[Updated with videos] Speaking at a press conference held this afternoon [Mar 1] following the demonstration on the grounds of the House of Assembly, Premier Craig Cannonier apologized for the use of the word xenophobia.
The “Concerned Bermudians” group who organized the demonstration today had requested that “officials and members of the One Bermuda Alliance cease and desist calling Bermudians xenophobic.”
The Premier started the press conference off with explaining the Government’s decision to eliminate term limits. He said he recognizes the fears that some Bermudians have as he has talked to many Bermudians who want to get back to work. “We have too many Bermudians who are unemployed,” he noted.
The full video of the Premier’s press conference:
Saying that the work permit policy is in place to protect Bermudian jobs, the Premier said term limits created an unwelcome atmosphere for international business, and that we want to get those job creators and investors back to Bermuda.
He said the Government’s priority is getting Bermuda back to work, and they “have to be decisive.” Premier Cannonier said, “We will work to ensure Bermudians are put first, and that no one is left behind.”
He was asked about the use of the word xenophobia, and in reply said, “When I heard that the word xenophobia had come up…I recognize that is not a word that should be placed in politics, especially the people of Bermuda who are such a melting pot of people.
“I apologize for that word being used, and we will continue to ensure that our elected members avoid using words like xenophobia.” said the Premier.
“It is a fear of foreigners, but we need not fear foreigners…that is a relationship that we have forged from day one. In fact you can just go back with yourselves…one generation, two generations..we were all basically imported to Bermuda.”
Minister Fahy speaking with the media after the demonstration:
The word came about following Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy’s announcement that Government will eliminate the 6-year Term Limit Policy in January 2013.
Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban asked what happened to the pledge of suspending them for 2 years, while OBA Deputy Chairman Michael Branco Branco said term limits don’t protect Bermudian jobs, work permits do, and the “only effect the policy has is to make non-Bermudians feel uncomfortable.”
“We believe the reason they went ahead with putting the Policy in place was to pander to the xenophobic views of those Bermudians who would like Bermuda to be foreigner-free,” said Mr Branco.
A statement issued shortly thereafter from the PLP said, “We call upon Mr. Branco to retract this statement immediately and lower his tone towards the PLP and its family of supporters.”
“The salient facts remain, the OBA promised time over time that they will only suspend, with a look to review. They also promised transparency. They did not mention anything about calling PLP supporters xenophobic,” the PLP said.
Update: The video of Minister Fahy’s remarks is above. He said he regrets the way his comments were interpreted, however he said they were taken out of context. He went to say he will do everything within his power to see that Bermudians are employed.
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- Videos: Demonstration, March & Politicians | Bernews.com | March 1, 2013
- Protest Group: “We Will Continue To Be Vigilant” | Bernews.com | March 2, 2013