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Freedom to Do For Self

The Progressive Labour Party Leader delivered a call to Bermudians to do for self of the occasion of the Progressive Labour Party's 50th Anniversary. The leader called for the next generation of leaders to  to "step up and contribute in the shaping of our island's destiny."

If you were not able to attend the banquet, read the entire speech here. 

Good evening

Tonight, we celebrate 50 years of struggle, tragedy, and triumph. From 30 years of wandering in the political wilderness, as what often seemed like Bermuda's sole voice for freedom, justice and finally earning the trust and support of the masses in 1998, to serving as the first government in our history to stand for the poor, the downtrodden, and the homeless. The first government of, and for, all Bermudians.
Yet, through our own actions, our own decisions, and our own behaviour, we lost touch with the people who put their faith in us.... the people who hoped that the new Bermuda we offered in 1998, would represent empowerment and freedom.

It is from that failure that we have been cast into the political wilderness yet again......Yet, the time we spend in political exile, can be spent aimlessly wandering, senselessly infighting, and foolishly devoid of vision and purpose, OR, we can move purposefully back to the values on which we were founded.

At our best, the PLP has brought Bermudians together and moved Bermuda away from the darkness of injustice, oppression, and crony capitalism.
The Progressive Labour Party was born in a Bermuda where the people had grown, in the words of Martin Luther King, "tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression....tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair...tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July, and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November."
Crony and vulture capitalism, practised by a wicked oligarchy determined to cling to their power and influence by any means necessary, was the Bermuda the PLP was born into, and there were consequences for standing up to them. Our founders faced economic terrorism in the form of pulled mortgages, being blackballed from jobs, and having their good names smeared. Yet they stood up for us, they fought for us, and yes, they founded the PLP for us.

They believed as we still believe today, that Bermudians are entitled to freedom, justice, and equality in their own country, and for that noble goal, no sacrifice is too great, no burden too heavy, and no opponent is too powerful.

Our founders had a very clear goal. They sought social and economic equality through the application of political power....beginning as a protest movement, shifting to power via democratic majority rule, and all culminating in victory at the polls on November 9th, 1998.

We stand on the shoulders of greatness. We honour them when we fight for the people who have no voice; when we stand up for capable, willing, qualified Bermudians, who are denied employment opportunities in our own country. We honour our founders when we continue to identify and tear down obstacles to opportunity, and when we stand against greed, injustice and inequity.

Today's PLP, and tomorrow's PLP, must never take for granted the real sacrifice that our fore parents have paid for us to celebrate 50 years, let alone to have the opportunities of education and employment, to which we now enjoy.

Having gained and now lost political power, we must ask ourselves; what grade would our founding fathers give us? What would they think of us? Have we met their expectations?

Some may feel that in losing political power, the movement towards social and economic equality has taken one step forward, and two steps backwards, with the last 50 years having come to nought.

Which leads to the very pressing question...what must we do to ensure that we celebrate the next 50 years as an institution, and what direction, what new objective, must be set in order for us to effectively serve our supreme interest, the Beautiful People of Bermuda?

My position is that there is no need for a new objective. The goal of our founding fathers was social and economic equality and justice, but that wasn't their final Objective!

Social and Economic equality and justice was the goal, the means to an end, but their objective, the culmination point, the real ends, was the highest ideal and aspiration of man, that of Freedom and Liberty.... and by extension, the creation of a Free Society.

Today, the Free Society dreamed of by our founding fathers remains the objective, and as they did 50 years ago, we must overcome our doubts and our fears, adjust and adept to the conditions of today, and fulfil their dream.

The Free Society we seek is one where the vestiges of our history......of slavery... of colonialism.... of racism, classism, and discrimination, are eradicated. We must seek to usher in a period of stability, peace, material and spiritual progress, so that true social harmony may manifest in Bermuda.

Make no mistake, the attitudes that gave and continue to give life to these scars on our psyche, are equally destructive to all, regardless if you are black, white, Bermudian or foreign. Every society has among them, those who hold extremist beliefs, and who are a drag upon the well being of our country.

The rest of us, the overwhelming majority, regardless of race or history, desire the same things out of life. These desires today represent unlocked potential to create tangible cooperation, unity, and progress.

Today, after 50 years of existence, and 14 years of political power, we see a Bermuda in a downward spiral, our people out of work, our families and communities trapped in a cycle of dependency and hopelessness.....and our children locked into a fratricidal cycle of death and destruction.

Is this the legacy of our founder's goal of social and economic equality and justice? I dare say not!

In order for us to give due respect to our founders and elders, and true regard for future generations, we are going to have to adjust our thinking, and our actions.

It is time to embrace the principles of freedom, and recognise that true cultural and economic empowerment is the path towards real freedom, with its ancillary benefits of peace, stability, and the elevation of our collective standard of living.

Political power has, and will continue, to fail to usher in this new day, as quite frankly, a Good Government should have its focus on benefiting all the people equally. It should not be directed by special interest in any shape or form.

Thus, it is informative to note, that the way forward has less to do with who wields political power, and more to do with how we, as individuals, relate to each other as people.

As I have stated previously, Governments can only cultivate the conditions where jobs can be created, and that can only happen when we face the truth, and take decisive action. It is the private sector, you and your neighbours, that can create jobs.

In fact, in order for the optimum conditions for job growth to occur, Government must get out of the way, and depart from the long held notion that politicians and the State, can manage an economy.

As a Party, our future depends on cultivating a spirit within the people that encourages a willingness to do for self. This ethos demands a shift in mentality from one that depends on government to provide for our every need, and towards a spirit of creativity, entrepreneurship, self improvement, and self knowledge.

This must have as its basis, the need for personal responsibility, and becoming the masters of our own destiny. In educating our children, we must re-educate ourselves to recognise our innate talents, in order to fulfil our life's purpose.

No longer can we blame others for our conditions. We must learn anew, the value of savings, and living within our means. We must reverse the trend of becoming slaves to debt, and sacrifice current, frivolous consumption, while increasing savings and thrift.... the real way to create wealth and prosperity. Those of us who have savings must use part of it to invest in themselves, and more importantly, invest in others.

As a Party, we must be prepared to reduce the burden of government, and reduce our people's dependency on government. Like it or not, we also must pursue policies that reduce our public debt, reduce government spending, and put Bermuda on a trajectory towards having a balanced budget in the future.

Fiscal responsibility applies to our public life, as it does to our private, individual lives. Those who inherit the Party in 50 years deserve nothing less. Those who reside in this country in 50 years, deserve nothing less.

As we are today, we are in danger of becoming an obsolete people of no use to business, no use to our society, and no use to ourselves. The business community is struggling to employ their own friends and families, so we can no longer look exclusively to them to solve our problems, provide employment for us, or give us a livelihood.

Now is the time for us to adjust our thinking, become innovative, and begin to look at ways to create opportunities for OURSELVES. We must change the consciousness of our people, from one that says "government must," "IB must," to one that says, "I must, and I will, do for self"!

Bermudians must become more productive, and more competitive, in order to be full participants in, and contributors to, the global economy. We cannot afford to be bystanders any longer. The feelings of complaint in the people, must be, like alchemy, transmuted into the willingness to compete and cooperate with one another.

Co-operating and competing, reinforces the principal that a man respects you, when you respect yourself. Combine this with the golden rule of loving thy neighbour as thyself, long standing issues like race, which influence much in society, and are the stumbling blocks towards true social harmony and cooperation, will finally recede into the dustbin of history.

Not all of us want, or have it within us, to be entrepreneurs. But what we do have within us is the capacity to provide the highest level of service to those who have taken the risk, invested in themselves, and have created a job for you to fill. If you do not seek to employ yourself and others, than be someone worthy of being hired. Invest in yourself, educate yourself, and give your employer a full day's work, for a full day's pay.

These changes within minds, as individuals, and as a community of people who understand the power of doing for self, will transform Bermuda and Bermudians, irrevocably for the better.

We stand on a foundation bound together by the spirits of a group of average Bermudian men, sitting in a garage 50 years seeking a way for all Bermudians to have a voice, a chance, and a role in the country of our birth.

We are bound together by the memory of Hon. Walter Robinson, the shaper of our island's constitution.

We are bound together and inspired by the example of Dame Lois Browne Evans; first in law, first in leadership, and first in championing the rights of the people.

We are bound together and inspired by the legacy of Hon L. Frederick Wade, our political Moses, who led us through the political wilderness, but was unable to complete the journey to government with us.

We are bound together and inspired by the vision of Dame Jennifer Smith, who brought One Man, One Vote of Equal Value to our people.

We are bound together by the idea of Hon. William Alexander Scott, that Bermuda should be a place where the haves continue to have, and the have nots, have more.

We are bound together by the work of Dr Hon.Ewart F. Brown, the man who made the UBP change brands, and reminded us of the need to "just get it done".

We are bound together by the legacy of Hon. Paula A. Cox, who called upon each of us to Stand Strong for Bermudians, and do it with class and dignity.

Now, the generation that our parents sacrificed to feed, clothe, and educate, must step up and contribute in the shaping of our island's destiny. Instructed and mentored by our elders, respectful and knowledgeable of our history, our heritage, and of those who came before us, we owe our country so very much.

Let us give those who came before us the confidence that our island's fate is in good hands.

Let us give those who come behind us hope, that tomorrow will be filled with greater opportunity, success, and prosperity, than we have today.

May Almighty God, bless the Progressive Labour Party, and may he bless the people of Bermuda.

Thank you


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Annual Conference Starts Tomorrow

The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party 2013 Conference begins on Wednesday, October 23rd at 5:30pm at BIU Headquarters.Under the theme, “Empowerment through Economic – Entrepreneurship and Employment through Education,” 

PLP Conference Begins Tomorrow "Empowerment through Economic Entrepreneurship and Employment through Education"

The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party 2013 Conference begins on Wednesday, October 23rd at 5:30pm at BIU Headquarters.Under the theme, “Empowerment through Economic – Entrepreneurship and Employment through Education,” PLP delegates will meet over the week to elect officers and discuss topics of importance to Party Members.

"The PLP Conference represents an opportunity for our members and supporters to have their say on the direction of their Party. In this, our 50th year, the input of our members in shaping the modernization of our Party is invaluable and appreciated," said PLP Chairman Maynard Dill.

"With new leadership, a new vision and new people bringing new ideas, the PLP is committed to building a 21st century movement to meet the needs of 21st Century Bermudians," The Chairman added.

PLP Leader Marc Bean said, "We enter the 2013 PLP Conference a stronger, more unified and more focused Party. We have listened to the people, grown from the lesson learned in December 2012 and humbled ourselves. We are reconnecting with the people, our values and promoting a new vision of economic and cultural empowerment."

Mr. Bean continued, "for 50 years, the PLP have driven positive change and been at the forefront of bringing Bermuda out of the dark ages of oppression, injustice and inequity. To those who have and continue to support us, I thank you. To those who lost faith with us, we encourage you to weigh both our words and actions as we continue to modernize our policies, our vision and our team. To those who have never supported us, we will continue to fight for a fairer Bermuda, where obstacles to opportunity are removed and where honesty and hard work are rewarded."

The PLP Conference will be held BIU Headquarters on October 23rd beginning at 5:30 pm. On October 24th at 8:30am the conference moves to Devonshire Rec. All PLP Members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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PLP To Host "Think Pink Party"

"The PLP supports and stands with the women of Bermuda. That's why we are throwing our support behind The Pink Campaign, the fight against breast cancer and raising awareness of this deadly disease.

The "Think Pink Party" gives the PLP the opportunity to open our headquarters to the public from 10 pm until 3 am for a positive fun event. Music provided by two of Bermuda's most popular DJs; Magic of FyahBeat and Magnum force. Entrance is only $10 with refreshments available.

We encourage the public to support this cause and join us this Saturday for "The Think Pink Party" at PLP Headquarters."

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MP Michael Weeks Calls on Gangs To Put Down Their Guns

Constituency 16 MP Michael Weeks today condemned reports of  guns
being fired in the area saying, "The recent and recurring incidents of
shots being fired represent a clear and present danger to the families
and children of our community.  It is only a matter of time before yet
another person, not caught up in the gang lifestyle is caught in the
crossfire.  In the names of our families and our children, we call on
those responsible to cease their reckless, unnecessary and illegal
activity and put down the guns."

Michael Weeks is the MP for Constituency # 16, Pembroke East Central
and the Shadow Minister for Community and Cultural Development

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Statement by PLP Leader Marc Bean

Despite the pressing need to get our people back to work, the OBA have failed to take action or produce a plan. 

Statement by PLP Leader Marc Bean

The Premier's announcement of an extended Parliamentary session citing the "urgency of now," is interesting.  Since becoming Government, the OBA's tenure has been known more for deception, blunders and inaction than the "urgency of now."

As we were willing to work with the OBA on this special extended Parliamentary session, the PLP was willing to work through the traditional summer break.  The minimal legislative agenda prepared by the OBA however hindered the ability to work through the pressing issues facing our people.  This failure of leadership by the current government shows an inability to manage the legislative process and that should concern all Bermudians.

Despite the pressing need to get our people back to work, the OBA have failed to take action or produce a plan.  In fact, the OBA have failed to take action on concrete items such as:

The Gaming Referendum, in place and ready to launch the day the OBA took office.

The formulation of the Infrastructure Development Strategy, a key component of the PLP's plan to get construction workers back to work was in the process of being completed the day the OBA took office.

Jobs Corp, another key component of the PLP's plan to get Bermudians back to work. Again this was in motion and set to launch early 2013

So we ask again .Where was the "urgency of now," for the past 9 months?

We stand willing to work through all future breaks in an effort to listen to the people of Bermuda and to get all relevant parties working for the people of Bermuda.

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Statement by Walter Roban, MP for Constituency #15 Pembroke East

I am deeply saddened for the family of the victim murdered last night and for our community in the Glebe Road/St. Monica's area. This marks the second shooting in two weeks and residents of this area of have seen far too many tragedies like these in recent years.

As the Parliamentary representative for this area, I stand with the residents and condemn this senseless act of violence. 

On behalf of the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) our condolences go out to the family of the victim.

As a people, we must remain vigilant and committed in our efforts to combat and eliminate violence in our community. These murders affect all of us.

We appeal to anyone who may have witnessed  what happened to cooperate with the authorities in order to bring justice and closure for the victim, their family and loved ones.

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Labour Day Address by PLP Acting Leader Derrick Burgess

The OBA Government continues to violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement and disrespect the Trade Union Officials.  

Today, we pause to celebrate labour day and to remember, honour and celebrate the men and women who fought to make Bermuda a more just society for all of us.  Many of us today take for granted the benefits that were won as a result of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and yes in some instances, blood sweat and tears of trade unionists in Bermuda.

During the lead-up to the December 2012 General Election, the One Bermuda Alliance campaigned on many promises.  The one promise that stands out in the minds of Bermudians, especially those Bermudians who still remain un-employed or under-employed, is the promise of 2000 jobs.  May Bermudians took that promise seriously and believed that if they voted for the OBA and they were elected to power, jobs would become available.

Did I, as the Deputy Leader of the PLP and a Member of Parliament, expect the OBA to produce 2000 jobs in the first year?  No, I did not.

Did I expect the OBA Government to employ 2000 more people?

 No, I did not.

However, I did not expect to see jobs being created for non-Bermudians, as in the case of the Heritage Wharf project, and I did not expect to see job cuts by Government, as in the case of the Bermuda Department of Tourism and more job cuts in the private sector as in the case of Butterfield Bank, in spite of the guarantee given the Bank by the PLP Government to save the bank and Bermudian jobs.

Certainly I did not expect as many migrant workers on the Heritage Wharf project as there was.  You will recall that earlier this year the OBA government announced that 75% of the workers on the Heritage Wharf project would be Bermudians and 25% would be work permit holders.  In response to questions from the PLP, months later the Government announced that there are 21 work permit holders and 70 Bermudians on the project.  I asked the Minister in Parliament what is the total hours worked by Bermudians and non-Bermudians, because with these figures I can determine whether the 75 to 25 percent ratio was in fact the truth.  The Minister called the question rubbish.

 The OBA Government continues to violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement and disrespect the Trade Union Officials.  First there was the issue of the Millenium ferry, a decision was made by the Ministry of Tourism and Transport without following proper protocols with the union as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Again, just last week, the same situation occurred with the Department of Tourism without any consultation or discussion with the Bermuda Public Services Union and again with the Bermuda Union of Teachers with regards  to  shortening the school year.

The Minister of Tourism has stated that there would be no job losses at the Department of Tourism.  Yet, the staff members at the Department have been told that if they want to work with the new Tourism Authority, they would have to apply.  These same staff members have been told that if they are successful in their applications, there will be a probationary period.  This means that the “successful” applicants will no longer be government workers and they will not benefit from GEHI,  and the current benefits afforded Government workers as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Therefore, as I see it, there are some redundancy issues here.   Additionally, the Minister of Tourism has stated that those civil servants in the Department of Tourism who are not hired by the new Tourism Authority can be transferred to other government departments as there are vacancies, yet the SAGE Commission has recommended in its Interim Report that Government should freeze all vacant positions in the Civil Service.

In 1981 all the unions converged on Union Square in solidarity to fight the injustices of the UBP Government.  A lot of those same people who participated in the 1981 general strike are now or approaching their 65th birthdays and this government, and the past government, have discriminated against them by dismissing them because they have reached the age of 65.  I agree with what Rev. Tweed said on Fridaynight at the BIU’s Banquet, that the present day workers must reach back for the spirit and power of our elders to fight and eradicate any present day injustice.

As a Member of Parliament, and as a trade unionist, I have long advocated for the removal of age discrimination.     “In England age discrimination is unlawful.  We believe that as long as a worker is capable of being productive in the workplace s/he should continue to be gainfully employed.

I cannot end my address today without referring to the situation at the Ministry of Education, which I can only describe as reprehensible and shameful.  Today, we have more people employed within the Ministry of Education, with certified doctorate educational degrees than ever before in our history, yet  the Ministry of Education  states that none of these people are capable of fulfilling the position of Commissioner of Education.  In a press conference approved and written by the OBA Government, the Government insisted no qualified locals had been overlooked, and attributed the uproar over the appointment to a small group of disgruntled applicants twisting the facts to stir the public’s emotion around Bermudianisation.   To add insult to injury a spokesperson for the Ministry sought to single out and condemn those Bermudians who dared question the decision.  Are we going back to the days when freedom fighters like Rev. Monk, Rev. Tobitt and Rev. Golring were persecuted because they were fearless in their condemnation of a system that was unfair and unjust?   Remember the special test that the Bermuda medical board set for Dr. Gordon and former Premier Dr. Brown a test they have never given to anyone else.  The test was designed for them to fail in order for them not to have a licence to practice at the islands only hospital.  Is history repeating itself?

We in the PLP embrace change, but change must be executed in the right way.  One must follow with respect the proper protocols.  Obviously some of us have lost our way.  Are we still operating in a paternalistic slave society that prohibits solidarity? And discrimination against the fearless.  That’s why we need to know our history and every so often we must reread those history books so we don’t forget from whence we came.  They must stop profiling our people, particularly those of colour and those of us who joined the PLP as being incompetent, lazy and corrupt.

To whom this may concern, we will not get over this, workers in this country marched for a shorter work week.  Workers marched in the streets for overtime pay, workers marched in the streets for paid vacation, maternity leave, workers compensation, public holiday pay, pensions, health insurance and if you try to persecute those that speak out, we will march on you also.

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PLP Responds to OBA Statement on Economy - Marc Bean, JP, MP

What is also worrisome is that prior to Dec 17, 2012, Minister Bob Richards made many statements that the OBA knew exactly what it would take to turn these trends around.  

"The statement released by Minister Richards on the state of the economy was sobering, but not unexpected.  Everyone realizes that our economy is in a fragile state.  It will require more than election promises to turn these trends around.
What is also worrisome is that prior to Dec 17, 2012, Minister Bob Richards made many statements that the OBA knew exactly what it would take to turn these trends around.  All was blamed on the PLP government.  We are 8 months into the OBA Administration and they have yet to implement or even articulate a clear plan out of this economic downturn.  With debt increasing, and less jobs in the economy, we are in a crisis.  Bermudians are losing jobs every day, and we have yet to hear how Minister Richards and the Cannonier Administration intend to fix things.  Casting the blame on the PLP is not going to fix our economic woes.  In addition to steps aimed at reducing government expenditure, the OBA needs to swiftly identify other sources of revenue for the government so that our financial status is not in jeopardy.
We, the PLP, are on record as identifying other potential revenue streams and call on the OBA government to implement them to encourage investment, job creation, and consequently additional revenue for Government.  
We propose to the OBA that they -
·         Implement the recently developed Infrastructure Strategy, to identify much needed improvements or repairs to our infrastructure, that will not only enhance our overall quality of life, but create business opportunities for construction companies and jobs for Bermudian construction workers
·         Move immediately on a referendum for gaming, allowing our people to have their say and to eliminate investor uncertainty in our tourism industry
·         Develop our Exclusive Economic Zone for Sea-Bed mining (a billion dollar a year industry), Aquaculture, and Off-Shore Fishing, to create new jobs, diversify our economy, and create new revenue streams
·         Implement The Incentives for Job Makers Act, creating a clear and direct set of benefits for new businesses to establish in Bermuda, bringing with them new jobs and new opportunities
·         Designate a segment of BLDC land as an “Economic FREE Zone.” Targeting global businesses such as high value physical commodity trading and satellite operations, with incentives such as payroll and other tax exemptions
·         Leverage our Telecommunications reform and IB infrastructure to introduce global online gaming legislation, online gaming being a 35 billion per year industry
We also note that this is an opportune time for the OBA government to commission a review of Bermuda's tax structure and our existing tax rates, with a view towards long term growth. In this regard, and in spite of declining revenues, I encourage the Minister of Finance to consider a reduction in customs duties, and payroll taxes for both the employer and the employee.  While this will reduce Government revenues over the short term, it would benefit the business community by reducing cost, and likewise, it will benefit the people of Bermuda who are struggling day to day with mortgages, rents, and every day living expenses. More importantly, it will allow for the accumulation of savings and spur investments by individuals and business, thus being a catalyst for new economic growth. This new growth in our economy at these lower tax/duty rates will ensure higher government revenues over the mid and long term as a result of an expanded tax base.
We have noticed that the OBA has spared no effort to offer concessions and tax relief to corporations and big business, a policy which the PLP has and continues to support, but they have done very little to assist Mr & Mrs Bermuda in their every day challenges. Our policy suggestion will reduce the cost of living for the people of Bermuda, and also leave more money in their pockets for purposes that they themselves are best positioned to determine.
Our Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt, understands the need for urgency in this matter, and offers his assistance to Minister Richards in the spirit of bipartisanship and in realization that Bermuda comes before any specific political party."
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PLP Constituencies 29 and 30 to Host Back to School Event (Postponed until August 29th)

Constituencies 29 and 30 will be holding their 9th annual BACK TO SCHOOL EVENT

The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party today announced that the branches for Constituencies 29 and 30 will be holding their 9th annual BACK TO SCHOOL EVENT this Thursday August 29, 2013.  Starting at 5pm at Southampton Ranger's Car Park.

Constituency 29 MP Zane Desilva said, "For the 9th year in a row, we welcome the opportunity to connect with our community and encourage our young people to pursue academic excellence."

Mr Desilva continued, "There will be rides, food, games, fun castle,  and lots of back to school gifts.  We encourage our friends and neighbours to join us as we celebrate our youth and the beginning of another school year."

"We are grateful to our sponsors for their support of this positive community event," Mr. Desilva added.

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Statement by Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert on Gaming

Statement by Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert on Gaming

"The OBA's indecision and inaction on gaming have raised many questions about their motives and intentions. After months of mixed messages and poor communication to the people, it appears that the OBA has finally reached a decision.

The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party believes that the decision on whether Bermuda will introduce gaming requires education, dialogue and a view towards a plan that benefits all Bermudians and not just a select few. We look forward to the discussion and Bermudians deciding this matter via referendum."

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