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Population density should force a Fahy rethink

Dear Sir,

Michael Fahy, as the former Cabinet minister responsible for immigration, introduced legislation that arguably was the cause of his party suffering the largest loss at the polls of any conservative party in Bermuda's history.

Instead of rethinking the basis of his policy, he attempts to defend it. I won't try to answer all of his arguments but simply take his comparison of Bermuda with other countries.

He mentioned Australia, Canada, Britain, Cayman Islands and North Korea. Britain, and the empire that she built, is the author of much of the movement of people around the globe.

Britain is 20,823 square miles with a population of 702 persons per square mile. Britain led the repopulation of Australia and Canada, wiping out much of the native population that she found there.

Australia is 2,969,907 square miles with a population density of eight persons per square mile. Canada is 3,855,103 square miles with a population density of ten persons per square mile. Cayman is 100 square miles with a population density of 554 persons per square mile. North Korea is 46,541 square miles with a population density of 521 persons per square mile.

In contrast to these figures, Bermuda is 20 square miles with a population density of 3,204 persons per square mile.

In my previous letter, I mentioned Bermuda's immigration policy beginning in the 1600s. In more recent history, beginning in the 1930s when the population was 30,000, Bermuda developed a public policy to limit birthrates because of the size of the island and its population density.

In 1933, Henry Wilkinson wrote the following to the Acting Colonial Secretary:

“Several members of the Board of Health have become particularly apprehensive that this island will soon be overpopulated by the Coloured people, and are eager to experiment on some method of birth control, but they know not how to direct their altruistic efforts ... I am accordingly to ask if you sometime will be good enough to inquire from the Secretary of State for the Colonies if there has been any successful experience in stemming the multiplication of Negro people, improbable though it be.”

Then in 1937, Margaret Sanger was invited to Bermuda in an effort to accomplish the same purpose. During most of my life, the late Dr Simon Frazer — himself a non-Bermudian — led a government campaign to limit population.

I have no doubt that Mr Fahy, in light of our history and with some thoughtfulness, can propose a principled immigration policy that is acceptable to a wide range of the Bermuda public.


Michael Fahy

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Published November 23, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 23, 2017 at 1:03 am)

Population density should force a Fahy rethink

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