Column: Commission Of Inquiry On ‘Land Grabs’

June 26, 2019 | 34 Comments

[Opinion column written by MP Walton Brown]

Serving in Opposition can be a long and frustrating process under the Westminster System. Victories tend to be more few and far between and often more symbolic than real. Back in July 2014, the PLP successfully overrode the then OBA Government’s opposition to a Commission of Inquiry into the “land grabs” of Bermuda’s history.

With the support of the OBA’s Suzanne Roberts Holshouser in the House of Assembly, the will of Bermuda’s duly and democratically elected representatives over the will of the government of the day, should have prevailed. Instead, the Governor refused to sign the bill saying that the rationale for a Commission was, “… not clear enough or urgent enough to require a Commission of the type proposed.”

In our election platform of 2017, the PLP pledged to set right this injustice and make sure that this dark period in our history gets the proper airing, analysis and justice, that for decades Bermudians have been crying out for and that they deserve.

I welcome the news that Premier David Burt has fulfilled our pledge to the people and is moving forward with the Commission of Inquiry. We have an opportunity to help correct some of the wrongs of the bad old days, when justice was a fleeting illusion for many and the rich, powerful and connected acted with impunity.

While some have dismissed land grab claims as urban legend or even disparaged them as fairy tales, Bermuda’s working class community knows that some of our courts, some of our banks and some of our lawyers have not always operated in an honest and just manner.

For the families that have long felt that their voices were not being heard, this presents an opportunity for their stories to be told.

For the families that have felt that justice has been denied them for so long, this presents a potential opportunity for justice to finally be done.

It has been said that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. The actual displacement of Bermudians and the fear of displacement from our homes, our economy and our culture remains a reality to many of us. This Commission should not be viewed as an opportunity for payback or revenge, but as an opportunity for all of us to learn the truth about our history and for some measure of a healing process to begin.

It is unlikely that everyone will be happy with the results of this Commission. But that doesn’t negate the fact that it must be done. Our living elderly, and those that have passed on, deserve this commission of inquiry for all they sacrificed.

- MP Walton Brown

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Comments (34)

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  1. toadinthehole says:

    Mr Brown – please explain in more detail what the premier meant when he said some cases may be referred to the DPP?

  2. sandgrownan says:

    The biggest fear Bermudians, of all skin tones, should understand is the slow death spiral of the economy under the PLP’s xenophobic policies of which Walton Brown is front and centre.

    • Vortex says:

      Firstly there is no way anything will come of this except two things.

      1 A chronic waste of public money, think of the good this could do. Pure folly to think anything will be ‘returned ‘.
      2 More uncertainty for the Bermuda housing market, who in their right mind would buy any house knowing they might face a racially driven court battle? So more economic woes.

      You haven’t thought this through Walton

    • MrsFedUp says:

      yup.

  3. che says:

    “Serving in Opposition can be a long and frustrating process” … give me a break, the Plp have been in Government for most of the last 20 years.

  4. Toodle-oo says:

    What is he talking about ?

    * and make sure that this dark period in our history gets the proper airing, analysis and justice, that for decades Bermudians have been crying out for and that they deserve.*

    *We have an opportunity to help correct some of the wrongs of the bad old days, *

    *For the families that have felt that justice has been denied them for so long, *

    Is he talking about a particular event that happened long ,long ago and implies that it hasn’t happened recently ?

    * Our living elderly, and those that have passed on, deserve this commission of inquiry for all they sacrificed.*

    People who had property bought out under an SDO (and there are many and it can still happen) got paid so what was the real sacrifice ?
    People who had property outright stolen are the ones who deserve answers and settlement .

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    “This Commission should not be viewed as an opportunity for payback or revenge, but as an opportunity for all of us to learn the truth about our history and for some measure of a healing process to begin.”

    To that extent the Commission cannot be objectionable. If land was stolen by fraud then the perpetrators of the fraud should be prosecuted.

    If this is going to descend into another forum to complain about the compulsory acquisition of land in Tuckers Town a century ago without any mention of the compulsory acquisition of the land that made up Kindley Air Field or the US Naval Annex or Canadian Forces Base Daniel’s Head decades later, then the Commission will lose its value.

  6. Kevin says:

    The plp are in election mode ….hell don’t worry about the economy , don’t worry about education …no don’t worry that we are absolutely useless at governing….we need to show the grass roots that we will at least say that we will look out for them and its in our election promises over 3 years ago so we have to get this done this year . The only thing this government can be successful in is electioneering

    where is the 2 mps from st geo must be a photo op time its been 6 months since we heard from them …yes st.georges/ bermuda you fell for the promises …but will you hold them accountable when its time to put the X in the box

  7. wahoo says:

    Trying to stay relevant since they gave his ministry and his car to Whatcha-ma-him. How about the land grab taking place down at Devonshire dock?

  8. Truthhertz says:

    “It has been said that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.“

    What an ironic statement from a Government who recently announced their intention to grab private property from private citizens.

  9. Rotten Onion says:

    Why is Walton Brown still getting a ministers salary as a backbencher. Asking for a friend of course.

  10. Our living Elderly- whatever says:

    Stop wasting money and fund important things like Hospice for our most weak people that deserve care at their most dire time.

    You guys are shameful really you lot are.

    • Ya, they can pull $77 Million out of thin air like oba did.
      LMAO

      • Question says:

        You pulled out $100m for Grand Atlantic and a golf course returf. And we all know who got rich out of that.

      • Horsemeat says:

        Which produced $350 Million for Bermuda.

        Let me ask you a question, which I know you will not respond to. If I asked you to loan me $10, and then I gave you back $50, would you be happy or not?

      • Rocky5 says:

        And OBA got $353M back for the $77M, so good for them. All PLP can do is increase the cost of food and healthcare with their Sugar Tax and $330M giveaway (EVERY YEAR) to the Hospitals! Dont forget $2M to Dr. BROWN.

      • LMAO says:

        There is only one thing this lot is pulling and it ain’t 77m OJ.

      • Jus' Wonderin' says:

        Ya, they made it back plus more ya dummy
        LMAO

      • Anbu says:

        300+ million return. Ill tell u every time moron considering u love to repeat yourself. When, EVER, has the plp had a positive return on an investment? When? 20 years oj. When?

      • bluenose says:

        To make $300M+

      • berlinda says:

        OJ, you know your party can’t pull off something like the AC. You’re all so incompetent and stupid that you’re actually bragging about it.
        LOL @ OJ

  11. Steve says:

    I just wish that he would get that supercilious look off of his face.

    • Question says:

      I saw this comment out of context, and knew EXACTLY who you were talking about.

  12. Paul says:

    And now these lot want to have the house of assembly to meet every other Friday,as long as they take a pay decrease in their paycheck..because if you think about it the back benchers never have anything to say of importance..and the ministers dont like to answer questions put to them, so let them meet once a month.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      No, no, no. Full time pay for part time work is part of the reparations they deserve for 400 years of slavery in Bermuda.

  13. Me says:

    Hope he puts his boots where his mouth is and supports Bermudas first gay pride ya got elected with nice words lets see ur actions

  14. Sam says:

    Yeah good one, now every house for sale, stays for sale. Very smart.

    Talk about economic confidence!

  15. Every member in his party are nothing but pathetic. They cannot name one improvement that they accomplished in the last how many years of them being in control. What they have done to the detriment of the people is raise everything they can possible raise. Now they want to start controlling businesses they have nothing to do with them. Very very sad pathetic times for this island. People are escaping in droves and they could careless. Carry on party people!!!

    • Well for starters for 5 years OBA said money dont grow on trees a didnt give seniors and workers an increase and since PLP have been in seniors and workers have had an increase.
      Now thats something to party to.
      LMAO

  16. Anon Ymous says:

    If it’s anything like the last CoI, which has been shelved with no sign of any action, what is the point? Waste of taxpayers dollars.

  17. Jt says:

    I think there is a lot that might be accomplished here if this were ever to be done fairly and honestly without a predisposed bias. However I am not convinced that the PLP are be prepared to recognize any portion of the findings except for the parts that may fit their political agenda. The land grab narrative is too engrained and useful to them.

  18. Gustav says:

    You want to but my House?
    But Be carefull……

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