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MPs clash over makeup of overseas tour

One of Bermuda's best-known entertainers became the subject of a heated spat in the House of Assembly this week.

MPs heard on Wednesday that Gene Steede, 70, who was inducted into Bermuda Music Hall of Fame in 2009, would be performing on a tour organised by the Department of Tourism for overseas travel agents.

Bermuda Democratic Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell suggested the Island needed to ensure it was developing young entertainers and appealing to a youthful audience.

The remarks offended Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess, who began the evening's motion to adjourn debate by rebuking Mr Crockwell.

The Public Works Minister, who is 61, said Mr Steede's age had nothing to do with his abilities as a performer, describing him as “one of the finest entertainers this Country has ever produced”.

A clearly rattled Mr Crockwell, 40, said the Government MP had misconstrued his words. “No one said anything towards Gene Steede and for someone to suggest that, that's absurd.

“What was suggested was we need to develop our entertainment in this Country.”

Mr Burgess then leapt to his feet to say: “That's not the words that honourable member uttered from his mouth this afternoon. You insinuated that we should be getting someone younger to go on the tour and not Gene Steede.”

Mr Crockwell began to respond but was chastised by Speaker Stanley Lowe for not letting Mr Burgess finish.

Mr Crockwell then said: “I was making a point of order in that the honourable member was misleading the House. First, he said those were not the words and then he said there was an insinuation.”

Mr Burgess again repeated his view of what was meant by the BDA MP, before Mr Crockwell said: “Gratefully, we have Hansard [a transcript of parliamentary proceedings], which can clear this up. At no time did anyone say that someone younger should be going.”

He said the fact that Tourism was still relying on Gene Steede highlighted that young talent was not being developed and that local entertainment was “non-existent” in Bermuda.

“The Department of Tourism needs to be focused on young entertainment so that we can have activities in this Country for people that have come here.

“I'm very disappointed that the honourable member would try to politicise that and score some very low political points.”

Mr Burgess replied: “I was not trying to score political points; I was just giving honour to Gene Steede.”

As Mr Crockwell began to speak again, the Speaker told him to take his seat, adding: “I'm not going to hear you anymore tonight.”

He said MPs had to be careful of “any inkling” of denigrating anyone in the House, “especially if it's a member of the public”.

Mr Lowe warned: “It will not be tolerated. We have had things said the other night by honourable members and we have had members of the public complain about it.”

l Useful website: www.bermudatourism.com.

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Published March 04, 2011 at 9:05 am (Updated March 04, 2011 at 9:05 am)

MPs clash over makeup of overseas tour

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