Minister Roban asks an important question: "While we have been up front and open with Bermudians about our plans, the OBA has announced a troubling Cuts & Pain Commission. What will be on this ‘unelected’ Commission's chopping block? Civil service Jobs? Public education? Benefits for those in need? Assistance to families? FutureCare? DayCare? The OBA hasn't told us."
The Minister focused most of his remarks on the PLP's vision to build a fairer Bermuda that creates jobs and opportunities for all. Minister Roban:
As the global economic crisis raged, the PLP stood strong for Bermudians by training hundreds. We started the DryWall programme, the Waiter/Server programme, the Landscaping programme, the Accounting programme, the CISCO Academy for IT training, the Nail Tech programme and much more.
These programmes have upgraded the skills of hundreds of Bermudians and placed them in jobs.
We have more work to do and we have a vision to create more jobs and opportunities for Bermudians. In the next term, we will start Job Corps Bermuda which will be targeted at Bermudians aged 18-24. It will provide training, job placement, career counseling and mentoring to our young people. We will open the One Stop Career Centre - a place where Bermudians can go to access resources and get placed in a job. We will roll out the red carpet for our college graduates and provide returning graduates with mentorships and internships. Broadening the internship opportunities government is already providing from within.
We will start the New Business Initiative to connect young entrepreneurs with business financing and advice. And, we will expand the EEZ, its grants for small businesses and tax concessions to more areas that need the investment the most.
On the international business side, we have outlined a number of ideas to create more economic opportunity and bring jobs to Bermuda. We will expand the innovative Incentives for Job Makers Act that attaches immigration benefits to creating jobs for Bermudians.
We will introduce a new bond market to Bermuda to bring more opportunities in our international business sector. And, we will further establish regulations for Islamic Finance to bring new investors to the island.
While we have ideas, the OBA offers little more than an unelected Cuts & Pain Commission. Minister Roban:
These are just a few of our ideas to create jobs and opportunities for Bermudians. While we have been up front and open with Bermudians about our plans, the OBA has announced a troubling Cuts & Pain Commission. What will be on this ‘unelected’ Commission's chopping block? Civil service Jobs? Public education? Benefits for those in need? Assistance to families? FutureCare? DayCare? The OBA hasn't told us.
The OBA continues to try to sell us a fairy tale. They say that they can dramatically increase spending and cut taxes while simultaneously reducing the debt, but how!?!?!. They can't introduce all that new spending, 500 million and counting and reduce the debt without engaging in rapid and radical cuts to programmes that matter to you. We will ask for the benefit of our people our democracy. It's time for the OBA to come clean. What will their Cuts & Pain commission cut? Bermudians deserve to know.
The choice is clear. It's between rapid and radical cuts from the OBA's unelected Cuts & Pain Commission and a PLP that has a vision to build a fairer society that creates jobs and opportunities for all of our people.
Today, Minister Walter Roban asked the OBA to come clean and be honest with Bermudians about the deep and radical cuts they must have planned to fulfill their promises.
In a release last night, the OBA's Bob Richards noted that their Cuts & Pain Commission was nothing more than an efficiency group that the PLP has already implemented. If there is really no difference, why is Mr. Richards copying our idea and why isn't he praising us for implementing what he recommends?
The fact of the matter is that in order for the OBA to fulfil their promises to the Bermudian people, they are going to have to engage in deep and radical cuts. You can't increase spending and cut taxes to the tune of $500 million and also expect to reduce the debt without engaging in deep and radical cuts. So, in light of these facts, the question is, what will the OBA's Cuts & Pain Commission have on its chopping block? Will they cut salaries? Will they cut benefits? Will they cut public education? DayCare? FutureCare? The EEZ? It's time for Bob Richards and the OBA to tell us their secret spending cut plans.
He then asked how the Cuts & Pain Commission will address the transportation budget. Minister Roban:
Will our buses and ferries be able to be effectively maintained or continue the quality services they give to residents and visitors. Will infrastructure be upgraded with staff be trained under an OBA transport plan? In fact, where is their plan?
It also clear that they have no credible ideas for the future of transport and their proposals would not allow for anything resembling the forward thinking initiatives we have for the airport, ferry service, water front development, technical training , maritime and aviation or entrepreneurship to see the light of day. Bermuda would see no progress in the transport industry under the Opposition’s cuts and austerity which will hamper our development.
The PLP has a clear vision for where we want to take transportation in Bermuda and the platform makes this crystal clear. All of our initiatives prove we are Standing Strong with Bermudians and making sure our investment and work in transport serves to expand opportunity and improve the quality of life for all our residents.
Do you trust the OBA to protect FutureCare? DayCare? The EEZ? Benefits? Jobs? If not, vote for the party that has stood strong for you during the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression - vote PLP.
Since 1998, the PLP has made sure and steady progress on transportation.
Minister Walter Roban:
As Minister of Transport, I am proud of the sure and steady progress we've made in making it easier to get to, from and around Bermuda.
Think back to 1998 and the state of our transportation system. Bermuda's buses and ferries were older, less efficient and less comfortable for our passengers. Parents had to pay for their children to ride the bus and licensing your vehicle was a time consuming and painful ordeal. The cost of flying to and from Bermuda was significantly higher and we had a fewer range of airlines travelling to and from our shores. There was no National Transportation Plan.
Since that time we have made significant, steady progress in our transport infrastructure, with new buses, fast ferries and a wider range of transportation options.
Today, fast ferries carry commuters and visitors to different parts of the island quickly and safely, all while intersecting with our buses. Residents now enjoy wider transportation options and our taxi industry is undergoing steady modernization.
There is a great spirit of cooperation with the Taxi Commission as they work to address the issues important to operators and dispatch companies. There is even the prospect of a modern universal dispatch service owned and operated by stakeholders in the industry.
The transportation transformation has not long been just on our shores. Bermuda has ventured into the arena of international aircraft registration, creating a thriving and growing register that has become an important revenue earner for our country.
When it comes to the international maritime industry, Bermuda's Red Ensign designation remains in the top tier of Shipping registry with increased tonnage and ships from the world’s most prestigious companies listed on the registry.
L.F. Wade International Airport remains our window to the world, with new low cost carriers such as Air Tran and West Jet helping to reduce the cost of travelling to Bermuda.
We created the new Heritage Wharf which has brought in over 100 million dollars in revenue, meeting our expectations and earning revenue well beyond what we paid for it.
TCD has been modernized making the tedious and painful process of licensing your vehicle easier and far less time consuming.
The evidence is clear, since 1998 , The PLP has made sure and steady progress on transport.
The Minister then outlined a realistic vision for transport in the next term:
We have so much more work to do. In the next term, we will
• Attract cruise ships to Bermuda with special emphasis on locating appropriately sized ships for St. George and Hamilton
• We will expand air lift from Europe, the Caribbean, The Gulf Corporation Council Region, the Azores and Latin America creating opportunities to bring more tourists to our shores.
• We will acquire additional ferry lift to expand the service
• We will work with the minibuses to provide shuttle services that enhance and compliment public transport.
• We will create more opportunities for entrepreneurs at the airport,
• We will work with the taxi commission to reform the system,
• Install cameras on buses to make them safer and implement a fully digital taxi dispatch system.
Investigate the options for eco-friendly buses
• Develop a joint strategy to market jointly market Bermuda as a centre for maritime and aviation services globally
• Redevelop the airport
The PLP has surely and steadily moved Bermuda forward with realistic plans. We'll continue standing strong for Bermudians in the next term.
Yesterday, Minister Walter Roban exposed the OBA for attempting to muzzle the media and cover up a UBP report that called for the use of "black surrogates" and called some of us "downscale" and "less educated."
Last night, Mr. Michael Dunkley issued a statement that has received little coverage in the media to date. He said, and I quote, "I must have received the report by email but do not recall it." This came on the heels of Mr. Craig Cannonier referencing the report at yesterday's press conference noting, and I quote, "Some report that existed four years ago."
These statements came just days after Mr. Cannonier called the report a "fabrication" and after a legal threat was issued in a vain attempt to muzzle the media.
Now, earlier today, it's been revealed that Michael Dunkley commented on the report in a Royal Gazette article dated 17 September 2009.
The evidence is overwhelming. And, it's time to tell it like it is. This is a cover up, plain and simple.
The Opposition attempted to cover up the fact that they called for the use of "black surrogates" while hiding their real leader behind the scenes. They attempted to cover up the fact that the report called some of us "downscale" and "less educated." And, they attempted to cover up the fact that their whole reason for existence, the renaming and rebranding of the UBP was little more than a desperate attempt by the old UBP guard to regain power. The plan is spelled out in great detail in the report.
This is a very sad tale indeed. What more will they do to perpetuate a fraud on Bermudians? If Mr. Dunkley is indeed offended by the report as he said in September 2009, why have they remained silent as to whether or not the author of the report, Mr. Marius Penczner, is still working with them?
Dr. Grant Gibbons and Mr. Glen Smith, both now OBA politicians, have thus far refused to acknowledge whether or not they received or have seen the report. This issue should matter to every Bermudian because it speaks to the character of people that want to lead this country. Bermudians need to ask themselves what these people are really all about and what else they might be hiding.
The OBA has yet to answer whether or not Mr. Penczner remains a consultant with their party. Minister Roban went on to call for the debate.
In light of this exposed cover up and yesterday's troubling press conference by Mr. Cannonier, we believe that now, more than ever, Bermudians deserve to have their questions answered in a televised debate.
I can report that, as of this afternoon, the OBA has not responded to our notice of continued interest in a debate.
The Premier remains ready, willing and able to debate Mr. Cannonier and we reiterate our call to the OBA to sit down and hash out the details for a televised debate.
Time is running out. Let's make it happen.
We hope that the OBA Leader will confirm his participation in the debate shortly.
The Progressive Labour Party is reiterating their support for a televised debate between Premier Paula Cox and OBA leader Craig Cannonier.
Minister Walter Roban, candidate for Constituency 15 and member of the PLP's debate Organizing Committee said, "On day one of the 2012 election, Mr. Cannonier asked for us to quote 'Bring it on.' In typical OBA fashion, one day they say "Bring it on," the next day they seem to be saying, "it's not on!"
Minister Roban continued, "Premier Paula Cox has consistently expressed her enthusiasm to compare the Progressive Labour Party's investment in our people and our 10 Point Plan for Growth with the ever changing positions of the OBA. We submitted our letter to the OBA on November 28, 2012 and so far they have not even done us the courtesy of acknowledging receipt. We hope that the OBA have not lost their enthusiasm for a debate and look forward to the opportunity to debate them on the issues."
The PLP responded to the murder at the Mid Atlantic Boat Club by noting that, “We as a community, must not stand for this. It’s going to take all of us doing our part to bring crime under control. The Progressive Labour Party extends our deepest sympathies to the family of the victim.”
Pembroke East MP, the Hon. Walter Roban, also addressed the shooting, “I wish to express my horror and sadness upon hearing for the tragic shooting at the Mid Atlantic Boat Club.
“This area has seen one too many of these incidences and I am concerned about the well being of the residents who live not far from the club grounds. This club has had a long admirable history and it is so unfortunate that its members and patrons are suffering through situations like this too often.
“Anyone who has information that will be helpful to the authorities should come forward to assist.
“My sympathies go out to the family of the victim and the members, patrons and officials of the Mid Atlantic Boat Club.
Join us this Thursday, July 19th at 7.30 pm at the Devonshire Recreation Club for a special forum on strengthening our community.
Panel members from Mirrors, Crime Stoppers, Family Learning Centre and Community Action Team will be on hand to share their expertise. Premier Paula Cox, Minister Glenn Blakeney, Minister Walter Roban and Minister Michael Weeks will also atten dthe forum.
Come out, listen, and participate in the forum. Learn how we can gain the tools and knowledge so that together, we can nurture our young, and protect and strengthen our community.
Light refreshments will be served. Hope to see you there!
Once again, instead of offering solutions, the OBA offers up little more than a series of hallow attacks from a party quickly becoming known as the No Ideas Party.
Minister Walter Roban noted that an emergency shipment of nearly 100 tyres has been shipped. He went on to be completely transparent about what happened. Minister Roban:
We are a government of fairness which is why we are being fully transparent and keeping the Bermuda public and visitors informed about any potential issues to Public Transportation, the Ministry issued a statement advising of possible delays in some bus routes. These delays were caused by a problem with a parts supplier that was in no way the fault of the DPT management and staff.
The delay in receiving 300 bus tires was a result of an error by the shipping company that sent them to Philipsburg, St. Maarten instead of Philadelphia in the United States.
The tyres were expected in Bermuda on May 25th but had to be rerouted from St. Maarten to Philadelphia and on to Bermuda where they are expected to arrive on July 5th. However, once the problem of the misrouted shipment was discovered an emergency shipment of nearly 100 tires was ordered to resolve the situation. Minister Roban:
I want it to be clear that as of today, Thursday, June 21, this matter has been resolved. This short term challenge was not created by any fault of DPT management or staff but as a result of an error by the supplier. We quickly moved to solve the challenge and a solution to ensure this doesn't happen again is being put in place.
It was a simple mistake. A human mistake. And, one that was remedied as soon as it was discovered.
Minister Roban also questioned why The Royal Gazette did not offer an opportunity to respond to the erroneous and malicious claim by the opposition that DPT was in crisis. Minister Roban:
The Media Council Code of Conduct clearly states in Section 4 A, Opportunity to Reply: ‘Journalists shall ensure that stories are fair and balanced and routinely seek the views of the subject of serious critical reportage in advance of publication.’ I was afforded no such opportunity to dismiss the opposition’s absurd assertion of an infrastructure crisis in DPT. I will not allow an accusation to stand that the Government and DPT staff aren't committed to service.
The daily's true colours are once again shining through.
Today, Premier Paula Cox appointed Walter Roban Minister of Transport and announced that he was to focus on developing policies to reduce the cost of living for Bermudians.
Premier Paula Cox:
Fairness and creating opportunity for all Bermudians is a founding principle of the Progressive Labour Party. That's why I've tasked Minister Roban with reducing the cost of living for all Bermudians. He will look at fee structures and how we can provide relief for working Bermudians.
If you're looking for experienced leadership who knows how government works and who is ready to lead from day one, we encourage you to vote for Walter Roban and Glenn Blakeney.
These men understand how government works and how to deliver for their constituents.
Glenn Blakeney was first elected to public office in July 2003 in Devonshire North Central. Prior to this, he had served as the Public Relations Officer for the Progressive Labour Party. He was subsequently reelected in December 2007. Minister Blakeney is the Founder and President of Inter-Island Communications Ltd, the parent company of Hott 107.5 FM and MAGIC 102.7 FM. He is also the owner of Bermuda Soul Record Company, Ltd. Following the election in 2007, he was appointed to Cabinet as the Minister responsible for Environment & Sports. In 2011, his ministry was realigned and he now serves as the Minister of Youth, Families & Sports.
His most recent accomplishments have been to spearhead the National Sports Centre development of the Aquatics Facility, and to have piloted legislation to bring Bermuda into compliance with the World Anti-Doping Association’s commitment to Drug-Free Sports. In addition, Minister Blakeney has piloted the Human Rights Unreasonable Hardship legislation.
In Devonshire North Central, Minister Blakeney has worked tirelessly to address constituency concerns. He has had roads resurfaced in the Cedar Park, Alexandra Road and Mary Victoria Road areas of Prospect, and also worked towards having streetlights installed. A new bus shelter has been erected at Prospect Primary School which protects students from inclement weather and allows them to access the bus without having to leave the school property. Minister Blakeney is married to Gwen, and is the father of five, and grandfather of nine.
Walter Roban was first elected to the House of Assembly in December 2007. Prior to this, he spent many years in service to the Progressive Labour Party, as Secretary General, Campaign Co-Chair, Public Relations Officer, and Election Coordinator.
From 2003 – 2006, he served as a Government Senator, and was the Junior Minister of Health & Family Services, Tourism & Transport and Education & Development. In addition he served as the Junior Minister for Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety from January 2008 –June 2009. Mr. Roban was appointed to Cabinet in June 2009 where he served briefly as Minister without Portfolio before being appointed to Minister of Health. He served in this capacity until October 2010 when he was appointed Minister of Environment, Planning & Infrastructure Strategy. Following this, he was appointed Minister of Public Works, and served in this position until mid November 2011.
Mr. Roban earned a B.A. in Business & International Studies from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Master’s Degree from Birmingham University in the U.K. in International Studies, specializing in Foreign Policy Analysis, Political Risk Analysis and International History.
As the Member of Parliament for Pembroke East, he has been committed to the issues of road works, lighting, seniors’ benefits and care, security, and family matters. Mr. Roban holds regular constituency clinics where residents of Pembroke East are encouraged to come out to highlight any concerns they may have, whether parochial or national.
Mr. Roban is the father of one daughter.
Walter Roban and Glenn Blakeney retain the passion to lead, the ideas and the enthusiasm. They combine it with a deep knowledge of Bermuda and the government that helps them deliver for their constituents. If you live in Constituency #13 Devonshire North or Constituency #15 Pembroke East, you know where to mark your X -- PLP!