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OBA focused on economy, crime

The economy, education and crime are “the three pillars of concern” for the Bermudian electorate, One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier told a public forum.

“People are telling us they’re confused by what’s going on, and the latest has been the deal over pay cuts and the pension fund,” he said, referring to Government’s proposed deal to trade a cut in wages for civil servants with a one-year freeze on pension payments.

“So far there hasn’t been one public statement that has made it clear where we’re going with this thing.”

Mr Cannonier’s comments were made before about 40 residents at St John AME Church in Hamilton Parish earlier this week.

He said the Island was between “a rock and a hard place” in the eyes of many voters.

“Elections in the past have been based on one issue - race. And you can see where that’s gotten us,” he said.

Party chairman Thad Hollis urged those attending the forum to gather in groups, and to brainstorm with OBA members on their three issues of concern.

Sandys South candidate Toni Spring spoke on the Opposition’s proposals for education. Ideas included “dramatically improving the quality of teaching, through professional development”, implementing an integrated technical educational curriculum beginning at middle school, lengthening the school day, enhancing counselling, and improving preschools to ensure “school readiness at P1”.

Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards told the gathering: “The economy in Bermuda boils down to two issues. The first is that government in Bermuda has outgrown the economy.”

The second, he said, was “that our money, all of our money, comes ultimately from foreign customers”.

Term limits are “killing jobs”, the MP added.

The OBA proposes suspending term limits for two years so that “the whole matter can be reviewed, and we can find some alternative”, Mr Richards stated.

“The Government is making a lot of noise about training. Training Bermudians is vital, but if we only do training, and don’t grow our economy, we’re going to have the best-trained unemployed people on Earth.”

Mr Richards proposed that Government reserve 20 percent of its spending for “private sector suppliers for small business”.

To reduce Government costs, he proposed a “freeze on the size of the Civil Service”.

Speaking on security, Mr Cannonier said a strong family and an education were two reasons why he had never ended up involved in crime.

“When we talk to international business, one of the first things they mention is crime,” he said. “They’re thinking about it, and they’re uncomfortable.”

Discussion in the groups ranged from increasing parental involvement in schools, to making it easier for visitors to Bermuda to stay on the Island, with strict supervision to prevent illegal working.

OBA member Jeff Baron, of the group Crime Stoppers Bermuda, said: “We have been very good from an operational perspective by reducing crime. We’ve gotten a lot of arrests and put up cameras. But we have not done anything in terms of social prevention.”

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Published February 16, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 16, 2012 at 8:15 am)

OBA focused on economy, crime

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