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Cannonier’s OBA future in doubt

One Bermuda Alliance MP Craig Cannonier has been described by sources close to the party as angry about a reshuffle that has returned Michael Dunkley, the former premier, to the Opposition's front ranks.

Mr Cannonier's tenure as premier ended abruptly in May 2014 when he stepped down over the furore about the Jetgate political scandal, and was replaced by Mr Dunkley.

Mr Dunkley, in turn, resigned as leader after the OBA's overwhelming defeat to the Progressive Labour Party in the July 2017 General Election.

At that time, Mr Dunkley said he was heading to the OBA back benches while remaining as “a senior statesman in the caucus room to at all times express what is on my mind and support the team”.

Mr Cannonier was subsequently given the shadow portfolio of public works after Jeanne Atherden became Opposition leader in November.

However, last night an OBA spokesman said that Mr Cannonier had told Ms Atherden in January that he wished to “take a step back and focus on his business”.

The spokesman added that Mr Cannonier had indicated that because he did not win the leadership in November, he “had a little concern about the direction of the party” after the resignation of Nick Kempe, who quit as OBA chairman days after his removal from the Senate by Ms Atherden.

According to the spokesman, the Opposition remained in an “adjustment period”, and plans to hold a retreat in a couple of weeks' time.

He said: “After that, Mr Cannonier will take a look at the party and see where we are moving forward, and whether he wants to get involved again in a more high-profile way.”

A source close to Mr Cannonier said he had spent significant time overseas on business in recent months.

With the resumption of Parliament, Mr Cannonier's shadow portfolio has been taken up by Opposition MP Trevor Moniz, while Mr Dunkley is now the Shadow Minister for Government Reform.

Mr Cannonier was not available last night for comment.

The OBA spokesman said: “Once Ms Atherden became leader, she had conversations with Mr Dunkley to try and get him more involved.”

With the appointment of PLP MP Lovitta Foggo as Minister of Cabinet Office with Responsibility for Government Reform, Ms Atherden sought Mr Dunkley for the shadow role based on his experience as a former premier.

Mr Dunkley confirmed that his background made him suitable for the job, telling The Royal Gazette: “The most important thing is that I want to work with my colleagues to be the best Opposition we can, to grow the party, and to make it as strong as possible. I can fill any role.”

He called Mr Cannonier “a very important part of our team”. He added: “I have the greatest respect for Craig. For comment, you will have to speak to him directly, but he supports me as well.

“Anytime you have a change in leadership, you will see that person will want to put people in the places they feel most comfortable. That's their prerogative.”

Another source within the party ranks said the shuffle was “not a seismic shift” and said the OBA would “see more changes as we go forward”.

The OBA member added: “It's a tough time for everyone and we have got to regroup.”

Mr Moniz, who has previously served as public works minister, was said to have agreed readily to serve as shadow, in addition to his role as Shadow Attorney-General.

Step back: Craig Cannonier (File photograph)

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Published February 16, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 16, 2018 at 11:55 am)

Cannonier’s OBA future in doubt

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