Column: Multiple Choice, Airport, Gambling, More

August 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Scott Pearman Bermuda June 2019[Opinion column written by Shadow Legal Affairs Minister Scott Pearman]

How are you with multiple-choice? Try this one: which of the following things is the biggest threat facing Bermuda? Is it:

  • [A] Bermuda’s flat-lining economy;
  • [B] The COVID-19 global health pandemic;
  • [C] Bermuda’s eye-watering Government debt [with newly increased ‘ceiling’ of $3.5 billion]; or
  • [D] Bermuda’s new airport?

Given recent statements, you could be forgiven for thinking the PLP’s answer might be [D]. We are in economic freefall, yet the PLP want to focus your attention on Bermuda’s new airport. Why?

It’s a bit like that song from Sesame Street. Do you remember it? One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong…

We have an economic landslide. We have a health pandemic. We have crushing debt. Amidst this triple cluster of grim realities, Bermuda’s new airport just doesn’t belong.

By all accounts, the significant public works project in the East End is said to be ‘on time and on budget’. [No, I’m not sure I believe that either. When has that ever happened?] We are getting a much needed, modern gateway to benefit Bermuda, locals and tourists alike. So why are some in our Government actively undermining the new airport – why do they seek to spark a social media firestorm?

We have a global pandemic. Air traffic is WAY down. And so fees are potentially due. And don’t forget – if Government had kept responsibility for airport, then Bermuda would have had to pay operational costs during Covid 19.

Yet some in the PLP want you to believe the OBA should have seen this pandemic coming. Moreover, they say the OBA should have prevented this issue.

At least the PLP’s new Minister of Transportation [Neville Tyrell] played this airport issue with a straight Cup Match bat. He asserted to Parliament at the last sitting: “we didn’t anticipate a pandemic – did we”. No, we didn’t. We could use more with Mr. Tyrell’s candour please. Ignore the internet nonsense. Let’s be proud of Bermuda’s new airport.

As for the multiple-choice, was there a correct answer? Well, as the song goes, there was certainly one thing that was not like the others…

The House Always Wins

“21” is a casino favourite. Not long ago, the Premier announced he was taking on the Casino Gaming portfolio, previously held by the Minister of Finance.

The Premier was asked in Parliament what experience he had with gaming. His response: “I can tell you that I have gamed from time to time. So absolutely, I can tell you about a craps table, and about a blackjack table, absolutely I can…”.

And thus, we learn the Premier is a bit of gambler.

Yet “21” has another numerical significance. After the July resignation of two PLP Ministers, the Premier had to choose which of his MPs could take on the vacant tourism portfolio. Leaving aside the two former Ministers, and the Speaker, the Premier had 21 MPs to choose from. Yet he chose to keep tourism himself. This, remember, from someone who has already grappled with crypto-currency, fin-tech, economic development, and then casino gaming.

Now, the Premier adds tourism.

Some pundits unkindly suggested the Premier’s decision to keep tourism reveals what he thinks about his 21 MPs. But does his decision also reveal what he thinks about himself? And wasn’t he already overstretched?

“21” may be a casino favourite. But be careful – once you pass over 21, you’re bust.

And as they say: in the end, the House always wins.

Welcome Minister Renée Ming

You may [or may not?] recall my previous articles about the importance of bi-partisanship. On an island as small as ours, the big problems we face require us to put aside our differences and work together to find solutions.

So, let me sincerely welcome our new Minister of National Security: Renee Ming.

Like her predecessor in the National Security role, Minister Ming has an independent streak that does her credit. She did something rarely seen in PLP ranks: she challenged her own Government about the under-representation of women in the House of Assembly. Only 16% of the PLP MPs are women [and to be fair the OBA is not miles ahead at 36% either].

Yet MP Ming raised this important issue. And she did so with her customary clarity and strength of character – no doubt causing some [male] posteriors to shift uncomfortably in their seats.

National Security is a tough Ministry in today’s Bermuda. We have some difficult problems, which are a ‘must-solve’. Minister Ming now has the unenviable challenge of seeking to solve them. We should all wish her well. More importantly, we must all support her.

Bermuda cannot afford to gamble on this one.

- Scott Pearman

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