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Key moments in the political career of Dr. Ewart Brown




July 1992: Returning to Bermuda after 28 years mainly in the United States Ewart Brown causes a stir at a Progressive Labour Party rally by calling the governing United Bermuda Party "politically dead".

In a statement he's often been reminded of throughout his political career, Dr. Brown vows to take back his Country, warning he has "scores to settle" and "accounts to pull even".

Reciting from Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song', he urges young people to realise they have the power to make change, leaving the crowd chanting after him.

October 1993: Dr. Brown creates an upset in his first General Election by turfing Sir John Sharpe out of his Warwick West seat, defeating the former Premier by 14 votes. The PLP remains the Opposition, with Dr. Brown becoming the Shadow Minister for Youth and Sport.

August 1995: He replaces Renee Webb as Shadow Human Affairs Minister.

November 1998: The PLP sweeps to power in an historic election victory. Dr. Brown, who retains his seat in Warwick West, is appointed Bermuda's first Transport Minister.

December 2001: Dr. Brown causes anger among taxi drivers by saying he intends to make GPS mandatory in cabs. Despite repeated complaints, threats of strikes and boycotts for the rest of his tenure as Transport Minister, Dr. Brown refuses to back down, saying the move would ensure Bermudians and visitors are transported in a reasonable and efficient fashion.

June 2002: Dr. Brown gets the Island's fast ferry system up and running, pushing through the upgrading of the ageing ferry force into sleek catamarans, one of his most championed achievements.

July 2003: The PLP wins its second General Election but the celebrations are soured as Dr. Brown is among a group of 11 rebels immediately calling for victorious Premier Jennifer Smith to be sacked. Ms Smith resigns but following a stalemate over who should replace her, the PLP eventually picks Smith loyalist Alex Scott as Premier with Dr. Brown as his Deputy. Dr. Brown later angers PLP supporters by telling them "we had to mislead you" with a falsely united front in the run-up to the election.

July 2004: Renee Webb's resignation as Tourism Minister means Dr. Brown takes on that portfolio in addition to his Transport brief. He embarks on a lobbying campaign to bring more airlines to Bermuda, at lower costs. The public enjoys the outcome, but Tourism is hit with mass resignations.

March 2006: Dr. Brown accuses journalists of being "sometimes overzealous and aggressive" and declares he's no longer going to be answering "plantation questions". These, he later explains, are questions the media would ask of a black man, but not of a white man.

October 2006: Dr. Brown storms to victory over Mr. Scott at a PLP leadership contest. He immediately shakes up the Cabinet: creating a new Social Rehabilitation Ministry under Dale Butler, and bringing Phil Perinchief, Nelson Bascome and Dennis Lister into his team. He fires Walter Lister, Michael Scott and Patrice Minors to make way, while four Scott-supporting senators resign. Appointments to the Senate include 25-year-old Davida Morris and new political faces Wayne Caines and Kim Wilson.

November 2006: The new Premier launches a Big Conversation on race with the appointment of Rolfe Commissiong.

November 2006: Dr. Brown threatens to boycott Overseas Territories meetings if Governors are allowed in but his request to hold half his weekly meetings with Sir John Vereker at Cabinet is turned down. In a number of digs at the Governor, he says Sir John should "take more of the heat" over policing. He starts off well in the polls with a favourability rating of 53 percent.

December 2006: He causes controversy with a verbal assault — and the hint of a physical one — on former United Bermuda Party leader Grant Gibbons in the House of Assembly. Dubbing Dr. Gibbons a "racist dog", he says he's tempted to cross the floor of the House to reach him but to do so would mean having to vote for the UBP.

January 2007: Elbow Beach's top chef Anthony Reynolds, an Australian, is kicked off the Island after saying he was putting arsenic in a meal prepared for Dr. Brown.

January 2007: The Premier attracts criticism by his unprecedented move to hire a bodyguard. Public Safety Minister David Burch says the move was made following a threat assessment.

February 2007: Dr. Brown launches his Mirrors programme to offer mentoring to young people who might otherwise fall through the cracks. He says it's something he'd been lobbying for several years; three years later the initiative is widely praised for improving young people's self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth.

April 2007: Dr. Brown announces one of the most luxurious hotel brands in the world is behind multimillion dollar plans for a new hotel at Club Med.

April 2007: Scores of protesters march on Cabinet to protest the Premier's closure of the Medical Clinic.

June 2007: Dr. Brown sparks a potential constitutional crisis by threatening Government will stop working with the Governor if he doesn't take action against whomever leaked a top secret Police dossier to the Mid-Ocean News. The file contains allegations of corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation. The Premier later repeatedly fails in his attempts to use the courts to gag the media from reporting details from the file.

July 2007: The Premier's former political campaign manager Andre Curtis faces heavy criticism amid controversy over his handling of Government's faith-based tourism initiative in Dr. Brown's Tourism Ministry. Three years later, Curtis is charged with plundering nearly $100,000 of Government money between April 2007 and April 2008 and dishonestly falsifying account expenditure from the faith-based budget. So far, he has not been required to enter any pleas.

September 2007: A study into young black males is launched by Dr. Brown.

October 2007: Bermuda hosts its first PGA Grand Slam of golf, a move the Tourism Minister says gives the Island worldwide televised coverage worth $7 million.

October 2007: The Premier's proposal for a stem cell clinic comes under fire from International Society for Stem Cell Research president George Daley, who warns desperately sick patients not to be misled into thinking the treatment is a miracle cure. Three years later, the research element of the facility remains unopened.

November 2007: Dr. Brown launches into attack mode against the UBP and the media ahead of his first General Election as Premier. In a fiery PLP banquet speech, he speaks of "gigantic smear campaigns", "vigilantes", "witch-hunts" and "demented deviants".

December 2007: An election battle described by many as the dirtiest ever reaches a height when Government and Police call a press conference to say a bullet has been sent to Dr. Brown in the post. Cynics suggest the episode was concocted to generate sympathy for the embattled Premier. Three years later, Police have not revealed the outcome of their investigation.

December 2007: The PLP wins the election by 22 seats to 14, the same margin as before, following a string of popular social promises, later followed up with the launch of day care, FutureCare, Bermuda College tuition and free bus travel.

December 2007: Dr. Brown immediately drops the axe on three of his supporters — firing Dennis Lister and Wayne and Phil Perinchief from his Cabinet. Neletha Butterfield and Michael Scott, a recent appointment as Health Minister, are also kicked out. Kim Wilson becomes Attorney General, while Nelson Bascome returns after a spell out to fight a court case, and there are places for Terry Lister and El James. Davida Morris is sacked from the Senate after one year, replaced by Thaao Dill, whose PLP-campaigning radio show is praised for helping win the election.

March 2008: The Premier cancels Government's advertising in

The Royal Gazette, claiming it would be more effective to advertise in the electronic media instead. He won't say how Government came to that conclusion, and Government continues to advertise in the Bermuda Sun. International journalists accuse him of using official Government advertising as a weapon of reprisal to punish a newspaper he doesn't like and intimidate others into reporting favourably.

May 2008: Dr. Brown is under the spotlight when he attends a lavish charity gambling tournament at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, with the proceeds going to an organisation run by his son Kevin. He hands out prizes, including three donated by the Tourism Ministry.

June 2008: Up to 5,000 protesters bring Hamilton to a standstill as Police officers and workers march in a row over pay.

July 2008: The Premier is applauded as MPs pass a bill to pay child care bills for families or single parents earning under $70,000 a year — one of his election promises. Another social bill, giving students free travel on buses and ferries, is also passed.

July 2008: He's starting to struggle in the polls, scoring a rating of 30 percent. He dismisses the result himself, but party colleague Ashfield DeVent says it reflects the Premier's inability to stay in touch with the common working man.

August 2008: A semblance of hope for long-suffering St. George's residents as Dr. Brown and Works Minister Derrick Burgess implode Club Med to make way for a new Park Hyatt development.

September 2008: A host of long-serving Bermudians are fired from the North American Tourism Office as Dr. Brown replaces them with US firm Sales Focus. The Premier is criticised by union officials for breaking Government's contractual agreement by failing to explore other options before kicking staff out of their office. Government severs ties with Sales Focus a few months later, claiming "buying habits have changed over the last six months".

October 2008: Beyonce performs at the annual Music Festival. The Tourism Minister is lauded by some for bringing one of the world's top superstars to the Island; but criticised by others for getting carried away with lavish extravagances while the working poor are feeling the pinch of the economic crisis.

November 2008: Another former ally is kicked out of Cabinet, as Randy Horton is sacked as Education Minister, to be replaced by El James. Mr. Horton describes himself as having been bitten by a lion.

November 2008: Dr. Brown says Bermudians should be offended and insulted by the UK's plans to investigate the Island's financial regime.

February 2009: The Premier reacts angrily after a copy of a false cheque for $14,000 in his name is found in Works and Engineering files. Government House later says the cheque, as well as one bearing Minister Derrick Burgess' name, is fake and "probably malicious" — to make it seem like Dr. Brown and Mr. Burgess received kickbacks from the Police/court building project.

February 2009: Dr. Brown sets up a taskforce on gambling as he pushes to relax Bermuda's laws to allow casinos to rejuvenate tourism.

March 2009: For the first time in eight years, Government's Consolidated Fund gets a qualified audit, with Auditor General Larry Dennis saying worries over spending are too great to give a clean audit. Mr. Dennis also points to controls being eroded by Ministerial interference. Dr. Brown reacts by calling for Governor Sir Richard Gozney to request Mr. Dennis resigns, claiming he has politicised his job.

March 2009: Another election promise comes to fruition as MPs pass a bill launching the FutureCare health insurance scheme for seniors. The mechanics of the initiative repeatedly come under fire from the Opposition, but the Premier's stock is good among many elderly people.

May 2009: Growing resentment among PLP MPs over the Premier's leadership style result in a clamour for him to be replaced. But he emerges unscathed from a central committee meeting at Alaska Hall, with the membership affirming overwhelming support for the leader.

May 2009: The Premier faces criticism after a $28 million advertising contract goes to American firm GlobalHue without being put out to tender. Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews later calls for financial instructions to be tightened so that multimillion dollar contracts must be put out to tender.

May 2009: The relationship with the Island's daily newspaper becomes further strained as Dr. Brown orders reduced communication from his public relations department in response to what he describes as a toxic environment.

June 2009: The moment which briefly makes Bermuda the focus of the world's attention as Dr. Brown brings four Uighurs, prisoners released from Guantánamo Bay, to the Island without consulting his Cabinet or seeking permission from the UK. It infuriates his colleagues, opponents, the UK and the public — although it wins praise in the States — and ensures a rocky ride for the Premier for the rest of his term. In three separate demonstrations throughout the month, hundreds of protesters march on Cabinet, jeering Dr. Brown and denouncing him as a dictator. Dr. Brown's poll rating dips to 27 percent, the lowest of any Premier since

The Royal Gazette polling began in 2004.

June 2009: Dr. Brown survives a vote of no confidence in the House of Assembly — but not without a price as Culture Minister Dale Butler resigns in disgust at his handling of the Uighurs situation and unwillingness to unite the Country. Mr. Butler is one of a host of high-profile PLP MPs to speak out against him during a tense 14-hour debate. But the biggest loser of the night is the UBP, which implodes in a series of resignations after two of its members fail to back the no-confidence bid.

June 2009: Dr. Brown welcomes back into his Cabinet one of the people he's previously removed, with Neletha Butterfield taking on Dale Butler's old job.

June 2009: The Premier comes in for more criticism after it's revealed he and his entourage spent $320,000 taxpayers' cash on trips throughout 2008/09. The team racked up $53,000 on ground travel alone, including $16,000 on one single visit to Washington, DC. A year later he laughs off criticism of his spending record, saying: "We don't like to stay at the Motel 6, if you don't mind."

July 2009: In another dramatic day in the House, Dr. Brown is accused of deceiving his colleagues, with two Cabinet Ministers and two senior backbenchers publicly calling for him to resign. The night before, he had instructed PLP Whip Lovitta Foggo to tell the UBP, backbenchers and the media that his controversial bill allowing gambling on cruise ships will be kept on the backburner for another four months. But in the morning, he calls for a vote while the bill's unsuspecting opponents are out of the room. His strategy backfires as a swarm of MPs dash into the chamber to defeat him 18 votes to 11. The evening ends with four former supporters — Ministers Terry Lister and El James and backbenchers Randy Horton and Wayne Perinchief — taking turns to lambast the Premier and call for him to resign.

July 2009: Mr. Lister and Mr. James both leave Cabinet and, with the death of Health Minister Nelson Bascome, party members are left wondering who the Premier's got left to put in his team. He plugs one of the gaps by bringing back Michael Scott, whom he's previously sacked twice.

July 2009: As PLP MPs continue to call for Dr. Brown's head, a special meeting of the party's central committee is called. Brown supporters heckle his critics and, after offering an olive branch to backbenchers by pledging to tone down his aggressive style, the Premier lives to fight another day.

August 2009: Dr. Brown convinces El James to return as Education Minister, just over a month after he departed calling for the Premier to resign.

September 2009: Less than two years into his first term as an MP, backbencher Walter Roban is promoted to Health Minister, taking Cabinet numbers back up to strength. Party members say there's now more experience outside Cabinet than in it and, with the UBP in disarray, it's claimed Dr. Brown's real opposition has become his own backbench.

November 2009: One of the Premier's most loyal backers, Zane DeSilva, becomes the new Minister without Portfolio.

November 2009: The Premier says the Island is failing young black men after Professor Ronald Mincy's report reveals half of them drop out of school and veer more towards getting jobs "working with their hands" than their white counterparts.

December 2009: As Bermuda is plagued by spiralling gang violence, the Premier repeats his call for the Governor to hand over control of the Police force to Government. Two days later Public Safety Minister David Burch says he no longer cares who has control of the Police.

January 2010: Dubbed a lame duck by critics after confirming he's stepping down later in the year, Dr. Brown's poll rating hits a new low with just 24 percent of people having a favourable impression of him.

February 2010: Following a trip to India, Dr. Brown announces Bollywood film producers are interested in coming to the Island. It's later revealed songs from mega-budget Indian movie 'Veera' will be filmed in Bermuda.

February 2010: Bermuda College reports a 20 percent increase in enrolment after the implementation of another of Dr. Brown's election promises of free tuition.

March 2010: More frustration in the House of Assembly for the Premier as his attempt to give Deputy Premier Paula Cox a $50,000 pay rise — despite all other MPs' salaries being frozen — is thwarted when backbenchers Wayne Perinchief and Randy Horton vote against it. Ms Cox had pledged to reject the extra cash anyway, with many in the PLP speculating the Premier only tried to give her a rise to embarrass her shortly after she delivered an unpopular Budget, in an attempt to undermine her future Premiership bid.

April 2010: Dr. Brown's popularity with the public is at its nadir, as his poll rating sinks to 21 percent.

May 2010: Dr. Brown's hopes of relaxing Bermuda's gambling laws are now all but dead, as 14 PLP MPs speak out against them in a House of Assembly debate.

July 2010: The Premier is at loggerheads with senior PLP caucus members who try to put the blockers on his plans for major reform of Bermuda's municipalities, which Mayor Charles Gosling warns will lead to "death by financial strangulation" for the two-century-old Corporation of Hamilton. A compromise bill is eventually passed by the House of Assembly, introducing equal voting rights for City residents but with the pledge that the Corporation might still be able to collect revenue from wharfage and ports fees.

September 2010: Hundreds of loyal supporters pack out Fairmont Southampton for an emotional farewell gala to the Premier. Dr. Brown is repeatedly praised for his four-year tenure on an evening of non-stop cheering and congratulations. Less than half the PLP MPs show up, said to reflect the high cost of tickets and a rejection of the Premier's Americanised leadership style.

September 2010: Dr. Brown says the failure to improve public education is the biggest disappointment of his term as he criticises Bermudians' reluctance to accept change and push for reform.

September 2010: Several weeks of publicity celebrating Dr. Brown's legacy causes anger among PLP opponents, with one-time close friend, former Attorney General Phil Perinchief, saying he's brought Bermuda to the brink of financial disaster, failed on black empowerment and turned the PLP into a modern version of the 40 Thieves.

September 2010: The final phase of Government's 96-home affordable housing scheme at Loughlands opens, one of a number of such projects for which the Premier and Housing Minister David Burch have been praised, including the Perimeter Lane Housing Complex and the Southside Harbour View Village.

October 2010: Dr. Brown calls a media roundtable event to tackle questions from the Island's journalists in front of an audience of his supporters at the Berkeley Cafetorium. He claims the public's repeated questioning of his personal integrity is "because they've been fed it" and people haven't liked him because he's combative. He's cheered throughout by his backers; critics who didn't attend say it was just another attempt to gild his legacy.




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Published October 20, 2010 at 12:00 am (Updated December 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm)

Key moments in the political career of Dr. Ewart Brown

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