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No smoking gun to be found in airport deal

Senator Georgia Marshall

There they are again on the front pages, that trio of political bad news bearers, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, Rev Nicholas Tweed and Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward.

How many times have we seen these Progressive Labour Party fellow travellers in the spotlight in the past year or so?

This alliance that has been formed — the PLP/ People’s Campaign axis — is designed to persuade those among the PLP’s core voters who either didn’t vote in the last election, or crossed over and voted for the One Bermuda Alliance, that they made a big mistake.

The OBA is against them, they say, and must be voted out of office. The OBA cares only for foreigners and the wealthy, they say, and is bent on selling the country’s common man down the river.

While this trio of actors strut the stage of their political theatre, Marc Bean and his team can sit back in the wings and cheer them on … but discreetly, so that they maintain their ability to claim publicly that what they are really doing is trying their hardest to help the OBA repair the country’s economy.

“Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” That is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of disingenuous. It could not fit the Opposition PLP more perfectly.

The Finance Minister, my colleague the Hon Bob Richards, has spoken for himself in this storm-in-a-teacup affair, but I’d like to make three points about the fuss that is being made. First, if this trio has released 2,000 documents in their quest to smear Mr Richards, that suggests to me that they are deliberately substituting quantity for quality.

In other words, don’t look for a smoking gun, because there isn’t one there. The correspondence is pretty dry — interesting, really, only to those who were involved.

Second, does it matter whether the Aecon chicken or the CCC egg got to Mr Richards first?

The CCC president said, in a statement this week: “The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), a Canadian Crown corporation, through discussions with Aecon, was alerted to the exciting opportunity to redevelop the LF Wade International Airport.

“As standard procedure when opportunities are identified in this way, CCC assessed the viability of the project with the Government of Bermuda … CCC was aware that Aecon has substantial experience and a strong track record ...

“CCC is committed to the highest standards of bilateral co-operation and ethical business practices ...”

Is that the kind of statement CCC would make if it was trying to cover up some kind of dishonest deal?

Third, isn’t it ironic that the PLP has chosen to fight this particular battle on ground that it is so very familiar with?

That party’s propensity for subverting or ignoring its financial responsibilities where big-ticket public projects were concerned, from the Bermuda Housing Corporation to the Port Royal Golf Course, are now an unfortunate part of Bermuda’s political history, a part that one hopes will never be forgotten.

• Georgia Marshall is a Senator for the One Bermuda Alliance