Continuing on the successful meetings that have been held over the past few weeks, The Progressive Labour Party will be holding two town hall meetings this week.
The first one, standing strong for Devonshire, will be held on Tuesday, December 4th at 7:00pm. This meeting will be held at Elliott Primary School and will target residents of Constituencies 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
The candidates for these constituencies are Vance Campbell, Patrice Minors, Neville Tyrrell, Anthony Richardson, and Glenn Blakeney respectively.
The second meeting, Standing Strong for Pembroke, will be held on Wednesday, December 5th at 7:00pm. To be held at Victor Scott Primary School, the featured candidates will be Walton Brown for Constituency 17, David Burt for Constituency 18, Vincent Ingham for Constituency 19, Marcus Jones for Constituency 20, and Rolfe Commissiong for Constituency 21.
We encourage all the residents of these constituencies to come out to listen to their PLP candidates and understand what has been achieved by their PLP government, and how we will continue moving Bermuda forward in our next term.
The new aquatic center represents an investment in Bermudians. It created dozens of Bermudian jobs and will result in sports tourism and help nurture our athletes for decades to come.
Youth, Family and Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney, PLP candidate for Constituency 13, Devonshire North Central, today responded to C. Anthony Francis' statement on the Aquatic Center, "Whenever the PLP invests in our people, we are attacked and obstructed by the OBA. Given their track record, we are not surprised that their candidate would criticise the Aquatic Center now. In the not too distant future, after the real benefits of this facility are realized the OBA will then say that not only was this a good investment , but that they had always supported its construction."
"This investment in Bermuda is going to pay off. It's going to pay off in sports tourism. It's going to pay off for the development of our young athletes and it will pay off for the people of Bermuda.
Here are the facts. The construction of the Aquatics Centre facility is NOT a Government construction project. The National Sports Centre is managed by a Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Minister, drawn from a broad spectrum of the community, including International Business, Banking, former Athletes and professionals. The Government allocates specific grants to the Board to develop the Aquatics Centre, and the Board takes it from there.
According to the Board of Governors, there have been NO overruns. In fact, any additional monies have been used for infrastructural enhancements and earmarked for future development and expansion at the site. Furthermore, there is a new parking lot which has been included on site allowing for over 250 vehicles to park inside the National Sports Center facility during events.
The delay in opening is the result of a belated requirement from Belco for a new electrical substation to ensure that once the pool is functioning, there would be an adequate and reliable supply of electricity for the entire Prospect area. Were it not for that, the pool would be filled and functioning now.
The Board has retained the services of an internationally renowned aquatic facilities expert, to assist with the formation of development and implementation of systems, aquatic programs and policies specifically designed to international standards for the safe and efficient management of this world class facility. They will not only ensure that the Aquatics Centre is ready for international competition, but will take the National Sports Centre to the “next level," establishing Bermuda's National Sports Centre as the showpiece for sport in this region.
We ask that the OBA focus less on attempting to mislead, misinform and misrepresent the facts and more on supporting the positive work that is being done here at the National Sports Centre."
Today, Minister Glenn Blakeney responded to last week's OBA press conference by noting that the OBA's Nandi Davis had her facts wrong and questioned why she was unable to field simple questions from reporters.
"I was shocked to watch that press conference and when the first question was asked, she turned back to Bob Richards for help," noted Minister Blakeney.
"Then, when the second question was asked, she also looked perplexed and Bob said, 'I don't want to take over these press conferences.'"
"Even in her prepared remarks, Ms. Davis got it wrong. We've expanded our prevention strategy at the Middle School level and the Sunshine League noted that while government funds remained steady, they saw a decrease in support from the private sector. Given this reality, it's surprising that Ms. Davis didn't address her concerns to major potential private sector donors.
"Mirrors just graduated another successful class. It's telling that the OBA would criticize the PLP for not expanding Mirrors even further when it was the PLP that introduced the programme!
Moreover, Minister Blakeney took great exception to Ms. Davis’ remarks about the Mirrors Programme and reminds the public that Mirrors is still very strong, citing the recent graduation of yet another cohort. In fact, as a result of Minister Blakeney's prevention strategy, allocated resources have been targeted towards a younger demographic, which has proven extremely successful at the Middle School level as well as having a very positive impact on young male students, upon being introduced as a pilot program at St. David's Primary School.
The OBA also touts another deliberately false and untrue statement, suggesting that the Sunshine League closed as a result of their reduced Government Grant. The truth is that the Sunshine League Board of Trustees had determined they were closing before They even knew that their grant would be reduced. The primary reason cited was the major difficulty they had with securing private sector funding support and that they did not want to continue operating as a 24-hour residential facility.
Today, Minister Glenn Blakeney noted that Bermuda's first Olympic-sized swimming pool will be open early next year.
I am standing in the middle of this splendid aquatics facility, and as the Minister responsible for Sports it is indeed a moment of true pride and a sense of real accomplishment. Early next year when this Olympic-sized swimming pool is filled to capacity, it will hold nearly 900,000 gallons of water!
There are many persons in our community who no doubt will take advantage of this 50-meter pool. People such as Roy-Allan Burch, who competed in the 50 meter freestyle during the London Summer Olympics; or Kiera Aiken, Julian Fletcher and Lisa Blackburn who have all set Bermuda national swimming records; or our many young Swimmers, such as the members of our Bermuda National Swim Team, whom brought home a staggering total of 12 medals from the 2012 Carifta Swimming Championships, held in the Bahamas during April of this year. That swim team set an awesome 51 personal best times and one national record, and had among them, none other than Jesse Washington, who won a total of seven medals for Bermuda.
Whilst I expect that competitive swimmers will welcome the opportunity to use this marvelous facility, it is very important to emphasize that it is not intended that it become exclusively the domain of elite athletes. In this regard, we envisage that the Aquatics Centre will become a major hub for community-based aquatic activities including recreational swimming for youth, seniors, schoolchildren and other members of our community.
A deliberate effort will be made to integrate programming to accommodate a full range of aquatic uses. I am confident that in time we will see aquatic events like platform diving, water polo and synchronized swimming gain in popularity, so that we have increasing numbers of participants as well as spectators. Moreover, I am proud to boast that our most recent Olympic diver, Ms. Katura Horton-Perinchief currently serves as a member of our National Sports Centre ‘Board of Trustees.
So there’s no better time than Now to inspire a new generation of divers with Olympic aspirations and this ‘First Class’ facility forms part of the essential infrastructure to make that happen and yet another genuine example of Governments commitment to ensuring that the Best interests of Bermuda and indeed Bermudians are first and foremost.
We look forward to opening this facility. It shows that we are standing strong for all Bermudians - including our athletes. The facility is on budget and on schedule! We look forward to countless Bermudians taking advantage of this beautiful new facility.
Today, Minister Glenn Blakeney announced that the government is donating even more musical equipment to the NDA.
Since its establishment in 2006 the NDA has encouraged academic excellence, promoted good moral character and focused on the development of musicianship for young people. They have provided our middle and high school-aged students with the opportunity to learn the fundamental skills necessary to perform with a drumline and a full marching band.
We have watched the development of the NDA through its local performances that were enhanced no doubt by the participation of their members in local camps with international instructors and in band camps overseas. Their success is such that this year, they have restructured their organization to incorporate a full scale marching band.
As Minister of Youth, Families and Sports, I am pleased today to announce that we will be donating musical equipment to the NDA to further support the development of drumming. With us today is the NDA President, Mr. Dennis Parsons, whom we publicly thank for his continuing drive to create opportunities for our young students to express their talents, widen their horizons and yes, to flourish on national and world stages.
Many of you may already be aware that Mr. Parsons began the drumline programme while he was employed at the Hamilton Centre, a community centre that is run by the Department of Youth, Sports and Recreation. The programme quickly outgrew the small premises at the Hamilton Centre, and as it transformed into the Bermuda National Drumline Academy it moved into a new location at the Berkeley Institute.
Last year the Department of Youth, Sports and Recreation loaned some equipment to the Academy so it could continue to work with young people in Bermuda. This year the Department has chosen to provide additional equipment to further support the development of drumming through the NDA.
This is what standing strong for Bermudians looks like. It's about supporting Bermuda and Bermudians. We're proud to support the arts in Bermuda. Bermuda National Drumline Academy is a positive activity for our young people and we're glad to be standing strong with them.
In response to yesterday's Royal Gazette story on working families, Minister Glenn Blakeney noted, “I was shocked to read what I read in today’s paper. The fact of the matter is that the PLP has done far more for Bermuda’s struggling mothers than any government in our history.
“We are the party that introduced the landmark DayCare programme that is helping mothers. We are the party that built more affordable housing than any government in history. We are the party that increased aid.
“Once again, what we’re seeing from the OBA is all attacks – but no ideas and no solutions. They promise vague increases in social spending, but, they don’t tell us what they’re going to do or how they’re going to pay for it!
“This is yet another example of the OBA attacking and complaining, but, offering no solutions and no ideas.”
“The PLP Government and particularly the ministry will continue to provide the necessary levels of assistance that complement the myriad of social programs available in support of families such as the Afterschool Program and various other support services through the Department of Child and Family Services.”
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!
The PLP has always been the party that stood strong against discrimination. We fought to end segregation and bring equal rights for all races. Our fight for equality continues today.
That's why we're proud to be moving forward on legislation to ensure that the elderly and members of the LGBT community are protected from discrimination. Minister Glenn Blakeney:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lead the debate on the take note motion I put to this Honourable House on June 29th 2012, namely “That this Honourable House take note of the merits of introducing an Equality Act which will establish measures protecting persons from age discrimination, and discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation, particularly in circumstances relating to employment, accommodation and the procurement of goods and services.”
Mr. Speaker, This motion speaks to the principle of equality for all. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”.
Mr. Speaker, that quote is as relevant now, in the 21st century as it was in 1963 when it was penned by Martin Luther King Jr. sitting in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.
Mr. Speaker this Government does not condone injustice and discrimination in race, gender, religious beliefs, place of origin, age or because of a person’s sexual orientation. However unlike the stated first four grounds of discrimination there is currently no legislation to protect persons from the latter two.
Mr. Speaker, young, old, black, white, Asian, European, African, persons with disabilities, and persons who are gay and lesbian - Bermuda’s population is diverse. And no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity and this Government intends to progress equality for all by preventing discrimination against all classes of people.
On Friday, we gave the opportunity for all MPs to speak out on this landmark civil rights act that will ensure that all Bermudians are treated fairly and have access to all of the opportunities that living in this island provides.
The PLP believes that a landmark piece of legislation to ensure equal rights for all Bermudians is worthy of a discussion in the House of Assembly. The OBA disagrees.
Instead of taking a stand on the issue, they're attacking us for wanting to discuss it in advance of passage!
If they don't feel a discussion is warranted, then, we trust that they will exercise their rights not to debate the motion!
But, we do think the public deserves to know where the OBA stands on equal rights.
The PLP stands in favour of equal rights for all Bermudians. We are the party that fought against segregation and historically supported equal rights for all. That commitment continues to this day and it's why we're proud to be advancing this motion.
And the OBA? They don't even think it's worth discussing.
In celebration of International Women's Day, the PLP has announced that we are offering $500 scholarships for girls to pursue extracurricular activities.
This scholarship is open to all Bermudian girls within the local primary, middle, and senior schools. Grants will be made up to $500 per child and are available for local extracurricular activities only.
Minister Glenn Blakeney:
Extracurricular activities also helps young girls with character building, teaches them lifelong skills, saves some who might otherwise drop out of school, and helps others develop appropriate social skills.
The PLP believes in investing in Bermudians and creating opportunities. During these tough global economic times, we're surely and steadily moving Bermuda forward.
If you're interested in applying for a scholarship, please contact Ms. Deborah Bradford at the Department of Human Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 294-9734 for information on obtaining the application form and other inquiries.
The deadline for receipt of the application and supporting documents is June 30, 2012.