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Premier says Bloomberg has a right to air his opinion

Premier Craig Cannonier has dismissed criticism of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for comments made at the christening of the

Norwegian Breakaway last week.

“The comments made by Mayor Bloomberg were completely unsolicited. While he is the outgoing Mayor of New York, he is also a stakeholder of Bermuda who has an opinion and the right to air it,” Mr Cannonier said shortly after returning to the Island on Sunday night.

“The bigger picture and the good news is that he made a positive endorsement of Bermuda to hundreds of travel agents from around the world who were on hand for the launch of the

Norwegian Breakaway. As the event was globally televised, those accolades were also broadcast to the world — that’s a very good thing.”

At last week’s christening of the

Norwegian Breakaway in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Bermuda was a better place since the new Government took power.

“They have a new government in Bermuda and I can just tell you, it’s like night and day,” the Mayor told a packed press gathering at a pier on the Hudson River.

“This has always been a wonderful island and today it is an awful lot better than before.

“It keeps getting better every time. People love this new government. And tourists will as well.”

The comments raised eyebrows in some circles with some criticising the Mayor for breaching protocol by wading into local politics while acting in an official capacity.

Former United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan said that Mr Bloomberg’s comments were partisan and that he had acted “outside normal diplomatic practices”.

We asked the Premier whether he agreed with the criticism and whether it was appropriate for Mr Bloomberg to wade into local politics on such an occasion.

Mr Cannonier had attended the inaugural launch of the

Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship in New York City, with Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell. As the largest ship to ever dock in Bermuda, the

Breakaway is estimated to bring approximately 84,000 cruise visitors to Bermuda on her 22 calls in 2013 and estimated to contribute approximately $22 million to Bermuda’s economy (comprised of Government fees, on-Island purchases made by cruise visitors and crew and shore excursions booked on board the ship), according to Government.

The Premier later went on a two-day cruise on the mega ship which arrives here tomorrow.

Former Premier John Swan said criticism of Mr Bloomberg was unjustified.

“The bottom line is you have a popular Mayor, and a business Mayor who is familiar with Bermuda. In fact he has a house in Bermuda, he’s not a federal officer and he’s not a member of Cabinet,” said Sir John.

“He sees the value of Bermuda in dealing with his state New York and America overall — particularly in terms of how we conduct our business and how the present Government is relating to the US.”

The Mayor, Sir John said, was simply indicating that Bermuda was on the “right track”.

“For anybody to criticise that is either naive, irresponsible or totally disingenuous and not looking at the bigger interests of Bermuda itself,” Sir John continued.

Sir John added that during his premiership, presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush as well as a former UK Prime Minister were also publicly supportive of his administration.

“This is not something that came up recently,” he said.

“I don’t see where there’s interference in naming the Government that’s in power. If the PLP was in power doing the same thing, I’m sure he would say the same thing about them.”

Sir John was Premier of Bermuda for 13 of the United Bermuda Party’s 30-year stint in power. But the UBP was ousted by the electorate in 1998 in favour of the Progressive Labour Party which retained the government until last December.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

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Published May 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Updated May 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm)

Premier says Bloomberg has a right to air his opinion

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