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One party, two distinctly different messages

Out of order: Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch’s derogatory comments about Narinder Hargun run counter to the inclusive tone set by David Burt, the Premier, when declaring a national holiday to recognise the first Portuguese settlers (File photograph)

Dear Sir,

I must give our premier, David Burt, much credit for his June 1 announcement in the House of Assembly that next year a public holiday will mark the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the first immigrants from Madeira, a move that was welcomed by our Portuguese-Bermudian community.

Andrea Moniz-DeSouza, the Honorary Portuguese Consul, was in Parliament to hear Mr Burt declare the commemorations for the November 4, 2019 holiday. She said: “Being acknowledged and having the Government thank us for the contribution to the island of many generations of Portuguese people makes us very happy. It comes at an important time. After the election, you couldn’t help but feel we were a bit divided. I appreciate what the Premier is trying to do, and we are hoping this is only the beginning.”

Mr Burt said that fostering understanding of Bermuda’s racial relationships had been part of the Progressive Labour Party’s 2017 electoral platform.

He added: “The Government is a government for everyone, and we are determined to forge a society where our differences are celebrated. We must have meaningful inclusion if we are to chart a future of success for our children and future generations. This is consistent with the ideals of the founders of the PLP, who, when Portuguese people in this country did not have a voice, spoke on their behalf — never more powerfully than on the issue of long-term residency.”

Contrast those comments with our government minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch’s comments, also on June 1 in the House of Assembly, regarding the controversial — for some — appointment of the new Chief Justice, Narinder Hargun, who is a status Bermudian, having lived and worked here for more than 30 years.

According to The Royal Gazette, Colonel Burch said, with full parliamentary privilege: “... if the Chief Justice wanted his legacy to be something people remember fondly, regardless of their political persuasion, you must produce somebody to take your place other than an Indian.”

Indian? Portuguese? With Bermuda status? With long-term residency? With cultural diversity? With unique differences? Yes.

This administration is often sending out mixed messages to the people they claim to represent. Mr Burt may want to have a chat with his minister, Colonel Burch, and come up with a consensus as to which playbook/script they are following, and at least stick to it.

The political game is played in many ways.