Video: Premier Dunkley On Defence Amendment

December 14, 2015

Premier Michael Dunkley recently spoke about the ongoing debate regarding conscription in the Bermuda Regiment, saying the opposition “had the opportunity to do something that they’ve called for, and they certainly didn’t do it”

Speaking outside the House on Friday, Premier Dunkley said, “The main part of the Act that is in front of us today is the conscription clause.

“It’s apparent, through the debate, that the opposition has a challenge with that clause because they think that it shouldn’t be in there, even the opportunity if the numbers aren’t at an acceptable level, to go back and fill up the numbers you need through conscription.

“I take a strong difference of opinion to that suggestion by the opposition, and my colleagues do as well.

“There’s two things I should note here: one is that the opposition was the government in 2012, and shortly before the election, they tabled part of this bill which deals with the discipline procedures within the Regiment; at that time, they could’ve easily tabled the ending of conscription. They didn’t.

“I find it very hollow at this point in time now to say that we want to end conscription, because the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

“They had the opportunity to do something that they’ve called for, and they certainly didn’t do it.

“The second point about that is that while the opposition suggested ways that we could keep volunteer numbers up, all of them cost money. We don’t have the money at this point and time.

“I would love to have the money, because if I had an extra $10 million, I’d just hire a hundred and more people or so to make sure that we would never have to worry about the strength of the Regiment again.

“That’s just not the case, and the opposition, every suggestion they’ve made cost money, and they haven’t mentioned it. They haven’t mentioned how they’re going to fund it going forward.

“When they’ve referred to the Jamaican Defense, they’re paid. When they refer to other jurisdictions, they’re paid for what they have to do. When the Honourable member in the opposition, MP Scott, talked about educating our people and sending them away, that’s going to cost us a significant amount of money.”

“This government has to operate with the cloth that it has, in cutting it the appropriate way.

“If I could increase the budget, I would and put it to good use. This bill we bring today allows us to operate under the context and the restraints that we have, and I think that it will work.

“The last thing I will say to that is the Recruit Camp 2016 will be filled by all volunteers, and conscription is on the books at the present time.

“We know that it can work, and I will do everything with the commanding officer to make sure we continue to get the recruits that are required to fill that camp.”

Regarding the Regiment’s ‘magic number,’ Premier Dunkley said, “That magic number is set by the Commanding Officer.

“That magic number can always be reviewed in the future going forward, if there’s the potential to look at the roles and the responsibilities because, from my understanding, it really hasn’t been reviewed in recent times.

“The first step would be, if you’re sure, to look at the roles and responsibilities and deem is this number appropriate for what we need to get done. I would imagine that there would be some latitude and flexibility in that too, to take a look at that number.

Premier Dunkley added, “The retention numbers being so high is the result of the Commanding Officer, and the team, and the vision they have about the roles and responsibilities, how they conduct themselves, what they do, making the training rewarding and exciting.

“All of these types of things that have happened over the last couple of years have allowed us to be in this position. I think it’s great, and I applaud them for that.”

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Comments (27)

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  1. Missed it says:

    I am sooo tired of the OBA responding to controversies with ‘well the PLP did it’ / ‘well the PLP didnt do it either when they had the chance’

    OMG THAT’S WHY WE VOTED THE PLP OUT.
    Dunkley KEEP giving us these responses and we’ll vote you out TOO.

    • Hey Bie says:

      This is the same template he will use with regards to bies trying marry bies and gals trying marry gals. Get ready Bermuda Gay Society. He has the numbers to pass it, but he’s to busy smiling with power to use it.

      • They keep blaming the P.L.P because they didn’t expect to win and didn’t have a solid plan, so they had to throw together a rag tag team.
        Blame de other guy to take the attention away from my faults syndrome.

  2. San George says:

    We need more conscription not less. The military is the last resort to instill some discipline into this community given that families and the education system are failing our kids.

    • Yeah nothing instills discipline in our young men like strip joints, brothels, and excessive drinking. Join the army now.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Like they join the regiment to do that… know enough ‘young men who have never served, who go down to the Dominican for some guy time… hell, a number of them were introduced to it by their dads.

        • So two wrongs make a right? Notice you didn’t deny it. Big difference between doing something on one’s own time, out of one’s own pocket, as opposed to doing it while on an overseas trip funded by tax paying dollars wouldn’t you say? Dads taking their sons to the Dominican Republic is a real Hallmark moment.

          • Double S says:

            You should hear what our national sports teams get up to while traveling on the tax payers dime!

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            They aren’t doing it on service time, they’ll get their chance on their R&R day post camps, so what is your issue, they’d being going to strip clubs, brothels and drinking on their own time without the regiment, so your arguement that they do this because of the regiment and on regiment time is debunked. And those that might try this during regiment time will find themselves on charges if they get caught. Arguement debunked, please try another pointless prejudice.

    • Bda_Gentlemen says:

      I for one am insulted by your statement because my parents have done a great job in raising me and I to was conscripted into the army!

      This is the problem with your argument! If our society believes that it needs to instill discipline in 18 year old males that are considered adults then that means that society has already failed!

      Most young males that attend the regiment are up there because they have enough discipline to go there once being called. The ones without the discipline do not show up and therefore are left alone because the responsible ones have shown up! Also it is much easier for the regimental police to control people that have jobs and a fixed abode against the ones that do not!

      And you are correct that the families, schools and communities have failed our children! But that is where the problem lies and you cannot force Bermudian men into the regiment based on that argument. Because the same thing was said against blacks during slavery and it was still considered unjust!

  3. sage says:

    Dunks is doing the 9 kernels bidding.

  4. Onion says:

    We expected the OBA to be better than the PLP. Yes, the OBA have ended it in policy but they let us down and broke their promise to end it in the law.

    Very very disappointed in the OBA.

    • Zevon says:

      Yeah right. And in the meantime there will be no conscripts next year. None. Your lovely PLP never did that did they.
      The PLP talk about things and don’t do them. The OBA just do them.

      • Onion says:

        Ha!

        What if I told you that just because I disapprove of this failure by the OBA to follow through on their word that doesn’t mean I’m PLP.

        The PLP promised for years to end conscription and like most things they talked a lot and then sat on their hands.

        Country before party.

  5. Impressive says:

    Yes, I agree Mr. Dunkley, as a PLP supporter you are correct, the PLP had sufficient time as the government to make the necessary changes to the Defense Act and end conscription. However, you attempting to pass the buck on this issue, when you have misled persons on more than one occasion is shameful.
    Politics in this country is in dire straits.
    That goes for the PLP as well as the OBA, incase anyone gets it twisted.

  6. Brian says:

    Bermuda Regiment is basically just a marching band, besides helping clean up after hurricanes all they do is parades. Find an appropriate number for the parade and you have the number of volunteers, simple. No person should be forced to join ‘the army’ especially if it is against their beliefs.

  7. Cup Of tea Anyone? says:

    Good Job premier!!

  8. Jr Smith says:

    END CONSCRIPTION, I dont care what the other party failed to do, but I know they will never relinquish that kind of power easily.

  9. Real Talk (original) says:

    Disappointing that the OBA resort time and time again to reminding us of what the PLP did it didn’t do. Fact of the matter is that the OBA government promised an end to conscription and now appear to be back pedaling…

    Classic bait and switch which is becoming the modus operandi of the OBA government.

  10. Sisu says:

    THEN WHY PROMISE TO END IT IF IT WASN’T WHAT YOU MEANT??! The OBA have made that promise on numerous occasions and this is the best they could come up with??

    Here’s a tip Mike;
    - save money, get rid of the regiment
    - set up a volunteer hurricane clean up group (free…already have equipment)
    - set up a marching band/parade group (free…already have costumes/instruments)
    - train police for riot patrol (some expense)
    - train police for key point protection (some expense)
    = net save of approx $4m/year

  11. reality says:

    people,

    in a disaster, everyone would want to make sure their home is safe before going out to help others. None of you would leave your home if you think that it was likely to suffer some damage or your family may need you to help. The regiment and the police are ordered to do so. They report in way before the storm and as soon as the storm winds die down they are out helping to clear routes for emergency.

    like it or not, NO government is giving that up!!! not UBP and certainly not PLP.

  12. Bda_Gentlemen says:

    Unfortunately both governments have failed our Bermudian young males. The biggest problem with conscription is that it discriminates against young Bermudian males and it is sad that this society believes it is ok to do so. I mean no offence against women, but everyone fought for women’s rights, the equality of all and got it, but why is it that only one gender is subjected to conscription? Why is it that only Bermudian males are discriminated against and not overseas workers? Why is it that one Bermudian male is discriminated against because he got picked and another Bermudian male didn’t? IT IS DISCRIMINATION and I for one cannot condone it simply on those basis!

    However, we all know that the Bermuda regiment will never sustain itself with volunteers. The regiment will never look attractive for folks to volunteer. The only way to get people to volunteer to the regiment is by making it more attractive against all other options.

    This is why I support a national service plan that makes all Bermudians partake in it. Make everyone after the age of 18 responsible for doing so much hours (equal to that of the regiment) of community service by a government recognized charity or agency. Have the regiment as the only agency where you get paid for your service. Government should also hike up payroll tax (or another form of tax) for everyone that is not partaking in it until their required hours has finished. Problem solved! WIN WIN FOR ALL! It gives everyone a choice to partake or not to partake. Hence ending the DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG BERMUDIAN MEN!

  13. PANGAEA says:

    Are they still paying our soldiers 2 shillings and six pence ?

  14. Coffee says:

    Hey Larry …. Remind us how Premier Dunkley wore out your couch before getting elected , soliciting your vote with the Boy Scout honour of ending conscription !

    Coffee mischievously grins at the many disingenuous promises of this UBP/OBA roundup crew .

  15. Triangle Drifter says:

    This bit of legislation was basically a waste of time & eaxpense, just like the Regiment, in its present size & form, is a waste of time & expense.

    All that is needed is the band & enough toy soldiers for a parade. Hurricane clean up can be better done by people whose business it is to take care of landscaping with the help of companies that have heavy equipment if that is what is needed for a few days.

    What do the BPS Reserves do these days. Seems like they are hardly seen. During special events it seems that they would be better used as a police presence than taking fulltime officers away from regular duty. For those who want to volunteer for something useful, the BPS Reserves seem like a natural fit.

  16. clearasmud says:

    Mr. Dunkley said on several occasions that He would get rid of conscription and is claiming that he has even though he has not. What this Bill does is remove the responsibility of finding creative ways to get volunteers by giving the Regiment an easy out. If they do nothing to get the numbers they simply continue to conscript. In my view conscription should be limited to National Emergencies and not be used for if the regiment does not meet its number quota!