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No sunshine for the PLP

Michael Dunkley (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the excellent editorial dated July 11, 2019, titled “Right to know here to stay”.

It is indeed very worrying that the Progressive Labour Party government has an extreme “distaste for public access to information”.

All Bermudians should be alarmed that government members continually rail against the Act and that a government minister “told a government department to defy an order by Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez”.

Mr Editor, I would like to clarify a point you made in your opinion piece. You wrote that “despite being the party that tabled and passed the legislation in July 2010, the PLP doesn’t much like being told to comply with its own sunshine law”.

It is correct that the PLP tabled and passed legislation for Pati in 2010.

However, a PLP government never made Pati operational, in spite of having ample time to do so! Until regulations were passed in 2014 and the Act being operational on April 1, 2015, the public were not able to submit requests for information under Pati. Mr Editor, one of my first commitments to the people of Bermuda as Premier, made during a national address on June 9, 2014, with the full support of my colleagues, was to table the regulations in the House of Assembly.

I said at the time: “The plan is to have a Pati commissioner in place by the [autumn] and Pati fully operational by April 2015, enabling people to finally shine new light on the work of government — asking questions, getting answers, bringing new levels of transparency and accountability to the public sector.”

This promise was kept when the One Bermuda Alliance debated and passed the legislation in July 2014, and the law became operational in April 2015. In regards to the present shocking attack again by the PLP government on a public officer and an abuse of power by a PLP Cabinet minister, we should remember that the Sandys 360 Sports Centre has been handled poorly to say the least by the PLP from the start, with even a double payment of $807,000.

No wonder the PLP will do all it can to block Pati requests.