Needling for a fight
The cannabis regulations were approved in the House of Assembly recently and there has been some discussion regarding the wording of the Bill, which our attorney-general, Kathy Lynn Simmons, said “prescribes uses beyond ‛medical and scientific use’ as sanctioned by the United Nations oversight bodies and as such contravenes Britain’s international obligations”.
She added: “The UK Government through Government House has confirmed support for Bermuda’s policy and legislation only so far as it does not contravene the UK’s international obligations.”
And this Bill does. While it would then seem that our new governor does not have the power to give assent to the legislation as written, the Premier said he is confident that the Bill will be approved because of:
• Our long tradition of internal self-governance
• These new cannabis regulations being modelled after those of Canada, another Commonwealth nation, where such regulations are acceptable
Both former premier Michael Dunkley and former Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean have suggested that the Premier is manufacturing a confrontation with the Governor to drive support for independence.
During the February 23 government Covid-19 press conference, the Premier challenged the suggestion that the Government should avoid conflicts with Britain to protect the flow of Covid-19 vaccine. He said: “I am not going to be bought or silenced in any way, shape or form by trinkets. ... I am appreciative of the relationship which we have, but I am also appreciative of the fact that in a democratic society with full internal self-governance, the democratic will of the locally elected assembly should be upheld and observed.”
Speaking of vaccines, it is interesting to note that rich nations representing only 14 per cent of the world's population have bought up more than half — 53 per cent — of the most promising vaccines, according to a campaign group called The People's Vaccine Alliance.
In response, the Covax programme has been initiated to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, and is led by the vaccine alliance GAVI, the World Health Organisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations in partnership with Unicef, vaccine manufacturers and the World Bank, among others.
It is being called the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, and aims to reduce the divide between rich countries and poorer nations unable to buy doses of the Covid vaccine. Covax hopes to deliver more than two billion doses to people in 190 countries in less than a year. In particular, it wants to ensure 92 poorer countries will receive access to vaccines at the same time as 98 wealthier countries.
On February 25, courtesy of Covax, Ghana, with a population of 30 million, was the recipient of a delivery of 600,000 free vaccines and was chosen as the first recipient country, after meeting the criteria set by the Covax initiative — criteria that includes countries with a gross national income per capita of less than $4,000. Bermuda, with a GNI per capita of $86,000, received its first shipment of more than 9,000 free “trinkets” on January 8 and a second shipment of more than 19,000 a few weeks later. A “rich” dot in the ocean with 60,000-plus people. Thanks to our relationship with Britain.
It is no secret that this government has little respect for our historical attachment to Britain and, as a constant reminder, we hear not so subtle rhetoric regularly floated over the airwaves, both inside and outside of the House of Assembly. It does wonders to keep the “nationhood” fires burning and reminds us all of our abhorrent “relationship” with Britain, which, by the way, if asked, would be eager to slam the door behind us as we exit.
Who needs trinkets anyway?