SJB Call For Appointment To Be Rescinded

October 9, 2020 | 41 Comments

The Social Justice Bermuda group said they “listened in abject horror” as Rolfe Commissiong was appointed as a Minister and Senate Leader, and have called for “this selection to be rescinded.”

Rolfe Commissiong Appointed After Stepping Down Before The Election

Rolfe Commissiong, a former MP, stepped down as a candidate in late August before the election saying, “I made a comment I shouldn’t have. I made a mistake, I apologized. For the good of the party, and Bermudians who deserve strong leadership in these trying times, I have chosen not to be a distraction. To that end, I will not be a candidate in the general election.

“The affected party and I entered into a legally binding confidentiality agreement which prohibits me from speaking further. The matter has been settled and it is closed.”

Yesterday he was appointed to both the Senate and Cabinet; where he will serve as the Government Senate Leader and the Minister of Community Affairs and Sports, and his appointment has been criticized by people on social media.

Rolfe Commisiong Bermuda Oct 9 2020 TWFB

Social Justice Bermuda’s statement:

Following his appointment, a statement from the community group Social Justice Bermuda said, “Over the last week, Social Justice Bermuda along with the rest of the island reflected on the election results that saw the Progressive Labour Party emerge with 30 seats, over 80% of the Members of Parliament.

“Even though many SJB members were individually supportive of the PLP, as a lobby and advocacy group that is pressuring for fair and equal representation and governance, we share the concerns of many Bermudians about the lack of a strong Opposition.

“As several people expressed on social media, citizen action groups like ours will have an even greater role to play as part of a collective responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable.

“All that said, we have been eager to get started working with the Government, especially as they have been very welcoming towards us and were the only party to reach out to SJB in advance of the election. We have been planning to engage the public around advocacy regarding the ‘First 100 Days’ of the new Cabinet.”

The group said they  ”listened in abject horror” as Rolfe Commissiong “an unelected member of the party, was appointed as the new Minister of Community Affairs and Sports and Senate Leader, despite the still-unaddressed allegations.”

“About a month ago, when confronted about these allegations, Mr. Commissioning agreed that his behaviour had been inappropriate, resigned so as not to be a ‘distraction’, only to now be appointed to key roles by Premier David Burt, who’d previously said this issue ‘is something that I take very seriously.’

“Sadly, it appears he does not take it seriously enough. It truly begs the question, with 30 MPs to choose from and a slate of talented party members as options for the Senate, why was this man given such an important Ministerial role?

“This is not a good start for this team that has pledged to ‘rebuild Bermuda with Bermudians at heart’.

“Social Justice Bermuda urgently calls for this selection to be rescinded, and a response from the PLP Government to reassure the women of this country that it is indeed committed to addressing the rampant sexism and harassment that they experience on a daily basis.

“We also want to highlight the recent commitment by the Speaker of the House to table the Ministers and Members Code of Conduct and wish for it to be reviewed and implemented by the end of 2020 to include language that will safeguard civil servants as well as members of the house from future incidents of this nature.

“And, with this decision by the government, we would like to amend our own platform, which calls for gender equality lessons within the education system, as clearly we must now expand this curriculum to include sessions with the Government themselves.”

Bernews asked both Senator Commissiong and the Government for a response, and due to the allegations being made all over social media also asked if the Government could provide any information as to the precise nature of the “incident” that Senator Commissiong was involved in.

Premier David Burt’s statement:

In response, Premier Burt said, “The standards demanded of those of us in public office are high ones. In every walk of life individuals must conduct themselves in keeping with the expectations of a modern and civil society. When people fall short, processes and people are in place to ensure accountability and where possible resolution.

“The matter in question was addressed via an established protocol administered within the Public Service and the department in question. I have not been made privy to the specific file on the issue, as it is not something to which I would have access, but the assurances given to me by those charged with addressing what was an inappropriate comment indicate that this issue was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

“If that is not the case and further action is demanded then there is every right for any person to pursue that further action without interference or undue public scrutiny.

“I will judge Senator Commissiong by his work going forward. Like all other ministers he will have to adhere to the standards of office and any breaches of such will be enforced without fear or favour.

“The government and party I am privileged to lead has a proud history of women in leadership and key roles. To this end, my goal is to ensure there is a work environment where women are respected and treated fairly and professionally.”

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Comments (41)

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  1. Vida Smith says:

    PREMIER BURT WHY,CAN YOU ANSWER ME THAT PLEASE,YOUR RESPONSE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  2. George jones says:

    This is when you know Ewart Brown is really in charge.

  3. Mattheem says:

    You have my support. Its about time. When was he gonna catch a break. Compared to everyone else, he is a veteran that deserves a chance to honor Bermuda.

    • trufth says:

      So it’s ok for him to DIS-honor women as long as he’s “a veteran and is honoring Bermuda”?

    • Deborah says:

      Agree. All the best Minister Commissiong! I wish u well. All of us have a story! Every last one of us! Plus, I dont recall reading where u were prosecuted for the alleged offences in a court of law! Im prepared to give u a chance to honor Bermuda. You have been a veteran MP, and u deserve a break!

    • Really says:

      Matheem, you say “Compared to everyone he is a veteran that deserves a chance to honor Bermuda”. I’m sorry, I agree that everyone deserves a second chance. However, this is not his first fall and HE SSHOULD NOT BE GIVEN A SECOND OR THIRD CHANCE, when others that have worked very hard are not given a first chance!

  4. Unbeleivable says:

    Burt basically just said “I don’t care, SJB. I made my decision. Live with it.”

    • wahoo says:

      Clearly he struck a deal before the election and neglected to tell us pesky voters…Not my fault I voted OBA.

      • Mixitup says:

        ‘Not my fault I voted OBA’

        So then it would not have mattered either way for you, so why even comment.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      I’d bet anything that the plp thought SJB was going to be an ally of theirs .. lol

      • Unbelievable says:

        Man, voters fall for it every time. We get the Govt we deserve. Let this episode be the first of Burt’s unilateral moves.

    • clearasmud says:

      That is your interpretation What I heard him actually say is that this is a private matter between the 2 parties and he has no intention to meddling in other people’s personal affairs.

  5. Imjustsaying says:

    If the OBA did this the PLP & their supporters would be up in arms.

  6. Let’s March Sisters! says:

    Enough Premier Burt! Either remove him or we will match and remove BOTH of you! Do not underestimate the power of us women! Shame on you!

    • Ronda says:

      Let’s march for what?..

      A comment made that were not privy to..

      That was settled between the parties.

      • March says:

        Match to put them both out if the Premier won’t do what we say! Try us and see what happens!

  7. wahoo says:

    Clearly he struck a deal before the election and neglected to tell us pesky voters…Not my fault I voted OBA.

  8. Boston Whaler Owner says:

    I saw this happening weeks ago as did many others and it did!
    people need to wake up and smell the $%%t being given to them and let the plp know what the people want and it’s NOT Commissiong

  9. Stinky D. says:

    I think the best person for the Job was selected for community and cultural affairs.
    Rolfe you have my full support

    • Hey says:

      Stinky D, why do you think there was nobody better than Rolfe and what makes Rolfe your choice?

    • Boston Whaler Owner says:

      @Stinky D.
      I knew something was stinking

  10. Abcdefg says:

    He robbed a bank at gunpoint.

  11. Paul says:

    I think we need another election,women are up in arms over Rolfe commisiongs appointment….

    • Really says:

      leaked internal memo to Burt & Rolfe saying. “this too shall pass”!

  12. Young_one says:

    Women of Bermuda deserve better than this, but nothing will happen, no marching on Cabinet the first day of Senate, no emailing daily the premier, cabinet secretary, and your MP, nothing will happen. The disrespect the premier has shown to Simmons, Wilson, Ming, Furbert, Simmons, and Hodgson, that he doesn’t care how uncomfortable they will feel working with this man. I would suggest that any woman that needs to meet with rolfe never take a meeting him alone. Ask for someone to sit in on the meeting and if no one is available to postpone it until someone is available or use Zoom.

  13. say it like it is says:

    Isn’t it just shameful that Burt has to deceive all of us. The announcement of the Canadians buying Belco right after the election was another deceitful trick by YOUR PREMIER. Now all those who kicked up about the airport should be quiet, at least we will take it over in another 30 years, but not Belco, it’s gone forever, unless you are a share holder of course. Where’s the outcry now? Funny huh? All Burt sees is cha-ching cha-ching. Like he really cares about Bermudians first, nah. Don’t trust him or the PLP.

  14. shambolic election exercise says:

    Bermuda’s version of democracy–Bermuda is another world!

  15. Tea Leaves says:

    If Mr. Commissiong had any integrity, he would resign immediately. In fact, he never would have accepted any of the appointments in the first place. Of course that was never going to be the case, this was all set up pre-election between him and Burt. Personally, I think the women of Bermuda should go on strike in every conceivable way until Commissiong resigns – clearly their well being and safety counts does not matter to Premier Burt and his government.

  16. Guy Carri says:

    P Burt does what he wants, how he wants. Disgusting. Power trip.

  17. Who abused POWER more than the 2 former PREMIERS AND MONIZ… Who did they think they were? Superior to the law???

  18. Ringmaster says:

    “The government and party I am privileged to lead has a proud history of women in leadership and key roles. To this end, my goal is to ensure there is a work environment where women are respected and treated fairly and professionally.”

    What an insult to people like Dame Jennifer Smith, comments like “10 cents a lick”: the treatment of Neletha Butterfield; the disrespect from David Burch to the people in the Ministry of Health to name just 4. Respect women? What a joke.

  19. Rocky5 says:

    Premier Burt just showed Social Justice Bermuda the “the Middle Finger”

  20. Wow! says:

    Outrageous! You have to wonder what the real story is here. What power does Commissiong have over the Premier because on paper this makes no sense!!!

  21. hair says:

    SMH, you rob a bank with a gun and you get to be a MINSTER???????

    • Huey Newton says:

      Burt is just following orders.

      On another note, judging by Jamahl’s social media posts, it would appear all is not well – as in losing that ministerial salary. It could be a very good time to spill the beans.

  22. Imjustsaying says:

    The man, being a man, made a weak comment to the woman, not a comment with any sexual intentions. It was settled by both parties if it were an extremely bad comment, I’m sure further action would have been taken. All you man haters need to chill. Because you don’t have a clue as to what really happened. The OBA is just stirring up crap.

    • Fisherman says:

      Man is like old bait only good to be used for chum. He made the comment bad, good or in between. Rolf has been used for chum n thrown to the sharks. I knew when I heard him read his acceptance that he was nervous and deeply troubled. A. He needs to put clamps on his mouth, B. should not have accepted the positions in the first place, C. Probably considered an outcast and will be unemployed for a very ling time, that is until cruise ships come back and he can sell or hand out calling cards. Or be put on the friends and family plan.
      To his family, I feel for you and encourage you to be strong and of great courage.

      • No job says:

        No respectful business in the private space would hire this guy! He will need to beg for a handout from his F&F fund in the PLP!

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