PLP unveils first candidates for election
The Progressive Labour Party unveiled its first two candidates yesterday for October’s General Election.
Crystal Caesar and Jason Wade will compete for constituencies in Southampton that the One Bermuda Alliance held with reduced margins at the 2017 election.
Ms Caesar, 46, a government senator and the junior tourism minister, will fight Southampton West Central, where she lost to Ben Smith, of the OBA by 506 votes to 457 three years ago.
Shawn Crockwell of the OBA defeated Scott Simmons of the PLP by 520 votes to 284, with independent Charles Swan picking up 77 votes in the seat in the 2012 General Election.
Mr Wade, 34, the former president of Southampton Rangers Sports Club and a former teacher, will bid for Southampton East Central, where Leah Scott of the OBA defeated the PLP’s Quinton Butterfield by 516 votes to 463 in 2017.
Ms Scott defeated Stephen Todd of the PLP by 559 votes to 363 at the 2012 polls.
The two were announced at the PLP headquarters Alaska Hall on Court Street, Hamilton.
David Burt, the Premier, said the pair were “first-rate” and that the election was about leadership.
He added: “We all know that tough times are ahead. While we ably handled the health crisis, we’re not out of the woods yet and we will continue to have to remain vigilant and adjust our policies to keep our community safe.”
Mr Burt said: “I’m pleased to see our ‘work from Bermuda’ policy already attracting nearly 200 applications — but this policy is just the tip of the iceberg.
“As we seek to rebuild Bermuda’s economy not just for those who have always done well, we will provide more ownership opportunities for Bermudians.”
Mr Burt said he was “confident” that rules would be created to ensure a safe election, despite the Covid-19 crisis.
He added: “What’s important is we move on from the divisiveness of a series of by-elections.”
The Premier said he had taken Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, “at his word that there were going to be resignations” in the OBA and the PLP.
Mr Cannonier predicted the rash of retirements as he unveiled Vic Ball as the OBA’s candidate for Smith’s North on August 7.
He said both parties had some very senior members and that he expected to see some step down.
Mr Burt said a General Election would allow whichever party was elected to “focus on matters going ahead”.
He accused Mr Cannonier of stoking division when he announced Mr Ball’s candidature.
Mr Burt said: “What we need is unity.”
He added that he had worked hard during the pandemic to be a bipartisan leader and accused Mr Cannonier of going on the attack “after we had been working together so well”.
He disputed that the PLP’s large majority in the House of Assembly presented a risk that the party could be overconfident.
Mr Burt said: “The best guard against complacency is continued work.”
Ms Caesar, who is also the junior national security minister, praised the party’s leadership and said Bermudians “want to work and earn a comfortable living, have a top-notch education, have affordable healthcare and access to jobs to be successful, contributing members of society”.
She added that she did not live in the constituency, but knew the West End well.
Ms Caesar said that her career had been varied, from financial services to her present post as finance manager at the Mid Ocean Club.
She added that her experience in the Senate had “provided an excellent training ground for me”.
She listed health, economic development, home affairs, immigration, tourism, transport and national security as topics she had spoken on during her three years in the Upper House.
Ms Caesar added: “I served on the joint select committee for Child Protection/Sex Offenders Registry.
“Additionally, my fellow senators and I have carefully shepherded critical legislation and policies through the Senate such as the regulations needed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic; laws to ensure we protect our jurisdictional reputation; access to funding for Bermuda’s entrepreneurial minded; provided incentives and concessions in the tourism industry to assist in its growth; and provided funding to ensure those who wish a higher education the opportunities to do so.”
Mr Wade has lived in Southampton East Central for most of his life.
The former teacher, who is the chairman of the board at CedarBridge Academy, emphasised his love of education.
Mr Wade said: “From my time in the classroom as a former teacher to my time in the boardroom, I have continued to remember the lessons my parents taught me — to be respectful and remain humble.
“These are the traits I will take with me to the House of Assembly, if elected.
“As we have been thrown into unforeseen circumstances due to the current pandemic, with more challenging times to come, it is important that your voice is heard.”
Mr Wade added: “Since the Constituency 30 team has been visiting the doorsteps over the last several years, we have listened to voters’ concerns.
“I look forward to continuing to visit all of you in the next few weeks and going beyond listening to acting on the concerns that the voters of Southampton East Central have.”
Mr Cannonier hit back yesterday at Mr Burt’s accusations.
He said: “It is sad that David Burt should again attempt to deflect from his own failings as Premier. He needs to focus on fixing the economy and giving people jobs.”
Mr Cannonier highlighted that the Financial Policy Council published its report yesterday and it had warned that “a comprehensive economic recovery plan should be put in place as a matter of urgency”.
He said: “While the Premier dithers, people are suffering, people are worried about their next paycheque and whether they can afford a new school uniform for their child. They are worried about paying the bills.”
Mr Cannonier accused Mr Burt of his own “divisive rhetoric” — which he said would not help people who struggled to feed their families and that the OBA would “give people hope”.
He added: “It will not go low like the Premier. It will stand up for Bermudians to ensure they have a future on this island of ours.”
•To read the statements in full from David Burt, Crystal Caesar and Jason Wade, click on the PDF links below “Related Media”
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