Opinion: We Need Action, Not Empty Rhetoric

May 20, 2014

[Opinion column written by Jonathan Starling] Late last night we witnessed a sad and unprecedented moment in Bermuda’s history, where a Premier was forced to resign as a result of a scandal of his own making.

This is sad for Bermuda because many had such high hopes for this now disgraced Premier and the rhetoric of ‘change’, of ‘transparency and accountability’ that he trumpeted on behalf of the OBA as they charged to victory in the 2012 General Election.

Instead those hopes of many have been trampled by a combination of ‘unethical but not illegal’ actions regarding the “JetGate” scandal and the Premier’s continued misleading of Parliament, his own Party, and Bermuda as a whole.

While it is sad that Bermuda has been brought to this state of affairs, there is hope that some good can come of this.

What we don’t need is more empty rhetoric. The now disgraced former Premier excelled at the rhetoric of change, transparency, honesty and accountability, but failed to practice what he preached.

What we need instead is actions to those words.

Foremost, this incident highlights the need for campaign finance reform.

Many, if not most, liberal democracies have some form of campaign finance regulations, be it in the form of transparency and caps on donations to a ban on private funding of campaigns, with campaigns instead being funded through public monies. We need to a fully public commission to review options for Bermuda and to see these implemented in advance of the next regularly scheduled election.

We also need PATI. Quite frankly, we needed it years ago, but this incident should serve to underline the need to it to be fast-tracked ASAP.

We also need to see the ‘right-of-recall’ vote option that the OBA also campaigned on in the 2012 election, so that elected officials that mislead parliament and betray the interests of the people can be recalled and replaced.

The Referendum Act 2012 also needs amended to ensure the neutrality of referenda questions, preferably through an empowered Parliamentary Registrar. Additionally, the Public Integrity Act, proposed by the former Premier Alex Scott, needs to be made law.

Some key decisions by the OBA since their election must also now be called into question, particularly the issue of casino gambling.

There is now a lot of questions over the handling of the casino gambling issue that the new OBA Premier should seek to restore credibility and legitimacy to the OBA Government by honouring it’s solemn election promise to ‘do the right thing’ and hold a referendum on the issue of casino gambling.

The entire Club Med RFP process must now also be called into question. In order to restore investor confidence in this process and development, a new RFP for the redevelopment should be launched.

The irony of all this is that had the OBA Government done what it initially promised to do in terms of transparency, accountability and a referendum on casino gambling, we likely would already have had the referendum and be moving ahead with the Club Med site.

Mr Cannonier has only himself to blame for his disgrace, although he is not alone in his involvement. The other members of the Jet Gate trip remain tainted, and the entire OBA parliamentary caucus must answer questions about why they failed to hold their Leader accountable for so long.

If the OBA is to regain the legitimacy to rule then it must take immediate action to introduce campaign finance regulations, PATI, amendments to the Referendum Act, and the right-of-recall vote.

And in order to restore its credibility it must also return to its promise of holding a referendum on casino gambling and restart the entire Club Med RFP process.

In other words, we need less empty rhetoric and more actions for transparency, accountability and good governance.

- Jonathan Starling

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Comments (45)

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  1. 2014 Media Articles | Vote Jonathan Starling | June 16, 2014
  1. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Excellent letter by Mr.Johnathan Starling ,and I concur.!

  2. Terry says:

    Takbir and a Communist Starlinist Marxist.
    One who did not like authority and one that want dominance.

  3. Justin says:

    You can tell that this is written by someone who has never held a job longer than 5 years in Bermuda, and has contributed practically nothing to this island except his pie in the sky ideas.

  4. Terry says:

    What the ***** has Club Med got to do with this you Commy.
    And you just came back after a change in Government.

  5. lizard says:

    Transparency, accountability and good governance is the same “retoric” your
    talking. Heard it over and over from the PLP and they are the ones who did the least of the 3 that you mention.

    Get real.

    • In other words ... says:

      We had to deceive you!

      • JustAskin2 says:

        That’s what the OBA was trying to say about JetGate before they got busted.

  6. Jon says:

    He should have been more transparent obviously, but to call him ‘disgraced’ is maybe a bit overdramatic, no?

  7. Ann says:

    Why does this guy get to make the news, his statements never really mean anything and he speaks from both sides of his mouth, personally I prefer Laverne, at least she stands her ground, and I am an OBA voter.

    • somuchless says:

      For the life of Moses, do not encourage Laverne.

    • Redo says:

      You had me until you mentioned Lavern. Ugh.

  8. Luke says:

    I forgot to mention Kim Swan, he also needs some income…. he stirs the pot on the PLP TALK SHOW..I had a lot of respect for Kim, but he has lost his way …

  9. Snoopy says:

    Who is this guy and what has he ever done that we should care what he says? Mr. Starling what have you accomplished which make you feel you are a leader? Respect is earned! Please let us know what you are bringing to the table in terms of qualifications, achievements or expertise and maybe I will be less annoyed by what appears to be want a be status! We have way too many wanna bees!

  10. haha says:

    Go home to Russia where you belong….

    • Farmer Giles says:

      They wouldn’t tolerate him. They’d likely deport him.

    • Hmmm says:

      They wouldn’t have him….He needs to live in a commune, a Kibbutz, where his ideals exist most closely.

      Go test your ideals and happiness there, how long will you last? 5 years, 10 years, will you make it a permanent or will you lose interest and return.

  11. Thelma Foster says:

    who is holding the bag now if you are wise enough this was the plan from the begin we are going to get beating fully dress the old guard with a new whip Iam from the old School

  12. Godson says:

    I agree with most points here mr. Starling, ow ever, I don’t think that “many had high hopes”, for Cannonier. I think most knew that the writing was on the wall.

  13. Kangoocar says:

    Disgraced???? Nothing has been revealed yet!!!! How on earth is starling calling our ex premier disgraced?? I will tell starling the real meaning of disgraceful!!! It is at least two of the 4 plp premiers that we had, and numerous plp ministers who we all know acted in unethical ways and never did the right thing which would be RESIGNING!!!! At least this now proves we all have a government that acts upon anything that can be perceived as not unethical !!! I will take that any day over how the plp treated us with disdain!!!! I wish our new premier all the best as he will need it while running a country that has approx 30% of its citizens wishing he wasn’t there because of the colour of of his skin????

    • Question says:



    • el says:

      @kangoccar?—where did you get your 30% statistic? do u also read minds, Dunkley is another has been wanna be weazled his way back in after orchestrating behind a “surrogate” .. if u know what surrogate is than u should know why color plays a role in some opinion, so the guy behind the fall guy gets put up front as he wanted wished and waited for, prolly planned the whole demise from the side.. this new premier who thinks its a waste of’ EFFing’ time to discuss certain issues.. yes you wish him all the best cause theres no fairy wand and all the best have left!

      • LOL (Original TM*) says:

        that how you and other will always see it no matter what right isnt that a bitt racist oh wait black people cant be that right………….


  14. Future says:

    The irony of the title followed by the contents.

  15. nuffin but the truth says:

    Disgraced???..ya way over de top Starling!

  16. MB says:

    If we had a referendum, gambling would be rejected, so why do you want to return to promise of holding a referendum on casino gambling and restart the entire Club Med RFP process? What’s your point?

    I tell you what St George’s is fed up with Club Med being used as a political pawn for financial gain by those in power and Dunkley’s Government and Bean’s opposition may find that out the hard way come next election.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      St George’s should look very carefully at what happened. The PLP made absolutely sure the deal failed. They would rather have Bermudians unemployed than to see the OBA succeed where they failed.

  17. whatcrap says:

    js..should go back and learn the fundamentals of good journalism..we DONT WANT TO HEAR his personal and bias reporting..it stinks..WhAT a babbler of pedantics..

  18. Coffee says:

    I used to love hearing Min.Crockwell eloquently pontificate the right to recall , Mark Pettigill on about PATI and the other talkin heads spout infinitum about ethics and morals while in the opposition . Why so quite now ? Where is that man’s $300,000 ? Why was the disgraced ex premier rushed off of the Island post haste ? We all now know who , why , and for whom the promised democratic right to referendum was trashed . And there is more to come , so please stay tuned and DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Couple of things….it shows some maturity, does it not about the process. While CC made his own downfall through a combination of naivety and stupidity, at least he resigned eventually. Can you imagine a certain DREB doing such a thing? He actively showed contempt for the process.

      Secondly, there is no “democratic right to a referendum” for gambling or anything else. It was an election promise and for whatever reason the OBA changed their mind. Get over it. Not asking you to like it, but get over it, it’s done.

      For those crowing about the slow turnaround in the economy. Do you really think the damage could be fixed overnight? Get on board and help, support and encourage.

      And finally, get some forensic accountants down to the T&C and get on with exposing the PLP.

      • el says:

        @sandgrown–you wanna go back I can take u all the way back, start with how the rich got rich, how we end up relying on a moody mood swing, how insurance really got started and why don’t Bermudians know who they are, where is certain peoples ,why was it hidden, stolen perverted?????????? oba have to take responsibility, just like the plp did already they are now opposition but seem to be wielding more power that the present government, and more interest, if you lack the praise for your present government you continue to look back to the last government, that rearview mirror again…learn to critic the issue instead of looking to blame, if not we can go way back some more…how milkman became dairy king?

        • ???? says:

          How did the milk man do it?

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Actually, I quite like the current government. They’ve been dealt a sh***y hand, they’ve made a few missteps and are far from perfect. What i see, and what I know, is that there are honest attempts to drag the country out of the mess it finds itself in.

          CC made a childish mistake and he’s been held accountable. So, move on.

          We know the answer to the milk question. So, move on.

    • LOL (Original TM*) says:

      Think you should still be demanding on the bullet… as far as morals didnt hear you either oh well double standard …. oh and just for the record i did not vote for Dunkley to be in charge he will have a lot to do to earn my vote but that does not mean the plp can have my vote either.


  19. aceboy says:

    We had 14 years of inaction and rhetoric. How much did you complain in those years? In fact I watched you defend it, time and time again on various blogs.

    Fact is the hotels are full, there were 19 private jets on the airport tarmac last weekend bring insurance execs here for discussions (a month after the RIMS conference where Bermuda demonstrated we are the domicile of choice)and we are finally seeing signs of a recovery from 2008!

    You care so much about this gambling referendum and yet say nothing about a betting shop set up on Court Street to fleece the people who can least afford to lose money.

    You Sir are a complete hypocrite.

  20. MAKE MY DAY says:

    Soooo… Michael Dunkley left Government House on Tuesday morning after he was Sworn-In as Premier of Bermuda, but left MANY questions regarding ‘JetGate’ unanswered!!!

    So… Where is that *TRANSPARENCY* that you promised Mr. Dunkley?? Not a good start if there are NO explanations as to the real TRUTH – regarding *Jet-Gate* and the $300K!!! We can’t wait forever and you KNOW the PLP are going to be on-your-case for some answers!!!

    If you want to dance – then you have to pay for the band!!!

  21. The White House says:

    There is so much suffering going on…people can’t pay their bills and ended in Court…can’t feed their children, lost jobs, depression, frustration and the inexperienced of those that are governing,…individual’s challenged by others comments……lots of mental stress…..Seriously, you think this helps those that are hurting….less comments and more willingness to understand change is needed within us….and Positive Vibration


  22. Navin Johnson says:

    Empty rhetoric is what Mr Starling and his PLP cohorts bring to the table.

    • PBanks says:

      Even *if* he was a secret plp cohort, is there anything wrong with his call for PATI, right of recall, etc?

  23. Joonya says:

    Like Dunkley once said..what a waste F’ing of film.. (or print in this case..)

  24. Need Peace says:

    I wonder who else applied for the Club Med RFP? It seems strange that maybe the only applicant was told that his application was not filed in time. Can anyone shed any light on this matter?

  25. Jim Jones says:

    Jonathon, you can’t accuse CC of misleading his party and then turn around and accuse the party of failing to hold CC accountable. Clearly the events of the last week show that they have held him accountable.

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      But… We still do NOT have the *Truth* about Jet-Gate!! What was the issue all about and where is the $300K?? This is NOT *rocket science*!!

      How can Dunkley make a statement like that about “more transparency” and then say NOTHING about the whole affair?? Mr. OBA Premier… What are you still hiding!!!


  26. Oh,I see now says:

    He CC dealt his hand and lost(know when to hold um know when to fold um) OBA please don’t make me regret my decision in the last election.I know it will take a good bit of time to steer the ship right,but in the mean time stay the hell off the reefs.