[Updated] Speculation increases that Finance Minister and Deputy Leader Paula Cox will announce her leadership challenge this morning [Aug 5], after invitations were issued to media to hear an “important announcement”.
With Premier Dr Ewart Brown stepping down the vacancy of PLP Leader, and therefore the position of Premier, becomes available in October and delegates will select a new leader. Minister Cox would become the second candidate, as Sandy’s MP Terry Lister has already announced his intentions to seek leadership.
Minister Cox was first elected to the Bermuda Parliament in October 1996. Prior to becoming Finance Minister, she was Minister of Education & Development and Minister of Labour, Home Affairs & Public Safety. A qualified lawyer, Minister Cox served as Attorney General from 2003 – 2006. She is the daughter of the late Eugene Cox, the former PLP Finance Minister, and the sister of Bermuda Monetary Authority CEO Jeremy Cox.
Minister Cox would be seen by many as launching in a favourable position as her position of Deputy Premier makes her the defacto frontrunner. Should she announce, party insiders tell us she can be expected to garner the support of many of the party stalwarts.
Updates To Follow:
Update 10:00am: We are at the press conference now at the Arboretum, which is about to begin. It is a far larger affair then Mr Lister’s rollout, with dozens of people in attendance, green/white balloons, tents set up, Shine Hayward playing the sax, custom printed brochures etc.
Update 10:04am: Strong party support has been shown, MPs and Senators have just started to assemble behind the speaking podium. Those present include: Minister Walter Roban, Minister Neletha Butterfield, Minister Michael Scott, Minister Elvin James, Minister Derrick Burgess, MP Wayne Furbert, Senator Marc Bean, Attorney General Senator Kim Wilson, and former Premiers & now MPs Alex Scott and Dame Jennifer Smith.
Update 10:06am: After an introduction by Senator Walton Brown, Paula Cox officially announces she will seek the leadership, to a loud applause of those in attendance. Says she stands on the shoulders of those who came before her and mentions names including Dame Lois, Frederick Wade, and her father. Says it will not be “politics as usual”, says she intends to combine a team to be “responsive to your needs, and never forget we are the people’s service”.
Update 10:15am: Says this “next wave of PLP Government” has to recap some of the “dizzing heights of the 1998 aura”. Finished speech, received receptive response from audience. Starts accepting questions….first and only question refers to the “cog in the wheel” comment, responds by saying she is part of a team. Press conference ends. She will be on the ‘Cromwell and Guests’ radio talk show on ZBM FM 89.1 at 11am.
Update 11:03am: Minister Glenn Blakeney, who was not in attendance, releases an emailed statement endorsing Minister Cox.
Update 11:50am: Photos added, click to enlarge
Update 1:42pm: On the brochures available 12 objectives were listed which Minister Cox says will assist Bermuda in “Moving Forward Together“ (her campaign slogan). They are listed here.
Update 2:38pm: Full text of Minister Cox`s speech below:
A couple of days ago I submitted a letter to the Party Chairman and to the Party Leader advising that I intended to be a candidate in the upcoming Party leadership election.
Today I publicly affirm my decision to contest the election for the position of the Leader of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party.
I stand here today to announce my desire to serve the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party as its next Party Leader and to lead our country as the next Premier of Bermuda.
When we first became Government in November 9, 1998, we excited the imagination of the country. It was felt to be our time. I remember saying on the Cabinet grounds on November 10, 1998 that the air smelled better, and that even the French fries tasted better, post a PLP Government. So expectations were high and we were excited.
Since that time, some of our veteran Members are no longer with us, but they will always be remembered as standard-bearers for justice, equity and integrity. These included former Tourism Minister, the Hon. David Allen, JP MP, the Hon Dame Lois Brown-Evans DLBE, JP MP, the Hon Nelson Bascome, JP MP and my father, the Hon. C. Eugene Cox, CBE, JP MP.
Today I stand on the shoulders of all those who have gone before us, including, former Opposition Leader, L. Frederick Wade, JP MP and all our founding PLP members.
My task, if successful, at the PLP Annual Delegates’ Conference will be to carry the torch our earlier stalwarts lit into a new era.
Since 1998, I have served my country as an advocate for education, a guardian of our nation’s labour force as Home Affairs Minister and as an innovator and enabler in economic empowerment and economic development.
I believe that Government is most successful when we are accountable, while standing united as a Government, working together for the good of our country.
I am committed to my fellow Bermudians and I am committed to our Party. However, I have a greater commitment to reaching our potential as a country with integrity, honour and openness. A Bermuda whose people see what is possible and are not afraid to reach beyond themselves to achieve it.
Bermuda must be a great place for Bermudians and those that work and reside here. Bermuda must also acknowledge her global status and embrace the change that is required to be a top class global player. We have to be willing to open some doors that we may have shied away from in the past but we have to hold hands and we have to walk into the future together, respectful of each other’s differences but prepared to push the differences aside in order to make Bermuda the best place to be.
We have an economic downturn and we have to devise ways to be even more innovative in providing jobs and expanded opportunities for those who have lost employment. Our system of concessions and relief can be an enabler here. We have to be prepared to dialogue and to consider ways to interact that can be mutually beneficial, not just when there are ‘hot’ issues. We accept that there are challenges, but there are also opportunities.
I know that many of you see this. I am heartened by the knowledge that you are willing to stand with me; work with me; and succeed with me, in serving our Bermuda.
We have many challenges to face as a country and as a Party. Our community is changing. Keynes once asked: “When circumstances change, I change my mind: what do you do?”
Well, when circumstances change, the Progressive Labour Party Government that I am a proud member of, rolls up its sleeves and gets on with doing the job.
As we turn the page and prepare to bid farewell to our current Party Leader and the country’s Premier and open the chapter to a new administration, we will press forward to work in the people’s interests. It will not be business as usual or politics of usual.
So, what next?
I intend to bring together a team that will believe as I do- that to serve one’s country is a noble undertaking. Together, we will transform Bermuda into a place of greater opportunity, harmony and social progress, with a team of Ministers and Parliamentarians who will be responsive to your needs and who will never forget that we are the people’s servants.
People are aching for another wave of change following the high of 1998. This is normal. Familiarity can sometimes get dull, even in the most dynamic of relationships. So this next wave of PLP Government has to bring not just substance with style, we have to recapture some of the dizzying heights of the November 1998 aura. This we will do. We will re-connect and we will need all hands on deck- youth and experience, wisdom and wit and energy.
We have a job to do and we will get on with it. Let us build one another –together. I believe that Bermuda will move forward together with this brand of leadership as we turn the page and start a new chapter.
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