[Written by Erwin P. Adderley & David J. Tavares]
In 1968 the Bermuda Constitutional Order came into effect. It is the embodiment of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which the people of Bermuda acknowledge to be governed by. These fundamental principles are rights and freedoms of the individual …………. whatever his or her race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:
- (a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;
- (b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association;
- (c) Protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation.
The Bermuda Constitutional Order 1968 sets out legal supremacy and legal protection, ‘entrenchment’. This document established the rules, procedures and powers of government; guarantying the Bermudian people the necessary protection from the kinds of draconian legislation enacted prior to 1968. It is our view that the process leading up to and including the enactment of the Bermuda Constitution had several shortcomings as illustrated by the following:
- The minority reports cited excessive power given to the Government Leader, (Premier). It was noted that the Summary of Provisions of the Constitution therein set out omits or destroys certain fundamental checks or safeguards which are vital if good government is to be maintained.
- The Minority Report also noted that the summary of provisions were merely a copy in all essential particulars of those contained in the Report of the Bahamas Constitutional Conference. It was considered inappropriate that our constitution should be modelled on that of the Bahamas, which itself was copied from other colonial Constitutions.
- Based on the above it raises the question as to whether or not people of Bermuda really understood the implication or have a say in the final outcomes? Judging from the “minority reports” major concerns were noted and recommendations made, but with no avail.
- Why did the people of Bermuda allow dual seat constituencies when in 1961 the then colonial members of Parliament (House of Assembly) passed a Bill establishing single seat constituencies? Clearly, a manoeuvre to establish dual seat constituencies favoured one political party’s ideology against another.
The reasons against too much powers vested in the Premier has, after 44 years, now shown that Bermuda is too small to be governed only by political parties tied to special interest.
We must not allow our future government leaders to use statements like; “We had to deceive you”, “I’m only a cog in the wheel” or “I tried to tell them, but they would not listen” and “We owe the black males of this country an apology”.
These statements deflect responsibility from leadership to the people of our island home. Leaders must be held accountable for their personal responsibility.
Our two main political party ideological positions are too extreme and based on race influenced by a comprehensive vision of the way a group looks at things and set of ideas that constitute their goals, expectations and actions at the expense of the other 48% of the electorate. These ideological positions are “conspirative in nature”.
Our aim is to provide an opportunity for the people of Bermuda to revisit and express their views on issues that have had a profound effect on the Bermudian way of life. There are some issues that we consider too important to be left to politicians; issues that could affect our civil liberties and traditional moral values. We intend to promote giving power back to the electorate and wherever possible have key issues decided by “Referendum” and not a political party’s hierarchy linked to special interest.
Our core values must represent the foundations of our community – honesty, transparency, morality and commitment are necessary to achieve the high standards that the public demanded from their elected representatives. Our representatives must be able to speak freely and take personal responsibility for his or her actions and held accountable. Our Constitution must ensure that the people of Bermuda should have the last say, and not by politicians who are self-serving.
We will pursue the following changes to our Constitution:
- Electoral reform to return a sufficient number of seats in the House of Assembly that will achieve a meaningful representation of the electorate based on a proportional representation system.
- Limit the powers of the Premier:
- Fixed-term limits. To introduce legislation to establish five year fixed-term Parliaments with subsequent general elections to take place at five year intervals only. There will be provision to enable the Premier to alter the date for the following two reasons only:
- A motion of no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.
- A motion for an early general election is agreed where there is a division of Parliament and not just for the sake of a snap general election just to weaken the opposition and capitalize on “ winner take all” or “to the victor goes the spoils”.
- Recall elected Member of Parliament. The right to recall a Member of Parliament is the right of electorate to remove a representative from office through a direct vote initiated when the representative is found to have breached certain rules or when sufficient voters sign a petition.
- The Premier cannot hold a ministerial position in addition to his or her position as Government Leader.
- Review the system of ministerial appointments to implement an improved process of selection that is non partisan to ensure policies reflect the overall electorate and not in the interest the political party in power.
- A Minister cannot hold more than one ministry.
- Greater role and accountability of Government Boards in assisting the Civil Service on input and recommendations on policy and laws.
- The Senate to be an elected body by the electorate – and change the composition to 4 independents in addition to the appointed 3 by the Governor, and 4 party representatives.
- Review the powers of the Senate with the view giving a greater power to initiate Money Bills.
- Mr Adderley and Mr Tavares both plan to run as Independent candidates in the upcoming election. Mr Tavares plans to run in C#8 Smith’s South against the OBA’s Cole Simons and the PLP’s Wayne Perinchief, while Mr Adderley plans to run in C#19 Pembroke West against the PLP’s Vince Ingham and the OBA’s Jeanne Atherden.
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