The One Bermuda Alliance issued a qualified apology to Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert today [Nov.24] after the Progressive Labour Party claimed the Opposition “struck below the belt” and called into question his empathy for the victims of violence.
Earlier the OBA’s Shadow Board on National Security spokesman Jeff Baron told the Royal Gazette, “Where is the empathy for the families that have buried loved ones? Where is the empathy for the marginal communities that have suffered this violence? Where is the empathy for Bermuda? It’s clear from these statements that a Cabinet Minister, Wayne Furbert, is suffering from an empathy deficit.”
The comments came after Mr. Furbert said local media should be more responsible in its reporting after a story was published in the Royal Gazette based on United Nations statistics which suggested Bermuda’s per capita murder rate is almost double the world average.
OBA Leader Craig Cannonier said this afternoon, “We apologise to our Minister if he felt we were insinuating, in any way, that he did not have feelings or empathy towards the families of those who have suffered from crime in Bermuda.
“But certainly our spokesperson, which was Jeff Baron who spoke in the newspaper, we felt that the situation could have been dealt with a lot better.”
Mr. Cannonier continued: “We felt that maybe the Minister really should have gone and spoke to the media about it, to work out, if he wanted to a plan. To have it plastered in the newspaper, just seemed a bit, to Jeff, as a bit of posturing there.
“And it seemed almost as if we were more concerned about a product, the tourism product, as opposed to what we can do to help support those families that have suffered under some pretty atrocious crime that has taken place.”
“So again we apologise to the Minister if he felt we were insinuating he did not have feelings. Our Minister certainly gets out there in the community and does show his concern.”
The PLP released a statement this morning, saying, “Anyone that knows Wayne Furbert knows that he cares passionately about Bermuda and our people.
“Wayne is one of the hardest working members of Parliament. Day in and day out, he is in his constituency, meeting with people at their doorsteps and in their living rooms. He talks to them about their problems and what government can do to help improve their lives.
“Today, the OBA struck below the belt calling into question Wayne Furbert’s empathy for the victims of violence. The OBA spokesman’s attack was offensive. Wayne Furbert and the entire PLP Government care deeply about violence and crime.
“It’s why we’ve passed a rash of anti-crime legislation – tougher laws, prevention programmes, police training and much more – to address the problem. And, while more improvement is needed, the last 6-12 months show that our reforms are beginning to work.
“The OBA claims to represent a ‘new’ way forward, but, these personal attacks seem to represent more of the same. If the OBA really wants to turn the page, we call on Craig Cannonier to publicly apologise to Wayne Furbert for his spokesman’s callous and inappropriate remarks. We look forward to Craig’s reply.”