislation — amendments to the Obscene Publications Act — to his role in bringing the 35th America’s Cup to Bermuda.
“Hosting AC35 put Bermuda on the world stage, created hundreds of jobs, helped to rejuvenate tourism and jump-started Bermuda’s struggling economy by adding over $330 million to Bermuda’s GDP,” he said.
“It also demonstrated Bermuda’s remarkable ability to rise to the occasion and work together to achieve extraordinary results.”
However, the veteran MP was disappointed to see a deterioration in the level of debate in the House.
“Given the serious issues Bermuda will continue to face as a small community with a fragile economy, we need more co-operation and far less partisan rancour,” he said.
The retirement announcement was greeted with foot-stomping and table-thumping from both sides of the House, with Dr Gibbons holding back tears at the end of his address.
Dr Gibbons’s political career spanned a quarter-century and started with his appointment in 1993 as campaign chairman for the former United Bermuda Party.
He became a senator in 1994 and was appointed Minister of Management and Technology in the UBP government.
He was elected to represent Paget East later that year.
Dr Gibbons was Minister of Finance from 1995 to 1998 and became shadow minister after the Progressive Labour Party won power for the first time in the 1998 General Election.
He served as Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2006 and as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee from 1998 to 2006.
Dr Gibbons served as the Minister of Education and Economic Development after the OBA won power in 2012, giving up the education portfolio to Wayne Scott in January 2015, a month after the momentous bid victory required a concentration of his time on AC35.
His resignation follows the departures of Jeff Baron as MP this week and former senator Nick Kempe in November 2017.
Bob Richards, another party stalwart, announced he was stepping away from politics after sensationally losing his seat to political neophyte Christopher Famous in the General Election last July.
Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the Opposition, called it a “very well-deserved” and “bittersweet” retirement for a man who “dedicated countless years of his life to serve Bermuda for the betterment of its entire people”.
His contribution “speaks to his personal character and indelible legacy”, Ms Atherden said.
“Dr Gibbons has also provided public service through his membership on a variety of boards and committees that provided oversight and advice on matters of importance to the country.
“Most recently as Minister of Economic Development, Dr Gibbons spearheaded the initiative that resulted in Bermuda hosting the America’s Cup, sailing’s most prestigious event, which provided both economic and social opportunity for Bermuda,” she added.
“Bermuda and the One Bermuda Alliance family is indebted for his contributions and on behalf of the party we would like to thank him for his unwavering service to Bermuda.
The announcement is reflective of a party that will continue to empower opportunity by making room for new Bermudian voices to be heard on the front line of politics.
“Although Dr Gibbons is reducing his political exposure, this is not the end of his service to the country. “His political footprint, commitment and contributions to the country will therefore continue.”
Michael Dunkley, who has served in politics alongside Dr Gibbons for all but four of his 25 years, said: “For as long as I have known Dr Gibbons, he has been a man with a tireless work ethic, always prepared, calm, cool and collected and in recent years seems to have developed a sense of humour.
“I say thank you to a man of impeccable character and integrity, a friend, mentor, adviser and a class act.
“Let your service be the stimulus for others to step forward and follow in the footsteps.”
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