A few weeks ago I read an intriguing column by John Barritt. He posed a few riddles, one of which was:

Riddle 4: It was my view (from experience) that having to sit in Opposition after serving in Government helped you to see things more clearly. That has to be so: otherwise can there be any other credible explanation for the two good governance motions which the PLP have advanced in the House on the Hill? Mandatory disclosure of contracts and reports is something they could have voluntarily done when in power. Still, the push is heartening. We need Government and Opposition to work together to make disclosure and accountability the norm. Forego the grandstanding”

For the last few weeks I have listened to the House via 105.1 FM and realized “What a difference an election makes!” Various OBA MPs have literally begged and pleaded to the Speaker of the House and, by extension, the nation at large, to continue a trend of non-disclosure of electoral issue and government contracts. 

It is somewhat par for the course for politicians to want to keep secret who they are doing business with, so no shock value there. However, these are the same folks who campaigned on ‘Openness and Transparency’ less than one year ago:

“The OBA will provide an open and transparent process in the sunshine of public scrutiny…We will ensure Bermuda is served by a system that is open, fair, transparent and accountable. That’s what we will do.” — MP Trevor Moniz Aug 10,2012.

It comes as no shocker, that now when the OBA have the ability to be totally open, fair, transparent and accountable, they fight it every step of the way.

Step 1. Previously under the PLP all government contracts were put into the Bermuda Sun [when it was the Official Gazette]. Since December 17, I haven’t seen any in the Official Gazette.

Step 2. On March 11, AG Marc Pettingill was asked in the House if the post for his assistant had been advertised. He declined to answer. When the question was answered by a civil servant, that civil servant was suspended

Step 3. On June 21, MP Walton Brown brought a motion to the House for a bi-partisan select committee on electoral reforms.  The OBA attempted to convert it into a ‘take note motion’. Which essentially means there will be no committee but only a debate or discussion on the topic. 

Essentially the OBA never wanted any bi-partisan committee to explore electoral reform.   To do so would mean actually working with the PLP to uncover all the things that have gone wrong in previous elections and bring some stringent rules to all future elections. Perish the thought of the OBA and PLP working together.

Step 4. On July 5, MP Wayne Furbert brought forth a motion to discuss transparency of government contracts. Once again, the OBA fought to have this dismissed, with MP Shawn Crockwell stating that for MPs to take the time to actually discuss who is getting government contracts would be “too tedious.” Unbelievable!  

Here is my take: all political parties have their quirks and idiosyncrasies. None are perfect nor infallible.

However, it is fast approaching near comical how political parties and their supporters switch messages according to whether they are the Government or the Opposition.

We, the people of Bermuda, need to demand from all politicians total transparency with regards to:

Their personal connections to companies doing business with government, and;

Who they have issued contracts to. 

Without this we will be blinded by one side or the other as power shifts. 

The next time any candidate, whether PLP or OBA, knocks on your door soliciting your vote, tell them you demand “total openness and transparency.” Ask them this one question

“Do you clean windows?”
Feedback: carib_pro@yahoo.com