Tweed’s comments ‘very hurtful’, says Minister
Comments made by a pastor who questioned the moral compass of politicians were “very hurtful”, a frontbencher said.
Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, added that the clergy was expected to show forgiveness.
Her remarks came after the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hamilton, spoke out when it emerged that Curtis Richardson, then a Progressive Labour Party senator, owed $19,000 in unpaid rent to an elderly woman.
Mr Richardson’s former landlady Margaret Harvey gave evidence in court about the long legal battle to get the money owed to her.
Mr Tweed said: “But, the thing that I find disturbing is when you have 30 people in the House of Assembly and every single one of them seek political cover behind a judicial veil when the issue is a moral issue.
“The issue has nothing to do with what the court will or won’t do – it’s a moral issue.
“And when we cover it over it reflects a level of moral bankruptcy.”
He added that “the political cover is, ‘well we got to wait and see what the court says’.”
Mr Tweed said: “The court does not engage in moral judgment – they engage in legal judgment.”
He added: “How do we lead our people if our moral compass is broken? And that is troubling.”
Ms Furbert said last week: “That’s very hurtful because you cannot put a blanket statement and put it across all persons and particularly coming from a clergy.
“A clergy is a place of forgiveness, as well. People do make errors in their life and they do make mistakes. We just hope that things can get better.”
Mr Richardson resigned after growing criticism over his position.
David Burt, the Premier, was made aware of Mr Richardson’s debt before he recommended the taxi driver’s appointment to the Senate and made him junior minister for national security.
Ms Harvey, who is in her 70s, said she became sick and her hair had fallen out because of the stress of the legal battle to recover the cash.
Ms Furbert said: “I cannot speak to that situation in totality as I was not privy to any information that was shared.
“But I go on talk shows all the time for seniors, speaking to persons not taking advantage of seniors, making sure that people are aware of the needs of seniors and making sure that we are not engaging in taking advantage of seniors.
“I hold that very strongly to my heart. We should be looking out for our seniors and making sure that they have access to their needs.
“It’s a very unfortunate circumstance and I wish it was a little different.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation and we just want to remind the public to look out for seniors and to make sure that we’re not putting any of our seniors in a situation of them being taken advantage of.”
Ms Furbert said that her ministry was evaluating submissions made by people who showed interest in helping to formulate a National Seniors Strategy.
The policy was included in the 2020 Throne Speech, when it was announced that the Government would “develop and invite the Legislature to consider a National Seniors Strategy, with particular emphasis on dementia care and a prevention plan for seniors’ abuse”.
Ms Furbert added last week: “We have to go through all sorts of matrices with procurement to help us to make that selection.”
She said that it was thought a committee could be set up “very soon” to make recommendations for the strategy.
The minister added: “Government used to have a programme through the Bermuda Housing Corporation where seniors could have access to funds to renovate their homes, particularly their apartments.”
She explained: “Most of our seniors in Bermuda own their own homes and as persons age, their homes age.
“Also, they are locked out of being able to have access to funds through the banking structure because of their age, so I would like to see something open up where we can provide access to funds … so that they can fix up their apartments and have rental income coming in to be able to provide funding for themselves as they age.”