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MP slams Government House over 'no place for racism' remark

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker of the House (File photograph)

A government MP has hit out at the Governor over an antiracism message that he believes is inconsistent with historical practices at Government House.

Derrick Burgess, the veteran Progressive Labour Party MP, spoke in the House of Assembly after Rena Lalgie, the Governor, said in her Christmas message that “racism and discrimination of any kind have no place in Bermuda in 2020”.

Mr Burgess, who is also the Deputy Speaker, let loose after MPs passed the controversial Cannabis Licensing Act — a Bill that some government MPs claimed would not be given Royal Assent by Ms Lalgie, and which would pave the way for legal cannabis production.

Mr Burgess said during the motion to adjourn last Friday: “I’m a bit annoyed that the chief occupant of Government House has indicated that she will not sign the Bill.

“If you look at the history, the chief occupant of the largest house on Langton Hill has never not approved a Bill that was oppressive to Blacks.

“In the Christmas messages, the chief occupant of Government House said she wanted to make it clear that racism and discrimination of all kinds has no place in Bermuda.”

Mr Burgess added: “Well, if that’s the case then that same occupant would be at the forefront of bringing parity to incomes because each year the disparity widens, gets greater, between Blacks and Whites.

“The fact is there’s a lot of social discord in the country because of people having to work hard — maybe two jobs, three jobs — in order to have a decent standard of life in this country.”

Mr Burgess said: “The performance of these folks who come out here representing the FCO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] has been shameful to Buckingham Palace. Shameful.

“It’s an embarrassment the way they have carried on out here, like this is their personal playground, and all they are going to do is try to keep Blacks in bondage — in a nice, discreet way.

“They’ll invite a few of us up there for tea and cookies to make it look like it’s good. But when they have the real discussion, those same Blacks are not invited.”

Mr Burgess said: “I applaud what the latest occupant of the largest house on Langton Hill has said — that racism and discrimination of any kind have no place in Bermuda. But I knew they can say those things, but they’re not in charge of this country; they are guided by the FCO.

“If things don’t change with the FCO, until the FCO starts seeing Blacks as equal, nothing will change.”

Mr Burgess claimed that Ms Lalgie, who is Black, was a token appointment because of the impact of the global Black Lives Matter movement.

He said: “I really believe the chief occupant of the largest house on Langton Hill is here because of that.”

UPDATE: this article has been updated to remove comments that gave the impression that David Burt, the Premier, had aligned himself fully to the views of Derrick Burgess as outlined above, and also to put in better context the grievances the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly has with Government House. We apologise to the Premier for any inconvenience caused

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Published February 24, 2021 at 8:30 am (Updated February 26, 2021 at 3:24 pm)

MP slams Government House over 'no place for racism' remark

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