Log In

Reset Password

This is the age of tolerance – can we now act our age?

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

One step forward, two steps backward.

Push, pull.

Accusation, counter-accusation.

Punch, counterpunch.

Just when we think we’re getting somewhere, actually we’re not.

This entire mess over Bermuda’s political leaders tearing strips out of the country’s leading legal mind, while in the backdrop there appearing to be genuine attempts to drive these lands forward, portrays a confused and conflicted state of mind for anyone looking in on our soap opera from afar.

Pass the popcorn.

Put none of this nonsense down to the by-elections that took place last night; constituencies 22 and 25, and the electioneering to fill the seats left by Grant Gibbons and Jeff Baron, had nothing to do with the words that came out of the mouths of Wayne Caines and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch last Friday.

On one hand, shocking; on the other, entirely predictable — the common denominators being Chief Justice Ian Kawaley and the shameful lowering of political discourse that the Westminster system’s parliamentary privilege provides.

And to think that David Burt got the day’s session off to such a resounding start by belatedly rolling out the welcome mat to the Portuguese community.

How was he to know that several hours later, Burch would undo much of that good work with an impetuously vile slur against a fellow Bermudian, who happens to be of Indian descent and whose pigmentation is closer to white than it is to black? But not that many shades lighter than that of the colonel himself.

Maybe it was something in the late-afternoon tea.

Or more likely, could it be that the good colonel is ensuring that a racist past remains a racist present and, with his invective played out over the airwaves and into our homes for the fever to spread throughout our young, condemns us to a racist future?

The greatest contradiction in the wake of that scripted put-down of a man of honourable repute, who was introduced to this country almost 40 years ago by a Progressive Labour Party legend, Julian Hall, is that Burch was soon after shoulder-to-shoulder with a white foreigner — a double whammy of sorts in the present context — signing a memorandum of understanding that should advance Bermuda in the world of solar energy.

It is a common politician’s refrain to never believe what you read. Clearly, in the case of Burch, that takes on biblical proportion, for he used his time in the evening session to misinform the House — and the public, by extension — with a retelling of recent history that can be described only as revisionist.

All in an attempt to besmirch Justice Kawaley, for whom the crude “bipolar” description would fit, playfully, only if one knew of his table tennis-playing past.

Accusing the Chief Justice of remaining silent on a topic that he has repeatedly berated the Government over since January 2013 — repeated in January 2017, by which time the One Bermuda Alliance had had four years to address his concerns and failed, and then again this year — before kicking a fuss just as he is to leave his post betrays either ignorance or disingenuity.

Burch is not an unintelligent man, so the latter fits the bill more succinctly.

Likewise earlier. Although his deep dislike for The Royal Gazette is no state secret, why he chose in a speaking allocation that revealed his belated conversion to the blockchain party to rewrite our own magazine so soon after its publication astounds.

The daily in its RG Business magazine did not once mention or acknowledge the Government’s primacy in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, he alluded.

The lightweight Opposition would offer no point of order — why? they were not being maligned — but the Minister of National Security sitting near by could and should have corrected/rebuked his colleague. For there is no doubt that three days before the Government commissioned a three-quarter wrap around the June 1 edition, Caines would have pored over every word in the magazine, including where he was interviewed.

There he would have found a cover story on blockchain adjoined by another, titled “First-Move Advantage”, a segment of which, in terms the Premier would appreciate, we quote: “ ... Through the Companies and Limited Liabilities (Initial Coin Offering) Amendment Act 2018 and the Virtual Currency Business Act 2018, the Bermuda Government aims to create the most advanced regulatory environment in the world for this rapidly evolving industry.

“While others, including Malta, are trying to achieve something similar, Bermuda’s move has attracted the attention of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency-exchange operator, which in April signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government, pledging to create a compliance centre with 40 staff on the island and to provide $15 million in education grants and start-up financing. Binance said its research had shown that Bermuda was becoming ‘one of the leading regulatory bodies for virtual currency’.”

And on and on it continued.

So it is quite clear that the wisecracking Burch had experienced a Stevie Wonder moment of his own. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Regrets, we’ve had a few. Just don’t expect a mea culpa from Burch anytime soon.

Caines, on the other hand, offered one of the sloppier climbdowns seen in recent times. Following up his angry description of the Chief Justice as showing “cowardice” and behaving like “a thief that comes in the night”, he then tried to put the genie back in the bottle by claiming that he holds Justice Kawaley in high regard “personally and professionally”.

Jesus, in his absolution of those who crucified him, is the only one known to man who could pull that off with any conviction:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”