Election 2020: leaders clash on records, promises
Party leaders David Burt and Craig Cannonier traded barbs over the weekend about their party's records in power.
Mr Burt, the Premier and leader of the Progressive Labour Party, said at a virtual rally on Saturday that his administration had kept its promises, even while it tackled the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added: “Oftentimes people ask about the economic plan and our promises, and in the coming days, when you hear the opposition's plans and promises, I want you to ask yourself if you trust them to deliver?
Mr Burt claimed: “The last time around, our opponents promised to create 2,000 jobs and Bermuda lost almost 2,000 jobs instead. Our opponents promised to reduce the national debt — they doubled the country's national debt and left guarantees like Morgan's Point for $200 million for taxpayers to bail out and our Minister of Finance has had to deal with it.
“Our opponents said they would create great schools for our kids and they left office with the education budget slashed and mould in our schools.”
Mr Burt also took aim at the OBA's decision to ditch a referendum on casinos, the party's efforts to create “pathways to status” and the airport redevelopment project.
He added: “When they come to you in the next few weeks with all of their too good to be true promises, remember their record. Remember that the last time they tried that and don't fall for the okey-doke.
“On the other hand our record is clear. Prior to the pandemic with our economic plan Bermuda created 790 new jobs.
“We are reforming the education system in a collaborative fashion to phase out middle schools, we are introducing quality affordable healthcare, and unlike the other guys who raised FutureCare premiums on our seniors, our seniors have not seen a single increase in FutureCare since we have been in office.
“We reduced payroll taxes for working families to their lowest levels ever, saving families $2,000 a year and, yes, we asked those who could make a little bit more to pay their fair share, but that's what we promised and that's what we delivered.”
But Mr Cannonier, the leader of the OBA, said Monday that the OBA could stand on its record better than the PLP.
He said: “There is no question about whose past performance best predicts future success. It is not the Burt administration which has made, and broken, countless promises.
“No one can say they are better off under the PLP. In the 2017 General Election campaign, David Burt said the PLP would accomplish more in its first 100 days in office than the One Bermuda Alliance had done in five years — we are still waiting for that promise to be kept.”
Mr Cannonier said the PLP had yet to reduce the cost of living or establish a living wage and had increased the cost of living through the introduction of the sugar tax.
He also highlighted the problems of the retail sector, which he said had lost 200 jobs and suffered “an alarming slump in retail sales volume”.
Mr Cannonier said the PLP's promise of 120 fintech jobs had not been kept, nor had promises of a balanced budget or a budget surplus.
He said that during the OBA's time in power, the party brought $1 billion of investment into Bermuda and several hotel developments were started.
Mr Cannonier said: “The Loren, the multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the Hamilton Princess, the St Regis as well as the Azura Boutique Hotel and Residences all started while the OBA was in government. All of these created, and have sustained, jobs for Bermudians.
“The PLP likes to try and undermine the America's Cup, but the facts show that for every $100 invested by Government in producing the event, Bermuda received more than $500 in additional spending.
“PwC's report shows that AC35's economic impact amounts to $336 million — Government's three-year budget for AC35 was projected to cost $77 million, the PwC report indicates that the actual spending was only $64.1 million.
“Had we won the election in 2017, we would have fast-tracked superyacht legislation to build on the AC legacy — the PLP has belatedly recognised the worth of these yachts to the local economy.”
Mr Cannonier said the new airport had resulted in hundreds of jobs and major investment in the island. He added the Bermuda Business Development Agency and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, created under the OBA, had brought long-term economic improvements.