PLP: ‘Why Block The Conscription Abolition Bill?’

November 13, 2013

Following the PLP’s tabling of the Abolition of Conscription Act 2013 on Friday [Nov 8], the party has asked why the OBA “sought to block this bill.”

The bill [PDF] was the first Opposition bill by the PLP, and called for aspects of the Defence Act 1965 [PDF] to be repealed, serving to abolish conscription while maintaining the Regiment via voluntary enlistment. The bill did not pass.

Clause 14 said sections of the bill would come into effect on December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2016, with the delayed commencement “to allow the regiment time to transition to an all volunteer force.”

Government pledged to eliminate conscription in last week’s Throne Speech [PDF]; the third consecutive Throne Speech to reference it, with the PLP including it in their 2012 Throne Speech, and the OBA in their first Throne Speech.

On Friday, Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said, “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.

Minister Dunkley said, “This Government is serious about collaboration but working together is not a game or subject to political stunts.”

The debate between the two parties continued on Twitter, with Minister Dunkley [@BDAMilkman] and Shadow Finance Minister David Burt [@DavidBurtMP] discussing it over the weekend.

The statement from the PLP is below:

Today we wish to share 3 key points of our “Abolition of Conscription Act 2013” that was tabled on November 8th 2013.

  • “Voluntary Enlistment” The regiment shall be raised and maintained by means of voluntary enlistment.”
  • “Conscientious Objector” status will be given to any person who applied to the Exemption Tribunal for recognition as a conscientious objector prior to the tabling of this bill.
  • Provisions are made for the commencement of sections of this bill to come into effect on December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2016. This delayed commencement is to require those who were previously called up, to complete their service, to allow the regiment time to transition to an all-volunteer force.

So as you can see for yourselves, we have allowed for provisions of the regiment to be maintained as a volunteer force. This would be contrary to Minister Dunkley’s claim “Timelines pulled out of the air and without regard to the operational responsibilities of the Regiment.”

We are sure that you now see, that we have looked at every angle of this issue, and have made provisions for the Regiment to continue to serve Bermudians and furthermore, to provide a career path for Bermudians wishing to serve Bermuda in that capacity.

Continuation of past policies

In 2012 we indicated that we were looking to end conscription, and to have an all-volunteer regiment take on increased maritime and joint Bermuda Police roles.

“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 focus of a 21st Century Bermuda Regiment will be on an enhanced maritime role, greater engagement in border control and increased operations with the other uniformed services.”

“The timetable for the end of conscription and the transition to a modernised Regiment will be set out in 2013 by the Ministry of National Security.” PLP Throne Speech November 2012

So the” Abolishment of Conscription Act 2013,” was but a natural progression of the foundation the PLP had set in motion.

Why Block the Bill?

All Bermudians, and in particular, young Bermudian males and their families, must ask questions.

Why has the OBA, and in particular Minister Dunkley, sought to block this bill without even letting you the Bermudian public weigh in on this topic?

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Comments (48)

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  1. Smith says:

    PLP – You had 14 years to table this Bill.

    It is vital to make sure that we have a bill that will not be a FLIP – FLOP; one that is well thought-out and reviewed, and is for the good of the country (not just votes for the party).

    The PLP is trying to take credit, when really they didn’t have the testicular fortitude to do this in all the years they were in power.

    • If we like it or not Smith makes a valid point, it don’ take 14 years to bring this to the order papers, or to be tabled in the house of assembly,my only question at this point is if it ever gets to be discussed and voted on in both the lower and upper house, what happens if it is passed and we see the end of conscription.

      Do we the tax payers now become liable to pay back the Marshall brother’s and their father for the years of legal fees that they and others had to pay out, along with other attachments that may not have surfaced as of yet.

      Maybe this is the reason the O.B.A is putting the brakes on the bill being tabled, because of the fall out it will bring economically if most vote in favor for no longer having conscription, so wait until the dust is settled and the Marshall’s are all out of money were they can’t fight government for reimbursement.

      Just another part of Bermudian legacy, to destroy another black family economically and then institute policies, laws and by laws that make the government look like it done something on behalf of the people, and yes their would be jokers that actually believe they won something in their favor, but on the backs of someone who had to loose everything in the process.

      Sounds like another bunch of government leaders I once knew or at least though I knew, I have been sleep so many times it could have been all just a dream.

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        What the hell are you talking about.

        Furst, the government has no liability for the Marshall’s legal fees.

        Second, it was the PLP who “destroyed another black family economically”, if you’re referring to the expenses the Marshalls racked up. Voluntarily.

      • Real Deal says:

        Well I agree with this however PLP did do a bit to get the ball rolling.

        i think they rase the pay a bit
        made some benifits like TCD and public Transport discounts.
        but in mind i feel they could have put more steem into this.

    • tainted visions says:

      Dunkley used the Marshalls to get the OBAUBP into power, now he don’t need them because he has all the rich and famous supporting them.

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Agreed. They had 14 years to do deal with all kinds of issues. What did they do? They talked. Then they talked some more. Then they made great announcements about going to talk some more. What happened? Nothing.

    The OBA has been in power for less than a year. Most of that time has been spent trying get on the road to repairing the horrific financial damage done by the PLP.

    Dealing with the Regiment is long overdue but hardly a top priority given other issues facing us today.

    • Sisu says:

      Yeah, it’s only my freedom and human rights they are (not) dealing with. It can wait… Thanks mate. Bermuda: feel the love!

      Ending conscription is not a particularly hard thing to do. Mike Dunkley is not so busy that he couldn’t have something drafted in a year’s time (it’s not something he would personally draft anyway). He is playing politics pure and simple. He is trying to ‘save’ the regiment and make it a viable full-time option. Why, I don’t know. We have no external threat and internal policing would be better carried out by an expanded police force. Full-time Bermuda soldiers won’t do anything 3/4 of the year…just like full-time soldiers currently. We will have a coast guard that is a military force…just to make those up at Warwick Camp feel macho and manly. And we will have a hurricane cleanup crew that is a military force… again, to be macho and manly.

      Bermuda needs no military force. It’s plain for all to see…who want to see it. Internal security done by police + hurricane cleanup done by volunteers + marching done by a volunteer marching band = no military.

      End conscription before 2014. Please Mike?

      • Suzie Quattro says:

        If the PLP felt this was so urgent, perhaps Marc Bean should have given the bill to the government prior to 9.30am on Friday. Laws aren’t passed instantly. They are worked on, drafted, and then passed after everyone has had a chance to make sure they do what is intended. Marc Bean was just playing silly games, as he still is.

        The idea of ending conscription was in the PLP’s 2011 Throne Speech. Like many things in that throne speech, it never happened, despite the fact the PLP were in power for over a year after that speech. They never did it. The PLP is the party that broke its promise to end conscription.

        It’s in the current government’s throne speech, in no uncertain terms. If the OBA fail to do it, the complaints will be legitimate, like the complaints about the PLP were. But in the meantime Bean comes across as arrogant and childish.

        • Sisu says:

          The PLP should have done something, yes. And the OBA should have done something too. So instead of this ridiculous game of ‘well they could have done X in Y years’ why don’t our elected representitives do the right thing and end conscription soonest? Instead of turning it into a political football why don’t they just pass a bill before the new recruit camp starts in January? Surely the best and brightest Bermuda has to offer can draft a 3 page paper in 2 months… Time will tell though.
          The OBA’s continued attempts to appease the minority (those currently in charge up at Warwick Camp) comes at the expense of the freedom of our young men; me included. It’s ridiculous. Why does ending conscription have to wait until a full-time alternative is sorted out? Are the OBA really afraid that an understaffed(?!) army of 100+ will leave Bermuda vulnerable to the numerous threats all recruits are told about? True colours are showing. Walk the walk…don’t just talk the talk.

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            The OBA DID do something. They said it will be abolished. That resolves it. It will actually happen this time, unlike the broken promises made by the PLP in 2011.

            Marc Bean didn’t do s*** about conscription when he was a Government Minister. He’s acting like an arrogant jerk.

  3. aceboy says:

    Cluck cluck PLP…you are a bunch of chickens! You table the bill after you lost the elcetion to win back the votes of the people who hold you in comtempt for your inaction on this matter. Zero risk to you now.

  4. watching says:

    I am really tired of everytime the PLP make a statement the response is “you had 14 years to do something etc”. The PLP did a lot of good in their 14 years of government, and yes made mistakes as well. But to decry their entire term in government is laughable.

    I found that the PLP taking the initiative on this issue very promising and the OBA instead of rejecting it should have allowed the tabling and then made changes if need be. But for Minister Dunkley to downright reject it was unnecessary and a slap in the face to what the Premier himself has spoken towards which is collaborative politics.

    • Smith says:

      Read the OBA’s response; maybe you’ll get a better understanding that it was not the OBA who did the slapping. As per usual, it came from the PLP (and to their country/supporters also)

    • Victor says:

      If the PLP and Marc Bean in particular were genuinely interested in collaborative politics, in this instance they would surely have given Government more than thirty minutes notice to read their scheme prior to the Throne Speech. In the bigger picture, they would also have accepted the Premier’s generous and magnanimous offer of seat in Cabinet. The bottom line is that this is all part of a long post election pout from a bunch of spoiled brats who think WE all owe them their sinecures. I am hopeful that older, wiser and saner voices in the PLP will shortly show the courage to prevail over this present rabble that usurped the leadership.

      • watching says:

        Does the OBA give the PLP the legislation in advance of sitting in the House?

        On another note we know that the OBA’s gesture of a cabinet seat was not genuine and if the PLP offered one to the OBA they wouldnt have accepted either. It is very difficult for a member of the opposition to sit in cabinet of the other Party.

        if the OBA was truly interested in collaboration, Minister DUnkley would hve let the legislation be tabled and then reviewed it prior to it being debated. In fact Premier Cannonier could have/should have intervened as the Leader and encouraged this. However they chose to play politics with this important issue.

        • Victor says:

          Utter nonsense. Thirty minutes notice is just being plain cute. Furthermore, if Bean and company had thought things through, they should have accepted the Cabinet seat, thereby in the least putting the cat among the pigeons but just possibly too even helping the economic reconstruction after years of neglect and incompetence.

    • aceboy says:

      I must have missed it…can you please detail what “good” they did?

    • Mike Hind says:

      Sure they did some good… But, based on the state we’re in, and have been for a while, the mistakes outweigh the good. And it’s absolutely valid to point out when they stamp their feet about something they could have fixed.

    • Reas0n says:

      “made mistakes as well”

      You make it sound so innocent. Bermuda has been ruined for many future generations. This is the harsh reality. Any good they did was insignificant.

  5. Say Say Say says:

    I’m ‘watching’ too. The Pathetic Loser Party lost the election almost a year ago – accept it, get used to it, get over it. PLP is all but finished.

  6. watchfuleyes says:

    Are the OBA working in opposition with each other? If the Premier and Mr.Dunkley has said that conscription will end then why did the OBA block the Bill to end it? The OBA is only worried about taking the credit for ending conscription, not about ending it.It is and should be top priority since we are dealing with Human Rights and our young men’s freedom. Or is ‘weed’ more important than our males in Bermuda? Mr.Dunkley who has given us the impression that he wants conscription to end but in the same breath makes a move like this. Will the real Mr.Dunkley please stand up? It is disappointing, and a sad day in Bermuda to see this kind of politicing taking place. Mr.Dunkley has given the family members of BAD the (impression) that he is supporting their plight but in reality he is not. It is not just the PLP that could have decided this issue but why would the OBA block it? I personally have had conversations with Ms.Dunkley who has said he cares about the men in BAD and wants to see their struggle come to an end. Well he certainly has a funny way of showing it.
    Let me say this, the PLp is far from finished and if you think so then keep on understimating their voters. The next time it will be the OBA who get the shock of their lives. Oh yeah they got the shock this time because even they knew they were not equipped to run this country, and now we are suffering because of it. Mr.Dunkley do the right thing.
    I wish to thank the PLP for finally supporting BAD in this fight.

  7. Guy Carri says:

    LMAO! PLP didn’t do it. Fought with BAD for years over it. Now all of a sudden they think it’s a great idea. LOL! Simply putting the squeeze on OBA to do something they know they can’t/won’t any time soon.

  8. watchfuleyes says:

    It doesn’t matter who thought what, all that matters that it is abolished. Yes, the PLP fought with BAD but it was a different leader then. The objective here is to get rid of conscription once and for all. And for the record, there were always some members of the PLP who were against conscription even when they were in power. They should not have to put the squeeze on the OBA because if you have been awake for the last year the OBA have come out saying THEY are going to end conscription,so what is the problem? The OBA are the ones politicing and using this to their advantage too.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      No, the PLP are the ones acting like little kids. You don’t pass laws having just read them 30 minutes ago, unless you’re an amateur. Which probably explains why Marc Bean thinks this is how things are dome.

  9. cba says:

    PLP fought to keep conscription in the bermuda courts and the england courts. The plp claim to be a new party but all I see is same okd politics. Everyone knows what this is…politrics

  10. bluebird says:

    A storm in a “TEA-CUP” why would you want to get rid of the regiment where it teaches most of the young men/women that attend they can do something for there country.The other advantage is disaplin which many are lacking and eventually appreciate.
    But I ask why the REGIMENT why not the OVER BLOATED GOVERMENT,as we have 25,000 working Bermudians and 8,000 on the Government payroll.The Government is still borrowing $300million per year to pay them and themselves.$120million per year in interest or average $10million per month going out of Bermuda and we are still BORROWING $300million per year to keep this going.

    • Victor says:

      Thank you very much for cutting to the chase!

    • Free-DUM says:

      It’s called human rights!!!

      • Victor says:

        Indeed; frankly, I think the Nomenklatura that has taken over the Civil Service (including those incompetents down at the BMA) are a violation of my civil rights, not to mention my wallet too. It is obscene that the former Government in fourteen years managed to create a Caste of cronies that leech of the travails of the private sector whilst giving exactly zero back.

        • Free-DUM says:

          Are we getting away from the issue? Conscription is a violation of a human beings human rights. It is time for Bermuda to enter the 21st century.

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            Yes, and finally we have a government that will actually end conscription, unlike the PLP who put it into throne speeches but never actually did anything about it.

  11. watchfuleyes says:

    Yes, the PLP did fight nail and tooth to keep conscription, but we are glad for the change of heart. @Bluebird, We are no longer talking about the benefits of conscription since both parties have come out against it. Next! Let me be perfectly clear, no one is talking about the removal of the Regiment, we are talking about the removal of conscription!

  12. Think About It says:

    I use to be all for the abolishment of conscription,I actually never served in the army I slipped through the cracks: being away in school, not going to get the physical, not responding to the mail, etc.

    I felt if a person was doing positive why punish them by sending them to the army, I saw it as a punishment and not service. This life we live is about service and serving others. God says let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father that is in Heaven. As believers of Jesus (Esa – Islam /Yeshua – Hebrew), He calls us to a life of service through Him where things are n longer a burden due to the change of heart, realizing it’s an opportunity to plant seeds.

    My concern is that if service is no longer mandatory people won’t go and when something does arise, foreign troops come in and they have a choice to listen to the Bermudian leaders or if they are given a second command by the powers that sent them they can do things by force even to use their weapons. Nato sends troops into alot of places and through force things are changed.

    Sometimes we ask for something but it doesn’t go the way you think it will go. Remember Israel asked for a King. Also the Catholic system use to send troops into countries and persecute people but speak contrary to what they were doing (The Art of Deception).

    Just Something to Think About.

    • Mike Hind says:

      What kind of thing are you thinking will arise?

    • Free-DUM says:

      The responsibility of defense is the UK’s not Bermuda’s Mickey Mouse regiment, so your argument doesn’t make sense.

  13. Sisu says:

    Why do the regiment hold ‘church’ on the first Sunday of recruit camp? Nothing like making grown men sing songs together. “We are Christian Soldiers”… Like wtf? And the looney’s see nothing wrong with it. Thou shalt not kill God said. Unless I say so says your commander. FML.

  14. Want to Know says:

    A couple of questions for those here. 1) Where are these “volunteers” going to come from? 2) If the regiment disappears, what reserve body do we have to assist in times of civil unrest or natural disaster?

    • Free-DUM says:

      @Want to Know – slave masters once asked similar questions. You can’t continue to disregard people’s human rights in the name of the regiment. Also, if the regiment is all people make it out to be they should have no problem attracting volunteers.

      In times of civil unrest, it’s called a full time professional police force/service. In times of natural disasters it’s called a volunteer like unit (FEMA) and/or national guard.

      We need to see conscription for what it is and stop making excuses for it. The time is come for Bermuda to enter the 21st century. End conscription.

      • Want to Know says:

        I never disputed the desire to get rid of conscription nor indeed did I defend it as a practice. Therefore your comments about slave masters and the like are unwarranted. What I want to know is that if we do not physically have enough people to staff the police, where are the extra people going to come from to volunteer for the regiment.
        Also for your information, FEMA is not a volunteer organization but a government department, which costs $$$. Also the National Guard is what the regiment effectively is, and I have already asked how we will staff it.
        I am actually looking to see if anyone out there has constructive information.

        • Free-DUM says:

          Apologies, I was not stating that FEMA was volunteer when I put in brackets, maybe I should have put or FEMA instead. Also, the regiment could be effective as a national guard like organization with people who to choose to join either on a full time or part time basis.

          I don’t think it’s rocket science. The police were able to successfully recruit by adding better pay and incentives. I believe if an extensive review is done, the organization known as the regiment should be or could be used as a secondary to customs and the police!!!

  15. Irony says:

    PLP go away,we do not want any more damage done to Bermuda!

  16. Betty Trump says:

    Well done PLP, for bringing this bill forward. I love the fact that you are a working Opposition, and I look forward to hearing and reading more bills put before the house by the Opposition in the near future. I think it will reveal for sure if this OBAubp government are serious about “Collaboration”. Keep pushing and working on behalf of the many folks whom supported you and continue to support the party. I am most proud of this recent step.

    Thanks of such brilliant comments by those who also seem to be in favor of this bill. I think it was a great opportunity for Human Rights to be addressed in an collective effort of Collaboration by both political parties. Seem now like a mere missed opportunity by the OBAubp to prove just how serious they are when they throw out the buzz words…TRANSPARENCY, COLLBORATION & INCLUSION> are they just that Buzz words for folks to hear?

    Keep pressing on Opposition PLP, I look forward to your efforts, it will pay big in the future. The big payback is near !!

  17. GOD1ST says:

    The PLP are looking to retain the government bottom line. I am against the draft too and would like to see it abolished,however this is a move by the PLP to try and gain votes.

  18. watchfuleyes says:

    It doesn’t matter why the PLP are doing it as long as this mandatory system is abolished. Do you not think that Michael Dunkley has his own agenda? He claims he wants to end conscription and had the perfect opportunity to do it yet he is going to let a technicality get in the way? @Duane Santucci – you are spot on, you made some excellent points.
    @sandy Bottom- you are correct in one aspect that the Marshall’s volunteered to take on this fight but in some jurisdictions one would consider them freedom fighters. BAD’s fight is not just for themselves but for all young men in this Island who will some day face mandatory enslavement in that waste of time Regiment.
    @Sisu- there is no justification for dragging out this process of ending conscription – Dunkley is busy being tricky but at some point even he will realize that people know he is playing games. conscription has for years been a political football.
    Let it go Dunkley and move on to other things. This issue will never go away until things are made right. How ironic it may be if the matter of conscription turns out to be Minister Dunkley’s undoing.

  19. CommonSense says:

    The OBA have every intention of ending conscription. They are just working with the Regiment to help it get to a place where it can survive on volunteers, which it currently cannot do. It is likely that conscription will last another couple years while the Regiment restructures itself to be able to survive on volunteers alone. Look for conscription to end in 2016.

    • Sisu says:

      Why do my human rights get trumped by the needs and wants some military organization? I read an article just the other day that said there are quite a few volunteers in the regiment already (mainly those who chose to stay after their 3 years are up) – how many more do they need/why? Why do my human rights get trumped because the regiment can’t appropriately sell its benefits to men not yet conscripted into it’s hallowed halls? And why will it take 3 years to implement these changes? I thought the leaders there were quick on their feet…guess not. 3 years = $20,000,000. Think about it.

  20. watchfuleyes says:

    If you back and check articles you will see that the public was told conscription would end in 2013! yet another lie by the OBA- and we say the PLP is playing games? It does not have to take years to put something else in place. It is not a complicated task, oh wait I forgot I am taling about the OBA, my mistake. The PLP will have to abolish it when they get back in.