House salutes former Speaker Lowe
MPs paid their respects yesterday to “trailblazing” Stanley Lowe, a former Speaker of the House of Assembly, who died last month aged 82.
Many said the longest-serving MP in modern Bermudian history, known for his fairness as Speaker, had ordered them out of the House if their conduct dropped below the standard required.
Mr Lowe, was the Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton East for 44 years and became the first black Speaker after the PLP's historic first General Election victory in 1998.
He retired from politics in 2012.
Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, opened the tributes and ordered a moment of silence during the virtual session of the legislature.
David Burt, the Premier, quoted a letter of condolence sent to Mr Lowe's family, which opened with a line from 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope that he had often used: “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Mr Burt added Mr Lowe was “a master in the Speaker's chair” who was “schooled in the cut and thrust of debate”.
He said that Mr Lowe was respected for his impartiality in the Speaker's chair, but had an “unwavering” allegiance to Southampton.
Mr Burt added: “I count it an honour to have known him and pause to recognise the passing of another of those men and women who built the foundation on which modern Bermuda stands.”
Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, said Mr Lowe had been elected to Parliament in the island's first General Election under universal adult suffrage.
He added: “In that year, in what we called the Class of '68, Stanley Lowe was elected at the age of 30.”
Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said Mr Lowe had been “extremely fair and always looking for an opportunity to improve the plight of Bermudians”.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, said she had served with Mr Lowe on the Public Accounts Committee when she was chairwoman.
She said she was wrongly accused of leaking PAC affairs to the Mid-Ocean News and ended up being ordered out of the House by Mr Lowe after an argument.
She said Mr Lowe replied with the Alexander Pope quote when she returned and apologised.
Kim Swan, a PLP backbencher, said Mr Lowe “made history” when he was appointed as the 55th Speaker.
He added Mr Lowe, who was part “a family of trailblazers”, was also the first PLP MP to be elected Deputy Speaker
Michael Dunkley, an Opposition backbencher, said Mr Lowe had a “unique” laugh.
He added: “No matter what he did, he was respectful.
Mr Dunkley said Mr Lowe was “a people's politician” and that he was rebuked by him after he “said something that got caught on the mike”.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said Mr Lowe was among those who “shaped Bermuda's democratic process at an early stage” and had sacrificed a lot in his professional career for his commitment to the PLP.
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said Mr Lowe had been inducted into the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at Wilberforce University in Ohio in the United States.
Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, read a poem in tribute to Mr Lowe.
She said: “This man among men, Speaker Lowe, and so grand among men as we know.”
Ms Foggo added: “For me, he was Stanley, my friend. And that goes out to the family, and I believe they are listening.”
Rolfe Commissiong, a government backbencher, said Mr Lowe, “always described as a kindly man”, had been “a giant despite his diminutive stature”.
Michael Scott, of the PLP, said he had informed several past premiers of Mr Lowe's death and there had been “an equal response of sadness”.
Jamahl Simmons, the Minister without Portfolio, said “every Bermudian owes him a debt”.
Mr Simmons added he had also fallen foul of Mr Lowe been ordered off the floor of the House.
He said: “He was very fair, very firm, and his command of the rules of the House was impeccable.”
Trevor Moniz, an OBA MP, said he had broken ranks with the then United Bermuda Party to vote for Mr Lowe as Deputy Speaker in November 1993.
He added Mr Lowe was “a role model to all of us”.
Christopher Famous, a PLP backbencher, said Mr Lowe's record of service had epitomised someone who was “on a good line and length”.
Zane DeSilva, the tourism and transport minister, said he had regretted being unable to attend Mr Lowe's funeral because of social-distancing restrictions.
Ben Smith, the OBA MP for Southampton West, said he had attended Port Royal Primary School with Mr Lowe's children and offered his condolences to them.
Mr Lister closed with a tribute to a man who “served at all times with dignity and respect”.
He added: “We all stand shoulder to shoulder with his family during this time when they have the double sorrow of losing his brother as well.”
• To read a letter of condolence from David Burt, the Premier, to the family of Stanley Lowe, click on the PDF under “Related Media”