Airport opening: Premier and Co missing at check-in
This country has opened its new state-of-the-art, 21st-century-and-beyond, iconic airport on Wednesday. A total of 885 Bermudians have worked on the site since construction started in 2017 and about 400 island companies got work from this major project initiated by the One Bermuda Alliance government when it was in power. It was a red-letter day for the country as dignitaries including the Governor, the Skyport executives and other representatives that were responsible for this spectacular achievement celebrated this opening.
But there was a group of people missing in action. By now everyone has realised the lack of attendance by the Premier and his Cabinet. It is a sad day when the leaders of our country find it more politically expedient to make a statement by their non-attendance rather than set aside their initial disagreement with the process in which it was built than to celebrate its completion.
A new edition that the political giant in our history, former Opposition leader of the Progressive Labour Party Leonard Frederick Wade, deserves to have his name attached to rather than a ceiling-leaking, dilapidated, sorry excuse of an airport that we had been forced to live with over the past decade.
Throughout the construction of this new airport the former PLP opposition spent countless hours combating the idea of having it built under the financial model designed by the OBA. Their conflict and obstructionist move against its start and ultimate completion is well documented.
The PLP was instrumental in getting their supporters out to protest on that fateful day, December 2, 2016, which resulted in our people being wrongfully pepper-sprayed. The same tactics they use to “Get out the vote” were transferable for their “Get out to protest” scheme. Members of the public have stated that a robo-call they received the previous evening sounding unmistakably like our Premier, who was then the Opposition leader, instructing them on the steps needed to participate in the protest march the next day. This was not an organic grassroots movement; this was a protest orchestrated, led and executed by the PLP with ruthless success.
This same Opposition party who convinced their supporters how uncaring the OBA government was at that time would ultimately go to great lengths to prove how caring a government they would be once they were in power.
Fast forward to the winter of 2018-19. The PLP is now the Government. While the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee is actively doing the assignment it was purposed to do — which was to investigate the circumstances and make recommendations to avoid the outcomes of this December 2, 2016 tragedy — the PLP government are doing all they can to prove that they are a caring government.
In the cloak of darkness, this caring government was making a deal with those residents who were the victims. A confidential settlement was paid by the PLP government to 25 injured protesters at a total amount that some reports claim to have been $225,000 before the Joint Select Committee had a chance to publish its findings — leaving its chairman and members frustrated because their work had been thoroughly undermined by this decision.
A ministry spokesman at the time stated: “The settlement is a legally binding, confidential document which prohibits the parties from divulging the details or nature of the settlement.” The ministry spokesman went further to say: “An amicable conclusion had been reached with applicants and the settlement would avoid the cost of a lengthy court hearing.”
In other words, take the cash we are offering you and keep your mouth shut, we are the Government now. The settlement was made to save the country money at the expense of true justice. This was and remains your “caring” PLP government.
They were intellectually and morally conflicted. How could they on one hand applaud this fabulous new airport and be grateful for the jobs it created for hundreds of our Bermudian workers and small contractors for the past three years with a straight, non-hypocritical face? The PLP’s DNA will not allow them to praise the success of a rival party even if it is good for the country. Look no farther than the America’s Cup for the confirmation of that statement.
At the end of the day, despite the protests of the now-vanished People’s Campaign, which has cause to march only when the OBA is the government, the unfortunate events of December 2, 2016 and the unfair mishandling of justice for those victims by this caring PLP government, the new airport has been built, which is good for the country.
Can someone please call Alaska Hall and tell them that they won this year’s General Election. There are no smiles or joy coming from that group over there, so I thought a phone call to remind them would be appropriate. Apparently, my telephone number has been blocked!
• Marcus Jones is a One Bermuda Alliance senator and spokesman for finance