Dear Sir, 

Last week Wednesday, while in Bermuda on a family matter, I was invited to be a guest on the Sherri Simmons show on Magic 102.7FM. On Friday, my appearance on the show was raised by Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism. 

He quoted me, not by name, but as a PLP supporter who is “not happy with the Referendum question... and all of my PLP friends are not happy... many of them support gaming but they are going to send Government a message and vote ‘NO’.” 

He then went on about how he ran to the Premier to report a campaign to cause the referendum to fail. 

This was his excuse as to why the referendum will not be conducted and the decision on gaming will be made in the House of Assembly. 

Clearly Minister Crockwell and the OBA Government are paranoid since they seem to think there is/was some conspiracy between the PLP and me over the question posed for the gaming referendum. 

The fact is, I never mentioned “my PLP friends”, in fact, I don’t think I ever mentioned the PLP and Minister Crockwell has attempted to sully my integrity. 

What I actually said was more like, “I do not agree at all with the question posed as it is a leading question and I would suggest the electorate vote No to send a clear message to the OBA that we will not be guided in how we vote”. 

This is exactly what the wording of the question did and it was unfair and undemocratic. Instead of running to the Premier, he [Mr Crockwell] should have digested what I said and the meaning behind it. 

I find it rather odd that I have so much political clout that my comment can cause a shift in Government policy. Maybe I should speak more often. 

The OBA, during the election campaign, promised the electorate enhanced democracy, yet when they are challenged the first thing they do is remove and suppress democracy. 

My view on this debacle by the OBA is that (1) They never intended to hold a referendum to begin with. There was intent behind the wording of the question to prompt a negative response so they could use that to advance their original intent, which was to have the matter  decided in Parliament. And (2) they have no plans and no ideas for economic recovery and job growth so they have now pinned all of their hopes on the implementation of Gaming. 

I have not and do not offer consultation to the PLP and the only direct interaction I have with the Leader of the Opposition is on the basis of friendship. When I offer my opinions I speak only my personal views; I have no political affiliation and I have friends on both sides of the political divide. 

If I am alleged to be in collusion with others in trying to scuttle the referendum, why am I accused of being in collusion with the PLP and not John Barritt or BEST who had the same complaints about the question that I did?  

What Minister Crockwell may not know is that I have had numerous occasions to interact, through private conversations, with a number of his fellow Ministers of Government and have offered advice to them on issues where I have direct knowledge and experience and as far as I am aware my advice has been taken.

Rather than attempt to label me as a “known PLP supporter” Minister Crockwell should take note that I have actually given his party more assistance than I have given the PLP. 

In my view, the OBA, as part of its promise to do politics differently, (How many remember that promise?) and to listen to the people should implement that promise and come clean with the people and admit that it never intended to put the Gaming matter to the people by way of a Referendum. 

Minister Crockwell has two options: 1. retract his comments or  2. prove that I said, “my PLP friends”. The choice is his, so let us see how honourable the Honourable Minister is. 

Guilden M. Gilbert

Bahamas