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Collaboration is the way

On Labour Day, I said Bermuda must make our time together an era of collaboration.

I said that because I believe our progress rests on us working better together. Bermuda needs the best efforts from all our people to dig the Island out of a hole that threatens our way of life.

We can still argue and disagree with each other. Our system of government, after all, includes opposition to make sure ideas and plans are scrutinised and criticised to make them better for the good of all.

But today, too many of us are locked in a mindset that looks first to tear down others. You can see it on the blogs, where people, often behind fake names, rip at others and where partisan battle lines form at the drop of a hat.

I get the mindset, and I understand how easy it is to go there, but it is absolutely the wrong place for us to be; it is the wrong outlook for a better Bermuda today.

This negativity may be due to political wars of the past that never seem to leave us, or it may be due to the pressures created by our economic decline in recent years. Whatever the case, we have to adopt a more constructive, collaborative approach to our community's life.

Why?

If there is one thing I've learned in life, it is that it's better to work together than it is to work alone. More can be accomplished, more can be done with many hands at the table.

I've been Premier for nine months now, and it is clear that the challenges we face are so complex and deep that it will take all we have — intelligence, discipline, understanding, courage, participation and sacrifice — to get us moving in the right direction. We will not see better days if we remain fixed on divisions that say more about the past than the future.

We need to approach the challenges before us — a damaged economy, social dysfunction, job losses, and dwindling opportunities — with a view to fixing the whole; to making the Island work better for people at all levels.

We need to set aside historic alignments and step toward new relationships and perspectives that can build on our common destiny as Bermudians, giving us fresh opportunities to succeed as a country for all our people.

This is the unity of purpose I hope to get Bermuda moving toward. It's about recovery and renewal, for an Island that works for all of us, with no one is left behind.

In my time in office, I have worked to bring people together, encouraging them to step beyond well-trodden paths toward new relationships that can help us see the bigger picture.

It started with the Christian churches, bringing them together for a National Day of Prayer, leading by example to raise the spiritual element and collective awareness across the Island.

We moved forward with the idea of business, unions and Government sitting down together as a tripartite committee to provide Government with advice and input on the economic challenges we share as Bermudians. I am hopeful its counsel will help move Bermuda forward. This is what collaboration is all about, getting people to see beyond their traditional turf to the surrounding landscape and understand the importance of its well-being. The ‘me-first' mentality has to make room for others because we are truly all in this together.

I know this shift will take time, but I am encouraged by what I've seen so far. Members of Parliament got the ball rolling with a pay cut. In July, unions came together to work with Government on a historic cost-cutting pay deal. And last month, Government ministers started meeting with businesses to discuss steps that can be taken to lower Bermuda's cost of living.

It's early days I know, but I am confident we can build toward a Bermuda that works better for everyone. That work begins by recognising we are Bermudians first, with a responsibility to do what we can for the well-being of our neighbours, colleagues and fellow citizens.

That's my mission.

Craig Cannonier, Premier of Bermuda

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Published September 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 20, 2013 at 9:22 am)

Collaboration is the way

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