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Party leaders in the hot seat

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Leaders of the island's political parties pushed messages of unity and building a better future in a pre-election forum last night.

Topics covered included education, the economy, healthcare reform and the environment in panel interviews set up by Community Voices for Democracy with help from Bermuda Youth Connect.

The leaders of the Progressive Labour Party, the One Bermuda Alliance and the Free Democratic Movement each had more than 30 minutes to answer questions and talk about their ideas for the island, although they did not face a debate as organisers had earlier hoped.

Voters will go to the polls for a General Election on Thursday.

David Burt, the Premier and PLP leader, said: “The Progressive Labour Party has a vision for this country's future.

“We have tried to run a very positive campaign, an issue-based campaign laying out what our plans are for this country going forward.

“We want to build a society of owners.

“We believe that government can be a force for good. It doesn't have to be involved in every aspect of your lives, but it has to make sure that it is there to redress the imbalances which exist in society.”

He said that the party's platform dealt with “the issues which are plaguing us, such as that of interest rates and lack of access to equitable financial services”.

Mr Burt added that it also addressed education, healthcare and focused on “social services which are so key and critical”.

He said: “This Progressive Labour Party is providing hope.”

Mr Burt added: “We have done our work, we have kept our promises and now I'm asking for the people's vote so we can have a unified country as we move forward to tackle these very difficult issues over the next few years.”

Craig Cannonier, the OBA leader, told viewers: “We believe in Bermudians coming together.

“I believe that there's a misunderstanding that the One Bermuda Alliance is led by wealthy whites or blacks who are turncoats and the likes.”

But he added: “The One Bermuda Alliance is truly about how we bring different facets of Bermuda together to bring about a better Bermuda because when we come together, that's when you get the best results.”

Mr Cannonier said earlier that “the understanding that we're all human” would help to bring about more harmony on the island.

He added: “The understanding that all of us came to Bermuda by plane or boat and that all of us believe that each one of us is just trying to look out for what's precious to us.”

The OBA leader said: “When we start humanising politics, that's when we will be able to cut through the rancour.

“Yes, there are some deep-rooted challenges Bermuda has, but we have shown time and time again, whether it be hurricane or Covid-19, that we're willing to lay down these armaments that we get so hyped up about and fussing about, and we can really do better for Bermuda.

“Whites need to understand that there are some inherent opportunities that were afforded them, that you and I as black people were not afforded, but we need to be able to sit to the table and discuss these things rationally.”

Marc Bean said: “A vote for the Free Democratic Movement is a vote for your children, grandchildren and your great-grandchildren — even those who are not born yet because they are the ones who deserve to inherit a country that's worthy of inheritance, and it also preserves our legacy.”

The FDM leader said there was “no choice” but to take inspiration from Bermuda's younger generations.

He added: “The status quo today, naturally, has allowed for an under-representation of young people.

“I feel, we feel, that the FDM, as structured and as we develop it, is going to be inviting to young people, so they can come in and find a civics training ground.”

Mr Bean said: “Because the risk that we are going to assume in the future, the burden that we are basically taking on is going to fall on the young people. Now is the greatest time to have them engaged and involved.”

He added: “We feel at the FDM that if we focus on the young people, while we might not assume government on Thursday, I guarantee you at the next election cycle we will be well-positioned to assume government because we will make sure that our young people are at the centre of our strategy.”

Live and direct: David Burt, the Premier, presents his case to moderator Qian Dickinson (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Three of a kind: Craig Cannonier, of the One Bermuda Alliance, left, David Burt, of the Progressive Labour Party, and Marc Bean, of the Free Democratic Movement

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Published September 29, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 29, 2020 at 9:03 am)

Party leaders in the hot seat

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