Video: Dunkley Expands On Drug Testing MPs

July 29, 2013

[Updated with PLP + Independent response] Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley expanded on his recent announcement that Cabinet has approved a new policy whereby all Government Members of the Legislature will be subject to random, mandatory drug testing.

The policy applies to Government Ministers, MPs and Senators, however Minister Dunkley said it is their intention to invite Opposition and Independent legislators to voluntarily join them.

Minister Dunkley said, “The programme is set up to do a urinalysis for all drugs, and every member will be tested on a regular basis, and at the end of every year a report will be published showing the test results.

“Any individual that tests positive will obviously have the opportunity to talk to the administrator to ensure that it wasn’t a false positive….in other words you have been on medication that has been approved by a physician or something like that.

The Minister said that in the case of Cabinet Ministers and Senators, the Premier will decide what the consequences will be, while any potential cases involving backbenchers will be decided through the One Bermuda Alliance disciplinary committee.

Minister Dunkley said they will decide how they will move forward, whether they will put a motion in the House to table the policy, or if they “will go a step further and bring legislation to make it mandatory for all Members of the Legislature.”

“It’s important with all the talk that we do, we also lead by example,” said Minister Dunkley. “This policy isn’t out to get anybody. This policy is about leadership by example…”

Update 10.55am: A PLP spokesperson said, “The OBA would better serve our people if they would willingly submit to random lie detector tests.

“Since being elected they have repeatedly been caught breaking promises, exaggerating their accomplishments, claiming achievements that aren’t theirs and flat out lying to the people of Bermuda.

“We would achieve more by testing our MPs for greed, lust for power, dishonesty, and stupidity, than engaging in superficial photo op politics.”

Update 2.58pm: Terry Lister, the lone Independent MP in the House, said, “I believe that all MPs should be drug tested and have been willing to be drug tested for many years.

“However, I have privately spoken with MPs from both Parties over the years and told them that properly drafted legislation should be placed before the House for consideration and voted upon. Such legislation should apply to all members of the House if passed.

“I am very disappointed to see the Government suggest that legislation would be presented to the House that applies only to the Government members. This legislation can not go forward. All legislation must apply to all members.

“Legislation can not be brought that has the leader of the OBA disciplining Ministers and the OBA Disciplinary Committee dealing with backbenchers. Carrying this to its logical end it implies that the OBA Disciplinary Committee would deal with PLP MPs and myself! This is a nonsense.

“Instead the Speaker of the House should deal with any disciplinary matters relating to Members of the House. I am disappointed that after eight months the OBA, having considered the matter, would bring forward a policy that should be within the OBA caucus.

“I am strongly against this moving forward and ask the OBA government to withdraw this foolish idea and replace it with a motion to be tabled in the House relating to all Members. This motion can be debated and legislation follow the motion.”

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  1. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    Oh I can see the plp lining up now to be tested!

    • OBA swing voter says:

      I wonder if my team the OBA understands that over 60% of Bermudians are smoking MJ. Could we pass bills that protect the people of this country. Why the rush Dunkley, don’t we have more serious things to do on the agenda?

      People are hurting Dunkley. Where are the promises made? I did swing like the rest of the voters from PLP to OBA. I assume you want to feel what it’s like to be the opposition again. Don’t take the voters for granted or you will be on the other side looking in. Just like the PLP are NOW!!!!

      • Zombie Apocalypse says:

        “…over 60% of Bermudians are smoking MJ”

        That’s just an absurd contention. And I have no idea what kind of people you hang out with.

        • Facts says:

          The majority people in Bermuda are/have smoked cannabis. Zombie what rock are you living under. Although illegal it’s more widely used then any other drug.

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            That is ridiculous. Now you’re including people that ‘have smoked’ cannabis? You mean if someone smoked it once 30 years ago you count that?

            The contention being made is that 60% of the entire population currently regularly uses cannabis. That is not true. Either you know it’s a lie, or you have no idea about statistics, or maybe you’re just spending your time with the wrong people.

            • windwater says:

              Bermuda is actually known internationally for marijuana and you can thank our most accomplished entertainer “Collie Buddz” for that. Marijuana is embedded in our society and for the people that choose to consume marijuana they should not face any legal penalties especially since cannabis grows naturally from the Earth.

              There probably aren’t any real statistics out their as far as usage is concerned but marijuana is widely and abundantly used among Bermudians of all walks of life and age groups and that’s a FACT.

              • Zombie Apocalypse says:

                1. Collie Budz is NOT “our most accomplished entertainer”.
                2. Bermuda is not “known internationally for marijuana”. Unless you count the fact that our customs officials search cruise ships for it.
                3. Marijuana is illegal, and until the law is changed anyone that posesses or uses it is breaking the law.

  2. ? says:

    Not random, Everyone, Today! Lets get real about this – not PR

  3. windwater says:

    OBA worrying about drug testing. Where are the 2000 jobs!!! Stop horsing around as the government. Random drug testing is not an accomplishment and it’s not helping out my friends, family and countrymen who are suffering.

  4. Vote for Me says:

    “This policy isn’t out to get anybody. This policy is about leadership by example…” REALLY!!

    I am one who firmly believes that there should be a zero tolerance for drug use of all kinds, including alcohol. Therefore if MP Dunkley is serious, drug testing should include testing anyone that has alcohol in their system during work hours. If we consider that MPs and Seantors work 24/7 than they should limit their intake at all times.

    Please do not reply about legal and illegal drugs since the classification has been determined by the legislators and alcohol is clearly one of the most use drugs of all!! anyone want to debate the dangers of cigarettes vs marijuana??

    If we extend the ban on use of drugs, then lets see the Minister immediately implement mandatory sobriety checks since there is a link between collisions (not accidents) on our roads and the consumption of alcohol. We will all wait for the cry of the government supporters who benefit in the millions from the sale of alcohol.

    My last point – it is easy to conclude that this is a publicity stunt. If the government wants to test all Ministers than so be it. There is no need for any publicity to be attached to it. In addition, the old saying that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones comes to mind, given the recent revelations related to a government MP. ARe we really serious about appropriate behaviour for our MPs and Senators??

    • Zombie Apocalypse says:

      What an idiotic argument. Why not add caffeine? And sugar? They’re both potentially harmful, though absolutely legal.

      It’s voluntary for the opposition MP’s. If they don’t want to take part, fine. The record will just say they didn’t take part. And we will read into that whatever we read into it.

    • ed says:

      If there’s anyone needs to be on drugs it’s you!

    • Mike Hind says:

      Alcohol isn’t against the law. Your argument is ridiculous.
      If you want to argue about banning alcohol for consumption, THEN you might have a point. But to say that people should be tested – and punished, assumedly (if not, why test for it?) – for the use of a legal substance is ludicrous.

      (By the way, you don’t get to say “Don’t bring up the flaws in my argument” when making a point. It’s silly)

      • Tommy Chong says:

        Technically the use of alcohol is illegal in some instances & I would think the use of it by ministers during work hours if not illegal would be a breach in policy & if not it should be. From reading the comment by Vote for Me their point is the ministers should be tested for the use of the drug alcohol during work hours since a drunk politician is just as bad or worse as a doped up politician. There’s nothing ridicolous about this point because if a minister can’t abstain from drinking on the job than they are an addict just like any other type of drug addict. Either way an urinalysis is not the most effective way of testing for any drugs except cannabis.

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          Wouldn’t a drug test find alcohol?

          • Tommy Chong says:

            A urinalysis might as long as it was consumed recently but the problem is there is no wy with this test to tell exactly when it was consumed so a minister could say they drank a lot the night before even if it was that morning there’s no definite proof. The only test that can measure time laps is a mouth swab test but it only measures within a 24 hour period so abstaining from any drug during that time will work to escape detection. Even though the hair follicle test will not tell the very hour the drugs were taking it still can tell how many days its been taken & how much so someone can’t claim to be a social drinker if their hair says they drink large quantities every day.

            • Zombie Apocalypse says:

              The answer to Sandy’s question is yes, a urine sample would detect elevated levels of alcohol.

              However the point of the test is to look for illegal drug use, not the perfectly legal consumption of alcohol.

              • Tommy Chong says:

                May burrow your power ranger decoder ring that translates, “alcohol” to “elevated levels of alcohol” so I can read into comments just like you do? Do you know that there are people who can become impaired off of one alcoholic beverage?

                Only ETG urine test are infallible when it comes to detecting alcohol & as you mentioned the test is not for alcohol so an alcohol specific ETG test won’t be used. Besides we don’t need to worry if a minister is an alcoholic or not since alcoholics are not impaired. Right?

                Where do the sections of a Bermuda Liquor Licence Act below fit into your statement that its perfectly legal to consume alcohol?

                Restrictions on consumption of intoxicating liquor in unlicensed part of premises
                34 (1) Where part of any premises (other than premises operated under an Hotel License are licensed premises the licensed person, himself or by his servant or agent, shall not permit any other person to consume intoxicating liquor in any other part of the premises.

                Procuring drink for drunken person or minor
                42 (1) If any person in licensed premises procures intoxicating liquor for consumption by a drunken person or by a person under the age of eighteen years he commits an offence.
                (2) If any person aids a drunken person or a person under the age of eighteen years in obtaining or consuming intoxicating liquor in licensed premises he commits an offence.
                (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars:
                Provided that it shall be a defence to any charge under this section of procuring intoxicating liquor for consumption by a person under the age of eighteen years for the person charged to prove that he believed and had reasonable grounds for believing that the person under the age of eighteen years was eighteen years of age or older.

  5. Victor says:

    Michael’s inner reactionary is beginning to show – how much more sensible it would be instead to recognise that addiction is a social problem, not a criminal one. Also, if Michael is to be consistent, testing of MPs for alcohol inebriation should be included, especially when the House is in session. And anybody who fails should be banned from speaking for eighteen months.

  6. Navin R. Johnson says:

    The opposition will vehemently oppose any drug testing….

  7. Teacher Teacher says:

    Very disappointed, but sadly not surprised with the childish response by the PLP spokesperson. I expected a bit more of a professional response from them, especially when you consider the current state of crime and violence and how it is too often linked directly to alcohol/drug use or drug activity.

    I hope that someone else within the PLP will step up with a more serious response – whether they agree or disagree.

    • longtail says:

      “childish response”???? You give them more credit than they deserve. Idiotic response maybe….

    • Teacher Teacher says:

      PLP , take a look at Terry Listers response. While he is against the proposal by the OBA, he made good valid points without trying to distract the public by making childish irrelevant comments. Well done Mr. Lister.

  8. watching says:

    Shouldnt this be something spoken to by the Leader, Mr. Cannonier. Too often we see Minister Dunkley usurping Mr. Cannonier to try and score brownie points.

    Oh right, September is fast approaching…

    • Teacher Teacher says:

      You do realize that he is the Public Safety Minister???

      • watching says:

        I do, but smoking weed isn’t a matter of public safety. Secondly, this is something that will need to be passed in Parliament, and as the Premier i think Mr. Cannonier should speak to it…but he hasn’t been given his talking points yet…

        • Mike Hind says:

          Evidence? Or are you just smearing?

        • Teacher Teacher says:

          Our ministers salaries are paid for from the Public Purse and they are elected by the Public. They represent the public and are expected to act in the best interest of the public! Asking them not to indulge in an illegal activity is NOT to much to ask.

          I’m not here looking to do the whole stupid alcohol vs weed debate all over again. This is more than just about weed! Its about coke, heroin, oxy, Lorazapan and much more. Would you be comfortable knowing a crack head was representing us! Those of us that have had friends and family addicted to hard drugs know that they all eventually become, irresponsible, irrational thinkers and eventually no longer trustworthy. Many will steal from their own family so you think they would hesitate to steal from the public purse?! Do you want this type of individual representing your community or country?

          I thank the OBA for pushing this through and LEADING by example! I’m sure , some from the OBA, PLP etc., may puff every now and then, and some may possibly be addicted to prescriptions or hard drugs. I am not here to judge. Lets get them help and boot them out if they choose drugs over country!

    • Mike Hind says:

      How DARE a Minister speak on a topic he’s in charge of!
      The Leader of the country should be doing that!

      Ridiculous propaganda…
      Do better.

  9. bun out says:

    “Since being elected they have repeatedly been caught breaking promises, exaggerating their accomplishments, claiming achievements that aren’t theirs and flat out lying to the people of Bermuda.

    “We would achieve more by testing our MPs for greed, lust for power, dishonesty, and stupidity, than engaging in superficial photo op politics.”

    HAHAHHAAH PLP have been doing that for the last 14 years. YOU LOT SET DE TREND!

  10. Mike Hind says:

    I love how the PLP constantly denounce anonymous postings… yet only release things from “A PLP spokesman”…

    “It’s ok when we do it”… just like always.

    • Teacher Teacher says:

      Yup – more do as we say , not as we did and do!

  11. Bermudian says:

    Drug test them ALL! We expect our young people to stay away from drugs, well let’s show them that we mean it and that the leaders and those who want to be leaders are setting an example. This should be a no brainer and why this would ever be opposed is ridiculous.

  12. Sandgrownan says:

    The PLP response is hilarious. Self admitted liars and unethical too.

  13. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    Well done, OBA. You said you would do it, and here it is. One by one, the things you promised are coming to pass. Sure, there have been glitches, and you have been called on them – plus some that weren’t glitches at all, but we will let that pass.

    Keep on following through. All we are is our results. We will see at the end of the day what your results will be. We already know the results of the previous administration, and their reward came last December.

  14. sonso says:

    LOL bie dont make me laugh today!! this has to be the funniest repsonse of them all from the PLP! i am not too sure if this a deflection away from PLP members who would might fail simple drug testing or subliminal messaging to find out where the $800m went??

    Update 10.55am: A PLP spokesperson said, “The OBA would better serve our people if they would willingly submit to random lie detector tests.

    “Since being elected they have repeatedly been caught breaking promises, exaggerating their accomplishments, claiming achievements that aren’t theirs and flat out lying to the people of Bermuda.

    “We would achieve more by testing our MPs for greed, lust for power, dishonesty, and stupidity, than engaging in superficial photo op politics.”

    • Mike Hind says:

      Did we hear this sentiment from them when they were in power?
      Of course not.

      Nothing but more “It’s ok when we do it” from the PLP.

      We deserve a better Opposition.

  15. Victor says:

    Two more things -

    If the Government was really serious about this testing of MPs for illegal drug use, they could pass an Act of Parliament on the matter, i.e legislate it.

    When professional athletes are tested, normal practice is for them to be watched giving the sample so that there can be no switches. I suggest politicians be held to the same standard.

  16. really says:

    @Terry Lister … it’s policy, not legislation.

    • Vote for Me says:

      @ Really

      ‘I am disappointed that after eight months the OBA, having considered the matter, would bring forward a policy that should be within the OBA caucus.’

      MP Lister is correct. What MP Dunkley is referring to is and OBA policy, not sensible legislation. Therefore it should be limited to the OBA caucus. This undermines the fact that this is a publicity stunt by the Minister and not genuine legislation.

      It is also interesting to see the he is proposing a urine test that will only catch cannabis use with a fair degree of accuracy rather than a hair follicle test that is more accurate.

  17. Tommy Chong says:

    It’s pointless using an urinalysis test for drugs because the only one that will show up most of the time is cannabis use. If a minister sniffed 1o lines of coke or smoked some heroin on a Saturday & had an urinalysis on the following wednesday there’s very slim chances it will show up in their urine that day. On the other hand a minister could have smoked cannabis a month ago & there would be better chances of them showing up positive.

    If the minister wants to take out a great percentage of bias in the testing it should be done with a hair follicle test although it would still be easier for a chemical drug user to pass than a weed smoker just not nearly as easy to pass an urinalysis.

    Than again there’s always the spinal tap test that is 100% effective.

    • Mike Hind says:

      It’s pointless because the drug tests mostly only show THE most widely used illegal drug… the whole point of the process?

      It’s pointless because most drugs are only detectable for less than a week?

      You suggest hair analysis – which DOES detect more things as drugs are detectable in hair for a couple of months – yet don’t take into account the incredible difference in cost between the two tests.
      Methinks you doth protest too much.

      (Oh, and the “Pot stays in your body for a month thing”? Kind of an urban myth. For heavy smokers with high body fat, maybe. But an occasional user in good shape? About a week, week and a half.)

      • Tommy Chong says:

        “It’s pointless because the drug tests mostly only show THE most widely used illegal drug… the whole point of the process?”

        “It’s pointless because most drugs are only detectable for less than a week?”

        “You suggest hair analysis – which DOES detect more things as drugs are detectable in hair for a couple of months – yet don’t take into account the incredible difference in cost between the two tests. Methinks you doth protest too much.”

        Methinks that youthinks the expense of hair analysis justifies the chances that a minister using the worlds most destructive & addictive substances can avoid detection. How much are these ministers getting paid?

        “Oh, and the “Pot stays in your body for a month thing”? Kind of an urban myth. For heavy smokers with high body fat, maybe. But an occasional user in good shape? About a week, week and a half.”

        How can something be kind of an urban myth? If I drink soda & eat poprocks does my stomach kind of explode or kind of doesn’t?

        • Mike Hind says:

          I thought I explained pretty well in my post.
          It’s kind of an urban myth because, while it CAN happen (in heavy smokers with high body fat, as mentioned), it doesn’t happen as a rule. Good job ignoring the point made in order to play word games.

          The rest of your post is… well… gibberish.

          • Tommy Chong says:

            If it doesn’t happen as a rule then what’s the point in bringing something of inconsistency up to contest my point? This is my point which you either didn’t get or ignored while accusing me of ignoring yours.

            You also seemed not to have registered my point that you are putting a price tag on how transparent MP drug testing should be. I would think drug testing doesn’t just mean cannabis which we both seem to agree is the more likely substance to be detected out of all illicit drugs that could possibly be used by MPs.

            I must agree with you about the gibberish comment since the rest of my post was directly quoted from yours. :D

  18. Realist says:

    Great stuff,it will be comforting to know that when legislation is being debated and voted on,said parties are not then going to “hit” the crack pipe or for heavens sake not before!

  19. Rhonda Neil says:

    what is the policy on abuse of prescription drugs…

  20. Rhonda Neil says:

    based on some of the senseless arguments….. how many drunk MP’s are in house,

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Well , there was one very recent person , probably the worst one we ever had , who was known amongst his peer group to rarely ever show up at the house sober. The fact that he was always nodding off was also a dead giveaway.