“Let’s pick up the armament of collective responsibility and make Bermuda Number One again, as we move towards the New Bermuda – in all our endeavours,” Premier Craig Cannonier said this afternoon [Feb 8] at a post-Throne Speech press conference.
The Throne Speech revealed a number of initiatives including eliminating conscription, a two-year payroll-tax exemption for new Bermudian hiring, amending the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation, a gun bounty programme, mandatory drug testing for Government MPs, reopening a Medical Clinic for people without health insurance and strengthening the ability to collect Government taxes.
The Government also indicated it will repeal the Park Hyatt Act and find new developer for the old Club Med site, make GPS in taxis optional, make breaches of parole arrestable offences, fund a course to recruit 20 more Police Officers, take steps so seniors who purchase FutureCare pay the same premium and require able-bodied persons to participate in community service as a condition for financial assistance.
The Premier’s full statement follows below:
Senior civil servants;
Ladies and gentlemen of the media and the people of Bermuda:
Good afternoon……..and thank you for your attendance.
What a day! ……. What a day!
May I say at the outset how honored and humbled I am to serve our Island as Premier, to stand at the helm as we move together towards a New Bermuda.
On 17th December, 2012, the people of Bermuda voted for change. In voting for the One Bermuda Alliance, they voted for a New Bermuda.
They voted for safer neighborhoods and streets, a Bermuda free of the incidence of gang violence.
They voted for a stronger, better managed and more diversified economy and a reduced public debt.
They voted for more jobs and for improved educational opportunities for young people, Bermuda’s future.
They voted to ensure that the current and emerging needs of the Island’s valued senior citizens were met.
They voted for better, more affordable and more sustainable healthcare for all Bermudians.
They voted for greater protection of the local and physical environment. They voted for more efficient public transportation.
They voted for a Bermuda in which Bermudians and guest workers reside together harmoniously and extend the hand of welcome to visitors.
In short, they voted for One Bermuda, where people matter.
In the Speech from the Throne read by His Excellency the Governor this morning, this Government outlined the initial steps it will take as we move aggressively towards restoring hope in our communities, towards the quality of life that we have come to expect and deserve, here in our beloved Island, in a place where people matter.
A key principle embedded in this Government agenda is transformation and redirection
As such, the people of Bermuda will have heard that economic recovery, jobs creation, enhanced public safety, improved educational opportunities for our young people and improved and more affordable healthcare will be among the Government’s priorities during the coming year.
They will have heard an extensive account of legislative and policy initiatives designed to put us firmly on the road to One Bermuda, a New Bermuda.
Some of these legislative and policy initiatives include:
A Jobs and Economic Turnaround Plan that will put Bermuda on the road to recovery by restoring much needed confidence, stimulating investment, retaining jobs and creating new jobs…thereby laying the foundation for future growth and shared prosperity and attracting those who have left; individuals and international businesses to once again make Bermuda their home.
The Government will work with the private sector to create a more welcoming environment for both local and international business; who are currently the largest driver of economic development in Bermuda. Lest we forget, the significance of our global partners is also critical to our restoration agenda.
We will review the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to ensure that it provides effective support and guidance to its clients and that the Economic Development Zones are delivering value.
Regarding gang violence and crime – we will focus on fulfilling the potential of the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force to include greater community engagement by establishing a zero tolerance for the gang lifestyle. As an example, we will establish of a Gun Bounty Programme to capitalize on the growing role played by citizens in bringing offenders to justice.
With a focus on public safety and keeping our borders safe, this Government will further empower the Bermuda Regiment, but look to eliminate conscription….Bermuda must move with the times…
We will not forget to honour our seniors the backbone of our society, by providing affordable health care for everyone.
This is our first throne speech. It is consistent with our promises. Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Bermuda can be assured that this Government will be focused and accountable for the delivery of these legislative initiatives and policies and others set out in the Speech from the Throne 2013. That they will have as their goal: social and economic equality for all.
There will be tough decisions to be made. At times they will be unpopular, but you can be assured that that these legislative initiatives and policies will be in the best interest of you, Bermuda.… not for just one interest group or a small group of interest groups.
That is the commitment of the One Bermuda Alliance.
That is the commitment of your Government.
In a few moments you will hear individual Ministers speak about their efforts to move our Island along the road to One Bermuda, a place where people matter. You’ll hear about the journey that this Government is embarking upon to improve job creation, create better students, making our streets safer, returning Bermuda to its number one position and improving social and economic equity for all.
May I at this juncture express heartfelt gratitude to all Members of Cabinet and to their Permanent Secretaries and other civil servants for their hard work and contributions as we work collaboratively to restore Bermuda.
Before closing, allow me to share with you the true story of a young man whose father, though hard working, was not given the opportunities he needed to develop his skills to make a decent living for his family.
In his frustration, he made wrong choices that led him down the path of substance abuse. As a result, he was further displaced from society ….. but he knew where to go when in need. He would visit his son at his after school job.
The young man seeing his father in need had no hesitation in parting with the few dollars he had earned. He would roll up the money and shake his father’s hand, transferring the much needed funds to him.
Whispers and rumours abounded amongst his co-workers that the young man must have been trafficking drugs to this man who appeared to be a vagrant.
What his co-workers didn’t know was that there was a transference of money from son to father. There was also a mutual exchange of love and respect. Instead of defending his actions, the son was more concerned with protecting and restoring his father’s dignity.
I was that young man and my mission is still the same.
As Premier, I can state that this Government is committed to restoring dignity and hope to the people of Bermuda.
I believe that the true essence of life is to treat others as you would like to be treated – in everything that we do. We must remember that people matter. We must make the right decisions.
Those decisions must not be based on a Party, but must be centered on a people – the people of Bermuda.
As I lay down my sword, I encourage all Parliamentarians to do the same. Let’s pick up the armament of collective responsibility and make Bermuda Number One again, as we move towards the New Bermuda – in all our endeavours.
I conclude my remarks this afternoon with an adaptation of the words of US President Barack Obama whom we warmly congratulate upon his re-election: “It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get where we are today, but we have only just begun. Today, we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the Bermuda we leave our children is just a little better than the one we inhabit today.”
Great rewards always begin with great sacrifice.