Burt reprimands Caines over video
David Burt said that a video posted by Wayne Caines in which he asked a young woman server in a London restaurant for “titty milk” displayed a “lack of respect for women”.
However, the Premier did not indicate whether the comment would cost Mr Caines his job as Minister of National Security.
Mr Burt said last night that he had spoken with Mr Caines about the incident, which he said displayed “poor judgment conveyed by the actions in the recording”.
The Premier said that Mr Caines had expressed regret over the matter.
Mr Burt added: “I am disappointed that the incredibly hard work Minister Caines does every day on behalf of the people of Bermuda, including on his trip to London, has been overshadowed by this extremely poor conduct.”
He said that he regularly referred Cabinet members to the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the requirement that “ministers are expected to behave according to the highest standards of constitutional and personal conduct in the performance of their duties”.
Mr Burt added: “Moments like this provide a valuable opportunity for each and every one of us to pause and reflect to ensure that we individually and collectively serve the people of Bermuda in a manner befitting our responsibilities as leader.”
The Premier said he was proud to lead a party that “has been led by, and continues to benefit from the contributions of exceptionally strong women at every level”.
Mr Burt added: “This government respects and values the role of women in this community.”
The One Bermuda Alliance dismissed Mr Burt’s response as a “smack in the face for every woman on this island” and called for Mr Caines to resign from Cabinet.
Mr Caines continued to attract headlines yesterday in response to the controversial video he recorded and uploaded to his Instagram page on Wednesday, while on government business in London.
In the clip, he is heard to ask a female employee at a branch of the Cereal Killer Café if the store had “titty milk”.
His actions received a backlash from across the political divide before Mr Caines issued an apology on Facebook on Thursday afternoon.
The article was picked up by British newspaper the Evening Standard.
It said: “Wayne Caines, Bermuda’s minister of national security, recorded a video of himself making the enquiry as a ‘joke’ before posting the footage to his 4,000 followers on Instagram earlier this week.”
The newspaper noted Mr Caines was in London to meet with National Crime Agency officials to discuss Britain’s work on child sex abuse and exploitation overseas.
The Centre Against Abuse yesterday called for a “change of mindset” after the incident.
Laurie Shiell, executive director of the charity, said the public need to be aware of sexual harassment.
Ms Shiell said: “It’s time perpetrators of sexual harassment change their mindset.
“It’s time perpetrators of sexual harassment control their hands and words. It’s time for us to no longer accept sexual harassment as a joke.
“It is time sexual harassment ends in Bermuda, and we can start today.”
Mr Caines, whose Facebook and Instagram pages have now been deleted, said in his apology: “What was meant to be a funny, is now anything but. I know better. This is an unnecessary own goal.”
Ms Shiell said people should consider if they would make comments, statements or gestures to their daughter, mother, grandmother pastor or boss.
She said: “Sexual harassment is a mindset that believes that it is OK for a person to make sexually inappropriate and obscene remarks and actions with strangers and acquaintances.”
Ms Shiell added: “Bermuda, our dirt is showing, and we are tired of sexual harassment being swept under the carpet.
“We need to clean up our act. We need to firmly unite and say we are tired of this behaviour. We need to address it immediately and directly.
“No it’s not a joke. It’s sexual harassment.”
Responding in a statement today, OBA chairman Justin Mathias said: “The use of the phrase ‘titty milk’ is demeaning to all women and to hear it coming from a senior government minister is shocking though not surprising — but for the Premier to admit that he was only ‘disappointed’ is truly appalling and is a smack in the face for every woman on this island.
“Perhaps, like the OBA which has a majority all-female leadership team, the PLP would benefit from more women in its leadership team.
“Minister Caines has apologised but it was not a real apology, as he says the worker did not hear him. I find it hard to take seriously because if he was at all serious he would never have issued those words in the first place, let alone take the premeditated action of posting it to his many thousands of followers on Instagram.
“As a former CEO, would the minister condone this type of phrase if one of his male employees had uttered it to a female employee? What would he have done? Would he simply have asked for an apology? I hope not — I hope he would have severely sanctioned that employee.
“As the CEO equivalent, we were left wait to see what the Premier would do? Well we found out. He expressed his ‘disappointment’. What kind of CEO does not sanction an employee for such demeaning language? This sends out the message that what the minister did is effectively OK.
“What this reveals is not just a weak leader who pays lip service to issues such as equality, but also a lack of depth in the PLP Cabinet. The Premier knows he cannot dismiss Minister Caines as there is no one to take his place who can take on the complicated fintech business.
“I note that the Evening Standard, a newspaper with an audience of some two million people a day in print and online in London, has now covered the story which portrays not only the minister in a poor light because of his actions, but by association the government and Bermuda.
“The minister has apparently now shut down his private Instagram and Facebook accounts, but that is too late.
“Despite what our Premier says, someone must be made accountable for these actions.
“This is not the type of behaviour we expect and we, as a people, should receive better from our elected officials, including the Premier. Enough is enough and if he had any ounce of dignity, Minister Caines should do what the Premier does not have the guts to tell him to do — resign and take a time out to reflect on his actions.”
The Royal Gazette has invited Mr Burt to respond to Mr Mathias’s comments.
Mr Caines could not be reached for comment yesterday.