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Senators debate trust and transparency

Transparency and trust took centre stage as senators met this morning.

A 90-minute motion to adjourn came at the end of a relatively short session, in which only one Bill was addressed at the Senate's temporary location in the House of Assembly.

One Bermuda Alliance senator Lynne Woolridge used her time to tout some of the accomplishments made by the government over the past 4½ years.

“Despite some missteps by a young government — a new administration — a lot has been accomplished that has rescued Bermudians from the brink of financial disaster and benefits all Bermudians,” she said.

Ms Woolridge said the notion of a trust deficit was not limited to the sitting government.

“Let's not forget there's a trust deficit with the Opposition as well, and their current leader,” Ms Woolridge said.

“So let's not throw stones when they really shouldn't be thrown.”

Progressive Labour Party senator Tinee Furbert said that the people were still “patiently waiting” for action to be taken following the protests on December 2.

“The government boasts transparency — we have seen their record of non-transparency,” Ms Furbert said.

“Why do we deny each other information? Why do we deny each of knowledge?”

OBA senator Jeff Baron said that he was “keenly awaiting” results of the investigation into the events of December 2.

Mr Baron reminded his colleagues that police operations are not matters that the minister of national security is in charge of.

“There should be no political interference with who and what and when persons should be prosecuted,” he said.

“I don't mean to sound flippant, but I seem to have to repeat myself quite a bit.”

On the trust deficit, Mr Baron said: “Simply saying that there is a trust deficit with the One Bermuda Alliance — that doesn't stick. No one is buying that.”

PLP senator Kim Wilkerson said that it was “completely ridiculous” that prosecutions connected to the events of December 2 had proceeded before all investigations had been concluded.

“These are the kinds of things that members of the public are looking it,” she said.

“And they say that this is not the kind of Bermuda we want to have.”

She said the country was beginning to see “flickers” of economic activity that were positive.

“We want to be optimistic about these things — and we are optimistic — but there is a difference between being optimistic and reading these signals [and] what is happening in the lives of everyday Bermudians,” she said.

She criticised the OBA's record on employment, saying: “The only gains in jobs have been for non-Bermudians.”

Referencing a recent speech made by David Burt, OBA senator Andrew Simons said the Opposition leader was right on the often-discussed notion of “two Bermudas”.

“There is a divide in Bermuda,” he said.

“Those two Bermudas started in 1616 when the first slave was brought the Bermuda from the West Indies. Slavery is Bermuda's original sin.”

Opposition proposals to tackle the divide, Mr Simons said, lack substance.

“I'm not persuaded that the Opposition has proposed anything concrete that makes a difference.”

PLP senate leader Renee Ming said her party was there to hold the Government accountable.

“You cannot run from your track record,” she said.

“Just as the Progressive Labour Party was taken to task for their record, you will be taken to task for yours.”

OBA senate leader Michael Fahy said he was “very satisfied” to be judged on the OBA's record since 2012.

“Have we got everything right? No, we would never pretend that we have, and I have said that many, many times in this place.”

Mr Fahy said the PLP wanted the public to forget about the party's record.

“There was a reason that after 14 years the Progressive Labour Party was turfed out,” he said.

The Government, Mr Fahy said, had done the best it could given the conditions it inherited.

“It's like a small child that vomits next to his seat in class, and then gets upset because the janitor doesn't clean it up fast enough.”

• The Partnership and Limited Liability Company (Beneficial Ownership) Amendment Act 2017 was passed without objection.

The House of Assembly, which hosted today's meeting of the Senate (File photograph)

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Published May 22, 2017 at 4:54 pm (Updated May 22, 2017 at 4:54 pm)

Senators debate trust and transparency

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