Maverick Moniz quits politics

  • Trevor Moniz retires

  • Veteran member: Trevor Moniz was first elected for the UBP in 1993 and became a founding member of the OBA in 2011

    Veteran member: Trevor Moniz was first elected for the UBP in 1993 and became a founding member of the OBA in 2011


Timeline

Born May 25, 1954

1977 Called to the Bermuda Bar

1982 Founds his own legal firm on the island

1989 Joins the United Bermuda Party

1992 Enters politics after winning Smith’s South primary with C.V. “Jim” Woolridge

1993 Elected to the House of Assembly

1994 Sides influentially with the Stubbs Bill in House

1995 Opposes Sir John Swan, then premier, on an unsuccessful independence referendum

1997 Blocks move for McDonald’s to Bermuda, joining rebel MPs with legislation prohibiting franchise eateries

1998 Fights for the creation of the Working Resident’s Certificate; re-elected as MP

1999 Loses role of party whip with UBP after being accused of failing to attend meetings

2001 Formally stripped of UBP credentials as rift continues

2002 Returns to UBP; knighted for service to Portuguese community

2003, 2007 Holds Smith’s seat in successive General Elections

2011 Joins One Bermuda Alliance as a founding member

2012 Returns to Government in OBA victory and becomes public works minister

2013 Switches portfolios to the health ministry

2014 Takes over as Attorney-General

2017 Launches lawsuit accusing Lahey Clinic of fraud using clinics of former premier Ewart Brown

2017 Retains Smith’s West seat but returns to Opposition

2018 Lahey suit dismissed; Mr Moniz moves to Opposition back bench

2020 Retires

Trevor Moniz, a Smith’s MP for 27 years under the United Bermuda Party and the One Bermuda Alliance, announced his retirement from politics yesterday.

The veteran politician cited the need to “bring new blood to the House of Assembly”.

The often maverick Smith’s West politician was first elected for the UBP in 1993 and became a founding member of the OBA in 2011.

Calling himself the “last, continuously serving MP from the class of 1993”, Mr Moniz, a lawyer and father of four who was Called to the Bermuda Bar at only 22, went on to hold several Cabinet positions under the OBA.

He served as public works minister, health minister and attorney-general, but was relegated to the Opposition back benches in 2018, along with fellow former UBP MPs Michael Dunkley and Jeanne Atherden.

The outspoken MP closed his retirement speech by taking aim at the Progressive Labour Party.

Mr Moniz said: “Unfortunately, I must comment upon the continuing language of racial hatred and misogyny spewed by a few PLP members in our House of Assembly.

“The Premier and the Speaker should long since have put a stop to this behaviour, and the fact that they have not can only lead to the assumption that they approve.”

He chided the Speaker, Dennis Lister, for supporting independence for Bermuda, and said he should apply the Standing Orders of the House “fairly to both sides”.

He added: “Unfortunately, that is not happening now.”

Mr Moniz also stood by his decision in 2017 to pursue a civil case against the Lahey Group that “only failed on a technicality”.

The lawsuit, accusing the Massachusetts clinic of engaging in fraud using the local practices of Ewart Brown, a former premier, was hotly denied by both, with Dr Brown branding it a political attack.

It was dropped in 2018, first by the US District Court in Massachusetts, then by the Bermuda Government.

Mr Moniz claimed yesterday that the lawsuit was part of a wider programme of combating allegations of corruption.

He claimed “ample evidence” supporting allegations of corruption in the PLP before 2012, which the party rebutted last night.

The PLP statement said it had a strong legacy for the community, adding: “It is shameful that one of the longest-serving members of Parliament would use his exit speech to disrespect other long-serving Members of Parliament, past and present.

“Unfortunately, however, this has been the normal course of action for Mr Moniz and the One Bermuda Alliance.”

The PLP attacked the millions spent “pursuing frivolous politically motivated lawsuits that amounted to nothing but wasted time and money”.

Mr Moniz was criticised for the OBA’s immigration reforms, Pathways to Status, as well as neglecting to investigate the Jetgate scandal that resulted in Craig Cannonier, then the premier, stepping down.

The PLP attacked his role as attorney-general in the airport redevelopment deal, and said he “remained silent after our seniors were pepper-sprayed” in the December 2, 2016 protests against it outside Sessions House.

The PLP wished Mr Moniz well in his retirement but added: “It’s clear from Mr Moniz’s outburst that Bermuda needs capable and steady leadership that works for us, not petty politicians looking to settle political scores.”

Mr Moniz said yesterday that his career highlights included initiating the Members’ Register of Interests for MPs.

He fought for the creation in 1998 of the Working Resident’s Certificate, which gave long-term resident work-permit holders some rights of permanency in Bermuda.

He was involved in three successful private members’ Bills: the John Stubbs 1994 Criminal Code Amendment Bill decriminalising sodomy; the Prohibited Restaurants Act 1997, outlawing fast-food franchises; and the Charities Amendment Act 1998, which opened the accounts of registered charities to public inspection.

Mr Moniz sided with rebel MPs in the UBP during the 1990s, opposing Sir John Swan, then the premier, on his bid for a referendum on Bermuda’s independence in 1995.

The group also thwarted Sir John and UBP backbencher Maxwell Burgess in their controversial attempt to operate a McDonald’s restaurant in Bermuda.

Mr Moniz paid a price as the critic in the ranks, surrendering his role as party whip in 1999 after he was accused of failing to attend UBP meetings.

After two years in the wilderness, Mr Moniz almost became an independent MP when the party declined to reinstate him in January 2002.

He returned to the party fold later that year.

A longstanding proponent of the rights of the island’s Portuguese community, he was knighted by the President of Portugal in 2002 for his services.

OBA leader Craig Cannonier said last night: “If a week is a long time in politics, 27 years must be an eternity, and it is testament to Trevor’s unswerving desire to serve his constituents and his country that he has been such an effective politician for such a long time.

“Trevor’s voice will be missed. His sage advice, his wit and his incredible knowledge will not be replaced easily, and he will leave a big gap.” Wishing Mr Moniz the best in a “well deserved” retirement, Mr Cannonier said his departure meant a changing of the guard.

He said he would “soon announce the OBA’s candidate to sit in Smith’s West”.

Michael Dunkley, a former OBA leader and colleague for 23 years, said Mr Moniz was never shy on posing questions or taking a tough stance if he saw it as “the correct approach”.

Mr Moniz, he added, “made a significant contribution to our island through the years”.

Ben Smith, the shadow national security minister, said Mr Moniz had “always been supportive, given guidance and great counsel”.

He added: “Trevor could be controversial at times, but he was great on his feet during debates and was always able to defend his colleagues and get his view across.”

Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, called him a “political maverick” and “a man of fierce integrity, who has always fought for the little guy”.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, a colleague of 22 years, said his “forthright and no-holds-barred approach to politics has been both refreshing and, at times, even controversial”. She said he had endured “constant criticism from the PLP”, in Government or Opposition, with “stoic determination”.

Jeanne Atherden, another former OBA leader, admitted “mixed emotions” on hearing of his retirement. She said that Mr Moniz “worked hard, was guided by his principles and did what he believed was right”. Ms Atherden said he would likely guide others in his retirement, as well as get “more time for his family and playing pickleball”.

Mr Moniz married Yolanda in 1993, and the couple have one son and three daughters.

He attended Saltus Grammar School and studied law at King’s College London, on a Bermuda Government scholarship. He was Called to the Bar in England and Wales in 1976, and to the Bermuda Bar in 1977.

He was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship and attended the University of Toronto, graduating with a Diploma in Business Administration.

He returned to Bermuda in 1980 after working in London and Europe, established his own practice in 1982, and went on to serve as secretary and president of the Bermuda Bar Association.

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Published Aug 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 4, 2020 at 8:05 am)

Maverick Moniz quits politics

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