To debt and gratitude
Last week was not good for Bermuda.
Notice that I say not good for Bermuda, rather than not good for the Burt Administration. Certainly, it was a bad week for the Premier. Yet the resignation of the finance minister — on the eve of a very challenging Budget — was very bad news for all of us.
Curtis Dickinson and I were both elected to Parliament on the same night in June 2018, after twin by-elections in Warwick and Paget. The by-elections were on a Thursday. The very next morning, we were hustled into Parliament to be sworn in for that day’s sitting of the House. Our seats in Parliament were next to each other. Although he swiftly ascended to the front bench, we spent our first few months together as “newbies”, seeking to understand the complexities of Parliament.
The former finance minister is a man of intelligence and integrity. We may not always agree, but his departure from Cabinet — and particularly his departure from the finance portfolio — is a considerable loss to our island. And it could not come at a worse time. Speaking in Parliament on Friday night, the One Bermuda Alliance’s Jarion Richardson summed up this shock resignation in a single word: “disastrous”.
All has yet to be revealed. Mr Dickinson has yet to state publicly the reasons for his resignation. During the debate on Friday night, MPs repeatedly observed that Curtis Dickinson is not a quitter. So why has he quit?
We are indebted to Mr Dickinson for his service. It cannot have been easy. His was a steady hand on an unsteady tiller. Despite his commendable efforts, we still remain deeply in debt. Changing metaphors: he was the brakes on the Progressive Labour Party’s runaway train. Now, more than ever, we need everyone working together to solve our island’s problems. Let us hope Mr Dickinson can be prevailed upon to return to leadership in some capacity. And soon.
Earlier this month I wrote of “resignation repeat”, discussing the departure of Curtis Richardson from the Senate. Only two weeks later, we have another PLP resignation — albeit for reasons unknown at present. That makes five resignations since David Burt became the Premier. Arguably six, because Zane DeSilva managed, rather spectacularly, to resign twice from Mr Burt’s Cabinet.
Mr DeSilva popped up in the House on Friday night, with a double whammy of bizarre statements. He announced, first, that his bank accounts were frozen after he was charged in Court. An odd thing for him to reveal, all things considered, yet this remark was soon eclipsed by another corker. Libel laws being what they are, I will quote him verbatim.
When Craig Cannonier pointed out that Mr DeSilva was “the only MP that has been charged with something”, Mr DeSilva retorted: “I am not the only Progressive Labour Party member to be in this type of situation before, and I won’t be the last, either, I can assure you.”
Really? Who’s next?
Both statements were made during the motion to adjourn, a debate that began with the OBA’s Michael Dunkley challenging the PLP to defend its premier.
Media reports state only 11 of the PLP’s 30 Members spoke in the debate. If correct, this means almost two thirds of the PLP stayed silent. My own sense was that it was more than 11 — closer to 14, perhaps — but maybe some speakers were only interventions? Importantly, of those who did speak, few revealed their support, or otherwise, for the leadership. They steered well clear of the Opposition’s challenge.
In our Parliament, it takes only 18 MPs to form a government — with another becoming the Speaker. The crucial question is this: does the Premier retain the support of a majority of the House?
Another silver lining
Forgive my repeat of the dark clouds/silver linings metaphor. I used it previously when discussing SailGP and the America’s Cup and, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, then…
Mr Burt has sadly ruled out any efforts to return the America’s Cup to our shores (cue storm clouds). The Premier derided Opposition Senate Leader Ben Smith’s suggestion as a “rinse and repeat” strategy. Funny that. You would think we would all want to build upon our proven successes?
Another “repeat” that we should all celebrate is the announcement that the World Triathlon Series will return to Bermuda in November, featuring Bermuda’s very own Dame Flora Duffy. Silver linings — now with a flash of gold, too. Let’s build upon success.
• Scott Pearman is the Shadow Minister for Legal and Home Affairs, and the MP for Paget East (Constituency 22). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org