Video: PLP Hold Delegates Conference

October 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

[Updated] The Progressive Labour Party [PLP] is holding their annual Delegates Conference this evening [Oct 27] under the theme of ‘Get Involved’.

The PLP previously said, “The Premier and Party Leader the Honorable E. David Burt will give an address. The conference will also feature speeches from two dynamic young women of the party, Senator Arianna Hodgson and Ariana Caines. Spectators will be entertained with performances by local artists Paradise Duo, Jesse Seymour and Live Wires. Bermuda, let’s “get involved.”

The 97-minute live video replay is below:

Update: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:

Thank you to Kiana for that incredible introduction and for all of your outstanding work since joining our team. It is always a pleasure to see young Bermudians like yourself getting involved and making a difference….

Thank you to our MC for the evening Nadanja, to our performers Paradise Duo, Jesse Seymour, and Livewires, and to Senator Arianna Hodgson and Ms Arianna Caines for their incredible speeches. Our young women have truly left their mark on tonight’s event with their powerful contributions.

And, as we remember our late Sister, Laverne Furbert, I thank the party for putting together that incredible video tribute which brought tears to my eyes and was a fitting way to honour her incredible legacy.

To the delegates, party executive, parliamentarians, members, and supporters of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, and to the people of Bermuda – Good Evening. I welcome you all to the opening night of the 56th Annual Delegates Conference. This year’s conference theme, as you have heard is “Get Involved”, and tonight I will speak to our party and to the country about the importance of each of us getting involved in building the future of Bermuda.

Firstly, my heart goes out to the families who are grieving after yesterday’s fatal shooting. Undoubtedly those who were present and witnessed this violent act have been left traumatised and I ask for us all to come together and support those who have been affected.

As a community we have been through so much, and this tragic event is a harsh reminder that outside of the pandemic there are still issues within our community that we must address together.

I encourage anyone with any information to cooperate with the Bermuda Police Service in their investigation.

This horrific accident only compo unded the immense pressure at our hospital and country as a whole are under as we continue to battle against the coronavirus.

For our second consecutive conference we are meeting virtually, and since I last stood on stage to address you in person two years ago, our world has fundamentally changed and our challenges have multiplied.

Our children are struggling with disruptions in the school year. Our businesses are persevering, but struggling in the aftermath of a tough 2020 and uncertainty over what the future holds. Our hospital and it’s staff remain stretched and our health care infrastructure remains under pressure.

The pandemic has taken its toll on our community. So many of our brothers and sisters have lost their jobs, and their businesses, resulting in financial responsibilities piling up.

The mental health of our island has been and continues to be challenged. Our families have had to endure more stress and more anxiety than ever before.This has been compounded by having to balance their job in many cases alongside helping with their children’s schoolwork, while the whole family is at home.

Most notably, this pandemic has been a catalyst for sickness, ongoing health challenges and has snatched many precious lives. I, like many of you, have lost friends to this virus and my thoughts and prayers remain with all of the families who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

And today, we face a new challenge. The United States, our major trading partner, is experiencing rising inflation which is having a ripple effect right here in Bermuda. Global supply chain challenges mean that prices will increase at the supermarket and in local shops. These rising prices are putting more stress on Bermudian families.

As Premier and Leader of this great party, I am not oblivious to these realities that our country and our families have experienced. I empathise with every single person who has been impacted by this pandemic. However, I and the leadership of this party recognise that empathy and thoughts alone are not enough.

In order to overcome the economic pain and anxiety brought on by this pandemic and to bring about positive, transformational change in our country it will require difficult choices. It will require a change in how we do things, hard work to execute that change, and it will require everyone to get involved in making the necessary changes a reality. Sharing ideas, and being involved in the discussions and work of executing those ideas is the only way for us to create the change that we desire and the Bermuda that we wish to live in.

In 2004, at the invitation of my next door neighbour, who was tired of listening to me talk about what I think should change in Bermuda – I joined the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party to play a role in bringing about the change that I wished to see in my island home.

As a young Bermudian returning home from university, I was faced with an obstacle that some of our young people still experience today, a lack of opportunity. Despite my qualifications and best efforts, I was unable to find an IT job in Bermuda’s private sector. I know what it’s like to look for work and lose hope, wondering whether your country wants you – I remember contacting 23 places to apply for entry-level positions, management trainee programmes, and sending a resume for any possible considerations, all with no success.

I still remember my first PLP meeting, 6 months after I returned to Bermuda from university, where I used my voice to put forward my ideas for how immigration policies could work better for young Bermudians – given my experience when I returned home. It is a powerful thing, and that is the reason why I remember it, as a young person to be able to speak directly to the Leader of the country, but that is what the PLP is all about, an inclusive grassroots party that allows members to put forward policies that can change the lives of our neighbours.

Today, many of the changes I stood up to share 17 years ago have been implemented. But that didn’t happen by accident or by blogging on the blog sites of 2004; it happened because I chose to get involved. I did not sit on the sidelines and hope that someone else would use their voice to press for the changes that I felt in my heart were needed for my country’s future.

What ideas do you have that will improve the lives of Bermudians? What ideas do you have that will make this country fairer and more just for all of its citizens? What ideas for change do you have that will bring about transformational change in our community?

The ideas that you have for change must not only be shared but must be worked on. There must be action alongside words and a desire to see true transformational change for our country. Whatever the idea is, if you are also willing to fight for it and if it represents the objectives and principles that we as a Bermuda Progressive Labour Party stand for as a party of working to promote the political, economic, social, environmental, and cultural progress of the people of Bermuda, we want to hear it and help you make it a reality for your country!

The principles instilled in this party and its members, by the likes of Walter Robinson, Dr. Paulu Kamarakafego, Dame Lois Brown Evans and L. Frederick Wade who laid the foundation to make the Progressive Labour Party the party of transformation. They built a party that was not afraid to stand up for what was right for the future of this country even though it was not popular.

This party’s first election platform in 1963, called for universal health insurance, quality taxpayer-funded public education, unemployment insurance and more affordable housing. These were not popular policies at the time – but they were the right policies for Bermuda’s future.

Recently, there are some who may question our commitment to this Party’s founding principles, but it is clear that we remain true to why the PLP was founded in 1963. Our economic recovery plan will see the successful execution of 2 key pillars of that 1963 platform, Universal Health Insurance and Unemployment Insurance. Some of the approaches in 2021 may be different then those formulated 58 years ago, but, rest assured, this party is firmly rooted in its founding principles of economic and social justice.

Since July 2017, when the voters of this country elected this party to again lead Bermuda, we have faced challenge after challenge. Before the pandemic, we nearly eliminated the deficit, while we invested in education, seniors, healthcare, youth and sporting programmes to build up and uplift our people. The investment made by ensuring anyone, regardless of your financial circumstances, could enroll in Bermuda College to upgrade their skills, has paid dividends in new business owners and more Bermudians in skilled jobs.

During the pandemic, we provided unprecedented levels of social support to assist Bermudians in making ends meet. Your PLP Government provided more than $70 million in unemployment benefits, supported small & medium sized businesses in meeting their overheads with $12 million, and we opened pensions to early withdrawals providing Bermudians additional resources to make it through the pandemic-caused economic recession. We also “stepped in” to provide $11 million in redundancy payments to the former workers of Fairmont Southampton Princess to ensure they were made whole – that is what standing up for the little guy looks like – and that is what the PLP is all about.

Last year, this Government was re-elected to make the decisions necessary to see our country through this pandemic, and to also make the difficult decisions required in preparing Bermuda for our future beyond it. Our election platform of Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at Heart is a plan on how the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party will respond to the calls we have heard from the people of this country about what they require.

After the election, we came together and constructed an Economic Recovery Plan to ensure that the calls of the people of Bermuda would be answered and not simply left as talking points for political speeches, or unkept promises as previous Governments may have done.

Members, it is important that you are proud of your party because we have a sound record in Government. Over the last 4 years the Progressive Labour Party Government has not just talked about change, we have delivered changes that have long been talked about. – Let me give you some examples.

  • For years Bermudians have discussed education reform and talked about the need for a trade school. This government is delivering education reform with signature schools that will start in 2022 with a Trades Signature Programme at the Cedarbridge Academy to prepare the next generation of Bermudian tradesmen and tradeswomen.
  • For years Bermudians have discussed Healthcare reform. But this Government has delivered on that reform ensuring that health insurance premiums don’t go to health insurers profits but to our hospital. We have passed laws to regulate the price of prescription drugs. Next year, as part of our Economic Recovery Plan, we will pilot a new healthcare plan which will be the basis for Universal Healthcare in Bermuda.
  • For years Bermudians have spoken about the need for more banks in Bermuda. This Government is delivering by attracting new banks to our shores to provide competition for businesses that use banking services but most importantly for Bermudians who need lower interest rates.
  • For years Bermudians have talked about economic diversification, but this Government has delivered – despite the naysayers – with Bermuda becoming a recognised leader in Fintech which has seen new companies arrive on our shores bringing new jobs for Bermudians.
  • For years Bermudians have spoken about immigration reform, but this government has modernised our immigration system without rancour and without protest, while also diligently protecting the rights of Bermudians.
  • Since 2005 in Bermuda we have discussed a shoreside facility to increase income for our fisherman and to ensure Bermud earns more revenue from our oceans – so your PLP government is making this 16 year old plan – stuck on a bookshelf, a reality.
  • For years Bermudians have spoken about renewable energy, but this Government is delivering by replacing the Government fleet with electric vehicles, purchasing electric buses, installing solar panels to power Government buildings, and installing electric vehicle charging stations.
  • For years Bermudians have spoken about the need for tax reform – your PLP Government has delivered. We cut payroll taxes for workers to the lowest level in history while ensuring that large business owners paid a portion of their dividends to support our necessary investments in health and education. No longer does the cashier pay a higher portion of their income in taxes than the wealthy business owner – under this PLP Government we’ve delivered a more fair tax system. Persons making $48,000 a year have seen their payroll tax bill decrease by $1,320 a year or 58%. That is right, we have cut taxes for workers by 58%

Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan came from the Progressive Labour Party, its members and supporters who got involved. Our platform pledges from the last election were assessed independently and the top 31 projects which were best aligned to deliver economic growth for Bermuda and to restore balance to our public finances are what your PLP Government is focused on delivering. Our Economic Recovery Plan is not just my plan, it is our plan, it is Bermuda’s plan – and its execution must be a collective effort. The more people who get involved and help us in executing a plan that will drive our country’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic, the more collective progress that we will make.

We are executing Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan to bring about the changes our people called for and need. As we continue our work, you will not hear many new promises from us, just as you are not hearing them tonight, but you will hear, see and feel the impact of us executing the plan we laid out for this country.

The successful execution of our Economic Recovery Plan is not just about ticking the boxes and patting ourselves on the back. It is about preparing our country for the future. It is about ensuring that we give our children a Bermuda that is more equitable, more affordable, and provides them with the resources they need to achieve their personal and professional goals. It is about reducing the cost of living and making structural changes in our economy that will ensure that Bermuda’s growth benefits all Bermudians. Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at Heart was not and is not just an election slogan, it represents the values that we bring to the execution of the Economic Recovery Plan.

However, in order to continue to do that successfully, and to see through the work that still needs to be done we need YOU to Get Involved. Change is easier if all Bermudians do our part by Getting Involved. Whether it is through political service or community service, Get Involved and help us to continue delivering on the promises we made to the people of Bermuda and to execute Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan that will enhance the lives of Bermudians.

- And that’s where I want to end tonight.

Execution and progress is hampered when persons stand on the sidelines and watch. Transformational change cannot come from posting on social media or forwarding Whatsapp messages in group chats. Change doesn’t come from tagging your MP on twitter – that is not what is needed from the young people of this country to build your future.

For the change that you want to see happen – you must Get Involved.

This means that you must get involved in how laws are actually changed in Bermuda. It means that you, like I did 17 years ago, should get involved in the work of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party. You can get involved at your local branch level, supporting residents in your constituency. You can get involved in the discussions on Government policy so that the decisions for your future reflect the views of the future generations. I am calling on the next generation of leaders to get involved and get ready to take ownership for the future of this country.

In Bermuda, we often hear people say “we need to have an honest conversation”. Well Bermuda, let me give you some honesty – Our country, like many around the world coming out of this pandemic, is in a very difficult space and there will be demanding times ahead – and it is likely that things will get worse before they get better.

However, the challenges ahead of us can only defeat us if we choose to face them as individuals rather than a community and a unified country. My brothers and sisters, a Kenyan proverb states that “sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”. To me, this means that when we come together there is no challenge too great for us to overcome.

Yes, change is uncomfortable, and talking about making change brings nerves and unease. Challenging the status quo, and going beyond your comfort zone normally does. Family I will be honest with you, it makes me a little nervous too. But Bermuda, we cannot stand still, we cannot just keep talking about the “good old days”. We must build a new future – and just like a signature school for trades will equip the tradesmen of the future – we need the commitment of each and every Bermudian across all sectors of our community to get involved to help your Government to build that future.

If we choose to act collectively, to get involved, to take ownership, and fight for the future of our country through action and not just words, we will see a better Bermuda and a brighter future on the horizon.

So, as I close, Progressive Labour Party delegates and members, and Bermudians watching who may not yet be a member of this party, I challenge you – don’t just sit on the sidelines. Join the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party – go to our website to become a member of the PLP. Join us – add your voice and get involved in planning Bermuda’s future. Connect with voters in your circle and represent their voice so that the PLP’s policies are addressing their needs.

I encourage everyone listening to me tonight to get involved with the work of making this country better for all Bermudians. It is my firm belief that if we are unified in that purpose, and resolute in our collective effort to see our plans through, we will create a better Bermuda for ourselves today and an even greater Bermuda for our children tomorrow.

Thank you, and I wish this conference much success over the next few days as we discuss the future of this country…

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