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The race is not given to the swift ...

At a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association course held from October 15 to 19 at McGill University in Montreal, parliamentarians from several countries, including Bermuda, gathered to undergo a week of intensive training in various forms of governance.

During the course, veteran Canadian union activist, politician and former provincial Cabinet minister David Christopherson, representing Hamilton, Ontario, captivated the group with numerous stories of his 35 years as an elected official.

During the course of his presentation, he posed this question to the group: “What kind of politician are you? Are you a sprinter, or are you a marathon runner?”

He then went on to give his definitions. A sprinter gets out the blocks early, runs really fast, gets a bit of media coverage, then gets burnt out with their political career effectively over.

On the other hand, a marathon runner goes over the course, takes their time, sets their pace, and slowly and methodically goes on their journey.

Those are the ones who tend to accomplish much over a long political career. It was clear by subsequent discussions among all in attendance that this was without a doubt the most profound lesson learnt during the week.

One of the common topics discussed by the parliamentarians was a lack of long-term mentorship for newly elected politicians, which inevitably leads to many becoming sprinters as opposed to marathon runners.

On a broader basis, this speaks to political parties who often, far too often, may operate well on a short-term basis to bump up poll results or win elections, but can fall short with long-term national strategies.

Which leads to some of the following points that are in need of open, honest and frank dialogue. There is an accepted reality that we need to increase our working population to meet national goals. Depending on who one speaks to, the numbers vary between 2,000 and 5,000 additional workers.

Most businesses, large and small, accept these facts. Both political parties, despite variations of methodologies, accept these facts. The challenge is not accepting that we need more workers, but that there has to be a number of industries created or expanded to create the demand for that volume of workers.

This is where we, as a country, have to think and act long term versus short term.

Simply put, as Bermudians, we have to view ourselves as marathon runners, not sprinters.

We cannot sprint ahead to open immigration permits simply to increase numbers and cause many of our own qualified Bermudians to be left behind, as is the case for far too many qualified Caymanians.

Let us keep in mind that many of our fellow qualified Bermudians who reside overseas would love to return home to work and contribute to society. Surely, we must look to them first to increase our working population.

On the flip side, we cannot be slow out of the blocks with needed legislation in areas such as fintech and related fast-evolving technologies, thus causing potential industries and opportunities to pass us by.

In a wider context, we must be fully aware that both Malta and the Isle of Man are in pursuit of many of the same goals as Bermuda with regard to blockchain technology. In essence, we must have a well-structured approach to how exactly we achieve an increase in industries and the requisite working population.

As a country, we must evolve not just our economy but, more importantly, our people.

Evolution cannot happen in the absence of national conversations becoming the national narrative and national agenda.

Just as Dave Christopherson took his time to impart salient wisdom on others from around the world, those with knowledge and experience in any given field locally should reach out to pass the proverbial baton of strategy in the marathon to move our island forward. In doing so, they help to mould the next generation of Bermudian business and political leadership.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

Take the long view: veteran Canadian union activist and former provincial cabinet minister David Christopherson, representing Hamilton, Ontario, captivated a recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar on governance with stories of his 35 years as an elected official

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Published October 26, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated October 26, 2018 at 8:54 am)

The race is not given to the swift ...

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