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Bermuda Day: A Time to Embrace Our Heritage

22 May 2017

PLP Statement: Bermuda Day a Time to Embrace Our Heritage
Statement by Opposition Leader E. David Burt, JP, MP

On behalf of my Opposition colleagues, it is my sincere pleasure to extend Bermuda Day greetings to all in our community.

Bermuda Day and Heritage Month is an annual opportunity to reflect on our culture and what truly matters to us. The concept of Bermuda Day arose out of one of the darkest and divisive eras of our recent history - the 1977 riots. It has become a time to embrace our diverse heritage and to celebrate our lives. The theme for this year’s Heritage Month, “Our Sporting Heritage,” allows us to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship; a spirit of togetherness, teamwork and determination.

As is the case with team players, Bermudians are at our best when we are moving towards a common goal. This Bermuda Day let us remember that by working together for a fair, just and equitable Bermuda we can reduce the divide that plagues our island. With this shared vision, we can make everyday life better for all our Bermuda family.

Let us take today to celebrate our community’s victories and learn from our losses. One cannot exist without the other and they both form the threads that tie our community together.

As we celebrate Bermuda this Heritage Month, I wish you and your family a safe, happy and sporting Bermuda Day 2017.

PLP Passes Landmark Cannabis Decriminalisation Bill, Minority OBA Government Loses Control Of the House, PLP Tables Motion of No Confidence

20 May 2017

PLP Statement: PLP Passes Landmark Cannabis Decriminalisation Bill, Minority OBA Government Loses Control Of the House, PLP Tables Motion of No Confidence

Tonight, the Progressive Labour Party won two major victories for the people. Since 2014, the PLP has fought to decriminalise simple possession of small amounts of cannabis and, despite opposition from members of the OBA Cabinet, the bill passed. Then, over the objections of the Minister of Finance, the PLP successfully passed a bill to reduce Bermuda’s Statutory Interest Rate from 7% to 3.5%.

Over the last year, two founding members of the OBA voted with their feet and reduced the OBA to a minority government without a mandate to govern.

Tonight, two of those same OBA MPs voted against their former party. In fact, they voted against the OBA twice - including on a significant measure that will protect our young people from gaining unnecessary criminal records.

Today’s votes have revealed that the minority OBA government no longer has control of Parliament. Having lost the support of even their founding members, it is clear that it is time to take it to the people and for Bermudians to decide the direction of Bermuda’s future.

Bermuda can do better than the failed minority OBA government. That's why we have introduced this motion of no confidence. It's time to put the power in the hands of the people and let them choose a government that puts Bermudians first.

OBA's Limited Ideas are Limiting Opportunities for Bermudians

18 May 2017

PLP Statement: OBA's Limited Ideas are Limiting Opportunities for Bermudians
PLP Spokesperson for Labour & Workforce Development Rolfe Commissiong, MP

The OBA announcement of a "National Talent Pool" for Bermudians seeking construction work is not without merit, however it is yet another reminder of the OBA's failure to keep their promise to create 2,000 jobs for Bermudians; they lack a coherent plan to create jobs and possess a seeming inability to grasp that Bermudians need work in fields beyond construction.

Job losses are still mounting in international business and among white collar professionals, yet the OBA have exacerbated the problem by raising the cost of doing business in Bermuda, failing to diversify their economy and failing to invest in the training and development of Bermudians. Furthermore, they ignored calls from the PLP to produce a workforce development strategy, identify upcoming projects and opportunities for Bermudians such as those related to the America's Cup. This would have allowed Bermudians to know what jobs would be available and for training to be put in place to ensure that our people were prepared to fill those jobs. This was ignored.

The OBA's limited ideas are limiting Bermudian opportunities and as a result Bermudian jobs continue to shrink under the OBA while non-Bermudian jobs continue to grow.

The PLP believes that we must:

- Develop and implement a National Skills Strategy, with human resource assessment playing a key role in determining the current and future occupational needs of our economy.

- Introduce an Office of Economic Diversification to take the politics and red tape out of inward investment, introduce new economic pillars and create new opportunities for Bermudians to be hired, trained and advance in careers.

- Reverse OBA policies that have driven up the cost of doing business in Bermuda, jeopardised jobs and stifled entrepreneurship.

- Introduce a skills registry as a key component of the National Skills Strategy in order to track the skills that are available on island. Crucially, this register will also serve as a database of Bermudians living and working overseas and their respective skill levels who may be looking for an opportunity to return home in order to take their rightful place in the workforce.

Bermuda can do better and it will do better with a change of priorities and a change in approach that will come with a change in government.

Dellwood's Heritage Showcase a Memorable Performance

17 May 2017

Dellwood's Heritage Showcase a Memorable Performance
Diallo Rabain

Last night, joined by the Opposition Leader David Burt, I had the privilege of attending the Dellwood Middle School’s Heritage Month Showcase.

With top class performances from the students, including musical selections by the island’s only public school guitar class, it truly was an honour to experience our children’s talent and their dedication to our culture.

The students’ musical and theatrical interpretation of the life story of Mary Prince, an enslaved Bermudian credited as the first known black woman to relate a slave narrative, was timely for Heritage Month.

The showcase covered from Mary Prince’s birth up until the writing of her story and its significance in shaping and passing the Slavery Abolition Act by the British Parliament in 1834. When the showcase is performed again in June, I urge all to attend. The students and staff should be supported in their plans to film and distribute the showcase throughout our public schools.

Our hats go off to the staff and students of Dellwood Middle school for a memorable performance that was informative, educational and entertaining.

Rising Canadian Tourism Doesn't Help the Jobless

16 May 2017

Rising Candian Tourism Doesn't Help the Jobless
PLP Spokesperson for Tourism & Entrepreneurship Jamahl Simmons, JP, MP.

Following today's statement by Minister Fahy regarding Canadian tourism, it is clear that while one Bermuda is celebrating these numbers another Bermuda is beginning to ask, "Where are the jobs?"

OBA policies and direction led to 48 and 49 year lows in air arrivals in 2014 and 2015 and the tourism sector continues to see Bermudian jobs decline, while jobs held by non-Bermudians increased.

In 2012, the OBA promised 2,000 jobs, however, since that time Bermuda has lost more than 2,000 jobs including 318 hotel jobs.

When your grades move from an "F" to a "D" that is encouraging, but when increased tourism numbers aren’t bringing with them work for unemployed Bermudians, we should all be concerned.

Every Bermudian that lost their job last year in the tourism industry has to wonder why they aren't seeing the results that the OBA is boasting about.

As they try to pay their bills and keep up with the cost of living, they have to wonder why they aren't seeing the results the OBA is boasting about.

The reality is that while one Bermuda, the elite and privileged have many reasons to think things are getting better, the rest of us are being left out and left behind in a Bermuda that is working less and less for Bermudians.

The BTA and the removal of politics from tourism is something we support. A more collaborative process and better input and consultation with stakeholders is something we believe in and as the government we will continue to facilitate. It is unfortunate however, that the OBA doesn’t seem to care that Bermudian jobs are being lost and that non-Bermudian jobs are the only ones experiencing growth. They seem more interested in taking credit for the work of the BTA than in keeping their promise to create 2000 jobs for Bermudians.

Bermuda can do better and it will do better when it has a PLP government that will fight for Bermudian jobs and opportunities.

St George's Candidates Speak Out About Area Neglect

16 May 2017

St. George's Candidates Speak out Area Neglect

PLP candidates for St. Georges are today expressing concern at what they are describing as "neglect," on the Wellington Back Road area.

PLP Candidate for Constituency #2 Kim Swan said, "Despite being highlighted by the OBA in the leadup to the last election, to date, little attention has been shown to the Wellington Back Road area where vegetation & shrubbery overgrowth on the railway trail and former golf course has made the area unsightly and a prime target for illegal dumping. In addition, the once golf clubhouse area on the boundary of constituency #1 & #2 remains an eyesore and is on the doorstep of seniors who live in the nearby Anchorage Apartments."
PLP Candidate for Constituency #1 Senator Renee Ming remarked, "Many of the residents we talk to in this area are deeply concerned at how this area has been neglected and worry that while it is already impacting on their quality of life it may also affect property values. We want to highlight these concerns and do our part to address them as quickly as possible,"

Kim Swan added, "This matter has been reported to both the Parks Department and Works and Engineering with the hope that there will be a clean up and clearing out in the first instance and the area being placed on a regular maintenance timetable."

Senator Ming concluded, "This, like so many other issues requires leadership and action. For too long when it comes to issues that matter in the East End, whether its unemployment, pathways to status, attempts to shut down Lamb Foggo, crime in the Old Town or illegal dumping, there has been silence from those paid by the taxpayer to provide leadership and a voice to the people. St. George's deserves better. We will continue to ensure that St. George's is represented and that there is a voice for the people who live and call the east end home."

Congratulations to Bahamian Opposition on their Landslide Victory

14 May 2017

PLP Statement: Congratulations to Bahamian Opposition on their Landslide Victory

The winds of change are blowing across the Caribbean.

In December in the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Opposition People’s Democratic Movement (PDM)
won a convincing victory and Premier Rufus Ewing lost his seat. And, just last week in the Bahamas, the Opposition Free National Movement (FNM) won a landslide victory with Prime Minister Perry Christie losing a seat which he held for nearly 40 years. The PLP conveys congratulations to the FNM for their stunning victory.

In both elections, governing parties were vexed with struggling economies and immigration concerns. Here in Bermuda, we see those same issues mirrored as the divide between the wealthy and the working class grows considerably under an OBA government.

The OBA failed to deliver their promised 2,000 new jobs for Bermudians. They broke their promises to emphasise public education and job training. And, by doing so, they made the gap between the two Bermudas grow even wider.

Bermudians know that Bermuda can do better than they’re doing under the OBA. We are confident that the winds of change will blow across Bermuda when the failed minority OBA government chooses to stop stalling and take it to the people by calling a general election.

OBA Allergic to Both Facts and the Economic Pain felt by most Bermudians

10 May 2017

OBA Allergic to Both Facts and the Economic Pain felt by most Bermudians

It seems as if Bob Richards and the minority OBA Government are both ignoring the facts and economic pain felt by many Bermudians.

Bob Richards is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. The fact is that in the third and fourth quarter of 2016, GDP fell by 1.8% and 2.4% respectively. A recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Bermuda’s economy has re-entered a recession and Bob Richards cannot redefine the laws of economics.

Bermuda can do better than it's doing under the OBA.

Under the OBA, the divide between the two Bermudas is increasing. The Minister’s disconnect from the economic reality that most Bermudians are feeling could be that in the OBA's Bermuda, things are going well and the haves are getting ahead. But, in the rest of Bermuda, Bermudians are struggling to find work as Bermudian jobs disappear, falling behind due to the ever-increasing cost of living, and they are fearful of a future that could include the OBA bringing back Pathways to Status.

If the OBA government cannot even realise that the economy is not working for the majority of Bermudians, how can they be trusted to build an economy that works for you?

OBA Should Condemn and Stop Funding Gutter Politics

5 May 2017
OBA Should Condemn and Stop Funding Gutter Politics
By: Liana Hall

In 2007, Premier Michael Dunkley committed the party he then led - the United Bermuda Party - to a clean campaign. He decried gutter politics and said they had no place in Bermuda. Today, Bermudians woke up to our country littered with signs personally attacking PLP leaders.

Over the past 5 years, the OBA has worsened the divide in Bermuda. Today, more than ever, there are two Bermudas - one for the wealthy and connected and another Bermuda for the rest of us. These personal attacks only serve to divide our community even further.

In the last general election, the OBA denied receiving campaign funding from developer Nathan Landow. Through the Jetgate scandal, the OBA was forced to admit they did in fact receive $350,000 from Mr. Landow, funds they claimed were used to pay campaign workers for “constituency drops, signage and the team on the ground.” It seems the OBA are up to the same dirty tricks as last time.

We will not be intimidated by the OBA’s desperate campaigning. Bermudians needs positive solutions - like Vision 2025 - that will bring our community together and build a better Bermuda for Bermudians. It is sad that the OBA has chosen to launch their campaign with negative litter on our streets, but the PLP will continue to take our positive message for a better future for Bermudians to the doorsteps across our island.

Attempts to Intimidate Activists Will Not Stop Us

1 May 2017

PLP Statement: Attempts to Intimidate Activists Will Not Stop Us
PLP Honoured to March with Unionists on International Workers' Day

This May Day, our PLP parliamentarians and members were honoured to march beside union leaders,
members and activists to mark International Workers’ Day. Fundamental rights that we take for
granted today would not have been attained without union workers fighting for them. However, in
Bermuda, where workers’ leaders are under attack, the fight for social justice must rage on.

In the rest of the world, May Day honours union demonstrators who died in a police attack during a
peaceful protest. The irony is that this May Day in Bermuda, our union leaders were dragged before
the court for participating in a peaceful protest, where they were attacked without provocation by

The PLP continues to be angered that no one has taken responsibility or been brought to justice for
the pepper spraying of innocent Bermudians, including the elderly. In these two Bermudas, attackers
are protected and victims are persecuted. This is a disgusting attempt to silence and shut down those
fighting for transparency.

Opposition Leader David Burt: “The Progressive Labour Party is just that, a labour party; one that
was founded out of the movement for workers and we will always stand in solidarity with them. A
whitewashed peer report and attempts to intimidate activists through unjust persecution will not
silence us or stop us from demanding answers. For the last five years, we have seen Bermudian
workers ignored and marginalised by the OBA Government. Now, they are being persecuted for
daring to stand against this. Our union leaders support the workers, and the PLP supports them.”