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Cabinet reshuffle: Fahy cedes home affairs

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Graphic by Subha Chelvam

Senator Jeff Baron, Sylvan Richards and Cole Simons have been added to the One Bermuda Alliance Cabinet as part of a major shake-up.

Senator Michael Fahy, who received intense criticism during the Pathways to Status protests this year, has handed over the immigration portfolio to Patricia Gordon-Pamplin.

Mr Fahy is now heading up a new ministry featuring municipalities, as well as the transport and tourism duties previously held by Shawn Crockwell, who resigned during the Pathways affair.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s former community responsibilities have gone to Mr Richards.

Mr Baron, formerly the junior national security minister, takes over the full role in that ministry, with Michael Dunkley concentrating on his duties as Premier.

Mr Simons steps up from backbencher to the environment, planning and parks position.

There are also increased responsibilities for Kenneth Bascome and Nandi Outerbridge.

The move, announced at Government House during a swearing-in ceremony this afternoon, finalises the OBA’s new line-up a week before the House of Assembly resumes next Friday.

New announcements:

Cole Simons: environment, planning and parks

Jeff Baron: national security

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin: home affairs

Michael Fahy: transport, tourism and municipalities

Sylvan Richards: social development and sport

Kenneth Bascome: junior tourism minister

Nandi Outerbridge: party whip

Mr Dunkley told those present urgent work lies ahead, adding: “International agencies have validated our progress, but we also know there are many Bermudians who continue to struggle. The work, in other words, is not finished.”

The Premier said the Government was committed to continue to give Bermudians a home that was “more fair, more open, more inclusive, and with a strong economy that supports their dreams and aspirations, young and old, black and white, blue collar and white collar”.

Responding to the news, Acting Opposition leader David Burt said: “Today’s Cabinet shuffle is a last-ditch effort by Premier Dunkley, who is hemorrhaging support within his party and the country, to try to regain control.

“Bermudians recognise that a change in faces does not represent a change in policy.”

Mr Burt said it was “shocking” that the size of Cabinet had been increased to 12 ministers “which will cost the taxpayer more money simply for his own job security”.

Mr Dunkley’s full statement follows:

I have come to Government House today to announce the following changes to Cabinet.

I have invited Cole Simons to be the Minister of Environment.

Cole is one of our most seasoned MPs, who has been serving as Government House Leader and Whip.

Cole has always had a strong interest in environmental matters, and I want to focus that passion on the job of protecting and maintaining the environment.

Cole’s responsibilities as minister will therefore also include Planning and Parks.

The environment is critical to Bermuda’s success on virtually every level. The Island needs to sparkle, and that objective is central to Cole’s mandate. We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world — it is part of who we are — and this Government will do its best to keep it that way.

I have invited Jeff Baron to serve as Minister of National Security.

Jeff has been the Junior Minister of National Security for more than three years. He’s worked closely with me in that capacity. I have watched him progress. He’s well qualified, having served in the Bermuda Police Service, with the United Nations as a peacekeeper, in private business as a security consultant and in the Senate as Government spokesman for National Security.

Jeff is a next generation leader who will bring energy and commitment every day to building a safe, prosperous and secure future for the island.

Our work in the Ministry is not finished. We still have significant challenges that must be tackled regarding crime and violence. During my tenure as Minister of National Security, I believe that we accomplished some significant achievements in the ministry.

We have worked hard to ensure that our community was safeguarded and secure and I believe that Minister Baron will carry on that great work.

In my Cabinet Office responsibilities I will dedicate my focus to advancing the important work associated with public service reform and the critical priority of continuing to move Bermuda forward so that we can all prosper — and of course work closely with all ministers in our work for a better Bermuda for all.

I will continue to work closely with Minister Baron on National Security issues.

Minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin will serve as Minister of Home Affairs.

Pat is very experienced in government, in business and in politics, and is well respected across the community. She has a compassionate heart, a fighting spirit and an ability to understand all sides of a question. She is an excellent communicator and has proven abilities in managing difficult challenges.

I have asked her to take on Home Affairs and to continue with reforms that will help us build a fair and sustainable future.

Minister Michael Fahy will serve as Minister of Tourism, Transportation and Municipalities.

Michael is one of the Government’s most capable Ministers. He has a huge capacity for work and an ability to get things done.

In more than three years at Home Affairs, he streamlined Planning procedures, made significant progress on the long road to immigration reform, and oversaw changes that have strengthened the Corporation of St George’s to meet the needs of the Old Towne. All of these accomplishments have helped Bermuda move towards economic recovery.

Michael will continue his oversight of the municipalities. At Transport, he will move forward on Throne Speech commitments to ban tinted visors and bring forward roadside sobriety testing.

At Tourism, he will continue the Government’s multifaceted work to rebuild the industry.

I have invited Junior Minister Sylvan Richards to serve as Minister of Social Development and Sport.

Sylvan is a welcome return to the Cabinet. He’s built a successful career in international business and brings a strong, clear voice to the table. Sylvan has a deep commitment to community life and social progress for all Bermudians. This appointment is a natural fit for him.

The ministry name has been changed to reflect more clearly the work that is done under the banner of Community and Cultural Affairs.

Today I am delighted to welcome Kenny Bascome to serve as Junior Minister of Tourism.

Kenny is a pillar of St George’s. He cares deeply about the community and has been passionate about tourism all his life.

Over the next few years, the Olde Towne is going to see a lot of big, positive change — a new hotel, cruise ships, and a marina.

Junior Minister Bascome will work closely on behalf of the east and Bermuda in general supporting our tourism growth.

Finally I am pleased to announce that Junior Minister Nandi Outerbridge will serve as Junior Minister for Social Development and Sport.

Nandi is our youngest MP. I have watched her grow in confidence and knowledge. She has proven her abilities to meet the needs of her constituents and to speak up for the needs of young Bermudians.

Nandi has also impressed me with her organisational abilities and teamwork. In that regard, I am appointing her Government House Leader and Party Whip, taking over from now Minister Cole Simons, with whom she has worked as an understudy.

These appointments represent the changes to the Cabinet. All other ministers remain in place.

As a team, we will continue moving Bermuda forward, and doing so with urgency.

We have made progress. We’ve ended years of decline, putting the Island back on solid ground and growing in ways that will benefit Bermudians in all walks of life. International agencies have validated our progress, but we also know that many Bermudians remain in the grip of bad times.

The work, in other words, is not yet finished.

Everyone on this Cabinet team understands that and we will continue the push to make Bermuda work for Bermudians — to make it more fair, more open, more inclusive, with a strong economy that supports their dreams and aspirations — young and old, black and white, blue collar, white collar — all of us together in partnership.

That concludes my prepared remarks. I am delighted to welcome new members and thank them for their commitment to serve. I would also like to thank our entire parliamentary team for their support and hard work for the people of Bermuda.

Meet the team: the new One Bermuda Alliance Cabinet(Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Gathering of the faithful: One Bermuda Alliance members at Government House before new ministers were sworn in yesterday(Photograph by Akil Simmons)