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Leaders’ forum: Cannonier reiterates growing population

Bermuda must seek opportunity from the Covid-19 pandemic, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance said last night.

Craig Cannonier added that the lockdown of Bermuda's borders because of the coronavirus was a “major, major” challenge that will make progress “a tough slog”.

He said the One Bermuda Alliance had put in place the opportunity for foreigners to come to the island and work for a year, which the PLP leveraged after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said it represented a “huge, huge opportunity”.

Mr Cannonier added: “There are probably hundreds of individuals who would take up that opportunity.”

Bermuda's politics was “antiquated”, he said, and had to keep up with the people's needs.

Mr Cannonier was asked how an OBA government would hit the ground running on creating jobs, other than one-off projects such as the 2017 America's Cup.

“We have a population problem,” he said, noting the lack of residents to generate revenues.

“We have got to diversify by getting investment back into the island.”

Mr Cannonier gave the example of sitting in a meeting on aquaponics and vertical farming, but reiterated: “We've got to get more people investing in the island.

“The challenge is the commitment to investing in Bermuda, the trust is not there.”

He called for removing “political rancour” and said the island had failed to address its systemic racial inequalities.

Mr Cannonier repeatedly called for bringing more people to Bermuda and said the 60:40 rule for the boards of businesses “makes no sense”.

He branded the sugar tax “a farce” that had failed to change health outcomes.

Mr Cannonier acknowledged that the OBA had been elected in 2012 under “the mandate of fixing the economy”, but had fallen short of “the reform of things like education, and social issues”.

He added: “What we did not do was bring to Bermuda the reform that was needed.”

Mr Cannonier was questioned on tackling criminal recidivism, which has hit young black men.

He said: “We have far too many of our young people being locked up for unconscionable things.”

Mr Cannonier said the judicial and policing system was unequal and held up restorative justice as a key to addressing crime that has disproportionately impacted black Bermudians.

He added: “That's work the OBA wants to do.”

On the proposed referendum on making St David's a parish of its own, Mr Cannonier said he came from that part of the island, which had typically been the last place to enjoy innovations.

“Whether or not Bermuda wants to move in that direction, I don't know,” he said.

But he stuck to the OBA's proposals for a slimmer government, with “far less” MPs and a smaller Cabinet.

Mr Cannonier defended returning to twice-weekly trash collection while eliminating single-use plastics.

He called for “humanising” the island's politics and focusing on our commonalities, and said women would be a powerful swing vote when residents head to the polls on Thursday.

The OBA has fielded candidates in 31 of the island's 36 constituencies.

However, Mr Cannonier maintained that he was “not just going to put anyone in a seat”.

He added: “The path to victory is not in the 36; I can assure you.”

Mr Cannonier said: “This is about bringing Bermuda together, and that is the only way that we can survive.”

Craig Cannonier, the OBA leader, at the pre-election forum last night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published September 29, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 29, 2020 at 8:09 am)

Leaders’ forum: Cannonier reiterates growing population

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