Progress: Improved labour relations, grocery discounts, easing money woes and attracting new business; we’ve done a lot but have more to do.
Progress: Improved labour relations, grocery discounts, easing money woes and attracting new business; we’ve done a lot but have more to do.

One of my goals as Premier — the biggest goal really — is to bring Bermudians together; to break down the divisions and end ‘the wars’, to create a new place where all feel welcome, safe and secure knowing that their government is working for the benefit of everyone. 

When the Bermuda Sun asked for my assessment of the OBA’s first year in government, my thoughts immediately went to that goal and whether I had done enough to move us in that direction.

If you kept your eye on the argumentative blogs or the hyper-critical Opposition over the past year, you might say that not much has changed. But beyond the short tempers and the politics, I see very encouraging signs that we are starting to move in the right direction, toward a more cooperative future where the focus is not on division and political one-upmanship but on unity and common purpose.

Consider the historic contract agreement this summer between the Bermuda Trades Union Congress and Government that took into account the government’s debt situation. 

Consider the creation of the Tripartite Committee of business, labour and government representatives to broaden planning input into strategic possibilities for the island.

Consider the effort of major grocers working together to expand food cost relief for their customers.

And consider the commitment from Government ministers and blue collar workers accepting pay cuts for the sake of a larger good.

All these actions are steps by people making decisions that consider not just their own welfare but that of others as well. These are important steps for Bermuda because they start us on a road that makes recovery, reform and renewal possible. It’s a development that won’t win us banner headlines, but it says to me that people are willing to move into new areas, to reach out, change attitudes and agree things they would not have done before. It’s the right spirit for the times, and it is one of the most important and encouraging developments in our first year in office.


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nother important development over the past year has been to make people aware of the immense economic and financial problems we face as a community.

If we are to make the right decisions going forward, we need to know just what we’re up against. And the work of Finance Minister E. T. (Bob) Richards, through his “under the hood” investigations and the SAGE Commission, has helped us understand more clearly the stakes in play. 

Knowing that the path we’ve been on is “unsustainable” is vital for making the right decisions in the months and years ahead.

One of the privileges that come with being Premier is the opportunity to meet people every day from all walks of life – heads of state, business and union leaders, working men and women, people on hard times. Some people think that being Premier separates one from the everyday currents and pressures of life, but that’s not my experience at all. I’ve seen enough and heard enough to know that the pressures I am under are nothing compared to the men and women who struggle every day to provide for their families. Ending the unemployment that so many Bermudians are experiencing is my Government’s Number One objective. What keeps me up at night is the awareness that there is so much to do to make things better and my concern that improvements will not happen as fast as they need to happen. 

Nevertheless, we have made progress. We have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort rebuilding the economic foundation of the Island and restoring confidence in Bermuda as a place to do business. We’ve put in place numerous measures to attract and stimulate investment and job growth. As a result, we’ve seen some of the best job-creating numbers in recent years and a slowdown in job losses, but it’s not enough. 

In the year to come, we are going to keep our feet to the floor, pushing to open the economy, pushing to attract new investment, creating the best conditions to get our people back working again.

I am proud of my fellow ministers and the way they have risen to challenges we took on a year ago. They’ve shouldered a lot of stress and their energy and spirit remain strong. We’ve done a lot, we’ve learned a lot and we know there is a lot left to do. 

As Premier I’m going to keep the pressure on them because there is no time to waste. The people of this country need results, they need relief. 

We’ve used our first year in office to start Bermuda moving in the right direction, and will continue that push through Year 2 and beyond.

I have always been an optimistic person, and after this first year, despite the big challenges that remain, I am even more so. 

I would like to thank the Bermuda Sun for the opportunity to have my say today and I wish everyone the very best this holiday season.


This article was originally posted on December 13, 2013.