Former Premier Jennifer Smith returned to the front benches as Bermuda’s Education Minister when newly-installed Premier Paula Cox unveiled her new Cabinet at a Government House ceremony today (November 1). Dame Jennifer resigned as Premier in 2003 following an aborted backbench coup led by Dr Ewart Brown in the immediate aftermath that year’s General Election. Premier Cox said she was “humbled and gratified” the St. George’s MP had agreed to take on the Education portfolio, the only Cabinet appointment greeted with a standing ovation by those gathered at Government House.
The other members of the team Ms Cox unveiled were:
- * Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess is Minister of Public Works;
- * Terry Lister, Ms Cox’s chief rival for the PLP leadership position becomes Minister of Transport;
- *Col. David Burch, the former Labour & Home Affairs Minister, is now Minister for National Security;
- * Longtime Cox loyalist and confidante Michael Scott is Bermuda’s new Attorney General and Minister of Justice;
- * Kim Wilson has been shifted to the newly-created Ministry of the Economy, Trade & Industry;
- *Zane DeSilva, Minister Without Portfolio under former Premier Dr Ewart Brown, is now Health Minister;
- *Neletha Butterfield is Minister of Public Information Services;
- * Patrice Minors is Minister of Tourism and Business Development;
- *Michael Weeks has been appointed Minister Without Portfolio
- * Walter Roban is Environment Minister;
- * Glenn Blakeney is Minister for Youth Affairs & Families.
Ms Cox replaced three of Dr. Brown’s Senate appointees, dropping Walton Brown, Thaoo Dill and Marc Bean to make way for longtime Bermuda Industrial Union activist LaVerne Furbert, businessman and former PLP chairman David Burt and PLP stalwart Cromwell Shahkir. The appointment of Ms Furbert drew the largest applause of all three new senate appointments.
Responsibilities for the old Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs have been divided between Sens. Burch and Wilson. As Minister of Economy, Trade & Industry Ms Wilson will oversee work permits while Sen. Burch will continue to supervise passport applications and “border control issues” as National Security Minister.
Update 4:30pm: Official Government release in change of Cabinet:
Premier, The Hon. Paula A. Cox JP, MP unveiled significant changes in the composition of Ministries today. In the Finance portfolio retained by the Premier, HM Customs has been streamlined to permit a newly styled Minister of National Security to have responsibility for border control and interdiction while the revenue collection function remains within Finance.
Signaling her clear intention to tighten controls on spending and project management, the Premier also assumes responsibility for the architectural design and construction section formerly within Works and Engineering and it is joined with a new division of contract and project management to form a Procurement Office.
“I promised to reconfigure and reshape the way we do business and these changes deliver on that promise,” the Premier said.
“The heartland of Government’s care and concern for the people…” the Premier said in describing the Ministry of Youth, Families and Community Development. This new Ministry will administer the transformational Mirrors programme and combine the “helping” services of Financial Assistance and Child and Family Services. Youth, Sport and Recreation and the Department of Human Affairs round out this community-based ministry. “Minister Blakeney will forge key partnerships in a continuum of care catering to all aspects of making our communities stronger and empowering our youth and families”.
Under new Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michael Scott, the portfolio combines the Department of Corrections, Department of Court Services and the Department of National Drug Control. “The administration of justice must be cohesive and providing one Ministry will all the elements to prevent recidivism is key,” the Premier continued.
Two new Ministries among those created demonstrate a keen focus on the Island’s economy. Sen. Kim Wilson becomes Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which assumes responsibility for the work permit regime as well as “the natural synergy” between Labour and Training.
The Ministry of Business Development and Tourism sees a return to Cabinet of Mrs. Patrice Minors who will be tasked with heading the development and growth of the Island’s existing twin economic pillars: International Business and Tourism. “This is an exciting area,” the Premier continued. “There has long been a desire to better align these two sectors and combining these responsibilities with an emphasis on development will instill confidence in Bermuda and our future in these two areas.”
A clear and sharp focus on public safety issues is evidenced in the new ministry of National Security. Lt. Col. David Burch will now add border control elements of Customs to his portfolio and retains the Police and the Bermuda Regiment. “Combining these critical functions under this experienced Minister will result in a stronger interdictive force against the scourge of drugs and guns in the community. This flows from the Gang Task Force joint initiative and will strengthen the efforts of our uniformed, front-line services,” the Premier indicated.
“This Cabinet unites significant experience with fresh faces and we are committed and well equipped to meet the challenges facing Bermuda today.”
[Editors note: This was posted extremely late, and we apologize for this. We had severe technical issues and clearly provided very poor quality coverage today. We sincerely apologize for this, and will bring full video coverage later]