Bean: ‘OBA Blocked PLP Bill To End Conscription’

November 8, 2013

[Updated] The Opposition Progressive Labour Party are set to table the Abolition of Conscription Act 2013 today [Nov 8] in the House of Assembly, following the delivery of the Throne Speech.

The bill appears on the order paper under Opposition Bills, and is the first opposition bill introduced by the PLP. It will be introduced by Opposition Leader Marc Bean.

Conscription first began in Bermuda under the all white Bermuda Rifles in 1957, and the all black Bermuda Militia Artillery began conscripting in 1960. The integrated Bermuda Regiment, which started in 1965, began with conscription in place.


The practice of ending conscription has been mentioned in the past two Throne Speeches.

The OBA’s first Throne Speech in February 2013 said, “The Government is determined to eliminate conscription and already the full time role of the Bermuda Regiment is being enhanced to assume certain responsibilities now borne by the Police.”

In November 2012, the last Throne Speech under the old PLP administration, the Governor said: “The strength of the organisation makes it ideally suited for modernisation and the further amend the Defence Act 1965 to provide for an expanded full-time element in the Regiment and an end to conscription.”

The anti-conscription group Bermudians Against the Draft [BAD] have spent years fighting against conscription, and took their legal challenge all the way to the British Privy Council in the UK, which upheld conscription in 2010.

Update 1.44pm: Tweet below from Shadow Finance Minister David Burt who said, “Without even seeing the end of conscription bill, the OBA votes to block the bill. Conscription will remain in place.”



Update 2.20pm: PLP Leader Marc Bean said, “In an effort to do things differently, embrace the spirit of collaboration and change the toxic environment in Parliament, we attempted to bring forward legislation that would move Bermuda forward. Without even reading or considering the text of the legislation, the OBA blocked the PLP’s Bill to end conscription.”

Mr. Bean continued, “We believe that conscription must end. The OBA says that they believe in ending conscription and that they also believe in collaboration. Together we could have collaborated on something we agree on, ending conscription without delay and moving Bermuda forward.

“Unfortunately it was not to be. The OBA should have worked with us but instead they stifled debate and conscription will be with us for the forseeable future.”

Update 5.33pm: In response, Minister of Public Safety Michael Dunkley said, “Collaboration means working together to achieve common ends. If the Opposition was serious about working together to end conscription they would have shared this Bill in advance of today’s session of the House.

“They didn’t and this Government will not go along with whatever is tabled without fully considering the effects on the public and the Regiment. Timelines pulled out of the air and without regard to the operational responsibilities of the Regiment could be damaging to the organization and disadvantage the very people we’re all supposed to be representing.

“The promise to eliminate conscription is contained in today’s Speech from Throne as well as an undertaking to table amendments to the Defence Act 1965 to address disciplinary practices within the regiment.”

The Minister concluded, “This Government is serious about collaboration but working together is not a game or subject to political stunts. Working together means having the courage to step away from the adversarial system under which we operate and engage each other in meaningful dialogue to produce work that reflects well on us as representatives of the people.”

Update 6.49pm: The debate continues, with Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley tweeting, “In a tweet at 1.11 pm today MP Burt said we blocked the conscription bill without seeing it. Sorry, that is incorrect, I did see it at 9.30.”

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  1. PLP & Ministry On Ending Regiment Conscription | | August 22, 2014
  1. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Col. Burch. As a paid up PLP supporter who has paid their dues. What do you have to say about this? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this being a military man and all. Is the old guard finished or is this a ploy to gain young voters who don’t think they should be made to enlist?

    • CBA says:

      The PLP must really think Bermudians are stupid. They only did this because they knew the OBA is going to end conscription during this session of the House.


      As much as they say they are a new party, the PLP is up to the same obvious politricks as before the election. The only difference now is that people can see right through it!

    • Victor says:

      I am sure Col Burch must be very sad at this turn of events; no more young boys to make men.

  2. reddasfoxx says:

    Im sure they really going to pass it…smh just another stunt

    • sonso says:

      all it is, is the get more votes for the PLP, cheeky lot they are!

    • Hmmm says:

      Only an idiot would pass something to be put into law, that they haven’t read.

      Could contain all sorts of nonsense. US Bills have all kinds of strange attachments that have nothin gto do with the original Bill.

      PLP …here it is…vote for it..NO, don’t look at it.
      Hey Bouncy do a show, build Grand atlantic, Heritage Warf, LED office lights, Dame Lois Brown Evans build, Causeway bridge Uigers…fingers in ears fingers in ears.

      OBA – No, Let’s get it right, and do it properly so we don’t have to do it twice.

  3. Sisu says:

    Awesome, great news. It needs to be done and I applaud the PLP for proposing this. But why the need for a full-time regiment? We have no external threat and internal security would be better handled through the hiring of additional police who could actually do things when not handling internal security issues(i.e. once ever 30 years). Can anybody show me what the Constitution says re: needing a military force? I’ve searched but can’t find what I’m looking for… Thx

  4. Sensitive_Guy says:

    sounds good … altho i was deferred years ago. Self disclipline and home disclipline ie: good parenting has worked for me.

    • Wake up call says:

      Unfortunately far too many bermudian males (black and white) haven’t been so lucky. We’ve raised a generation of spoiled males. They lack accountability for their actions and lack a desire to reach their potential. As a teacher in the school system I see the benefits of conscription and I think it’ll be a shame if irresponsibly taken away. The standard of the males on this island, which is already embarrassingly low, will get even worse…

      • Luke says:

        You obviously don’t know what goes on up there. These young men have to go through curse words being thrown at them repeatedly. 90% of men will tell u they didn’t get anything out of it. Some even become worse after their regiment experience.

        • Wake up call says:

          @luke I’ve been serving for nearly ten years and I can tell you that’s not true.

          • Gamer Elite says:

            Good for you wake up call, but Luke’s right. Waste of time from an institution which becomes more irrelevant by the day. lol @ males in their late teens and 20s who have their lives in order needing the regiment’s helping of their joke discipline. The one size shoe fits all mentality for Bermudian males the regiment has, along with their archaic and outdated mindset when it comes to forced conscription, needs to go.

  5. 1minute says:

    Didn’t the PLP have 14 years to do something about conscription?

  6. Hmmm says:


    Why didn’t the PLP do this when they had the power to pass it with ease ?

    • Hmmm says:

      “Government will introduce amendments to the Defence Act 1965 to eliminate conscription”

      It’s in the throne speech. So I guess both parties are committed to ending conscription.

      Are the PLP just trying to steal thunder ?

      • Observer says:

        They said the same thing in the last throne speech. So what thunder is that?

        • jt says:

          Who said it in the last throne speech and who failed to act on it?

      • DeliverUs says:

        exactly what i thought. someone must have leaked the Throne Speech and the PLP – they r a sneaky bunch – thought they’d get in quick. too bad for them they now look like the underhanded bunch we all know them to be.

  7. watching says:

    1minute, and Hmmm,
    The abolition of conscription was in fact in the PLP’s last throne speech before the election was called and subsequently lost. Yes they had 14 years to do it, however, they had committed to doing it and now they are continuing with what was in the plans.
    It will be interesting to see if the OBA supports this legislation or votes against it. Premier Cannonier has spoken about working together and the spirit of collaboration. Will the OBA vote it down simply because it was brought to the house by the PLP? This will be very interesting.

    • Hmmm says:

      No it was in the 2011 Throne speech too, probably was mentioned if you go back further too.

      They have had time and power to pass this.

      If the legislation isn’t up to scratch it could be voted against.
      If there are sections in there that cause issue with other laws for example.

      Abolition of Conscription Act is a very different beast to “amendments to Defence Act” to end constcription.

      We will have to wait and see.

  8. Bermyman says:

    Well done PLP! best thing you have done all year!

  9. wtf says:

    you a******* are talking about Bermudians gaining extra money you a*** that say you are for the people are now taking money from people like myself that eventho small helps in times like these, if this passes plp will never ever get my vote again.

    PLP taking money away form the working man for 14 plus years………

    • Andrew says:

      How is this related to taking away money from anyone? If you want to join the regiment, they would be glad to have you, and will now most likely start paying more.

  10. Unbelievable says:

    This is s straight up move from the PLP to steal the Govt’s thunder and embarrass them.

    Of course the Govt will say no to this bill and now that they have, the PLP will say all sorts of nonsense to make them look like evil doers. It’s all a strategy by the PLP. Either way the govt would have lost this one.

    Total politicking on the part of the PLP.

  11. Unbelievable says:

    Further to that, how many times did the PLP block or vote against legislation introduced by the UBP or the OBA?

    What clap trap from the PLP!

  12. Cow Polly says:

    “Together we could have collaborated on something we agree on, ending conscription without delay and moving Bermuda forward”

    perhaps Mr Burt you might of discussed it with the Government first instead of going it alone?

    • Edmund Wells says:


      Blindside Government with a bill, and then cry like a five-year old about non-collaboration when they block it.

      Transparent, ugly, childish. Those that are swayed by Mr. Bean’s comments deserve what the get.

      Is it an effective Opposition? No.


    • Hmmm says:

      PLP wanting OBA to vote for what they tell them to vote for (without even reading it first) is not how I interpret collaboration.

      That’s Dictatorial.

      Nasty bunch

  13. Bermuda Male says:

    Do the PLP really expect the Government to pass a bill that was just presented to them today (if that was the case)?

    No of course not as a sensible Government will take the time to study the proposals and weigh the direct and possible up intended consequences as opposed to passing it without a second thought.

    This was a underhanded move by the Opposition which just highlights that their talk of changing is simply that. Talk.

    Anyways, the Throne Speech stated that the Government will be amending the Defence Act to abolish conscription. Something that the now Oppositon had almost a decade and a half to do, but didn’t.

  14. Bda Speaks says:

    It’s is very sad to read some of these comments from my fellow Bermudians that obvious have little idea of how the parliament process works.

    (a) In order to appear on the order paper, this must be discussed with the speaker of the house by Wednesday of the week of the sitting. So this was known before the throne speech was read that it would be lain. Known by all members before the throne speech was read.

    (b) There is no such think as being “blindsided”. Any bills lain by the gov are not seen until they are lain. That is why a bill is lain but not debated until 2 weeks after. To allow all members to read and form an opinion for the debate.

    (c) Apparently the OBA refused to allow the bill to be even allowed to be considered. They have the majority so even if it was debated they could have defeated it. Why refused to even allow it to be read by the house?

    (d) It’s a initiative both parties agree on so why not even discuss it? Who is really playing politics here?

    Another sad day for Bermuda and an blow to the OBA’s calls for collaboration.

    • Hmmm says:

      Isn’t this their first day back?

    • yesman says:

      Thank you for that insight. I can’t stand when politicians play games. Just when I was feeling good about the 10% percent discount on Wednesdays. The OBA pull this stunt. This is very annoying.

  15. Bda Speaks says:

    (b) There is no such THING as being “blindsided”. Any bills lain by the gov, OPPOSITION or PRIVATE BILLS are not seen until they are lain. That is why a bill is lain but not debated until 2 weeks after IT HAS BEEN PRESENTED. To allow all members to read and form an opinion for the debate.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      School these Oba bloggers up bda speaks! Oba should be ashamed! Look at the blogger hmmm…….ignorance exemplified! The PLP has shown tremendous strategy and I can understand some of you Oba supporters going crazy over it.

      • Hmmm says:

        Sorry, you are wrong….Minister didn’t get it until 9:30 from the Tweet.

        So Are you that unethical that you would vote on something you hadn’t had a chance to read properly and discuss.

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        In 2011 the PLP put ending conscription in its throne speech. It was in power for more than a year after that, yet did nothing. Why?

      • jt says:

        It will get passed on the OBA’s terms, as should be the case. There will still be opportunity for collaboration, but I expect the PLP will pout on the sidelines when the OBA tables their own bill.

    • Edmund Wells says:

      Bda Speaks-

      I’d defer to your knowledge of the legislative process, and appreciate the clarity you’ve provided.

      Given what you’ve described, I’d revise my comment to put the blindsiding prior to the laying of the bill. Either the PLP truly wanted to collaborate, and told Government it was planning on introducing this legislation, or it did not, and so blindsided Government upon it being presented.

      The effect is the same.


  16. Handbag Basher says:

    the plp will try anything to get a little attention.

    conscription should have been removed years ago,it serves no purpose as many countries have already found out.

  17. haha says:

    Said Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley: “Tabling legislation is the end of the process not the first step. Collaboration means working together to achieve common ends. If the Opposition was serious about working together to end conscription they would have shared this Bill in advance of today’s session of the House. They didn’t and this Government will not go along with whatever is tabled without fully considering the effects on the public and the Regiment. Timelines pulled out of the air and without regard to the operational responsibilities of the Regiment could be damaging to the organisation and disadvantage the very people we’re all supposed to be representing.”

    SAYS IT ALL REALLY….PLP already trying to spin things again, as usual…yawn

  18. Karma says:

    Please tell me that Marc Bean isn’t going to open a winery…his grapes are WAY too sour.

    • Esther Elaine Kelly says:

      Not only are his grapes way too sour – they are really prunes. He is an amateur polictricker. Not the least bit interested in the country. His intent is to use the stage to promote his own interest. If it ain’t idle chatter about colonialism it’s about his…. bredren and their values and beliefs. And this is the guy who the PLP selected to be their leader? This says a whole lot as to who they really are. I cannot think why the one or two sensible thinking people still associate themselves with them. The PLP of today is not the real PLP of yesteryear. My grandparents believed in the philosophy of the old PLP! The ones of today are all about nothing worth following. According to a senior it is the fools like Betty Trump and Mazumbo that helps them to wish there was another choice. The OBA to them look very inviting as weak as they are. The PLP is a definite NO… unless someone comes up with a different choice my grandparents and I will not be voting. And for all of you who want to scold me about the struggle and the right to vote remember my foreparents did not get whipped to keep me stuck in ignorance nor arrogance. Somebody somewhere HELP!!!+

  19. TripleBeam Hitman says:

    IDGAF I NOT GOING EDA WAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    TEAM****GOVERNMENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Mr. Marc Bean you are coming off, extremely childish bie’ Don’t you realize that the P.L. P. are today and tomorrow and for many more tomorrows, the Opposition? If you have nothing constructive to say then say nothing at all because you are getting, “sweat-headed” and it’s showing more and more by the minute…

  21. Ringmaster says:

    What has happened to multiple posters under the name of Betty? I don’t see their input here which must be a record. Can Betty not support Mr. Burt, but only their idol Mr. Bean?

  22. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    If the PLP believed in a truly collaborative effort in government, why didn’t they work with the OBA to create the bill in the first place? This smacks of the musty old stench of politricks of trying to make oneself look good by taking a quick poke at the other, not buying it. If we want to end conscription properly, we need to make sure there is a structure in place to handle a transition from it.

    The demerits of forced service are often spoken louder over the merits of those who have found a means to change their life that would not have been there, had they not been forced into it. In my forced service, I found the regiment was merely a microcosm reflection of our society on whole. There are those in there that have the drive to better themselves, there are those who do not, but step up to find it in the discipline the Regiment installs. And then there are those who complain the regiment wastes their time, they sit there when work is being done, complain that it is not getting done fast enough, but do nothing to help speed it along. It is this later that is the most heard from, primarily because they are the ‘squeaky wheel’, but also because those who are finding the good, are to busy getting the work done.

    The Regiment is far from a perfect organization, but that is because it is a reflection of human society on whole. Should we rid ourselves of conscription, we must make sure that there is something in place to catch those who fell through the first cracks in our school system and would have otherwise been caught and picked up by the Regiment. We also need to make sure there is a force in place to aid when needed in the event of disaster recovery, otherwise we will find ourselves looking to other countries to aid in recovery, much the same way other countries look to our Regiment for help when they need it. In my opinion one of the best ways forward would be to provide greater resources to helping those in the regiment learn some lasting technical skills, whet hither they be cooking and restuarant management in the kitchen, mechanics in the MT, EMT in the medics, communication technicians… there are things to learn while there, one simply needs to be open to learning.

  23. Victor says:

    The basic point here is that the PLP still think they are the Government and this is all part of the big sulk now that the toys have been taken away.

  24. Luke says:

    Seems to me the PLP are trying to earn votes for the next election from thousands of young men who don’t want to be conscripted.

  25. Concerned says:

    Who are the thousands – the Marshall’s and friends. How many young men have after their 3 yrs remain as volunteers? If you plant the seed of dissent what do you get – gangs? the Marshall’s and friends? Hmph! best keep the Regiment for discipline sake. One young man said it best “Self disclipline and home disclipline ie: good parenting has worked for me.”
    Congratulations Sir and I encourage you to parent those under you as the Lord knows we are in need of strong men black, white or other. And no it isnt about color but determination, desire and dedication.