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Hundred-day plan: same old, same old

We have reached the first milestone of the new Progressive Labour Party administration — the end of its 100-day plan.

Or, as I like to call it, “The Plan To Start A Plan”.

For the record, I strongly dislike the 100-day deadline, as I don't believe the American style of politics is one to mirror, especially in their present state of affairs. But the PLP has done a wonderful job of emulating and implementing Trumpian tactics on our shores.

Some have asked: “What does this plan mean for my children, the country and me?”

Unfortunately, very little.

The PLP said that it would fully execute its 21 initiatives. However, to date only six of those 21 have been implemented, 11 merely have been started, and the remaining four, well, it's unclear where it stands and on those or if they will ever be acted upon.

That's your 100 days, folks.

Not much has changed from the government of today and the PLP we knew and started to distrust after the coup in 2003 — and their ultimate demise in the 2012 election. History is indeed on “repeat”. It is amazing they find themselves in this position so fast.

Over the past three months, we have seen them tackle the simple administrative task of going with the One Bermuda Alliance legislative agenda. But with as much inaction and deflection as humanly possible. The PLP has had to resort to using others words and misconstruing them to make its points. Is this because it cannot rely on its own convictions? Wednesday's Senate session would be a good example of this.

Don't get me wrong, they have done some good things. Bursaries totalling $300,000 were handed out to students looking to study at Bermuda College, but the question must be asked: is this sustainable, as this was their position when they were last in government? I thought that we learnt that not everything can be free, but we must provide those with the lack of financial resources the opportunity and access to something that is universally required.

To add to this sustainability, the striking thing about this endeavour is the low expectation level placed on our students — our future leaders of Bermuda. To receive financial support, they must simply obtain a 2.0 GPA. I'm concerned about the message this sends to our youth. We should be encouraging them to strive for excellence; not simply jamming them through another systematic passing system that offers no real world value if they do not know how to use the “paper”.

We want to provide young Bermudians with a solid foundation to succeed in their futures. Because in the competitive, technologically advanced world we're living in today, that's what is expected.

When it comes to the Bermuda First Advisory Group, it seems like another instance of history repeating itself. Under the last PLP government, this group's recommendations on how Bermuda should respond to the global financial crisis were not adhered to. In fact, they were left to die on the kitchen floor. One can only hope they finish what they start this time.

We are also seeing the same old antics from the PLP playbook regarding recent changes to the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation board. As echoed by Senator Nick Kempe, the important body that was formed to develop the small-business sector in Bermuda did not have a board for the past three months to approve any guarantees, as the PLP has done a clean sweep in getting rid of all its members.

Interestingly enough, this is not the only board that has been forced to go through such drastic changes so that the PLP old guards can take back their seats at the tables, which some have no professional or social merit to sit on.

Having boards filled with your own people is not consultation; it is simply autocratic.

The PLP has hired a slew of consultants, and it is shaping up to be an amplified version of the “Friends and Family Plan” we experienced under previous administrations.

The idea to put wi-fi in all schools was an initiative right out of OBA's platform, and already started under the previous administration.

While the task is quite the undertaking because of our schools infrastructure, it cannot happen overnight, even though some think it can. It is no surprise that the PLP is touting this initiative as if it were its own — as the PLP's platform was simply a copy-and-paste job. The point here is this: key initiatives started under the OBA government are being repackaged with a PLP tag on them.

Here are some other ways the PLP is back to its old tricks in its first 100 days:

1, The PLP started the first 100 days with a roll-out of Cabinet that was larger than the previous one — another point on the hypocrisy scoreboard

2, Questionable appointments. One of the PLP's Cabinet ministers is in a questionable position of awarding himself a government contract that he ultimately profited from. Do we care about ethics or integrity, or was that just a criticism of the OBA

3, Then we have the Attorney-General, who was appointed to the Senate and serves at the pleasure of the Premier — not the people. She is handling cases of corruption against her own colleagues on behalf of the country, which she has dropped for her own ceremonious “review”. This makes me doubt my trust in a government that has our youths' future in its hands. But this speaks more to the truths, and each week it seems the same bad actors are finding their way back in power. How can you blame them when you paint yourself as being more transparent and independent of past PLP actions, but on the other hand those bad actors have been rewarded in their position. Furthermore, don't these appointments and those within the PLP who support them in their silence now become complicit in past actions

4, The PLP created a ministerial position to tackle the oversized bureaucracy, or at least that would be my interpretation of what Government Reform is, but it seems we will have to wait and see on that

So let's dig more into other actions that happened during these 100 days ...

We had a Minister of Immigration who started his tenure by waiving the work-permit requirement for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed because he finally remembered that the pastor was a spouse of a Bermudian. It is a government's duty to abide by these processes. Otherwise, how do we control fairness and equality in our country?

Then he gave Preserved Marriage Bermuda charitable status to solicit donations to protest same-sex marriage. This all has come from a government minister who says he has fought for minority rights all his life, while his actions speak another tongue. Giving charitable status to an organisation that belittles and denigrates a minority group is your definition of fighting for rights?

The minister then took a run at the British and the Governor over the printing of Bermuda passports, and the need to free himself from his colonial oppression, and was joined by high-ranking people within his party. The Premier then had to come and backtrack from the statements made within his own party — seems to be a hallmark of the 100 days.

Will the real leader please stand up?

On top of this, we have a Minister of Education who has wasted no time in creating chaos and confusion while prematurely announcing that Dellwood Middle School was cleared of mould.

Another Trump moment of reinventing history, as the PLP told us they found and delivered thousands of dollars that in reality had already been budgeted for under the OBA administration.

He has also made other premature statements regarding the handling of the Commissioner of Education saga, which he has been silent on for 33 days.

Real leadership should be concerned about what happens now to our children, teachers and parents because they have waited long enough for the Vision and Strategic plan!

But was that not under the commissioner's leadership? So whose guidance is it under now?

What happened to the PLP plan of ending middle schools next year with no data to back up this Band-Aid approach? Empty rhetoric with no data, plan or clear direction for our future. Is that what we want for our youth?

The people elected the PLP into power on July 18 in good faith and with the heartfelt belief they would do the work of the people. But they have been in a concerted view to undermine our democracy even before election day. Obtaining voters' confidential e-mail addresses from the Parliamentary Registrar's office, and obstructing the boundary changes — changes that make our system more democratic by levelling the constituency voter totals — before and after the election. But why? Why do all of this when your party used to be the champions of making our political system more democratic?

Sadly, we are seeing the sketchy past of the PLP re-emerging today.

They have a thirst for absolute power, one that can never be quenched. Don't take my word for it. History is known for repeating itself and the signs are all around us.

Justin Mathias is the chairman of Future Bermuda Alliance, the youth division of the One Bermuda Alliance

David Burt. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 04, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated November 04, 2017 at 1:35 pm)

Hundred-day plan: same old, same old

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