Craig Cannonier - making his first speech in the House after winning the  Devonshire South Central by-election only weeks ago - said: "This is a  Government that has become too comfortable in power." *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Craig Cannonier - making his first speech in the House after winning the Devonshire South Central by-election only weeks ago - said: "This is a Government that has become too comfortable in power." *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, NOV. 18: The PLP Government is responsible for the “largest decline in jobs and opportunity in Bermuda’s modern history” OBA leader Craig Cannonier told Parliament in his Reply to the Throne Speech today.

Mr Cannonier — making his first speech in the House after winning the Devonshire South Central by-election only weeks ago — said: “This is a Government that has become too comfortable in power.

“Glaring mistakes were made and things went wrong, as the Premier herself acknowledged. Accountability, the foundation of any successful democracy, was never applied.

“The disconnection, the complacency, the arrogance and excesses are all signs of a Government that doesn’t think it will ever lose power, never be sent packing by the voters. It’s a recipe for poor and ineffective government.”

Mr Cannonier added: “The Government became a facilitator of hard times, alienating job creators, spending us into debtor nation status.

“The Government likes to blame our hard times on the global economy, its Ministers say that as often as they can because it gets them off the hook, but make no mistake… this is a Bermuda recession caused by the Government’s financial and economic mismanagement.

“Bermuda needs a new approach, where it is smart about the world, smart about growing opportunity and smart about protecting our national interest. We need to get this island back to work.”

And he added that an OBA Government would invite a member of the PLP to sit in Cabinet in a bid to foster national unity.

Mr Cannonier was delivering the Opposition’s traditional reply to the Government’s agenda for the new session of Parliament.

He told MPs: “Bermuda is in crisis. Our economy is failing. Our education system is failing children and there is a massive breakdown in public safety that has many of our young men in the grip of gangs and guns.

“People everywhere are hurting. Every day I am sure all of us in this chamber hear from people living hard times.”

He added that it was “odd” there had been no mention of how to deal with the $1.2 million debt owed by Government.

Mr Cannonier said: “The $190,000 spent every day to pay the interest on the debt is the reason teachers are laid off, roads are not fixed, charities are struggling and the Mirrors residential programme has been postponed.”

Mr Cannonier welcomed some of the Throne Speech commitments, including a pledge to do more to re-train jobless Bermudians.

He added: “Hotel concessions tied to the hiring of Bermudian entertainers are good. We agree with health insurance reform that minimizes upfront payments for medical care and we agree with homeowner eligibility for financial assistance, as well as tougher drink driving penalties.”

Mr Cannonier added that the OBA also supported a relaxation of the 60/40 per cent ownership rule to ensure Bermudian-controlled local business in order to support major projects like the redevelopment of Hamilton’s waterfront.

He said: “We welcome a referendum on gambling. It is important to let people decide important issues by way of referendum.

“We support measures that protect qualified Bermudians from unfair hiring practices. And we are intrigued by the idea of a Cisco Academy that could train Bermudians to fully participate in our high tech economy.”

But Mr Cannonier questioned if the PLP could be  “trusted to follow through on all this promise”.

He said: “This Government has disappointed many. The gap between its initial promise and its record is significant and telling.”

 

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