‘OBA Will Support Efforts To Resist Imposition’

February 28, 2019 | 17 Comments

Following the suggestion from the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that British residents should be allowed to vote in Bermuda, Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier said he agrees with the comments by Premier Burt and the “OBA will support efforts to resist this imposition” as “Bermuda’s future should be dictated by Bermudians.”

Background

That recommendation was from the report from the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry, which conducted an inquiry late last year, with the Committee now releasing their findings.

It suggested the UK order all overseas territories to legalise same-sex marriage and also suggested that all “resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens” should be allowed to vote and hold elected office, which would be a substantial change, as currently only Bermudians can vote.

“We do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office,” the report said, adding that the FCO should “set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership.”

These recommendations are from a Committee, so will not necessarily become law, however one aspect they did mention is already underway, as the UK is in the process of enforcing the law they passed law year to order the Overseas Territories to make their registers public.

This all comes as Britain is making their final preparations to exit the European Union and is seeking to incorporate the Overseas Territories as they build what they term a “Global Britain.”

In response, Premier David Burt said, “The right to vote is perhaps the most highly valued right in a democracy. To suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot box ignores the history of voting rights in Bermuda and is a tone-deaf recommendation which we will strenuously resist.”

Mr Cannonier’s Comments

Mr. Cannonier said, “A report from the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee demonstrates that it is completely out of touch with Bermuda and has little empathy for – or understanding of – the feelings of Bermudians.

“To recommend phasing out ‘belongership and its local equivalents, which make it impossible for some British citizens in the OTs to vote or hold elected office’ demonstrates a complete disconnect with Bermuda’s history and the struggle black Bermudians had in getting the right to vote at all.

“That right that was hard won and would be devalued if this committee’s recommendations were forced on us. Bermuda’s future should be dictated by Bermudians.

“Recently the Premier was quoted as saying that the ‘right to vote is perhaps the most highly valued right in a democracy. To suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot box ignores the history of voting rights in Bermuda and is a tone-deaf recommendation which we will strenuously resist.’

“I am in agreement with Premier David Burt on this issue and the OBA will support efforts to resist this imposition.

“In respect of same sex marriage, again, it is our right to determine what happens in Bermuda. While I may disagree with this Government’s course of action, it is their right to take that course and that right should not be taken away.

“Like the PLP, the OBA has been consistent about registers of beneficial ownership and I would point to former Finance Minister Bob Richards’ submission to this very committee which said:

“‘Public Beneficial Ownership Registers are not a global standard. I stated many times as Minister that if Public Beneficial Ownership Registers become a global standard, we will comply. If the territories are compelled to make their Registers public with public registers not being a global standard, it is guaranteed that there will be major negative impacts on all three economies.

“‘Hundreds, perhaps thousands of jobs will be lost in the OT’s. Local governments will have lost major sources of revenue,” he said. “Yet the British Parliament has said nothing about compensation for the damage to local government finances, livelihoods, businesses and property values their action will cause.

“‘The British Parliament clearly does not care about the consequences of its action. Without the offer of compensation, this latest amendment to force OT’s to adopt public registers is immoral and capricious legislation,” Mr Richards had said.

“Our position on this has not changed.”

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Comments (17)

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  1. Jus' Askin' says:

    Interesting ;-) ;-)

  2. sandgrownan says:

    All getting their panties in a wad over a committee report.

    More important things to think about…you know…such as the economy.

    • mixitup says:

      Oh please! Had the OBA said they disagree with Burt, you would have been right along with them and bashing the Gov’t in the process…. Like people can’t see through you.

  3. Phil says:

    I agree that it is foolish and tone-deaf for the UK to suggest forcing this on Bermuda. Bermuda is self-governing and should be allowed to make up its own mind.

    The principle, however, is sound, and is something the Bermuda government should be voluntarily adopting. I am disappointed to see the OBA adopt the same position as the PLP after all their noise about the need for “comprehensive immigration reform”.

    The struggle that black Bermudians had in getting the vote would not be devalued if the vote was given to all residents. They would still have the vote. It would dilute the value of their vote, yes, but by the same amount as it would dilute the value of the vote of a white Bermudian.

    The only way that black Bermudians would be disadvantaged compared to white Bermudians is if you believe that (1) more whites would gain the vote than blacks; and (2) whites vote against the interests of blacks.

    I don’t have the facts to comment on (1), however I suspect that there probably are more white non-Bermudian residents than non-whites. If we assume that is the case, then it all hinges on (2): do whites vote against the interests of blacks?

    Some Bermudians would say “yes”. They will point to the figures that show that historically, only a tiny fraction of whites vote for the PLP. But this makes the mistake of equating the “interests of blacks” with the PLP. It buys into the belief of many of the members and supporters of the PLP that (1) it is the only political party that cares about black Bermudians or is capable of representing them and (2) that because race relations is a zero-sum game, it cannot attempt to broaden its appeal because that would come at the expense of blacks. Neither of these things is true.

    Most whites do not directly vote against the interests of blacks. Black and white interests are not inherently opposed. Today, I suspect working class whites have more in common with working class blacks than they do with wealthy whites. Whites have not historically voted for the PLP, but that is not the same thing. They have not voted for them because who – black or white – would vote for a party that is, at best, indifferent to you and, at worst, openly hostile?

    That said, I think the more progressive members of the PLP have already started trying to broaden their appeal. As they continue to move towards the centre I think they will naturally pick up more white votes, and hopefully one day they will cease to define themselves as a party for black Bermudians and start defining themselves as a party for all. And maybe then there will be greater recognition of the unfairness of denying the vote to anyone who lives here, pays taxes and uses Government services.

  4. Warwick West says:

    have to say it not often I agree with Mr. Burt but in this case I do. This is a shining example of some muppet sitting in London thinking ‘what else can we do today?”!!! Plain as day to see no brains were put into this latest gem from UK officials who have no idea what they are doing or why they are doing it!!! However i do also agree with Sandgrownan; we do have MUCH more important things to deal with – like our national debt, failing economy, failing education, and, and, and,………………

  5. Kinte says:

    Bermuda belongs to the United Kingdom

  6. mixitup says:

    “Bermuda’s future should be dictated by Bermudians.”

    - Hold on while I pick my Jaw up off the ground -

  7. Naughton says:

    In other words, the calculation is he would lose more votes than he would gain.

  8. A little wisdom says:

    With regard to same sex marriage, there is real hypocrisy here. No one can decide how he feels about another. While nature can play tricks with gender you don’t fiddle things so you can do what ever one wants and call it discrimination or a human right. You do not have to accommodate just because it’s he who shouts the loudest. Addressing this issue is the solution.
    I can fall in love with anyone, be it male or female. I can argue that it is my decision to do with my body what ever I want. If these two arguments hold then polygamy should choice. Why can’t a man have as many wives as he wants, so long as all involved are happy with the arrangement? Likewise why can’t a woman take as many husbands as she wants. Lastly, how is it that a woman can use any part of her body to earn a living if she so chooses, except not as sexual favours and reward. Why and for whatever reason she does prostitute herself should be her decision.
    If England, not the UK wants to talk about democracy fine. They have not demonstrated that they care as long as the situation favours them. In the 90’s it removed our citizenship of the UK as Hong Kong was reverting to China. The only OT’s that we’re not affected were white jurisdictions, namely the Falklands and Gibraltar. Those of colour were dumped. The latest move was the Brexit referendum. OT’s were not given the vote enemy though we are affected. Even Englishmen who had not been resident in the UK for ? Years were not allowed to vote along with (I am told) were the Channel Isles. And as things stand, England is deciding the fate of Scotland, and Northern Ireland who voted remain with Wales kind of sitting on the fence. The attitude seems to be that when you refer to the United Kingdom it really means England.

    • LaV says:

      A little wisdom….you’re right. Very little to no wisdom….just racism, homophobia and general ignorance.

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    At any point in time how many who have been residing here for more than 3 years would qualify to vote? How big a deal is this really? There have to be many more issues much more important for Bermuda to devote attention too.

    • Naughton says:

      Actually a lot – a few hundred new voters, or even just a couple hundred, spread across five or six seats in play, could be the difference between winning a majority or losing one in a tight election.

  10. Question says:

    If all residents could vote that would be more democratic.

  11. Dready says:

    Cannon in charge, OBA going no where. Hahaha!

  12. mumbojumbo says:

    I don’t agree…we live and work in UK…our currency has value backed by Her.
    Any and all legitimacy is supported by her…outside “interests” might play to ploy and chide for personal gain logistics and maritime law play party to that.All in all we enjoy several very imortant perks having a relationship with England.We have graft one way or the other….but we have support…back up … humanitarian aid if needed.
    Remember Falklands?

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