David Burt, left, and Derrick Burgess *File photos
David Burt, left, and Derrick Burgess *File photos

Derrick Burgess, the deputy leader for the PLP, tried to poke holes in Premier Craig Cannonier’s  explanation of explosive allegations that have triggered a political firestorm during the past week.

A day after the Premier held a press conference to announce he would be suing PLP politicians Marc Bean and David Burt, the PLP held its own press conference at Alaska Hall.

Mr Burt has alleged that the Premier met with him last December to try and convince him to support scrapping a referendum on casino gambling.

Mr Burt alleges at that meeting the premier offered a contract for Mr. Burt’s IT company in exchange for his support in bypassing the referendum. The contract in question allegedly involved an absentee balloting system.

Premier Cannonier’s OBA went forward with circumventing a referendum later that month, which represented an about face from their campaign platform.

Yesterday, Mr Burgess said the Premier acknowledged discussing absentee balloting with Mr Burt during a December 10 meeting. He then asked: “Why would the Premier need to discuss this matter with MP Burt when he has the entire government IT Department at his disposal?... The Premier’s deflections do not add up.”

Bypass the referendum

Mr Burgess also repeated his assertions from last week, saying the Premier also asked to meet with him last December to influence the PLP Caucus to support the OBA effort to bypass a casino referendum.

Mr Burgess says he told the Premier he needed to have that conversation with Opposition Leader Marc Bean.

“The integrity of our whole system of governance is being tested in a manner that this country has never witnessed before,” Mr Burgess of the political quarrel that has raged for the last week.

Mr Burgess continued the PLP theme of hammering away on the Premier’s alleged ties to American businessman Nathan Landow, suggesting that any contact with Mr Landow — a prospective casino developer — could derail the RFP process and delay any development.

Later in the day, Mr Burt said through a statement that he planned to pepper the Premier with questions in Parliament and again called for more information about the Premier’s connection to Mr Landow.

“Given that the Premier is refusing to answer legitimate questions, I have submitted official Parliamentary questions on this matter that will need to be answered in parliament,” Mr Burt said. “The Premier may be able to duck the press, but he cannot hide from the people’s representatives in Parliament.

‘Come clean’ 

“I once again call on the Premier to come clean with the nature of his and his business partner's relationship with Mr Nathan Landow. He cannot continue to hide under the smokescreen of an impeding lawsuit as that action has nothing to do with these legitimate questions.”

The legal action, however,  will not be funded with taxpayer dollars.

After indicating his prospective slander suit would be funded using government funds earlier in the week, the Premier’s office reversed course last night. Through a statement the Premier indicated “after taking further legal advice”, the costs of his legal action will not be paid with public funds.

Multiple times during yesterday’s PLP press conference, Mr Burgess answered questions using two words.

“Stay tuned,” he said.