Today, The Progressive Labour Party asked why Craig Cannonier and Grant Gibbons are hiding from the people?
Craig Cannonier was offered the chance to appear alongside Premier Paula Cox on Let's Talk last night. He declined. He has repeatedly declined opportunities to appear on The Sherri Simmons show. Dr. Grant Gibbons recently declined an education debate with Dame Jennifer Smith. Ms Nandi Davis has failed to respond to a debate challenge from PLP Constituency#2 candidate Renee Ming. What are they hiding?
When the OBA was asked questions about the secret plan that called for the use of "black surrogates" and called some of us "downscale" and "less educated," Mr. Cannonier stormed out of the room! If he can't answer questions now, how can we expect him to answer the tough questions if he becomes Premier of this country?
Now, the OBA refuses to answer questions about what their Cuts & Pain Commission is really all about. Who will be on it? What will be on the chopping block? In order for them to meet their promise to provide massive new spending and slash the debt, this commission will have to recommend deep and radical cuts that will hurt working and middle class Bermudians.
The Progressive Labour Party has held town halls all over Bermuda during this election campaign. All our candidates have had an opportunity to dialogue with the people of Bermuda. Conversely, the OBA has run a campaign based on scripts and expensive commercials, with no opportunity for exchange. And when the media dared to ask Mr. Cannonier a question that was 'off-script', he stormed off the stage.
What type of government will the OBA be if elected? Will Mr. Cannonier avoid the media at any cost as he has done in this campaign? Will their candidates be barred from participating on different shows?
It's telling that the OBA won't answer your questions. Because, they don't want you to know what they're really all about.
Today's footage of the OBA's Craig Cannonier storming out of a press conference is extremely troubling. Bermudians need to ask themselves whether Mr. Cannonier has the right temperament to lead our country.
Bermudians deserve answers to the very serious questions that have been raised about the OBA. For Mr. Cannonier to fly off the handle and storm out of a press conference, abandoning his colleagues, makes you wonder what does he have to hide? Several sources have confirmed that the report exists and said that "black surrogates" should have been used in place of white candidates and that they blamed their 2007 election loss in certain constituencies on "downscale" and "less educated" voters.
What we found most troubling, however, is that in today's press conference, Mr. Cannonier said, and we quote, "some report that existed four years ago." Last week, Mr. Cannonier said the report was a "fabrication." Now, he is saying that the report existed four years ago? Which is it? Did the report exist or was it a fabrication? It's time for Craig Cannonier, Glen Smith, Michael Dunkley and Grant Gibbons to come clean.
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."
Today, Premier Paula Cox reiterated her willingness to engage the OBA's Craig Cannonier in a debate.
"I'm ready, willing and able to discuss the pertinent issues of the day with Mr. Cannonier," noted Premier Paula Cox. "Our party has stood strong for Bermudians during the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. We passed the landmark FutureCare initiative that helps our seniors with affordable doctor's visits and prescription drugs after a lifetime of hard work. We passed DayCare to help our working families. And, we are the ones who passed the EEZ which provides Bermudian owned businesses in the areas that need it most support.
"I'm looking forward to talking about our Ten Point Plan for Growth that includes the introduction of Job Corps Bermuda, the One Stop Career Center and the revitalisation of the Hamilton Waterfront. I'm looking forward to discussing the issues of the day in front of the entire country."
A PLP spokesman added, "Bermudians deserve to know where we stand on the issues. As we lay out our vision for Bermuda, we look forward to hearing how the OBA plans to increase spending, cut taxes, lower the debt and fund their $500 million program. The OBA's plans just don't add up and we look forward to the Premier challenging Mr. Cannonier on the OBA's real agenda."
The OBA's so called plans for Bermuda are a hodge podge of tax cuts and spending increases. It's a fairy tale plan that just doesn't add up!
The Progressive Labour Party notes that in the interestingly timed OBA Partial platform release today there are no new initiatives and no new ideas - just recycled UBP talking points. We would invite the public to review this document and ‘do the math’ -they'll find that the OBA plan just doesn't add up!
They will find out that it is very difficult to on one hand increase government spending, and on the other hand give huge and irresponsible tax cuts. The OBA plan just doesn't add up!
The OBA is playing catch up. The OBA rushed out this document in response to the Premier's 10 point plan, which is a realistic how to guide to see Bermuda through the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.
We are confident that the Bermudian electorate appreciate the fact that we've stood strong for them during these difficult economic times. Programmes such as FutureCare, DayCare, and the Economic Empowerment Zones, instituted by their PLP government have made a difference to thousands of Bermudians.
We are confident that the residents of Loughlands, Perimeter Lane, and HarbourView Village housing developments appreciate what a PLP government has done for them by providing them quality affordable housing. And, we are confident that parents and students in our public school system appreciate the hard work being done to ensure that our students receive a first class education.
The OBA document today contains little more than recycled UBP ideas, policies and initiatives already underway. It just doesn't add up! You can't cut taxes and increase spending while magically balancing the budget. They seem to be placing pandering to the voting public ahead of realism and practicality. Their vague plans just don't add up!
We place little stock in proposals from a Party that says “it has to be all about austerity” and won't tell us what they plan to cut.
We look forward to presenting even more of our vision for the future up against the OBA. We're confident that when voters compare the OBA's fairy tale plans with a realistic vision for our future, that they will make the right choice.
After watching Craig Cannonier fly off the handle with an angry rant and after considering the facts, Bermudians need to ask ourselves if Craig Cannonier is really ready to lead this country.
The Truth Hurts! Consider the facts:
Fact: The OBA's island wide EEZ would end special privileges for businesses in Somerset, NE Hamilton and St. George's.
Fact: Bob Richards told the House of Assembly in regards to EEZ grants that, "The whole idea of grants, to me, is unacceptable. It needs to be removed."
Fact: Bob Richards said in regards to EEZ grants, "No, no, no. This is a huge moral hazard."
Fact: OBA MPs voted against authorising grants from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to businesses in the EEZ
The OBA may get angry - but that's because the truth hurts! The truth is, they said they would systematically destroy the EEZ by ending the grants and ending the special privileges for businesses in the Economic Empowerment Zones.
The PLP founded the EEZ to provide support to our small businesses in North East Hamilton. We expanded it to the East and West ends of the Island; and, it's working. Four businesses just opened shop in St. George's in the EEZ and enjoy EEZ benefits. Dozens more Bermudian owned businesses in NE Hamilton and Somerset have also benefited. We've seen companies move and expand into the EEZ to provide more economic activity in these targeted areas.
The OBA may get upset and accuse the PLP of lying, but the transcripts from the House of Assembly do not lie. The party of no ideas and no solutions would be advised to tell the Bermudian people where they stand on the challenges that we as a country face instead of trying to rewrite history and run away from their record.
Today, Premier Paula Cox announced that a next generation leader, Makai Dickerson, will challenge the no ideas, no solutions OBA Leader in Constituency #12, Devonshire South Central.
Mr. Dickerson has spent most of his young adult life as a spokesman for the youth in various capacities. He typifies the phrase, “man of the community”, as he has been involved in numerous organizations. He has been the Captain of Willow Cuts, K & K Gombey Troupe, the Chairman of West End Youth Community Club, has served on the Public Vehicle Licensing Board, and has volunteered as a Residential Performance Coach for the Mirrors Program.
Currently, Mr. Dickerson sits on the Sandy’s Parish Council, is an Executive Board Member of the Bermuda Youth Council, and is an Executive Member of the Bermuda Junior Tourism Board.
Educated at West End Primary School, Sandy’s Secondary School, CedarBridge Academy, and Gerry Parker High School in Jacksonville, Florida, Mr. Dickerson is now employed in Bermuda’s hospitality sector. In this capacity he serves as an ambassador for Bermuda at every opportunity. He is a staunch supporter of the new Bermuda Tourism Brand and would like to play an integral role in the revitalization of the Bermuda Tourism industry.
Mr. Makai Dickerson is looking forward to meeting the residents of Constituency 12, Devonshire South Central and hearing their views on the issues that concern them.
The Progressive Labour Party strongly encourages the voters of Devonshire South Central to stand strong with Makai Dickerson on Election Day!
After the shameful display over the last few days, every Bermudian should ask, can we really trust Michael Dunkley, Craig Cannonier and the OBA?
In the Senate today, Senator David Burt pointed out exactly how the OBA has mislead the Bermudian people. Senator Burt:
As the Junior Minister of Finance, the ministry which has responsibility for the Government Employee Health Insurance Scheme (or GEHI), I speak to today to clear up the false and irresponsible accusations that have been made against the Government of Bermuda by the Shadow Minister of Health, for the One Bermuda Alliance - Senator Michael Dunkley.
Madam President, it was on Sunday, July 8th that the One Bermuda Alliance sent out a statement to the Media in the name of Senator Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health entitled, “Government failure to pay costs thousands of civil servants dental insurance coverage.”
This extraordinary accusation launched via the press continued to make more false claims. The very first line of the statement made the following declaration, “Dental insurance coverage for Government employees has been suspended because the Government has failed to pay the premium for their coverage.”
Madam President, please allow me to dissect that sentence. The first part of that sentence states that “Dental insurance coverage for Government for employees has been suspended.” Madam President, this would under normal circumstances be a serious matter, worthy of public debate, if it were true. However, Madam President, the Premier & Minister of Finance, GEHI, and BF&M the service provider have all refuted this claim. In fact, BF&M released a statement yesterday stating that “all Government employees have been, and will continue to be, fully covered for dental treatment provided under the policy.”
Madam President, my statement today is not a time to ask questions of the Opposition, as I seek only to make the Government’s position clear on this issue, but one must wonder exactly who is feeding the OBA this information. I think it is fair for the people of this country to expect that when members of this chamber speak to the public, whether it is in this chamber or outside, they are speaking fact and not fiction.
At NO TIME was “Dental insurance coverage for Government for employees has been suspended,” as Senator Dunkley claimed. Never! Madam President, I can confirm that neither Senator Dunkley or anyone from the OBA checked with GEHI or the Ministry of Finance to verify these baseless accusations, and they apparently didn’t check with the service provider BF&M in any official capacity given that BF&M have flatly rejected their claim that coverage was suspended.
But Madam President, before I digress, I would like to move to the 2nd part of the first sentence of the statement in question, that states, “Government fell more than 90 days behind in premium payments to the insurer.”
Madam President, this is yet another false allegation which was again refuted yesterday by BF&M in its release saying, “GEHI premiums are paid up to date”. Madam President, why the different stories, why the rush by Senator Dunkley and the OBA to make a political point without checking the facts?
Senator Dunkley was on Bermuda Broadcasting News last night saying, “We did our research”. However, Madam President, the facts don’t match with their “research”. Their reckless accusation is further invalidated by the statement from BF&M which appears in today’s Royal Gazette which states, “the company had not yet applied the most recent premium payment, which was made to BF&M within 30 days of being billed.”
So Madam President, on one side we have a reputable company in Bermuda issuing a statement saying that“GEHI premiums are paid up to date”, and that payments were “made to BF&M within 30 days of being billed.” And on the other side, you have Senator Dunkley stating that, “Government fell more than 90 days behind in premium payments to the insurer”. Madam President, it would seem that the OBA owe the Government, 10,000 GEHI Members, their families, retirees and the Bermudian people an explanation.
This claim has been refuted by the Government and has been refuted by the service provider, but Senator Dunkley continues to promote this falsehood. Yesterday’s Royal Gazette reported that Senator Dunkley and the OBA “stood by its claim Government has fallen into arrears with premium payments”
Madam President, the Bermudian public deserve to know on what basis did Senator Dunkley and the OBA make that accusation. As Senator Dunkley didn’t check with GEHI, one would assume that he got the information from BF&M. However if BF&M is rejecting his accusations, then one must assume that if he didn’t make up this claim about the Government being “90 days behind in premium payments”, he will let the Bermudian public know why he made these accusations which have now been disproven. Could it possibly be that the “BF&M Sources” that the Opposition Leader referenced in his statement to the media served as Senator Dunkley and the OBA’s source? Madam President, I would hate to think that rumours from “sources” rise to the level of a basis for a public accusation, especially when we are talking about people’s healthcare coverage. One would imagine that before making such a claim the Opposition would get official confirmation prior to peddling rumour as fact. However, Madam President, in the rush to make a political point, Senator Dunkley and the OBA went with rumour and got it wrong.
Madam President, that is not the end because in my view there is a more serious matter at play here, and that is the issue of using private records for political gain.
After laying waste to the OBA's misleading statements, the Senator closed by noting an even more alarming error. Instead of destroying private health care information upon receipt, the OBA used it for political gain. Senator Burt:
Madame President, as part of the upfront payment legislation, insurers are required to provide health service providers with information on insured persons, what they are insured for, and how much the insurance will cover for each treatment. From the list leaked to the Royal Gazette by Senator Dunkley and the One Bermuda Alliance, it looks like the information is taken from BF&M’s portal which will go into live use on August 1, 2012, and will be made available to each service provider. In this case, it appears that a dentist has printed portal information and given it to Senator Dunkley. Madame President, although this is a test system by BF&M, the original access to the information is legitimate as it emanates from a service provider; but what this raises is the serious issue of privacy protection. Health service information should and must remain private, and the use of that information for political purposes is unethical.
You have a right to have your data protected. The OBA and their source violated your privacy and your trust. Do you believe that's putting Bermuda first?
Today, the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) called on One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Leader Craig Cannonier to publicly apologize for Michael Dunkley's false comments about GEHI Dental Coverage.
On Sunday Michael Dunkley said, “Dental insurance coverage for Government employees has been suspended because the Government has failed to pay the premium for their coverage.”
We now know that statement to be completely false, and we call on the OBA to retract the statement and apologise for the unnecessary alarm caused to civil servants.
"Craig Cannonier claims to be in charge of the OBA and the buck stops with him," said PLP Chairman Anthony Santucci. "BF&M rejected Michael Dunkley's false and reckless attack. The BPSU said they've heard no complaints.
"The fact of the matter is, Michael Dunkley is so thirsty to regain power that he lied to Bermudians and put at risk the private information of innocent civil servants in the process. This is frightening! The PLP will wait to see if the OBA leader will take his Deputy to task for his irresponsible and reckless comments."
Craig Cannonier may talk the good government talk, but, when it comes to submitting his required registry of interests to the public, he's 240 days late.
In Senate debate on Wednesday, Senator Jonathan Smith noted, "240 days after he was elected to the House of Assembly, Craig Cannonier has failed to ensure that his register of interest declaration is publicly available. All 35 of his colleagues have posted their registries online on parliament.bm, but, not Craig Cannonier."
The PLP further noted, "Craig Cannonier is all talk and no action. He hasn't articulated any plans or policies for Bermuda. And, now, we learn that he hasn't even filed his registry of interests! So much for his commitment to transparency! Bermudians are watching and we know that his actions speak much louder than his words."