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Hayward claims he is victim of character assassination

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An unrepentant Jason Hayward last night claimed he was the victim of an effort to “assassinate my character” in the wake of criticism of hard-hitting remarks he made in the House of Assembly in which he stated he did not want the vote of some constituents.

And Mr Hayward appeared to be joined by David Burt, the Premier, who on Tuesday released a statement emphasising that the Progressive Labour Party government represented all voters but last night denied he had rebuked his economy and labour minister.

Mr Hayward accused the Opposition of taking his words out of context in the wake of the sitting in order to weave a “fictitious narrative” about him.

He added: “Last Friday, I used my time to articulate that no matter how many times you extend your hand to work with certain groups of individuals, they will turn right around and use your generosity to undermine you. We have this false notion of collaboration.”

Mr Hayward said the One Bermuda Alliance had cherry-picked his words when he told the House about voters he would not try to get support from.

“What’s been evident since I last spoke is the reality I spoke about has manifested itself.”

Mr Hayward claimed that “one line” out of his speech had been “deliberately” left off when the Opposition condemned his speech.

He added that his remarks on Friday had come with him telling MPs that he had gone to homes while canvassing “and they put their dogs out”.

“When I see them at the polls and they say that I do not come to their house, then I am not interested in their vote.”

He insisted that he told MPs that when it came to people threatening him with their dogs, “I do not want their vote”.

Mr Hayward also faulted the coverage of The Royal Gazette over the incident, although The Royal Gazette quoted him in full. Mr Hayward’s full comments are reprinted in the adjacent story.

“I guess their aim was that I would be silenced,” he said.

Jason Hayward’s speech from March 3

After referring to how the Progressive Labour Party was 60 years old, Mr Hayward’s exact words last Friday were: “Those 60 years, persons have shown us exactly who they are and we continue to allow our humanity to expect something different.

“The reality is we are in a position where we are responsible for this particular country. It was a fight to get here but we need not squander this opportunity. So we need not ask anybody to come along this ride. We need not individuals’ approval to host events that we choose are in our best interests.

“We need not this false feeling of diversity and inclusion. I am not promoting segregation but I am not promoting this feel-good diversity and inclusion for diversity and inclusion’s sake.

“Leaders before us have learned the hard way when they have attempted to work with individuals who have no interest in working in their best interests but who want to leverage that relationship to advance their own interests.

“Ask Robert Mugabe ... some call him a tyrant but before he was a tyrant he was a national hero. He got into power but he did not kick out the entire government, he thought it best that they collectively work together. He quickly found out that was impossible.

“Look at South Africa and see what Nelson Mandela attempted. All his efforts to bridge a country together were undermined by one group of individuals.

“We sit here in Bermuda and think our reality is going to be different?

“When we go out canvassing and we attempt to knock on some doors, people let us know exactly where they stand. I have had a dog set on me canvassing. My colleagues have many of those stories.

“I will stand at the polls and the person will say ‘I haven’t seen you so you won’t get my vote’. I don’t want your vote. I don’t want your vote. For what, so you feel like you have some control over or say what I do in the future? And that‘s the reality.

“Mr Speaker, there is a great honour attached to being the longest serving member within this House. We look up to you, we admire your journey. But there is a part of you, inside of you, that has to feel comfortable walking away. But you’re not going to walk away unless you feel as though we’re well ahead of the race. Unless you see a team on the field that you feel comfortable will win the cup.

“So that is for us as the Progressive Labour Party that will continue to field a team that will win the cup. To ensure that the principles when we started this journey are effectively executed on.

“As a younger member of this house, many are looking for the younger members to carry on the baton. That’s the only thing that is going to ensure sustainability of the Progressive Labour Party. It should not end after 65 years. Members should be celebrating the Progressive Labour Party’s 100th anniversary. We should be celebrating our achievements. We often revert back to our struggles and and we appreciate our struggles. It is now time to celebrate our victories, all what we have done to advance the lives of people in this country.

“We need to be steadfast in our vision for this country. We need to set a vision that our people believe in.

“MP Simmons is talking about individuals looking for love back from a country that they love. Well, there is a harsh reality to that as well. I hope individuals are not looking for love in the wrong place because this is a journey we are on. The race may never be won. There is no finish line to this race. My grandchildren and my grandchildren’s grandchildren will be battling adversity.

“We can look at modern day Bermuda, but this island is 400 years old. The race has been started 400 years ago. There are people who have a massive head start. Our people need to realise we are playing catch-up so it is for us, understanding that, to be unapologetic in the way we deliver on the behalf of the people of this country. We need nobody’s assistance, we have the capacity to do it on behalf of our people and that is why we are here.

“The 30 does not need the six for anything. That is a reality. They have a constitutional role and that is it. And we have a mandate and it is for us to execute on that mandate, regardless of how they think of us, how they feel about us and whether they like it or not. Thank you, Mr Speaker.“

At the end of the Motion to Adjourn, Mr Burt defended Mr Hayward, saying that a story saying he had rebuked him was “nonsense”.

He said it should be “absolutely no shock and surprise” that some in the House of Assembly called this newspaper and the One Bermuda Alliance “the combined opposition”.

He said: “Stop printing the One Bermuda Alliance’s press releases as gospel.

“It is the penchant of the daily newspaper of this country to misrepresent facts, misrepresent positions, take and twist words to form a narrative.”

Mr Burt also hit back on the OBA’s comments that Mr Hayward’s actions were alienating foreign investors.

He said that investors had complimented Mr Hayward on his work advancing the country’s economic goals.

Mr Burt added: “I can promise you, Mr Speaker, that there is no foreign investor that is coming to this country that, when a member of a political party knocks on their door, they will send their dog out to get them.”

He said: “The minister and I have a great relationship and the fact is if the minister was to be rebuked, he would be sitting in this house today as a backbencher.

“He is one of the hardest working ministers I have ever worked with, delivering time and time again, taking on additional items in his portfolio and executing them well.”

In his statement on Tuesday, Mr Burt defended Mr Hayward’s efforts to grow the economy and praised his passion and energy, but added: “But he is human.

“In this case, after a long day in the House of Assembly, I believe the minister expressed frustration of the Government’s continuing attempts to try to work with the Opposition, for the betterment of Bermuda, to no positive avail.

“While I accept the minister could have worded his statement better, the lack of humanity experienced when members of the public may out dogs out will naturally invoke anger and disappointment and the minister’s uncharacteristic comments were a reflection of that.”

Mr Burt concluded: “The Progressive Labour Party is a party that cares for all people and is committed to growing Bermuda’s economy to the benefit of these same people we are privileged to represent ... whether they vote for us or not.”

Neville Tyrrell, the Government Whip, also defended Mr Hayward , telling MPs that members on the government side of the House faced “a combined opposition”.

He said Mr Hayward’s remarks had been “local” and not directed at deterring international business.

Mr Tyrrell also said the minister had been “frustrated” when he rose to speak last Friday.

Mr Tyrrell added: “I have experienced the same thing in my canvassing. Yes – people set dogs on you.”

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Published March 09, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated March 09, 2023 at 8:02 am)

Hayward claims he is victim of character assassination

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