Column: Govt Must Engage In Real Consultation

February 23, 2016

[Opinion column written by BPSU President Jason Hayward]

It is becoming undeniably clear that persons in our community are dissatisfied with many of the Government’s current policy initiatives and are also equally frustrated with the method by which these policies are being rolled out.

The Government must take into consideration the socio-cultural impact that policies have on the very people that they have been empowered to represent and further develop a better appreciation for the fact that policies must be in alignment with the environment that they are set.

If population growth is the priority than let us start with retaining the Bermudians that we do have and welcome back those that have left our shores. The country is currently experiencing an unprecedented emigration crisis with many Bermudians leaving the Island because they can no longer see a future in their own country.

Jason Hayward 160223

How long will we continue to allow students to go away to university, obtain a degree only to have them never return home? We cannot simply sit back silently and allow Bermudian families to leave the Island because they have lost hope.

In an environment where many Bermudians remain unemployed or underemployed, the Government must explain to the people of this Country how granting rights and status to non-Bermudians or discussing civil unions became their priority.

Did the Government not anticipate these proposals would not be welcomed with opened arms? Or is it simply that the Government doesn’t care about the opinion of the people?

There is seemingly a disconnect that exists between what the Government thinks should be a priority versus what the people believe should take precedence. Perhaps this stems from the way in which the Government consults.

Real consultation occurs with critical stakeholders early in the decision-making process. Consultation after a policy decision is made or after a law has been drafted will continue to breed the same results; more discontentment and mistrust.

The Government repeatedly points to townhall meetings as proof that they have engaged in public consultation. However, these meeting have proven to be nothing more than the Government’s attempt to sell their agendas to the people of Bermuda.

Instead of being a venue for real collaboration, these meetings are being used to persuade the people to accept the notion that what Government is doing is in their best interest. The level of dissatisfaction that exists in our community can be directly attributed to the fact that the Government has failed to provide the country with a clearly defined strategy or strategic plan.

The Government’s failure to properly articulate their strategy to the Country has resulted with the people not understanding the genesis of these policy decisions.

The process should go as follows:

  • consult with the people and create a clear vision for the Country,
  • clearly articulate this strategic direction to the people,
  • design policies to support that direction using a collaborative approach, and,
  • deliver/implement. Note: establishing buy-in early is essential for successful implementation.

In order for consultation to be effective, it must occur in an atmosphere which contains and maintains a high degree of trust, honesty, and open communications.

To the average Bermudian, it is difficult to understand how a new policy or a Government initiative will directly help them or improve their quality of life. To address this, the Government must embrace real consultation, demonstrate to stakeholders that their input is valued and be receptive to feedback from stakeholders.

Real consultation must become the cornerstone for governing as it is only through collaboration that we will find solutions to the many serious issues that we now find ourselves faced both as a country and as a people.

- Jason Hayward

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Comments (11)

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  1. “In order for consultation to be effective, it must occur in an atmosphere which contains and maintains a high degree of trust, honesty, and open communications.”
    Where were you with all your “bright ideas” when the Progressive Labour Party were in “power” i.e. 14 years when all we had had been B.S and it all was to no avail :-(
    The One Bermuda Alliance are getting us out of that hole dug by the P.L.P. Now all they,(P.L.P.)supporters can say is that the Government are bias :-(

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      What Mr. Hayward’s latest OpEd piece highlights is his lack of any real grasp as he seeks to push the Alaska Hall agenda. First, consultation does not mean you are going to get your way, there are far too many people wanting far too many different things for everyone to get what they want. So government has to do what they see is best, whether people agree or not… and there will always be people who don’t agree. Second, Mr. Hayward has made it clear he has no real desire to engage in consultation or collaboration with the government, he has been a mouth piece of misinformation aimed at tearing the government down and leading his own membership into illegal and unecessary actions, and repeatedly refusing to accept responsibility for the results. He speaks only for himself any any that may hold agreement with him, and it only through assumption that he says he speaks for the people on a whole… but it has already been shown that he doesn’t speak for the people, as not everyone agrees with him.
      About the only thing he has correct is that the government has not clearly articulated the direction or how their policies will benefit them… they have tried though, they just aren’t as interested in spending huge amounts of public dollars on PR as the PLP were.

  2. justin says:

    If I were Bob Richards I’d walk in and say I’m cutting your expenses by 50%. Either everyone takes a 50% pay cut or we make 50% redundant . Fortunately for you Bob Richards doesn’t have the courage to do it so you and your people should be very happy!

    • wow says:

      you people are so nasty

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      You do yourself no justice, it isn’t because Richards lack the courage… he has had to make hundreds of harsh calls over the last couple of years. It is because he has the intelligence to know that there is no long, or even real short, term advantage to your extremist idea

  3. San George says:

    The government should not be the largest employer on the island – you guys are going to bankrupt us. Then what?

    Quo Fata Ferunt

  4. LiarLiar says:

    Why do so many, including Mr. Hayward, believe that University graduates are not coming back home due to lack of job opportunities?

    Many stay after graduating because, believe it or not, they know that a 21 square mile island isn’t the end all, be all, of this great big world. Bermuda might be another world, but it isn’t the whole world. Not every graduate wants to work in the limited industry fields that are offered in Bermuda’s economy.

    Many stay away because of the small mindedness and intolerance that is rife throughout Bermuda. There are some that stay away because they are not welcomed in their own homeland (i.e. gay Bermudians) or have fell in love with a foreign national while away. Others just love the ability to travel. And there are others that stay away because they genuinely enjoy being in a place in which there are multiple cultures to experience and where there is actual tolerance for people who differ, a trait which Bermuda definitely doesn’t share.

    Just because you view Bermuda as being the only place for you doesn’t mean that other Bermudians share the same narrow view. I personally think it should be mandatory for every Bermudians to spend time overseas and to actually have to experience a society which is multi-cultural to get a better understanding on how the real world works.

    Sure there might be some people that have moved for economic reasons, but to assume that is the case for all Bermudians living abroad exemplifies the small mindedness of many on this island that many Bermudians have come to loathe and hence live abroad.

  5. Another frustrated local says:

    Jason you couldn’t have nailed this on the head any better! This government doesn’t consult “properly” on ANYTHING. As a parent of young kids, I am frustrated with the government as it relates to education. The way how Bermuda is being run is a clear indication that NO ONE in POWER is genuinely invested in the better of BERMUDA. They are all in this for their own financial gain.
    Let’s talk about education!
    The SCORE report has come out. It has done NOTHING but get the everyday parent into a frenzy. Why, b/c the government refuses to consult with parents “properly” starting tonight there will be a series of 3 “consultation” meetings, Let me clarify by saying
    PARENT’S THE MEETINGS FOR SCORE REPORT…..ARE NOT CONSULTATION MEETINGS. They are simply town hall meeting for the government to say they have consulted with you.
    Consultation looks like:
    Dear Stakeholder: (PARENT) you the #1 stakeholder, if there is no child this is no ministry of education (MOED).
    The Ministry is looking at XYZ, here is a proposal, with the supporting information (research, finances, evidence, a plan forward) as to why we want to do XYZ.
    Please review, and submit your findings.

    Sincerely,
    MOED

    As we speak MOED has done NOTHING of the sort.
    So parents tonight and the rest of the “consultation” meetings will be a WASTE of your time. MOED is looking to have all the enraged parents come to the meeting, shouting a screaming, ranting and raving, meanwhile they are moving along with their plan.
    However WE as parents can stop MOED by, DEMANDING proper consultation. Closures may or may not be the way forward, however, what MOED is trying to pull now will do NOTHING but put OUR kids back. Remember, MOED has NO SKIN in the education game, their kids don’t go public school, and the few that have kids that do, don’t have enough guts to call a spade a spade.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Question, did you put yourself forward to volunteer for the SCORE group when they reached out to stakeholders… you think anybody is going to be happy here? We continue with as is, then more and more money is going to have to go to crumbling schools, that have declining student population, which ultimately means that there will be less and less of the money spent on educating our children will ultimately go toward their education. All the primary schools have been around for decades, everyone has an attachment to one or another, but ultimately one or more are going to have to be shut because we cannot keep going on with that expense and our children need to have more money spent on their education than on buildings that we are needing less of. Now by shutting several of these school, when the government once again has money, there lies the possibilities that they can then take those vacated facilities to start building newer primary school to modern standards and begin a cycle of replacing the aging primary education structures. But in the meantime, I would rather they upgrade the educational equipment at the buildings they need, than use that money to keep together ones they don’t.

  6. John E. Thorne says:

    The PLP when they were in power for 14 years were afraid to deal with immigration reform and many other issues. All they did was bankrupt the country making it impossible for an incoming government to do anything but clean up their mess and make very hard decisions which would be very unpopular. The OBA cannot be blamed for any of this. The PLP and the unions should be very grateful that the OBA did not just come into power and lay off a large percentage of the civil service to get rid of the annual deficit caused by the previous government.

  7. BermyL says:

    As an OBA supporter, I agree with the overall message that the government is doing an absolutely horrendous job of communicating with all segments of Bermuda’s population. An error which could result in them being voted out. The policy choices that they’re making are ok (i’d prefer bigger faster moves towards improving our prospects but can also appreciate that Bermuda might not be able to withstand such rapid change) but the messaging needs serious work.

    Whoever is in charge of PR/Communications within the OBA really needs to go. They’re failing miserably!

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