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Premier shores up Cabinet with Weeks and Campbell appointments

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New arrivals: Michael Weeks, the national security minister; David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance; Rena Lalgie, the Governor; and Vance Campbell, the new tourism minister (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

David Burt, the Premier, revamped the Cabinet yesterday after a rocky few months for the Government and brought Michael Weeks back into the fold with the national security portfolio.

Mr Burt retained the finance ministry, but offloaded tourism to backbencher Vance Campbell.

It is understood that at least three backbenchers turned down ministerial positions.

A senior PLP source told The Royal Gazette that MPs were reluctant to join the Cabinet.

The source said: “They don’t want to join a sinking ship”.

Michael Weeks (File photograph)

Mr Weeks was only asked to become national security minister on Sunday night, despite the shake-up being announced last Wednesday.

Another source said that MPs had rejected ministerial posts because they were waiting for the “hurricane in October” — a reference to a potential leadership challenge at the annual delegates’ conference.

Michael Weeks

The father of four, a graduate of Howard University in Washington DC, studied accounting and social work.

Mr Weeks, the MP for Pembroke East Central, is a veteran of several government boards and vice-president of the Western Stars Sports Club.

A member of the Berkeley Educational Society, he is also involved in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, as well as other fraternities across the island.

One of his favourite sayings is from InvictusUndefeated, a poem by William Ernest Henley beloved of Nelson Mandela, who recited it to other prisoners while jailed in Robben Island prison in South Africa.

The poem reads: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

Vance Campbell

Mr Campbell used his degree in business administration to launch a career in accountancy.

The former senator and MP for Smith’s West has been chairman of the Consumer Affairs Board, deputy chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Board and also held the post of vice-president of the Foster Parents' Association.

Mr Campbell also sits on several of the executive council of the Bermuda Football Association’s standing committees.

The shake-up came after a public bust-up with Renée Ming, the former national security minister, last week.

Ms Ming insisted she quit owing to a string of disagreements with Mr Burt, but he insisted that he fired her.

Mr Burt’s handling of recent controversies, including the resignation of Curtis Dickinson as finance minister days before the Budget statement, has created unease in the Progressive Labour Party’s parliamentary ranks.

The authority of Mr Burt was called into question after a dozen PLP MPs — 40 per cent of the total — failed to vote for flagship legalisation to legalise cannabis use and production when it passed the House of Assembly last month.

Mr Weeks left the post of social development minister in 2018 and at the time denied he had been fired.

Vance Campbell (File photograph)

He rejected a claim that he was dumped from the Cabinet for his handling of an inquiry into allegations that children in care were mistreated.

Sources claimed Mr Weeks was ousted because he insisted that Alfred Maybury, the director of the Department of Child and Family Services, should be suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

The PLP issued a statement on behalf of Mr Weeks that denied the claim.

Mr Weeks said yesterday that it was up to the public to get involved in tackling violence on the island.

He said: “As some may know, my experience spans decades as I have worked with men and women, both young and old, particularly our young Black men, whether in residential care, residential treatment, drug and alcohol reform, etc.

“I will reiterate because this is no longer the elephant in the room, the issue of gun and gang violence that our country is experiencing is without a doubt a community problem.

“If we are to find solutions, we cannot police ourselves out of this situation. We need everyone, from our neighbours to our community leaders to our community club leaders to our church leaders, those from Tucker’s Town and Middle Town, Front Street and Court Street.

“This scourge is not a Black or White thing. This is a colourless thing. Rich or non-wealthy. Educated or uneducated. All of must get involved. It is no longer just our neighbour’s problem. It is everyone’s problem and we will be calling on everyone.”

Mr Burt said in a defensive speech as the new ministers were sworn into office by Rena Lalgie, the Governor, at Government House that when he held a constituency surgery on Saturday, no one brought up concerns about his leadership or suggested turmoil in the Government’s ranks.

Mr Burt said: “It is very easy to get distracted by rumour, innuendo and speculation.”

Mr Campbell added that he would put all his efforts into rebuilding the island’s tourism sector as it was vital to the island’s prospects of economic recovery.

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Published April 05, 2022 at 8:02 am (Updated April 05, 2022 at 10:11 am)

Premier shores up Cabinet with Weeks and Campbell appointments

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