Politicians sparred in the House of Assembly late Friday night [July 13] continuing the ongoing row over dental insurance coverage for Government employees, a scenario one Minister said has been termed “Dentalgate”.
The dispute started last week when Shadow Minister of Health Senator Michael Dunkley said that dental insurance coverage for Government employees was “suspended because the Government has failed to pay the premium for their coverage.”
Both the Government and the insurance provider BF&M said the coverage was not suspended, while the OBA provided documents that appeared to indicate the insurance coverage was listed as “inactive”.
The PLP called for an apology from the OBA, while the OBA said there was no need to apologise as ‘within 24 hours of them bringing it up the situation was cleared up.’
Minister Marc Bean said the whole scenario has now been termed “Dentalgate,” and after he started speaking he was quickly interrupted by Speaker of the House Stanley Lowe who said, “Don’t get excited now, tone it down. I detect you are getting excited, tone it down.”
Minister Bean continued: ”Across the floor you have this deep sense of denial, of arrogance and ignorance. Cause they still don’t know what they are talking about, yet they are still talking about it.”
“Even when they have proved to be in the wrong, they still don’t have the humility to apologise.” The Minister also questioned the leadership of the One Bermuda Alliance, saying a “certain member of the Opposition seems to have free role.”
OBA MP Dr Grant Gibbons interrupted Minister Bean a few minutes later with a Point of Order, and Minister Zane DeSilva attempted to respond with another Point of Order, however the Speaker did not allow it.
Minister Bean continued: “In an attempt to score political points, in an attempt to descend to the bottomless pit of politricks, they have crossed the boundary of privacy in regards to the civil service of this country.”
OBA MP Louise Jackson interrupted with a Point of Order: “He is misleading the House, there was never any, he knows this, there was never any privacy disclosure at any point. The list was redacted totally and he knows this.”
Minister Bean said: “My job is to bring exposure to their inability to actually function as a viable and credible Opposition,” with an unidentified MP heard calling out in the background: “Focus on being the Government…you aren’t doing too good job at that.”
“You better concentrate on trying to become a real Opposition because you will never govern the way you act. Believe that. It was reprehensible behaviour,” Minister Bean continued.
OBA MP Trevor Moniz interrupted with a Point of Order: “That young member seems to continue to impugn an evil motive on this side. The Opposition’s job is to reveal these things, which is what we did. This idea of people accusing people of politricks is nonsense. You are doing your job.”
Minister Bean continued: ”Yes, we know we are entering into election season, but do you have to descend into the gutter of politics?”
The Speaker of the House interrupted a few minutes later saying: “Either we are going to be courteous or I will adjourn this right now.”
The next to speak was Minister Walter Roban who said it was a “low blow for Bermuda politics” and “gutter politics,” and called for an investigation into the incident by the relevant bodies.
Minister Roban said: “I think there needs to be an investigation. I think that the Health Council needs to be involved, I think that the Dental Board needs to be involved, because they are the bodies that can actually deal with this in a non-political manner.
“Taking it out of the murkiness that has been created by those that started this thing and investigate to find out the truth. Who revealed what, where it came from, and the value and the accuracy of what was produced.
“And if anybody violated their professional conduct, rules of confidentiality and other very important issues that pertain to the very protection of information and how its handled in this country.”
No other MPs were permitted to speak on the matter, as at approximately 1am Speaker of House Stanley Lowe shut down the debate, saying “you can have a go at it next week.”
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