What is expected from our parliamentarians
No special credentials are required to decide whether our parliamentarians are serving the people with the highest standard of transparency and respect as they conduct the business of the people. There are a number of pressing issues that will truly test their ability to refrain from attacking each other in a negative manner, which detracts from trying to solve problems of the day.
No one should be so naive as to assume that there will not be heated clashes in the historic chambers, as emotions too often slip over the edge, and the Speaker has to bring his hammer down to remind everyone that disregarding House rules governing conduct of members is unacceptable and that a violation of behavioural codes could result in punitive action.
First of all, most of the community is respectful towards all the honourable members who have been elected to serve their constituencies throughout Bermuda, and while Bermudians are mindful that highly controversial issues are before them, it is imperative that parliamentarians remain acutely aware that the people are expecting nothing short of their best effort in meeting challenges with dignity, respect and professional decorum.
Political confrontation should never be reduced to who has the most shocking soundbite over opinion differences.
Of course, even the world press feed off reckless statements made by politicians and others holding high office, and often in today’s instant communication technology, badly chosen words are not easily forgotten.
Although there have been occasional outbursts during recent parliamentary sessions, it would be unfair to note that most members on both sides have conducted themselves in a manner that sets a good example to our young people, and that, above all, we must display respect even when having an opposing view.
This is not a finger-pointing exercise because everyone makes mistakes and it is to be hoped that we learn from them.
Apart from conflicting opinions over the process to build a new airport, the immigration issue yet to be resolved, the illegal drug problem, reckless attitudes on our roads and the need to restart our economy, there is increasing concern throughout Bermuda that bold criminals staging robberies in broad daylight is a threat that needs full attention by every member of Parliament — and from every member of our community.
It is getting a bit much when just about every week or so, Dwayne Caines, the police spokesman, has to stand before the press to report yet another incident, with shaken victims wondering what is happening to our Bermuda.
This is an issue that should be at the top of the agenda because most Bermudians would be quick to say this is not our Bermuda. Legislators really should take a hard look at existing laws pertaining to gun offences to determine whether significant upgrading may at least cause someone to think twice before moving in that direction.
There is no easy answer, but our lawmakers need to work closer together in an effort to make our island safe for all.
It is one thing to encourage entrepreneurs to help to build our economy, but too often they are the ones targeted by criminals in daring robberies. This must stop.
Yes, there are many other important issues such as education and jobs to sort out; meanwhile, with many promising events ahead for the island, which could boost our economy, most Bermudians want to feel safe as they go about their daily activities.