Photo by Leah Furbert
Alan Marshall stretches during a quiet period at Devonshire North West polling booth.
Photo by Leah Furbert Alan Marshall stretches during a quiet period at Devonshire North West polling booth.
The prime task now facing the election victor is healing the community psyche from the bruising it has taken during this election. The PLP must now resist all temptation to humiliate, ridicule or otherwise behave in an uncivil fashion toward UBP leaders and supporters.

Furthermore, PLP leaders must now make significant healing gestures, across racial and party lines. These cannot be mere lip service; neither can they be superficial nor just for the moment.

Along these lines, the PLP should extend "the big conversation" initiative, expanding it to include all areas where discrimination impedes social justice, including race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion and so on. The roots of discrimination - prejudgment, misunderstanding and intolerance - are the same in all areas. Addressing these roots is key; ideally under bi-partisan or non-partisan leadership.

There should be no delay in addressing the crises in education and housing. While Dr. Johnson has undoubtedly made headway I would prefer to have multiple wise heads working on this vexing problem.

There's a real need for a blue ribbon entity to examine our education system and engage a reform package. Bermuda is small enough to be a case study for a consortium of higher education institutions to look at where we are and how we got here, where we want to be, and how to get there.

Fixing education

We can no longer muddle through viewing education as the delivery of facts about a selection of subjects. Education must inspire and enable a quest for knowledge, and deliver the knowledge and skills of citizenship including relationship building, conflict resolution and civic responsibility.

The challenge of ensuring our people are adequately housed needs to look beyond mere housing supply. It must address issues of the scope and pace of our economic expansion. The current excessive growth in job creation requires the importation of three workers for every four jobs created - this is not only unsustainable, it also adds to the housing and transportation problems faster than we can solve them. We must help turn the people's expectations and aspirations toward quality of life rather than quantity of life.

The PLP should not shy away from elevating the protection of the environment as the paramount ingredient to sustain our quality of life. Reinvigorating the Sustainable Development Initiative and Roundtable would be good first steps. Applying the principles of sustainability to all government policy a good second step. The first major project should be discussions on and development of a national energy strategy.

An immediate and ongoing task is to restore trust in government. The list of moves would include: Updating corruption laws by bringing them into line with the UN Convention Against Corruption; establishing and enforcing a Code of Conduct for all in elected/appointed positions; opening up public access to information (except for strictly criteria-driven issues of national security). Statutory watchdog bodies like the office of the Auditor General and the Ombudsman should be strengthened and their independence reinforced.

The PLP has a superb opportunity to learn from its own and the UBP's experiences this past decade. Above all, don't take the people for granted. Fulfill your promises. Engage and inform the people as you check off that list. Admit and speedily correct mistakes. Above all, think, speak and act with integrity, and do not betray the people's trust.