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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
See end of this file for all of our many History files
Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays.
March 31. Monitors of HSBC’s anti-money laundering and sanctions evasions found “widespread compliance failings” at the bank’s Bermuda operation, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The newspaper said that “people familiar with the situation” said that the problems found in 2015 helped lead to the departure of the HSBC’s CEO Richard Moseley and chairman Philip Butterfield, who both left the bank last year. HSBC had to put a monitor in place as part of a $1.9 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in 2012. The bank paid the cash to settle allegations it had failed to spot drugs money laundering in Mexico and failed to flag up transactions with countries subject to economic sanctions like Iran. The deal with the US authorities included a five-year deferred prosecution agreement, after which the Justice Department will decide whether the bank has come up to standard or whether it should be prosecuted. The US could also opt to extend the monitoring or even strip the bank of its licence to bank in the US. HSBC Bermuda declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal claims. But a spokeswoman said: “HSBC remains focused on fulfilling its obligations under the deferred prosecution agreement and implementing the most effective standards globally to combat financial crime.”
March 31. A new hotel is to open in January 2017 on the site of the former Pink Beach Club. Known as the Loren, the development was toured yesterday by Michael Dunkley, with home affairs minister Michael Fahy and senator Jeff Baron. Senator Fahy said the construction had finished for the main hotel buildings, where doors and windows have been installed. “We could also see that significant progress has been made on the beach club with work on the cabanas and pool well under way. Additionally, the first condo is now fully finished and furnished, displaying the contemporary, clean design concept that will be continued throughout the hotel.” Sylvan Richards, the MP for that area in Smith’s, said the hotel’s opening next year would stimulate the economy and provide jobs for “area residents who will now have a first-class hotel development and restaurant in their backyard”. The Premier toured the development with its owner, Stephen King, who is putting up the new resort with Sardis Developments Ltd. Calling himself encouraged by the progress, Mr Dunkley thanked the developer for his “unwavering commitment” by investing in Bermuda and using local expertise. Mr King said he hoped for the resort to be running at full capacity by the start of the America’s Cup in 2017. “It’s hard to imagine that only two years ago we had just bought this property, and when you look at what has occurred here in that time on the site, it really is a tremendous achievement. What gives us confidence is that we are at the stage where we are ready for the finishing touches to go in. The tiling will start soon, and interior painting has already begun and the furniture has been ordered. The one thing I am most looking forward to is the landscaping — putting the soil down. We have tried to preserve the endemic plants on the site as much as possible and maintain the natural coastline. The hotel is, aesthetically, quite a non-invasive structure as the ‘back of house’ is all underground.”
March 31. With the 2016 Bermuda Agricultural Show set to begin two weeks from today, organizer David Lopes is hoping it will be “as good or better than it’s been before”. Taking place from April 14 to 16 at the Botanical Gardens in Paget, the show will celebrate agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry under this year’s “Homegrown” theme. This will be the first Ag Show in two years, after the Bermuda Government cancelled the 2015 edition for financial reasons. “We tried to keep it going last year but it just wasn’t possible,” Mr Lopes, a former ZBM radio host, said. After the complications, the Government entered into a public-private partnership with registered charity Ag Show Limited, allowing it to host the show. Mr Lopes, a farmer who serves as the ASL chairman, said that preparations for the 2016 event were “in the home stretch. This is all new to us and it’s quite a challenge,” he added. “Every day, when you think you’ve got everything straight, another challenge pops up. But we expected that and we’re prepared for it, plus we’ve had an awful lot of support from the community.” At the Hamilton Rotary Club on Tuesday, Mr Lopes detailed the show’s rich history. Its roots extend back as far as 1843, when then-Governor Major General Sir William Reid encouraged the adoption of agriculture on the island, where principal occupations included shipbuilding and seafaring. “The Governor organized an agricultural exhibition with ploughing matches at Mount Langton and the whole colony became interested in farming,” he told Rotarians. Mr Lopes has a long affiliation with the show, where he first exhibited rabbits in 1955, before progressing to goats, poultry and cattle. He is keen that this year’s event, which already has 2,500 participants and exhibitors confirmed, maintains the traditional charm of years gone by. Entrants will compete in a broad range of categories including horses, pigs, rabbits, fruit, vegetables, roses, orchids and woodcraft. About 2,000 pictures have been entered for the junior art competition and there will be an emphasis on local entertainment. “The Ag Show is probably the biggest cultural event in Bermuda and welcomes people of all ages and from all walks of life,” Mr Lopes said. “It is not an option — we must keep this show going.” Entry will cost $10 for adults, $5 for children under 16 and senior citizens, and nothing for children under 6.
March 31. The welcoming nature of Bermudians is a jewel in the island’s tourism industry, the executive director of the Bermuda Hospitality Institute has claimed. Malika Musson spoke on the City Hall steps at midday today, at the launch of the fourth annual Hospitality Month. Under the theme of ‘Experience Bermuda’, the event aims to promote the businesses and individuals who spearhead the hospitality industry here, as well as encouraging residents and schools to promote the island during the busy tourist season. “You, the Bermudian people, are what our visitors say they remember the most, and what they love about our island. You are Bermuda’s special ambassadors, because this is your home and you know it best.” Ms Musson encouraged Bermudians to actively ensure that tourists enjoy their stay. “You create the difference between a good experience and a bad one,” she said. “We need everyone’s help to make our visitors’ experiences here memorable and, most of all, fun. Get out, get involved and see what Bermuda has to offer - so the next time a visitor asks you directions to one of our beaches, or a great place to eat in Dockyard, you will know exactly what to say.” Charles Gosling, Hamilton’s mayor, said: “Bermudians have always been known for our hospitality and our friendly way. We are proud of our home, our heritage and our culture. We should all be open to leave a mark on those who have made a deliberate choice to come here.” For full details on Hospitality Month, go to www.bhi.bm.
March 31. The Bermuda Government unveiled its new online portal today. Members of the public and the media will be able to access information and press releases through the website. “In the November 2015 Speech from the Throne, the Government promised to replace the old website and create an online presence that is user-friendly and accessible,” the Premier said in a statement. “This new site provides greater functionality and is easier to navigate. This includes the ability to look at the site from any mobile device. Our goal is to get visitors to the information they are looking [for] in three clicks. The public is encouraged to visit www.gov.bm often because the portal team will continually update information, add content and enhance service functionality. Each page has a feedback button. I encourage visitors to the site to let us know what you like about the new portal and what you would like to see more of.” After a request for proposal process, software development company Opin was selected to develop the site and an open source software Drupal was used to build the portal, according to the statement. Some of the features include a “robust search functionality” and a topics based format, meaning information is no longer centred around departments. Each page provides related resources and links helping users to find information faster and easier, the ability to seamlessly format to mobile technology and a feedback button on each page. The statement added that the cross-department project was completed on time and on budget.
March 31. Shadow transport minister Lawrence Scott has been suspended from his job as supervisor at JetBlue Airways. It is understood he was placed on leave by the company while it carries out an investigation into allegations about his conduct. Mr Scott, 36, the son of the former Premier Alex Scott, was hired by JetBlue in 2006 as its supervisor at LF Wade International Airport. A pilot, he was previously chief executive officer of his own firm, Airborne Management, which specialized in luxury concierge services. Before that, he was operations officer at Aircraft Services Bermuda. The Progressive Labour Party MP for Warwick South East declined to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday. JetBlue spokeswoman Elizabeth Ninomiya told this newspaper: “We do not comment on employment matters.”
March 30. Police officers have agreed to a pay freeze as part of a deal between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Police Association. According to Sergeant Andrew Harewood, the chairman of the Bermuda Police Association, the deal includes a pay and promotion freeze, suspended free bus and ferry travel, and overtime paid at “straight time” for continuous duty. “The Bermuda Police Association and the Government have reached an agreement in respect of a temporary modification to the Conditions of Service Order,” Sergeant Harewood said. He added that “in an effort to assist the Government and the people of Bermuda during these economic times”, the BPA had agreed to reinstate one furlough day per month for 14 months starting on February 1. The deal also includes a freeze on promotion and suspended free bus and ferry travel, he said, adding that the changes would be in effect from February 1 this year to March 31, 2017. It was agreed that officers “be paid overtime at straight time for continuous duty”, take a pay freeze and continue to work with the Commissioner’s office in support of his budget reduction strategy. Sergeant Harewood added: “It was also agreed that the issue of the safety, the welfare and the well-being of the membership of the BPA shall form part of the terms of reference of a working group appointed to explore the issues surrounding government employees’ health insurance.” The deal comes after Michael Dunkley told the House of Assembly last week that the BPA had agreed to a deal that would see furlough days reinstated. The Premier said the move may reduce the extra $200,000 supplementary cost required to cover the salaries of officers.
March 30. The Bermuda Health Council has released its Corporate Plan for fiscal year 2016-2017 with care quality, regulation, finance and economics and accountability set out as priorities. Among the objectives are protecting employees’ rights to have health insurance through their employer and enhance quality care, safety, and appropriate business practices for health service providers. The BHeC also aims to reduce patients’ exposure to potentially medically unnecessary tests, protect insured patients from being charged upfront for health services and ensure health professionals receive prompt reimbursement of electronic claims. It hopes to further improve electronic information exchange across the health system and manage and monitor health system complaints and queries. For the full list of the objectives and for further information visit www.bhec.bm.
March 30. The Department of Human Affairs is set to close its doors this week after a structural review of the Ministry of Community, Culture and Sports. According to a statement by the ministry, the 2015 review also recommended that the Human Rights Commission transition to a non-ministry department to provide “an arm’s length relationship” from the Bermuda Government. These changes are hoped to provide operational cost savings, including rent, electricity and supplies. “From April 1, 2016 the Human Rights Commission will no longer be an administrative arm of the Department of Human Affairs but will have the status of a Non-Ministry Department,” added statement said. “With the dissolution of the Department of Human Affairs effective March 31, the administration and policy development functions of the department will be absorbed into the Ministry of Community, Culture and Sports headquarters. These functions relate to research, policy development and policy advice on a diverse range of topics including human rights, race relations and gender affairs. This transition will ensure that policy development, monitoring of compliance with relevant legislation and international conventions as it relates to human rights, race and gender affairs will continue.” Of the two remaining staff positions in the department, one has been transferred to the ministry headquarters while the second is being transferred to the Human Rights Commission.
March 30. Heavy rains soaked the island yesterday and caused flooding in some low-lying areas. The weather also temporarily knocked out power to about 1,000 Belco customers in Warwick after lightning struck two poles shortly after 8am. A spokeswoman said crews carried out repairs on both poles and power was restored within three hours. Meanwhile, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company suffered outages affecting all of its stations, stating that the Fort Hill area of Prospect “was saturated with electricity from powerful lightning strikes”. The broadcaster said staff had been working to restore service, bringing Power 95, Inspire 105 and Ocean 89 back online. But as of yesterday afternoon work was still being done to restore its television channels. “A damage assessment is under way and replacement parts may need to be flown in from overseas before the TV channels can be fully functional,” the statement said. “The company wishes to thank its listeners and advertisers for their patience while it works to restore remaining services to the country. The BBC would also like to take this opportunity to thank local utility companies for helping to restore essential services such as power and communications to Prospect.” Meteorologist Rob Howlett, of the Bermuda Weather Service, said a cold front passing over the island had produced 0.92 inches of rainfall at LF Wade International Airport by noon, although he added that other areas of the island could have seen more rain. “The front became much more active as it moved across the island around daybreak due to increased instability from cold air aloft. March has been a wetter-than-average month with 7.68in as of this writing [normally 4.44in during the month] and we are 5.67in above average for the year. Several stretches of road were left under inches of water in the morning as the public endured their morning commute, leading to some traffic delays. However, the weather cleared over the course of the day." While flooding has been a long-standing concern in the Mill Creek area, Ed Faries of Tops Ltd said he was pleasantly surprised to see the road had not flooded when he arrived for work. “Of course, if this rain continues until high tide, we will probably be underwater as all of the rain that fell in the city rushes this way,” he said. Mr Faries noted that government workers had cleaned out a large portion of trash that had been blocking the system and making flooding worse. “Half of the problem was there was so much trash,” he said. “Since they cleaned that out, it has been much better.” Cindy Anne Adams, who was at Pompano Beach yesterday morning, said she was surprised to catch video of a waterspout off the coast. "My husband was on the bed and happened to see something coming across the water. I went out on the balcony in all the wind and the rain and captured that moment. I just thought, ‘Wow, what is this thing?’. I had never seen anything like it before.” James Dodgson, the acting director of the BWS, explained that waterspouts formed from unstable air masses in a cumuliform cloud, causing a rotation at the base of the cloud. “As this rotation increases and becomes more organized, a funnel cloud develops,” he said. “It is then only when the funnel cloud reaches down to the surface of the ocean that it becomes a bona fide waterspout.”
March 30. A land snail thought to have been extinct for more than 40 years and an Atlantic turtle are two of more than 100 species which have been added to the Bermuda Protected Species list. A total of 203 species have been included in the Protected Species Order 2016; 120 more than the original 83 named in 2007 under the Protected Species Act. The most recent revision has seen 119 species of coral, which form critical habitat to many of Bermuda’s marine wildlife, added to the list as well as the long- spined urchin, West Indian sea egg and the three-rowed sea cucumber. The Bermuda land snail, Poecilozonites bermudensis, which was rediscovered in Hamilton in September 2014, Kemp’s turtle and the leafcutter bee have also been afforded added protection under the new order. Mark Outerbridge, the wildlife ecologist for the Department of Conservation Services, told The Royal Gazette the department was continuing the “lifeboat projects” as another means to protect the island’s endemic and most endangered species. “The Department of Conservation Services initiated a lifeboat programme over ten years ago through which it has sent a number of vulnerable endemic species to institutions overseas for husbandry and cultivation,” Dr Outerbridge said." Over 150 Poecilozonites bermudensis were shipped to the London Zoo in July 2015; the Chester Zoo has a small population of Bermuda skinks; the Vienna Zoological Gardens is breeding one of the rarer Bermuda killifishes and the Henry Doorly Zoo has done an exemplary job with propagating the Governor Laffan’s fern [a species now extinct in the wild]. In fact, the Laffan’s fern has done so well under laboratory propagation that the Department of Conservation Services is presently reintroducing them at select sites across Bermuda in the hope that it will become established again.” Under the Act, protected species are divided into three categories; level 1, 2 and 3, with level 1 being the highest level of protection whereby recovery involves the highest levels of expertise and contraventions invoke the greatest penalties. Dr Outerbridge added: “While five species were completely removed from the list, the overall number has increased to 203. Fifty-one species are now under level 1 protection, 145 are under level 2 and seven are under level 3.” Under the revised 2016 list, six fern species, including the Governor Laffan’s fern, have been regraded from level 1 to level 2 to recognise the significant advancements made in propagation and to have some public assistance with cultivation and care. The yellowwood tree was also regraded from level 2 to level 3 to allow propagation and community-wide planting, while restricting intentional removal, and the land hermit crab was moved from level 1 protection to level 2. The new list also modifies species protection; for example, only those Bermuda cedar trees that survived the cedar blight of the mid-1940s to 1950s are protected under the Act. Many cedar trees that sprouted after the introduction of two cedar species imported immediately after the blight have proven to be hybrids rather than genetically true Bermuda cedars. Four plant species — St Andrew’s cross, Bermuda snowberry, Bermuda palmetto, and Bermuda olivewood — have been delisted because they are not habitat restricted. They are available for purchase in local plant nurseries with the department’s recognition that listing was hampering their use by the public in the Bermuda landscape. Furthermore, the green heron was removed from the Act because this species is not considered in need of recovery and its protection is adequately covered by the recently amended Protection of Birds Act (1975). These changes were made to better serve those species that are special to Bermuda, or which play important roles in our environment, and are imperilled by human activities.”
March 30. Bermuda’s voters remain evenly split on the issue of whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, according to a survey commissioned by The Royal Gazette. Respondents were asked in a telephone poll this month if same-sex marriage should be legalized and 45 per cent said yes, compared with 48 per cent who said no. The results are similar to a poll conducted for this newspaper last October, when we asked the same question and found 48 per cent of respondents for marriage equality and 44 per cent against. The margin of error for the poll was +/- 5 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level, meaning if the survey was run 100 times — asking a different sample of people each time — the overall percentage of people who said yes would range between 40 per cent and 50 per cent most (95 per cent) of the time. Support for marriage equality is much stronger among whites than blacks, according to the latest results, with 74 per cent of whites for the unions, compared with only 28 per cent of blacks. The age group most in favour of same-sex marriage is the youngest: 51 per cent of those 18 to 34 said it should be legalized, compared with 31 per cent of senior citizens (aged 65 and above). More women than men were against legalizing same-sex marriage — half the females we polled said they were either strongly opposed or opposed, compared with 44 per cent of males. Our poll also asked voters if they supported the decision by the Bermuda Government to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage and civil unions. Fifty-eight per cent agreed with a referendum, compared with 34 per cent who did not and 8 per cent who did not know. A breakdown by race shows that 68 per cent of whites and 53 per cent of blacks supported the referendum. Our October poll was held as public debate on marriage equality was heating up: the Government had just announced a series of public information sessions on the topic in response to campaigner Tony Brannon’s petition to have same-sex marriage legalized. Since then, the pressure group Preserve Marriage has been running a publicity campaign to try to stop same-sex marriage from being legalized in Bermuda, bringing in speakers from abroad, distributing flyers and paying for prominent newspaper adverts. The group, which pushed for a referendum, became a limited liability company in December and has now applied for charitable status. Last month, the Government announced it would hold a referendum this summer and tabled in Parliament an amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act, which would allow discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in relation to weddings. It also released draft legislation for same-sex civil unions for “consultation purposes”. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, told the House of Assembly this month that the referendum would likely be held in mid-to-late June. Voters will be asked two questions: are you in favour of same-sex marriage in Bermuda? And are you in favour of same-sex civil unions in Bermuda? A publicity campaign is expected from both Preserve Marriage and those in favour of marriage equality once the referendum date is set. Those in favour include the Human Rights Commission, the Rainbow Alliance, Marriage Equality Bermuda, Two Words and a Comma, and Same Love Bermuda. Our latest poll of 400 registered voters was carried out between March 7 and 14 by Global Research and the results were weighted to be representative of the island’s population in relation to age, race and gender.
March 30. An EU seal of approval for Bermuda’s insurance market will make the global business more competitive, the head of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers said yesterday. And Brad Kading, president and executive director of Abir, added that Solvency II equivalence in the EU would mean better access to insurance and reinsurance around the world. Mr Kading said: “Cross-border trade of reinsurance is essential for the smooth functioning of insurance markets at a time when more and more reinsurance is needed to close the protection gap on uninsured catastrophe losses in both the developed and developing world.” He added: “The coverage provided by Bermuda’s commercial insurers and reinsurers makes insurance markets more competitive because more capacity can be offered to clients and consumers have greater choice of companies.” Mr Kading was speaking after the EU, the world’s biggest market for insurance products, granted Bermuda’s regulation regime full equivalency with EU nations, which will allow the island to compete on an equal footing with European nations. Bermuda and Switzerland, closely tied to the EU, although not a member, are the only two countries to be given the accolade. Mr Kading said: “This will benefit Abir members in Bermuda — the red tape has been effectively removed. For example, the Bermuda Monetary Authority is now recognized as a global group supervisor for targeted insurance groups and reinsurance can be conducted on a cross-border basis without market barriers. For Bermuda insurers, this means an efficient rather than redundant layer of group supervision and for reinsurers it means cross-border trade without individual jurisdictional restrictions.” Bermuda reinsurers supply about 40 per cent of US and British property catastrophe insurance and about 20 per cent of EU property-related insurance. Mr Kading said: “Abir’s members and other Bermuda insurers have paid more than $35 billion in catastrophe claim payments to their US clients in the last 15 years. In Asia and Oceana, we’ve reported 20 per cent of the loss estimates for the 2015’s Chinese Tianjin fire and explosion, 29 per cent of the privately reinsured share of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami and 51 per cent of the reported liabilities for the New Zealand’s 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. As Asia’s insurance market develops, more and more global insurance capacity will be needed and Bermuda’s reinsurers are well-placed to help meet that need.” Mr Kading congratulated BMA CEO Jeremy Cox and his team for persuading the EU to grant Bermuda equivalency. And he said the US National Association of Insurance Commissioners has also designated Bermuda and the BMA as a “qualified jurisdiction” which allows free cross-border trade with America, the world’s second largest trading bloc. Mr Kading added: “This bilateral recognition by the world’s two largest trading blocs ensures Bermuda’s status as one of the three leading reinsurance domiciles in the world and it positions Bermuda well for continued recognition by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors which is currently substantially rewriting its own multilateral international regulatory standards.”
March 29. Furlough days have been reinstated for police officers as part of the agreement brokered between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Police Association. The announcement was made by Michael Dunkley in the House of Assembly last week as he outlined supplementary figures for the Ministry of National Security during the Budget debate. The Premier revealed that the BPA had agreed to a deal that meant furlough days had been reintroduced from the beginning of last month and would run until March next year. Mr Dunkley said the move to reinstate furlough days for police might reduce the extra $200,000 supplementary cost required to cover the salaries of officers. “It is anticipated that this figure [$200,000]could be made back and reduced,” the Premier said. “Very shortly the BPA will make an announcement with Government that officers have been back on furlough days. That arrangement started in February and will end in March 2017. This arrangement might ameliorate that figure to some extent.” Less than a week earlier, Mr Dunkley had revealed to the House of Assembly that a resolution had been found in the dispute between the BPA and the Government, but he did not go into detail about the deal. At that time he said a joint statement by the parties would be issued in the “near future”. The two sides had been at loggerheads over the terms and conditions of employment as part of budget negotiations since last year as the Government has tried to cut spending in the service. Matters came to a head in December when about 100 police officers amassed on Cabinet grounds to present complaints to the Premier. After the demonstration, Mr Dunkley acknowledged that a resolution would probably not satisfy either side completely, but maintained that one could be reached if both parties were prepared to compromise.
March 29. The Bermuda National Gallery is facing “major capital investment issues”, its treasurer has revealed. In the BNG’s 2015 annual report, James Hallett outlined the gallery’s struggle to rescale following the “broad decline of business and population in Bermuda”. Mr Hallett pointed out the “very noticeable” 57 per cent decline in corporate support, which was $300,000 less in 2015 than in 2008, leading to fewer exhibitions and community programmes. He said: “Since the pre-2009 era, the BNG has aggressively scaled back its operations by over 40 per cent. There is very little else that can be done to reduce expenses that has not already been implemented,” added Mr Hallett, citing the 2014 closure of the BNG East/St George’s gallery and the absorption of fundraising responsibilities by senior employees and trustees, rather than paid development staff. With the majority of donors preferring short-term commitments, he said the BNG had lacked “sustainable revenue sources” for many years. To help address the issue, the gallery on Church Street, Hamilton began to charge a $5 admission fee early last year, although members, seniors and children can still enter for free. Although the annual report summarized 12-month results until March 31, 2015, therefore only covering the first three months of this new policy, Mr Hallett said that the move appeared to have been beneficial. He added: “Admission fees now exceed the grants that we received previously to support the earlier free [entry] policy. The volume of visitors has not been affected.” Despite the BNG’s financial difficulties, Mr Hallett praised the “remarkable” generosity of individuals and family foundations, who provided $440,204 in 2015 — 57 per cent of its $772,288 operating revenue. He also acknowledged the renewed commitment of the Bermuda Government, which more than doubled its contribution between 2014 and 2015 to $100,000 as part of its bid to boost tourism. Owing to the combined efforts of the gallery and its donors, the BNG posted a 2015 profit of $13,803, compared with a loss of $45,721 in 2014. Yet Mr Hallett said it continued to face struggles both short- and long-term, with the gallery’s air-conditioning system a cause for concern, as well as the need for partial refurbishment. “The air-conditioning system in one area of the BNG has been stretched long past its useful life and must be replaced this year. Our greatest concern is that if the air-conditioning should fail, we would need to close the gallery to find alternate storage facilities for portions of our collection.” He also underlined why the gallery should be seen as a cultural necessity in Bermuda. “The BNG staff continue to make great efforts to highlight the important social and intellectual impact of BNG programmes, as well as the initiatives of cultural organisations island-wide, in the face of a misperception that art is only for glamour,” Mr Hallett said.
March 29. Pitbull-type dogs should remain on the banned list, according to more than half of the registered voters who took part in a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette. However, the animal advocacy group petitioning the Bermuda Government to move the dogs to the restricted list has dismissed the poll's wording as “too arbitrary in nature”, and has vowed to continue fighting for change. The poll by Bermudian market research firm Global Research questioned whether people supported or opposed pitbull-type dogs being on the prohibited breed list. Of the 400 people surveyed, 54 per cent supported the ban, while 40 per cent opposed it and 6 per cent were unsure. “Had the poll asked whether the general public is in favour of overhauling current policies in a manner advocated by the world's leading welfare experts so that the issues of animal welfare and public safety are brought to the fore, we are sure that almost all people polled would be in favour of making Bermuda a safer place for both humans and canines alike,” a spokeswoman for Punish the Deed not the Breed Bermuda said. “Punish the Deed continues to advocate the removal of pitbull-type dogs from the prohibited list because dog experts all over the world agree that you cannot determine a dog's breed by its looks only and that temperament can vary greatly within any given breed of dog owing to important factors such as socialization. The primary concerns that need to be addressed can only be done by means of a comprehensive reform of the dog welfare policies: those concerns are animal welfare and public safety, as you cannot neglect animal welfare without paying a price for it in terms of diminished public safety.” Punish the Deed has been petitioning Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, to place pitbull-type dogs on the restricted list for about a year. The group has also submitted information and legislative amendments to the canine advisory committee that was set up last year to look into the matter. A spokeswoman for the ministry told The Royal Gazette that the last update, which said the committee would be discussing its report with Ms Atherden and a statement would be made when there was a material update, remained relevant. According to the poll, more men than women supported the ban, with 57 per cent and 51 per cent supporting it respectively and 37 per cent and 42 per cent opposing it. A breakdown by race revealed 69 per cent of whites and 47 per cent of blacks were in favour of keeping pitbull-type dogs on the prohibited list. Meanwhile, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 were most likely to oppose the ban, with 69 per cent saying the dogs should not be banned, and those age 45 and over were most likely to support it, with 69 per cent for those age 45 to 54, 65 per cent for the 55 to 64 age group, and 64 per cent for those over 65. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.
March 28. Six years of hard work by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, insurance industry figures and politicians have paid off with the final confirmation that Bermuda has won Solvency II equivalence. The news became official last Thursday after a consultation period expired following the European Commission’s decision that the island’s insurance regulation standard is equal to the tough new rules being adopted across the 28-country bloc. Jeremy Cox, chief executive of financial-services regulator the BMA, said this was a major achievement and he paid tribute to the efforts of his “tenacious team” in realizing this lofty goal. “Regulation changed and Bermuda had to change,” Mr Cox said in an interview. “We have grown up considerably. We had to relearn, retool and rebrand this organization and we’ve had the capacity to do that. It’s amazing that this group of people have been able to handle the extent of the changes that have been imposed on them. The commitment of his team to overcome the numerous challenges on the way to equivalence was borne out of their ability to see the bigger picture. They recognise that this is not a private company with a bottom-line focus, what we do can aid Bermuda’s survival or cause Bermuda’s death,” Mr Cox said. “I feel very lucky to lead people of this calibre.” On March 4, the EC’s delegated decision on Bermuda’s equivalence with Solvency II was laid out in detail in the Official Journal of the European Union. The decision is considered final 20 days after the date of publication in the Journal. Solvency II equivalence means that commercial insurers and reinsurers based in Bermuda will not be competitively disadvantaged when they do business in the European Union. The enhanced level of regulation will not apply to the island’s captive insurers, nor to its special purpose insurers, which are considered to have lower risk profiles. Already, the benefits of the island’s new international status are becoming apparent. In February global insurer XL Group plc, which last year acquired Catlin, announced it planned to move its corporate home from Ireland to Bermuda — and equivalency was a major factor in the decision. “Following the Catlin transaction, and with the recent determination of full Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda, it has been concluded that the BMA is best situated to serve as XL’s group-wide supervisor and to approve XL’s internal capital model,” XL’s press release stated. Mr Cox said: “Such a significant firm recommitting to Bermuda is a wonderful story for the jurisdiction. I think the best thing about the XL decision was the endorsement from some of the other regulators.” When other national regulators were confident in the BMA’s ability to be group supervisor of an international firm like XL, it was greatly encouraging, especially so early in the BMA’s new era as a Solvency II-equivalent regulator, he said. The preamble on Bermuda’s journey to equivalence started in 2008, when Matthew Elderfield, Mr Cox’s predecessor as CEO, led efforts to explore its feasibility and desirability. But when Mr Cox took over as CEO at the start of 2010, he said there was no fleshed-out plan in place as to how to achieve it. His first aim was to ensure that Bermuda was in the “first wave” of countries to be considered for equivalence. From discussions with the EU bureaucrats at the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors, now known as the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, Mr Cox learnt that Bermuda needed group supervisory capabilities in its repertoire to have a chance of making the first wave. The BMA was able to draft the necessary legislation within months to make that happen. He recalled a meeting with Ceiops officials in Frankfurt, along with BMA colleagues Craig Swan and Roger Scotton. “We had to deliver a presentation that was two or three hours long, on what our regulatory framework was like and how Bermuda was relevant as a market to Europe,” Mr Cox recalled. The upshot was a visit to Bermuda in 2011 by officials from the newly titled Eiopa. Their draft report on the island’s regulatory regime helped the BMA identify and address areas that needed work to achieve equivalence. Repeated delays in the publication of the full report as the implementation date for Solvency II was pushed back caused some frustration, but this had been a help rather than a hindrance, Mr Cox said. “The delay allowed us not only to see their draft report and address the caveats, but also gave us more time to adjust our framework and also gave the industry more time to adapt to those changes,” Mr Cox said. “So the delays helped Bermuda. It’s funny how things work out.” There were still caveats in the final Eiopa report and Bermuda was being given significant hurdles to clear. “The Commissioners understood that this involved treating a country from outside the EU as if it were a member — and you can’t give that kind of privilege away easily,” Mr Cox said. “There was a gold standard that third countries had to meet.” Mr Cox recalled a “lightbulb moment” after EU caveats remained in a 2014 report. “I knew we had to start thinking about regulation like the Europeans do,” he said. “Bermuda has always presented itself as having a stratified regulatory system. We wanted people to see the varying standards for the different classes of insurer. That was a technical problem for the Europeans when they were looking at Bermuda. We needed to show the application of a framework that was equivalent to Solvency II across the board. We could not have different elements for class 3A and class 4 insurers and long-term insurers. We had to show consistency across the different classes. That was the light bulb moment.” Given the short timeframe for the changes to be made, Mr Cox knew it was imperative to consult the industry, to hear business leaders’ views on the practical implications and to ensure that they considered such regulatory upheaval to be a price worth paying for Solvency II equivalency. He met with organisations including the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, the Bermuda Insurance Management Association and the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers Association. “The wonderful thing was that there was not a better moment for us than when we had those difficult conversations, face to face, and understanding that this was a larger goal that Team Bermuda must achieve,” Mr Cox said. “The message was that we will find a way to do it. And it required a lot of trust and belief in the BMA.” The new regime was built and the necessary legislation drafted and passed by Parliament and the rest is history. Mr Cox felt that amid the team effort, some outstanding individual contributions should be recognized. Craig Swan, the BMA’s managing director, supervision, and Shauna MacKenzie, director, policy, legal and enforcement, were key in figuring out how to put together legislation and rules that would be accepted as equivalent. Yvette Pierre, assistant director, policy, was “a tireless worker who did whatever it took to accomplish this”, while Dina Wilson, assistant director, legal services, had worked long hours to draft the necessary legislation. Bradley Kading, president of Abir, won plaudits from Mr Cox as leading the effort to convince the EU that Bermuda was a relevant market to Europe, spreading that message through literally hundreds of meetings and industry conferences. Leila Madeiros, Abir’s deputy director had been “phenomenal” in gathering feedback from industry on each regulatory move. Mr Cox paid tribute to Paula Cox, the former Premier and Minister of Finance, as well as being his sister, and her successor as finance minister, Bob Richards, both of whom had taken the time to understand the issues around equivalence and had made frequent trips to Europe to support efforts to achieve it. Sir Richard Gozney, the former Governor, had supported that effort in gaining whatever help was needed from the UK authorities and by accompanying Ms Cox for talks with members of the European Parliament, he added. In his introduction to the BMA’s 2016 Business Plan, Mr Cox emphasizes that there is more work to be done. “Securing equivalence was clearly a major achievement, a powerful example of what can be accomplished with a strong, tenacious team that embarked on the road to equivalence in 2010,” he wrote. “But equivalence is an interim objective, rather than an end in itself, and should be viewed in the wider context of our vision and strategic goals.”
March 28. The Bermuda Government should not proceed with the new $250 million airport deal it has struck with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, according to more than half of the island’s voters. A survey commissioned by The Royal Gazette asked respondents if the Government should go ahead with the public-private partnership and 53 per cent said no, compared with 37 per cent in favour and 10 per cent who did not know. The Government’s sole-source deal with CCC was announced by finance minister Bob Richards in November and will involve the crown corporation of the Canadian government financing the rebuilding of LF Wade International Airport in return for a contract to run the facility for 30 years and collect any revenue raised. Mr Richards has insisted the agreement will create hundreds of jobs and “guarantee the delivery of a state-of-the-art terminal building on-spec, on-time and on-budget”. But critics claim the project should have been tendered and should not go ahead. Our telephone poll, conducted by Global Research between March 7 and 14, involved interviews with 400 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in a General Election. We asked the question: “The Government has signed letters of agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation to build the new airport. Do you think the Bermuda Government should proceed with its public-private partnership with the Canadian Commercial Corporation for the airport?” A breakdown of the results by gender shows that 58 per cent of women we asked were against the plan, compared with 47 per cent of men. Blacks were more opposed to the deal than whites: 66 per cent said the Government should not proceed compared with 27 per cent of whites. Support for the plan came from 61 per cent of whites and 24 per cent of blacks. Ten per cent of black people and 12 per cent of white people answered that they did not know. A breakdown by age shows strong opposition to the development among the 35 to 44 age group, with 70 per cent against, 25 per cent in favour and 5 per cent who did not know. More support was found in the 55 to 64 age group, with 46 per cent responding that the partnership should proceed, although a majority were against (48 per cent). Progressive Labour Party supporters were against the deal in the main, with 73 per cent answering no to our question and 19 per cent saying yes. One Bermuda Alliance backers responded more favorably, with 65 per cent replying yes and 24 per cent saying no.
• The margin of error for the poll was +/- five per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level, meaning if it was run 100 times — asking a different sample of people each time — the overall percentage of people who responded the same way would remain within 5 per cent of the original result in at least 95 of those 100 polls
March 28. A more in-depth glimpse of how Bermuda’s new $250 million airport could look should be available within the next few weeks, according to the firm spearheading the redevelopment. Canadian construction giant Aecon said architects had started work on the exterior and interior design aspects of the building in February, a phase that will last up to two months before new artist’s renderings are available. Those drawings will ultimately allow a 3-D model of the airport to be developed, which will be shared with the public. Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions, told The Royal Gazette the airport design was progressing well and key decisions regarding scope and functional parameters had been made in consultation with a very broad spectrum of stakeholders. As people step off the plane, they should see that Bermuda is at the forefront of modern, luxury travel,” he said. “And as they leave, they will leave with a positive, lasting impression of this beautiful island. The entire terminal will integrate the latest world-class technologies in all aspects of the process, including in check-in, screening, baggage and materials handling and processing, communications, fire systems, back-up power, telecoms and more.” Mr Nackan said that since the local office of international architecture firm OBMI joined the design team last month, a series of design studios had been initiated to refine the exterior appearance of the airport and define the interior sense of place in a Bermuda style. “The combined design team is exploring ways to integrate those features which make Bermuda unique and memorable to visitors and residents alike,” he said. “These include vibrant colours, simplicity and symmetry of indigenous buildings, marine ambience, sunlight, natural features, warm friendly people, flora, fauna, etc. It is the aim of the team to develop a design which will be memorable and one that the people of Bermuda can be proud of.” According to Mr Nackan, other features of the new airport will include:
Construction of the airport is due to start this year, with the terminal slated to open in 2020.
March 28. The US Consulate General has reminded those who are able to travel to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program that they must have a valid electronic passport as of April 1, 2016. In a statement released today, it is emphasized that the rule also applies to those who possess a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The Consulate General has strongly recommended that all travelers check to ensure their passports are valid electronic passports before they make arrangements to travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program. Persons can check if their passport is valid for travel under the VWP by reading the following page: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html. Any traveller who does not have a valid electronic passport is still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa issued by a US embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a US embassy or consulate before travelling to the US. Information on visa applications can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html.
March 28. Food addiction and comfort eating are highly prevalent problems in Bermuda, according to an American expert. Eric Webber, a relapse specialist at Caron Treatment Centres in Pennsylvania, also suggested that the island’s close-knit nature made it harder for those suffering from addiction to recover in anonymity. Mr Webber visited Bermuda in the middle of this month to conduct a two-day training programme at The Fairmont Southampton on relapse models, issues and interventions. During the workshop, hosted by Smith’s-based addiction charity Pathways Bermuda, Mr Webber discovered that the three most common addictions on the island were food, sex and alcohol/drugs. “One of my challenges was to make the training culturally relevant,” he said. “I asked the professionals and found out that food addiction is extremely prevalent here, as it is in the United States. They said that food plays a big part in Bermudian culture and that people tend to eat for comfort, especially high-sugar foods which release chemicals in the brain that make them feel good, just like drugs or alcohol.” Mr Webber explained that the two common threads of any addiction were obsession and compulsion, which stem from a deregulation of the brain’s limbic system that controls basic emotional responses. “Obsession is that craving and preoccupation with using that you can’t get out of your brain,” he said. “Compulsion is the behavior that, once started, you keep going and going, in spite of the consequences.” Similarly, he added that recovering addicts tended to relapse for one of two reasons: either because they were feeling better, or because they were not. “Somebody may forget they’re sick and forget to take care of themselves,” he said. “They’re feeling normal and normal people don’t have to go to meetings or therapy. They think they can just have one fix, and then they return to that addictive cycle. Alternatively, they try to work through whatever they need to, and just don’t feel better. They’re miserable with or without their choice of drug, so they think, to hell with it.” Mr Webber said that Bermuda’s small size and population could be stumbling blocks for those seeking to tackle their demons while retaining their privacy. “It’s a very close community and everybody knows everybody else, so the nature of confidentiality is a bit more difficult. If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, you might know everybody in the room, as opposed to somewhere like New York City where there are millions of people. But if you do see somebody you know in the room, remember that they are there for the same reason you are.” He added that the best way to help someone who might be dealing with food addiction was to remain respectful and understanding of their issue. “We need to be sensitive to the needs of people who struggle with this rather than scoffing at them or expecting them to get through their problem via willpower alone,” Mr Webber said.
March 28. The third edition of a book about boating in Bermuda is set to hit the shelves today after being out of print for three years. Bermuda Boating, described as a “valuable piloting and safety resource for local boaters”, will also feature a new chapter about cruising in Bermuda. “I’m very happy, once again, to provide this resource for both local and visiting boaters”, author Ralph Richardson said. “I hope that local boaters will continue to focus on safety as they navigate the waters around Bermuda. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors and all those who assisted with this project.” The new edition was launched at a private event at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club on Thursday. According to Mr Richardson, the book is a valuable piloting and safety resource for local boaters that has also assisted many in passing the local marine pilot exams. Meanwhile, others have learnt the basics of boat handling, mooring and piloting without a formal course by relying on the book as their key resource. A new chapter, “Cruising in Bermuda”, traces the path of an around-the-island cruise that was hosted by the local branch of the Cruising Club of America in 2011. About 30 US sailors participated in the five-day event, and Mr Richardson is hoping the new edition of the book will encourage even more sailors to lengthen their stay on the island. He said that as a result of the 2011 event, about 70 sailors on 20 yachts will be staying in Bermuda for an extra week after the Newport to Bermuda prize giving to participate in a second CAA Bermuda Cruise. He added that for most of them it will be their first time experiencing some of the many bays and coves around the island, such as Mangrove Bay, Ely’s Harbour, Dolley’s Bay, Castle Harbour and other secluded anchorages.
March 28. Preserve Marriage, a pressure group opposed to same-sex couples being allowed to wed in Bermuda, has applied to become a charity. A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman confirmed the application on Thursday, telling The Royal Gazette: “That application is still pending.” She said those wishing to comment on the application could contact the general charity information e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org. As reported by this newspaper last month, Preserve Marriage removed an online appeal for campaign funds from its website after a request from the Charities Commission. The group, a registered company since December 29 last year, had been seeking donations to “succeed” in its “mandate to preserve marriage in our country”. The appeal was brought to the attention of the Charity Commissioners, as well as Registrar General Aubrey Pennyman, by members of the public concerned it was in breach of the Charities Act 2014, which limits fundraising activities to registered charities. The Charities Commission told Preserve Marriage it could not solicit funds and the group removed the page from its website. Earlier this month, Preserve Marriage’s website was hacked and remained so on Thursday, when the homepage featured an image of dancing stick men and a rainbow banner in the sky, with the words, “Hacked By Ali Nerisa — The Best Iranian Hackers”. It was not possible to reach anyone from Preserve Marriage for comment.
March 28. Bermuda’s Irish residents are to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland with a special gala dinner. The event will also commemorate the Irish contribution at the start of the Battle of the Somme at about the same time, which claimed the lives of 3500 Irish soldiers, many of them from the 36th Ulster Division. Six of the nine Ulster counties later formed the pro-British statelet of Northern Ireland after 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland became Saorstát Éireann — the Irish Free State — in 1922. Brian Quinn, the president of the Bermuda Irish Association, said: “It should be a great night. It’s a special year — it’s the 100th anniversary of 1916, but we’re not celebrating that. It’s a commemoration and we’re also remembering the 3500 Irishmen who died at the Battle of the Somme around the same time. It’s a very happy Irish community in Bermuda and both sides will be represented at the event. We’re very inclusive — it’s about people from both sides of the border in Ireland and the wider Bermuda community.” Both the tricolour of the Republic of Ireland and the Red Hand of Ulster flag used by Northern Ireland will be displayed. Mr Quinn, who runs Granite Management in Hamilton, added: “We’re also encouraging members of the Bermuda community to come out for a great night of Irish culture and entertainment.” The black tie dinner, to be held at the Hamilton Princess on Saturday, April 9, will feature American-based Irish band Sproai from Chicago and an Irish dance troupe, three of whom were cast members of the hit touring show Lord of the Dance. The guest speaker will be Irish journalist and broadcaster George Hook, who will cover the 1916 rising in the Irish capital Dublin, the formation of the Irish Free State and Ireland’s modern status as the Republic of Ireland, as well as the closer relations between Britain and Ireland in recent years. The Bermuda Irish Association, which has around 300 members, has donated between up to $30,000 to island charities in its three years of existence. Mr Quinn said proceeds from next month’s dinner would go to the Eliza DoLittle Society, which runs food programmes for the needy. He added: “There are tickets still available, although it’s getting close to being a sell-out.” Tickets for the dinner, which starts with cocktails at 7pm, cost $150 each and $2500 for a corporate table to seat 10.
March 27. The number of patients being treated for influenza has soared over the last month. Between February 21 and March 19, 322 cases of fever, respiratory symptoms and influenza were reported compared to the five-year average of 248 for the same time period. The rise has prompted the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment to urge anyone who develops symptoms to contact their doctor for advice. “Reports received from doctors’ offices, laboratories and the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, confirm an increase in the number of individuals being seen with respiratory symptoms and cases of confirmed influenza on the island,” a spokeswoman for the health department said. “This situation reminds us that influenza and influenza-like illnesses remain a threat to the community. The ESU is closely monitoring the occurrence of these illnesses in the community and is grateful for the co-operation of all physicians, laboratories and the infection prevention team at the hospital for their heightened surveillance and timely reporting of these illnesses to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.” A statement released by the Bermuda Government this afternoon urged residents affected to frequently wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes and not go to school while suffering from flu symptoms. The statement added: “The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. Influenza vaccines are available at your physician’s office or at the Department of Health, 67 Victoria Street, Hamilton, Monday to Friday from 8.30am and 11.30am or call 278-6460 for more information.” For more information go to www.health.gov.bm or www.cdc.gov.
March 26. Premier Michael Dunkley has called for community reflection and togetherness this Easter. Admitting that this month’s immigration reform furore had proven “challenging”, the Premier added: “As a country, we are emerging from what can be considered one of the most difficult times in recent memory. As we reflect on the meaning of this holy weekend, I consider this an opportunity for our entire community, Government included, to reflect on recent events. It serves as an opportunity to embrace lessons learnt and find ways to heal our divisions so that we can progress together, as a people and as a country.” Mr Dunkley visited St George’s this week to spread goodwill, meeting with residents of the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility and stopping by the Sweet SAAK Bakery. He was joined by his wife, Pamela Dunkley; Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment, and area MP Kenneth Bascome. Mr Dunkley said: “The unique traditions that we celebrate over this holiday period are foundations which bind us together. I encourage everyone to remember that. It’s these bonds of shared traditions and experiences that can help bring us together. I want to encourage all of Bermuda to enjoy their Easter activities and I wish everyone a safe and happy weekend.”
March 26. Former Cabinet minister Shawn Crockwell has scotched a rumor that he resigned after hearing Senator Michael Fahy make racist remarks to Michael Dunkley, the Premier, in a bathroom. Mr Crockwell told The Royal Gazette today: “There is no truth to it whatsoever. None of it is true. I don’t know where that came from — it’s something that has come out of nothing. Normally, there would be something that was true and it would be exaggerated. But in this case I don’t even know the origin. There was no encounter in a bathroom and no overhearing Michael Fahy and Michael Dunkley.” Mr Fahy told the Upper Chamber on Tuesday that he felt “duty-bound” to address the gossip, which was being spread on social media in the wake of the protests over the Pathways to Status Bill. A post on Facebook, shared by Deon Gibbons, Felecia Minors and Lakeisha Massop, said: “The rumor mill has it that crockwell overheard Faye (sic) n dunkley in the bathroom talking and the talk was ‘these n****s won’t back down.’ And other things were said. When he emerged from the stall the two a***s were lost for words.” Mr Fahy told senators he was staggered when first asked about the rumor and called those spreading hearsay online “cowardly in their approach. "I find racially inflammatory language disgusting and I will use whatever legal means necessary to ensure that those perpetrators are brought to some form of justice in the courts." Mr Crockwell, who quit as the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport on March 16 over the Premier’s handling of the Pathways controversy, said he was not a “big social media person” but someone sent him a screen shot of the rumours via e-mail. “I didn’t know how far it was going to go. Of course, with Michael Fahy giving a statement, obviously it’s become much bigger. I don’t know who is sending it around. Those who have asked me individually, I have told them it wasn’t true.” After resigning, Mr Crockwell told this newspaper he had lost confidence in the One Bermuda Alliance under the Premier, adding that the party leadership had a lack of understanding of the black community. He reiterated today that he planned to remain in the OBA, holding the Government to account from the back benches, and return to private law practice. “It’s important that there is stability and continuity of government,” he said. “I will, of course, be observing what the Premier and the administration do, going forward.”
March 26. A huge crowd gathered at Horseshoe Bay Beach yesterday to celebrate Good Friday and take full advantage of the perfect kite-flying weather. Kites of all shapes, colours and sizes graced the skies as beachgoers soaked up the sun and enjoyed the family-friendly and fun-filled party atmosphere. While the day was a new experience for some, many beachgoers had been taking part in the unique Bermuda tradition for years. Ronald Tear, who brought his wife Nicole and daughter Ella, 10, to the beach, has been making and flying kites since he was a little boy. The Warwick resident was busy constructing a traditional Bermuda kite out of dried fennel sticks, a brown paper bag and old rags. “I thought I would just make something at the spur of the moment,” Mr Tear said. “I’m hoping it will fly.” Garry Stockley, who lives in Spanish Point, is a regular at the event and was at the beach with his wife, Kelly, and children Hannah and Benji. “We’re enjoying a lovely family outing,” he said. “It’s such a great family day. We come every year. It’s our first go at flying a traditional kite.” Mr Stockley said he bought his kite from the Salvation Army and chose it because of the design, adding: “I like the Bermuda flag on it.” Keith Fenn and his family are also regulars at Horseshoe Bay on Good Friday, however, this year marked their first time flying a kite. The Southampton resident said he bought the colorful kite, which had two rotating parts, in San Diego. Also continuing a yearly tradition, Laura Hope was at beach with family and friends and was flying a black and white kite covered in paw prints. “My cat inspired me this year,” said the 15-year-old Hamilton Parish resident, who makes a kite every year. Family friend John Nicol added: “It’s always a good atmosphere. It’s great for the children — a fun-filled day.” Jermaine Gibbons, of Devonshire, brought his three-year-old son out to enjoy a day on the beach with the family for exactly this reason. He said: “It’s a nice, peaceful atmosphere. Everybody’s enjoying the day.” But the day was a new experience for tourists Brenda Orr and her mother Patricia Winans, who were visiting the island for the first time from New Brunswick in Canada. “We read about KiteFest before we came and thought it would be a fun thing to do on Good Friday,” Ms Orr said. “We wanted to experience the local culture. It’s neat that people fly kites here for Easter.” She added that while they were no strangers to flying kites, it was not common in Canada at this time of year. Carla Dixon, who was on holiday visiting her godmother, was doing her best to keep a miniature kite with the England flag on it airborne. “It’s beautiful, lovely — nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Ms Dixon said of the event. “It’s amazing to see everybody coming together.” The day was also a first for Laura and Nick Gale, who moved to Bermuda about seven weeks ago. The couple brought their two young sons to the beach. “We heard it was a tradition to come out,” Mrs Gale said. “It’s really nice and really family friendly.” While Joshua, 3, and Lucas, 1, were determined to build a sandcastle complete with trap door, Mr Gale had a great time flying the kite he made with Joshua. Kim Pursell, from Pembroke, was at the beach with her husband, two children and her father John Kovalick, who was eager to go for a swim. “My dad is visiting from Pennsylvania, so we’re having a great time,” she said. “It’s great kite-flying weather.” Jared Hollis and Kerry Petty, from Southampton, have enjoyed Good Friday on the beach with their family and friends for the past eight years. “It’s relaxing,” said Mr Hollis, a seasoned kite-flying pro. “We go to the beach, fly some kites, have some beer and have a good time.” For new residents Jonathan Tagacay and Neil Nadeau, who decided to come and see what all the fuss was about, the good weather was perfect for drinking beer in the sun. “This is my first time down here,” Mr Nadeau, who hails from Connecticut in the US, said. “Everyone was talking about it. This is a great opening to the summer season.” Kevin Wade, meanwhile, was enjoying his first time at Horseshoe Bay on Good Friday for some time. “It’s nice to see everybody out having a good time and dodging kites,” the Pembroke resident said. “I haven’t been down here for a while — my partner in crime dragged me out.” Mr Wade was soaking up the atmosphere and relaxing with a friend but decided not to bring a kite. “I am kite challenged,” he said. “Kites and myself have never really worked well.”
Friday, March 25. Public Holiday.
March 25. Bermuda has suffered its third road traffic fatality of 2016 after a 22-year-old man on a motorbike died after a high-speed crash with a car. The accident happened on Middle Road outside the Maximart supermarket in Sandys, near the zebra crossing. The biker, from Sandys, died at the scene. The car driver is unharmed and has not been arrested at this time, according to a police spokesman. The spokesman added: “At 7.46pm, police and first responders attended a report of a collision. That collision took place on Middle Road in Somerset, right outside the Maximart store in Sandys. “It appears that a man was travelling west on that road — it looks like he collided with a car that was travelling in the opposite direction. The road has been cordoned off and traffic collision investigators are on scene and the process has commenced with the investigation.” A white car was stationary across the zebra crossing in front of Maximart and the bike was lying behind it. Debris was scattered more than 15 metres in all directions. Police were redirecting traffic around the supermarket parking lot, with buses being used to block off the road. Traffic heading east was being diverted along the Railway Trail, while traffic heading west was being diverted through Maximart’s parking lot.
March 24. Mostly clear skies have been forecast for tomorrow’s Good Friday holiday. However, showers could dampen the rest of the holiday weekend. According to the Bermuda Weather Service, partly cloudy skies are expected tomorrow, along with moderate south-southwesterly winds, turning southerly at night. Temperatures are forecast to reach highs of 73F (23C) and lows of 68F (20C). The morning forecast added: “A few showers will then develop at times on Saturday and Sunday as a front stalls nearby to our north.”
March 24. Police have urged the public to “act responsibly” over the holiday weekend and warned that officers will be looking out for motorists who are seen to be speeding or driving drunk. “The upcoming Good Friday holiday and Easter Weekend will see a number of events and festive activities take place at various locations across the island,” said a police spokesman. “The BPS would like to encourage the public to enjoy themselves, however, we are reminding everyone to act responsibly. The motoring public should also be mindful that police will be visible on the roads during the holiday period. In addition, there will be an emphasis on offences such as speeding, impaired driving and driving without due care and attention. Remember slow down on the roads and if you are going to drink make sure that you have a designated driver, do not drink and drive.”
March 24. The chairman of Italian investment giant Exor today became chairman of the board at PartnerRe. John Elkann’s firm completed a $6.9 billion deal to take over the Bermuda reinsurer after a takeover battle with Axis Capital Holdings. Emmanuel Clarke, president of PartnerRe, will become president and CEO, subject to approval by the Department of Immigration. Mr Elkann said: “I am honored to assume the role of chairman of PartnerRe and very pleased that we can appoint from within the company a CEO of the calibre and experience of Emmanuel Clarke. “His intimate knowledge of PartnerRe and his deep understanding of the sector will prove crucial as we embrace the challenges and the many exciting opportunities we have in front of us.” Mr Clarke, who was previously CEO of PartnerRe Global, has been a member of the firm’s executive team since 2010. He has been with the company 19 years and worked in a variety of senior roles, becoming head of specialty lines, global in 2008. Mr Clarke said: “I am thrilled to accept the board’s appointment. PartnerRe is at an exciting place in its evolution and I look forward to working with the board and our talented teams to build on the success we have achieved so far.”
March 24. Bermudian business leaders are to hold a special reception at the a major insurance industry conference April 10-13. The invitation-only meeting will be held as Bermuda touts for business at the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) event, to be held in San Diego, California. Around 200 representatives from the island’s insurance and reinsurance sectors will attend the conference, alongside Government leaders and regulators. The Rims event attracts around 10,000 delegates, including senior executives and risk management professionals, and also features about 400 exhibitors. The Bermuda reception will feature a “Taste of Bermuda” session, with eight local chefs recruited to create cuisine with an island flavour. Bermuda Business Development Agency chief executive officer Ross Webber said: “This is an important business development event that helps connect Bermuda to industry decision makers. We attend the Rims conference to maintain our leadership position and bolster our international business profile. At the same time, it represents a wonderful opportunity for Bermuda to demonstrate its world-class culinary culture to an audience that wants to learn more about our island.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, and Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, will attend the three-day conference. They will be joined by Bermuda Monetary Authority CEO Jeremy Cox and members of his staff and Mr Webber. During the trip, the Bermuda delegation is expected to meet Rims president Julie Pemberton, tour the conference floor, visit the Bermuda industry booths and give media interviews to highlight the attractions of the island. Guests at the reception will be entered into a draw to win a trip to the island, with other Bermuda-themed prizes like Gosling’s Rum, America’s Cup merchandise, Bermuda shorts and jewellery.
March 24. Steel sheet piles are methodically and meticulously driven into the South Basin seabed as the island’s largest excavator trundles over vast mounds of aggregate effortlessly moving material into position. Meanwhile landscapers, engineers, structural crews and heavy machine operators are busily shaping Bermuda’s newest landmass that is set to form the foundations of the America’s Cup village for next year’s event. Steady progress continues on the nine-acre West End site, which has already employed hundreds of workers and scores of local firms since work began last year. Yesterday, The Royal Gazette was given the first glimpse of the multimillion-dollar project from ground level as preparations for work on the new French and Japanese team bases begins. “There’s about 40 workers on site today but the number fluctuates depending on what is going on,” said Richard Noel, BCM McAlpine’s project manager for the South Basin. The sheet piles are being driven down into the seabed that will provide the boundary for the new land. So far we have done about 400 of the 2,500 that have been imported. This part of the project is expected to be completed by the end of May.” The land reclamation project has involved about 140,000 cubic yards of dredged material from the North Channel and 160,000 cubic yards of imported crushed granite being deposited in the South Basin. At the time, a large sediment cloud formed around the spot where the aggregate was deposited, however, since that time water has cleared and fish and marine life appears to have returned to the waters surrounding the development. “There were obviously concerns about the environmental impact of the work at the time,” Mr Noel said. “However, we have quickly seen shoals of fry, red snappers and even hogfish in the waters around the site.” In the coming months the ground level of the site is expected to be raised by another 2ft to 3ft, while a splash wall will be constructed all around the perimeter of the peninsula to provide protection against the elements. The mounds of aggregate and dredged material will slowly be leveled out and moved up against the wall of sheet piles in the coming months, however, one old structure will remain intact throughout the process. The old Magazine Building on the existing arm that reaches out into the Great Sound is a protected building and although surrounded by metal fences at present, it will be upgraded and incorporated into the America’s Cup village. The development team is hoping that the reclamation project will be completed by the end of June, at which time services such as electricity, sewage and data will be fitted. “We have had some challenges with the weather along the way,” said Maurice Caines, BCM McAlpine’s site superintendent. “Last year we had some pretty high winds up here — about 35 to 40 knots. There have also been some interesting finds in the dredged material: we came across a large anchor and an old artillery shell that we gave to the museum.” Adam Barbosa, project manager for the ACBDA, told The Royal Gazette he was looking forward to the completion of the project. “America’s Cup Bermuda is proud that we have numerous contractors and vendors providing services and gaining experience from creating the infrastructure for the America’s Cup event village,” he said. “There have been more than 200 workers employed on the project and more than 50 companies involved. It’s a great opportunity of Bermuda pulling together to produce this large-scale development.”
March 24. Civil servants are handling public access to information requests without official written protocols on how to do so, causing breaches of confidentiality. The issue is highlighted in information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez’s first annual report, in which she concludes that the lack of guidelines and insufficient staff training led to the identity of a Public Access to Information requester being made public last year. “In the absence of written procedures to guide the public authority’s staff in the handling of a Pati request, the public cannot have faith that their confidentiality will be safeguarded,” warns the commissioner. The Cabinet Office insisted yesterday it was on track to release the “practice codes” for public servants, which are required by law, by the end of this month. Ms Gutierrez’s report includes the findings of an inquiry she held into the Ministry of Public Works headquarters and the Department of Works and Engineering, after public works minister Craig Cannonier named Walton Brown as a Pati requester in Parliament in May. She says that disclosure was the result of a “perfect storm of events”. The commissioner adds: “But the same lack of written procedures and inconsistent practice may be found across public authorities during the transitional years [of the Pati Act]. The information commissioner’s recommendations give direction towards addressing these issues in a comprehensive manner, which will best serve the public and support public authorities in their Pati practice.” Ms Gutierrez writes that the “highly publicized national disclosure” of Mr Brown’s identity, six weeks after the law came into effect, could reinforce people’s fears about requesting records under the Public Access to Information Act in case they are “labelled as rude or troublesome, or accused of stepping out of line”. She adds: “Right out the gate, requesters had reason to question the security of their right to remain confidential. Those who filed Pati requests in 2015 did so because they were driven to accomplish something and recognized that the Pati Act offered a new tool for achieving it. Their bravery has paved a path for others and transformed the principles of the Pati Act into concrete action.” The commissioner told The Royal Gazette that some departments had come up with their own procedures following the enactment of Pati on April 1 last year, while others could be dealing with requests on an “ad hoc basis”. She said it was essential there was a set of rules to “standardise the practice” of processing Pati requests but noted that the Public Access to Information Act was still in its infancy. “We have taken the approach that the passage [of the Act] was the beginning,” said the commissioner. “Everybody is coming to this from a different perspective. Some have worked within environments where they have to maintain confidentiality of records. Some people have never had to deal with confidential records before. That’s where having stuff in writing is helpful. Once the practice codes are produced, we have these guidelines similar to financial instructions — this set of procedural how-to’s. [Public servants can] follow the practice codes and they can be confident they are engaging in best practice.” Ms Gutierrez said written protocols were especially important since Bermuda’s Pati Act did not allow for anonymous requests and there remained a risk of breaches of confidentiality as long as requesters had to visit departments in person.. “Once a requester’s identity is revealed, the extent of the harm to both the individual requester’s life and the public’s perception of the security of their right to confidentiality is difficult to anticipate, as the events related to this investigation have shown,” she writes in her report. We currently do not have a mechanism that allows a requester to ask for records anonymously. Thus, maintaining a requester’s confidentiality protects them from retaliation and other negative consequences when they file Pati requests in certain circumstances.” A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “It had been agreed with the information commissioner to release the codes by the end of March. We are still on target for that deadline.”
March 24. Bermuda’s financial-services regulator is to name and shame people and institutions punished for breaking the rules. The Bermuda Monetary Authority’s adoption of a more public approach to enforcement was outlined by Jeremy Cox, the organization's chief executive officer, in the BMA’s 2016 Business Plan, released today. “Until now, the Authority has chosen to limit publicly disclosed details of enforcement actions to a fairly brief notification in its annual report,” Mr Cox said. “But from 2016 onwards, the Authority will publish details of any use of its enforcement powers. Such publicity will be in the form of a press release issued by the Authority following conclusion of any appeal or after expiry of an appeal period. The release will detail the nature of the enforcement action, the size of any penalty, the identity of the entity or person involved and the circumstances of the breach. Details would be included on the BMA’s website and in its annual report. This increased transparency must be underscored as critical to the reputation of the jurisdiction and is intended to demonstrate to those who rely on our supervisory adjudications that their trust is not misplaced and that Bermuda-based entities found to be deficient in meeting their obligations run the risk of being required to account publicly for their actions,” Mr Cox added. The BMA CEO also expressed his belief in the importance of dialogue between regulators and industry in the interests of avoiding burdening the financial-services with unnecessarily complex regulation that could harm economic growth. “What is needed is a financial-services sector able to apply its considerable resources and expertise in support of more acceptable levels of growth,” Mr Cox said. “What is not needed is a lame financial-services sector so mired in layers of complex regulation that it spends more time figuring out how to respond to supervisory edicts than doing what it does best, namely helping troubled economies get back on track. That might mean encouraging the world’s banking sector to stimulate more credit to flow. It may also mean that regulators stop treating the banking sector as convenient whipping boys responsible for the current economic malaise. The challenge facing industry and regulators around the world is to develop an appropriately framed dialogue based not on rules but on agreed standards. That does not mean financial services gets a free pass. In fact, industry should always be required to demonstrate a consistently high standard of behavior and execution. In my view, a better dialogue will pave the way for a better partnership which will in turn provide the common ground necessary for change to take place.” Mr Cox argued that the BMA’s years-long close partnership with industry had not compromised its ability to regulate, and added that “our results speak for themselves. There is a simple but powerful message underlying all of this. The Bermuda paradigm has been shown to work not only for industry and government but for the greater good of the country as a whole. That it manages to improve on traditional ‘rules-only’ systems of regulation indicates that there is a workable alternative to the imposition of overly complex regulatory constraints.” The Business Plan document details the regulator’s plans for this year, including progress with the Basel III regulations for banks, the Corporate Service Providers licensing process, draft legislation for money-service businesses, banking intervention powers to support the Special Resolution Regime legislation passed by Parliament last month and the preparation for the 2018 anti money-laundering and anti terrorism-financing assessment of Bermuda by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The BMA also outlined its aim to implement an Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive opt-in regime for Bermudian-based investment managers passporting into the European Union.
March 24. It’s official: Bermuda has Solvency II third-country equivalency, as of today. That means the European Union considers the standard of the island’s insurance regulation to be equivalent to its own. In November last year, the European Commission recommended that Bermuda should be considered as in line with the tough new insurance rules being adopted across the 28-country bloc. A 90-day consultation period that gave member countries and the European Parliament the chance to have their say has now passed. On March 4, the EC’s delegated decision on Bermuda’s equivalence with Solvency II was laid out in detail in the Official Journal of the European Union. Now that 20 days have passed since the date of publication in the Journal, confirmation of Bermuda’s new status is complete. Solvency II equivalence means that commercial insurers and reinsurers based in Bermuda will not be competitively disadvantaged when they do business in the European Union. The news represents a significant achievement for Bermuda’s financial-services regulator, the Bermuda Monetary Authority, which has worked and lobbied for more than six years to achieve the goal. In an interview today, Jeremy Cox, chief executive officer of the BMA, paid tribute to his “tenacious team”, as well as the industry leaders and politicians who had helped to make it happen. A full story on the interview will appear in Monday’s Business section of The Royal Gazette. The BMA also released its 2016 Business Plan today. In his introduction, Mr Cox stressed that equivalence confirmation did not mean the BMA would suddenly have a lot of spare time on its hands. “Securing equivalence was clearly a major achievement, a powerful example of what can be accomplished with a strong, tenacious team that embarked on the road to equivalence in 2010,” Mr Cox said. But equivalence is an interim objective, rather than an end in itself, and should be viewed in the wider context of our vision and strategic goals.”
March 24. Legislation modernizing the Public Health Act and expanding standard healthcare benefits were approved in the Senate. The Public Health Amendment Act 2016 was described as an updating of existing legislation. The amendments will update Bermuda’s list of reportable diseases to include recent threats such as the Zika virus. Titles of officers were also brought up to date by the Bill, while fines and penalties were modernized. Meanwhile the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2016 will bring additional benefits to the standard benefit package, including expanded duplex ultrasound screening for peripheral artery disease and therapeutic plasma exchange for immune mediated diseases without increasing the premium. The amendments also change the definition of “child” in the legislation, removing the term “school leaving age” and replacing it with “under the age of 19”. Both pieces of legislation were approved with unanimous support in the chamber. Amended Marine Board regulations were also approved during the sitting, increasing piloting fees among others.
March 24. A draft loan from Clarien Bank to the Corporation of Hamilton to secure financing following the non-payment of the $18 million loan to Mexican Infrastructure Development Finance LLC has been approved in the Senate. The loan, which was approved by the House of Assembly on Monday, is currently to the value of $19 million but the final amount will depend on the accumulated interest. The purpose of the loan facility is to enable the CoH to pay the existing loan owed to the bank. The bank required the CoH to provide security in the form of the mortgage over certain freehold properties and land of the corporation as listed in schedule 8 of the credit facility agreement for properties. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, said that in order for the corporation to service the monthly payments to Clarien, they must generate additional revenue to void the fault on any loan arrangement. He stated that in an effort to assist the corporation to secure the necessary financing to service the monthly debt to Clarien, he had worked on behalf of the corporation, meeting with the MIF financing group, providing a letter of assurance to the corporation to the Attorney General to provide comfort that the necessary legislation would be tabled to help the corporation repay the debt and a letter of comfort between the Minister of Finance and Clarien Bank intending to provide assurances that the full loan, once released, would be covered until the corporation is in a position to service its commitments independent of any government guarantee. The House recently passed the Traffic Offences Procedure Amendment Act 2015 that provided for the municipalities to collect all revenues generated from parking tickets within the municipal limits. Amendments to the municipalities Act 1923 were also passed that permitted the CoH to increase its borrowing limit from $20m to $30m. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also been working with the Attorney General’s Chambers to table legislation that would permit the corporation the ability to clamp motor vehicle offenders since the previous regime was not proving effective. That legislation is actively under review by the technical officers. While the senate approved the proposal, they expressed concerns, noting that they had very little time to review the documents. During the senate debate independent senator James Jardine, a former Hamilton alderman, said he was saddened by the documents noting that numerous properties were listed as potential securities, although Sen Fahy said the list was a draft and the list had already been reduced. Among the properties potentially to be assessed to serve as securities are the Bulls Head Car Park, the City Hall Car Park, the Par-la-Ville Car Park, the Lemon Tree Cafe property, the Depot Yard, the Elliot Street car park and Barr's Park. Senators also questioned to what extend the corporation had “shopped around” for a deal and what efforts were being made to recover the missing $18 million. Sen Fahy responded that police are investigating the matter and that talks were had with another jurisdiction seeking their assistance in recovering the funds. Regarding the selection of Clarien Bank, he said there was a focus on finding a local bank to keep as much of the money on island as possible. “They did shop around, but the best deal was with Clarien,” he said. “One of the other deals involved a sizeable government guarantee. This agreement does not include a government guarantee.” Explaining the deal, Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling told The Royal Gazette: “We can use properties for raising a mortgage with Clarien in order to pay off the loan with the MIF Group. The main interest from Clarien is that they have properties that produce income sufficient enough to pay off the loan if we are unable to raise the monies ourselves.” Mr Gosling added: “We are in the position of working with government to re-establish some of the parking ordinances that we lost a couple of years ago which have had a huge financial impact on the revenue stream of the corporation and once that is firmly in place we will be able to pay off the loan as well as the interest.”
March 24. New initiatives in the Ministry of Home Affairs are hoped to provide revenue boosts, according to Michael Fahy. Delivering the budget for the ministry in the Senate, Sen Fahy noted that new legislation would be introduced this year to extend the locations that civil marriage ceremonies can be performed. Under existing legislation, the non-religious ceremonies can only be performed at the regulatory office, but new rules would allow them to be held at other government buildings or parks at an increased fee. He also told the Senate that amendments would be made to copyright legislation to bring them in line with international standards and promote the .bm domain address to encourage businesses to use the domain. Sen Fahy expressed that all three initiatives are hoped to increase revenue for the department in the future. And in the area of workforce development, he noted recent improvements to the job board to better enable job seekers to identify opportunities and training schemes to help them be more competitive. Responding, Opposition senator Kim Wilkerson praised decision to expand the number of locations civil marriage ceremonies can be performed, asking if government have considered how the introduction of same-sex marriages or civil unions would affect figures. She also questioned new compliance measures in the Charities Act, noting that many charities were struggling due to the economic climate, and in the area of workforce development, asked if the department knew how many positions have been filled by applicants through the job board. “I think that’s the most important metric,” she said.
March 24. Michael Fahy has vehemently denied making racist remarks in a private conversation with the Premier, and suggested he may take legal action against his accusers. Speaking in the Senate on Tuesday evening, the Minister of Home Affairs said he felt “duty-bound” to address gossip on social media about the alleged incident between himself and Michael Dunkley. The post, shared on Facebook by Deon Gibbons, Felecia Minors and Lakeisha Massop, appeared to centre around last week’s immigration reform protests against Mr Fahy’s proposed Pathways to Status Bill. It implied that Shawn Crockwell resigned as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport last Wednesday due to his colleagues’ racial epithets, rather than his dissatisfaction at the One Bermuda Alliance’s lack of understanding of the black community. The post said: “The rumor mill has it that Crockwell overheard Faye (sic) n Dunkley in the bathroom talking and the talk was ‘these n****s won’t back down.’ And other things were said. When he emerged from the stall the two a***s were lost for words.” On the “Bermuda Election 2012” Facebook page, the post attracted more than 70 comments, with opinion divided as to whether or not the allegation was true. Mr Fahy said he was staggered when first asked about the rumor, and called those spreading hearsay online “cowardly in their approach”. He added: “I find racially inflammatory language disgusting, and I will use whatever legal means necessary to ensure that those perpetrators are brought to some form of justice in the courts. Maybe it’s deliberately designed to inflame and cause hurt in the community. Unfortunately, some people think it’s perfectly acceptable to make unfounded and scurrilous personal attacks on other people, simply because of their race, creed or colour.” Mr Fahy, who was born in Canada and came to Bermuda at age 3, also criticised those who questioned the national identity of himself and his family. “How are we supposed to heal when people behave like that?” he asked. “I have never said anything like that to anyone in my entire life. A Bermudian is a Bermudian is a Bermudian. Whether you were born here, whether you have had the opportunity to gain status, or whether you fell in love with a Bermudian and had the opportunity to remain.” Mr Fahy urged his fellow senators to help to tackle “trolls” and prevent them from spreading unrest through personal and incendiary attacks against either the Government or the Opposition. “It seems to me that all of us as leaders should call these things out,” he said. “We have a duty to nip it in the bud.”
March 24. Shade Subair Williams will be the new Registrar to the Supreme Court after being appointed by the Governor yesterday. She will succeed Charlene Scott. Ms Subair Williams is expected to join the Registrar’s Office in early May as Registrar-designate and take up her role fully in June. Mr Peter Miller will be Acting Registrar from Ms Scott’s departure until then. Governor, George Fergusson said: “I am very pleased to announce Ms Subair Williams’ appointment, following the recommendation of the Judicial & Legal Services Committee. She is highly qualified to take over the challenges of this role, having seen both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal from several different angles in the course of her professional career. I would also like to pay tribute to Ms Charlene Scott and the work she has done as Registrar and wish her well as she steps down at the end of this month.” Ms Subair Williams took her law degree at the University of Buckingham and was Called to the Bar in England and Wales in 2000, and Bermuda the following year. She has been in private practice in the firm of Mussenden Subair since 2010. She served as Crown counsel in the Office of the DPP from 2000-2004 before becoming Bermuda’s first Legal Aid Counsel. From 2007-2010 she was an associate at Attride-Stirling & Woloniecki (now “ASW Law”). In her legal career she has been both a prosecutor and defence counsel, as well as appearing in the Family Court and working in commercial litigation.
March 24. Governor George Fergusson and his wife have sent Bermuda Easter Lilies to the Queen, continuing a long tradition. This year’s lilies were grown in the Government House gardens. Government House said that Her Majesty’s Easter Lilies traveled on Tuesday evening’s British Airways flight to London and should reach Windsor Castle today. Bermuda is said to have been responsible for America adopting its trumpet-like white lily as the official Easter lily in the 1880s, when an enthusiastic gardener from Philadelphia brought bulbs home with her. Shortly thereafter, they were introduced to spring shows throughout America. Ten years later, sizeable shipments of bulbs were being made from Bermuda to the US and England, and a lively trade soon developed. While the Easter Lily is no longer a major crop in Bermuda, the island still sends some of the flowers to the Queen every year.
2002 Photo by this author
March 24. Former St George’s Mayor Norman Roberts has died at the age of 97. Mr Roberts, who was awarded the OBE for services to his community, passed away on Tuesday in hospital surrounded by his family. Mr Roberts was Mayor of St George’s from 1968 to 1989, two weeks short of 21 years, and a well-respected Scout leader. As a youngster growing up during the Second World War, he was a member of the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers. When the war ended he worked for his father, Harry Gilbert Roberts, who ran the St George’s Hardware Store. Mr Roberts went on to serve in the Legislative Council (now the Senate) for eight years. He was also the chief commissioner of the Scouts and was awarded the Silver Wolf; the highest honour a scout can have. Premier Michael Dunkley said: “Mr Roberts served Bermuda well for many years, as the Mayor of St. George’s as well as in the Legislative Council (now the Senate). He was a popular St. Georgian and a respected member of the community. “My colleagues and I extend our condolences to his family and friends.” This afternoon the Corporation of St George’s also expressed its condolences to Mr Roberts’ family. A statement said: “Mayor Roberts was the longest serving Mayor of the Corporation of St. George. He served from 1968-1988. During his tenure, Mayor Roberts was instrumental in the creation of the crest and the flag, now used by the Corporation of St George’s”. Present mayor, Quinell Francis, said: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of the former Worshipful Mayor Roberts. On behalf of the councillors and staff of the Corporation, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family.”
March 24. Bermuda charities must work together to withstand the continuingly harsh economic climate, according to the executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy. “We are going to have to pull our socks up and talk together about survival,” Elaine Butterfield said. “It has really come down to survival of the fittest.” At the Hamilton Rotary Club on Tuesday lunchtime, Ms Butterfield described the “perfect storm” created by the financial crisis, increasing the demand for third sector services while agencies’ coffers progressively dwindle. Ms Butterfield explained that, beyond their goodwill endeavors, Bermuda’s 325 registered non-profits played a significant role in buoying the island’s economy. She quoted Department of Statistics figures from 2014, which showed that the sector generated $70 million in revenue, totaling 1.2 per cent of the GDP and 2.4 per cent of the workforce. However, following Government funding cuts and the escalation of social needs, Ms Butterfield underlined the need to “look at things differently if we hope to survive as a sector”. To help with this transition, she revealed that the Centre on Philanthropy was planning to introduce a “collaboration platform” at the end of its fiscal year on June 30. This would include discounted and pro-bono assistance, discounted directors and officers liability insurance, and consultation among experts on how best to combine services and programmes. “We’re going to have to take on a different mindset about how we deliver our services. We believe that collaboration and/or consolidation is the answer. We’re doing that already, but we will have to do it more proficiently in order to be sustainable.”
March 23. Progressive Labour Party MPs have called on Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, to resign after five days of protests against proposed immigration reforms. During a heated Motion to Adjourn that ran until almost 6am yesterday, MPs crossed swords over the Bermuda Government’s handling of the Pathways to Status initiative and resulting withdrawal of labour. Opposition MPs took aim at Senator Fahy for pressing ahead with the immigration initiative without public consultation, while others accused Michael Dunkley of weak leadership. Meanwhile, One Bermuda Alliance MPs condemned the PLP for inciting the protest and the Premier ended the fiery exchange, expressing his determination to move forward and carry on working for Bermudians. Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, started the proceedings by accusing the Government of pushing the island to “a precipice. This was serious and it was not just any legislation. The country was pushed to the edge by one minister and that minister should resign.” PLP MP Diallo Rabain scolded the OBA for not speaking directly with the protesters who gathered on the Parliament grounds. “It will only take one boneheaded move from Government to end up where we were last week,” Mr Rabain said. “If they continue down this route then last week was just the tip of the iceberg. This is a stain on Bermuda’s history and a nail in the coffin for the OBA.” Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney-General, also targeted Mr Fahy in his address, saying: “Keep that minister in place and see if that does not become an albatross around your neck and see how long it is before we are visiting these turbulent waters again.” He said the PLP would not support the resolution reached to end the protest that would create a working group to look at immigration reform. “We will resist it,” he said. Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, then entered the fray, accusing the PLP of “crying crocodile tears” over the protest and claiming the Opposition were behind the “illegal action”. Mr Moniz admitted mistakes had been made by the Government but insisted the PLP had “whipped people up to a frenzy” for their own political gain. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister for Community, Culture and Sport, revealed that Government members had been spat at while on the Parliament grounds during the protest. Ms Gordon-Pamplin focused on the assertion that the OBA had not reached out to the Opposition about immigration reform, saying they had been “castigated” by Opposition Leader Marc Bean previously when trying to collaborate. “Members opposite know they scorched the earth and wonder why the earth is scorched. It is more than disingenuous. Why would one reach out under those circumstances?” Suzann Roberts-Holshouser urged MPs to be careful which words they used when emotions were high, adding: “We need respect for one another but this room does not hold respect, so how can we expect the people outside to respect the people in it.” David Burt, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said that because immigration was not a platform of the OBA electoral platform, “their mandate cuts to the core of democracy”. He said he had called Mr Crockwell after his resignation to thank him for standing up on principle, saying “he stood up for his children and he stood up for my unborn son”. The PLP’s Lawrence Scott said events could have “easily been avoided” and that his party’s warnings had fallen on deaf ears, adding: “They [the OBA] don’t have the permission of the people to bring this Bill [immigration reform] and the people let them know that.” Government whip Cole Simons spoke out about the importance of education for the success of the country, while PLP MP Lovitta Foggo, described the past week as the most challenging week in her time as a parliamentarian. “The people believed that the legislation had the ability to disenfranchise them. That created quite a bit of alarm,” she told the House. Fellow Opposition MP Jamahl Simmons condemned the Government, saying they only had themselves to blame for the situation they faced. He also warned the OBA that “Judgment Day is coming. It is your policies, your approach, your inability to take a look at yourself and learn ... grow up, take responsibility and look in the mirror,” he said. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment, revealed she had received messages saying, “do the right thing, you’re black. It is not about what I look like, I do not support this racial divide,” she said. “We have so much work to be done and I am quite happy to be part of this team.” Mr Dunkley ended the debate by chastising Opposition MPs for inflammatory comments and accusing the PLP of putting a “roadblock” in the way of the resolution reached after the protests. “The agreement is a win-win, the Bill was pulled off the table and we set up a good forum for the working group to form. Now is the time to move forward. In five years’ time we will look back on this experience and, yes, it was historic, and we all have scars that will take time to heal, but we will look back and say we have made progress.”
March 23. Artex Risk Solutions has acquired the insurance management operations of Kane. The move means Artex’s operations in Bermuda and Cayman will combine into Kane’s. David McManus, president and CEO of Artex, said: “Kane is rightly recognized in the industry for the quality of its people and its innovative products and platforms. “This merger strengthens us considerably in Cayman and Bermuda and brings us industry-leading expertise in insurance linked securities and structured transactions administration. Combining these resources with the power Artex’s distribution list network is expected to drive exponential growth in each of the domiciles represented.” Artex’s Bermuda and Cayman businesses will combine into Kane’s under the respective leadership of Rob Eastham and Linda Haddleton. Together with the Guernsey, Channel Islands, office, they will report to Nick Heys, the CEO of Artex International. Artex is a wholly owned subsidiary of US-based Arthur J Gallagher & Co, one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage and risk management services firms. Mr McManus said: “This truly is a transformational merger and I’m delighted to welcome Rob, Linda, Ann and their teams to Artex.” Simon Hinshelwood, group chief executive of Kane, said that the firm had been approached “by a number of parties” over the last six months who shared Kane’s views that the industry would benefit from consolidation. He added: “The board determined that the best way to explore the value of those approaches was to hold a tightly controlled but formal process. That process concluded with the board selecting Artex for multiple reasons but importantly to our staff and clients, its culture, its distribution reach, its strength in Europe and the USA and the opportunities we believe it affords the Kane team for growth.” Kane’s US operations in South Carolina and Vermont, will merge into Artex’s US business under the leadership of Jennifer Gallagher, president of Artex North America. The merger means that Artex will have 370 staff and more than 1,400 customers, served through more than 900 risk-bearing entities in 27 domiciles. Mr McManus said: “We believe we’re the fastest growing and most diverse insurance manager in the industry. This exciting combination of operations and capabilities allows Artex to consolidate its position among the top three insurance management services providers in the world.” He added the merger would provide “clients and business referral networks with substantially greater scale and resource breadth”. The merger is expected to close at the end of this month. Kane’s insurance management arm was founded in 1984 to specialize in the formation and management of insurance and alternative risk provision, particularly in the healthcare, insurance, financial services, transportation and construction industries. It also provides insurance-linked security and structured transaction administration.
March 23. OBMI has been selected as the landscape architects for the proposed airport redevelopment project following a RFP process. According to a statement by Aecon Group Inc, government’s partner in the project, OBMI’s Bermuda office was selected for the post after interviews with several Bermudian firms. “Working with Scott Associates Architects, the project’s lead architectural firm specializing in airport design, the Bermuda office of OBMI will be responsible for advising on the exterior treatment of the proposed new airport to ensure that it is compatible with the natural Bermudian environment and climate,” the statement said. “OBMI will provide guidance on Bermuda’s growing season as well as the most appropriate native plants and other indigenous flora and fauna to contribute towards maintaining Bermuda’s ecosystem. Additionally, OBMI will advise on decorative features such as benches, patios, and possible pavilions and water features to enhance the outdoor experience for travelers, while reflecting the Bermudian culture.” Steve Nackan, president of Aecon Concessions and the project’s development lead, said: “We engaged local architects to ensure that the new airport will exhibit a true sense of Bermuda. Aesthetically, the airport will showcase the island’s natural beauty and leverage natural resources as much as possible. We chose OBMI because they have demonstrated expertise in creating solutions that celebrate the unique aspects of the island.” Meanwhile, Jennifer Davidson, senior landscape architect at OBMI, said: “We take our stewardship of Bermuda’s environmental resources seriously and look forward to continuing productive collaboration with the Aecon and Scott Associates teams.” Today’s announcement follows a statement that revealed that OBMI was selected as the building architect for phase one of the airport redevelopment project. It also follows the successful engagement by Aecon of Bermuda-based Atlantic Well Drillers, Onsite Engineering, and Bermuda-Caribbean Engineering Consultants for the airport geotechnical survey work completed in the final quarter of 2015. Bermuda Government struck a deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and its subcontractor Aecon in 2014 for them to finance the rebuilding of LF Wade International Airport in return for a contract to run the facility for 30 years and collect any revenue raised. The agreement has come under fire from critics who say the project should have been tendered but Bob Richards, Finance Minister, has repeatedly insisted the sole source deal is the best for Bermuda.
March 23. Bermuda is to explore the possibility of investment and business opportunities with Iran, following the lifting of UN sanctions against that country earlier this year. The Middle East country is hosting the Iranian Aviation Symposium between April 25-27. The event is seen as marking the start of a new era for the country’s aviation sector. The Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) is working to enhance the island’s aviation and shipping sectors, and will be represented at the symposium in Tehran by Ross Webber, chief executive officer, and Kevin Richards, the BDA business development manager for aviation and shipping. Iran has been subject to US sanctions since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and faced further sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in 2006 after it refused to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. A breakthrough in nuclear talks between Iran and Western governments last year led to the lifting of UN sanctions in January. The BDA has attended two aviation-related business gathering since the start of the year, and this week was also represented at the 31st Connecticut Maritime Association conference in Stamford. “We’ve seen strong participation from our industry and government stakeholders,” said Mr Richards. “These sectors are important to Bermuda’s GDP and job creation; the BDA’s goal is to help promote and revitalize them so our economy can diversify and grow.” The BDA has established industry working groups to help plan Bermuda’s competitive strategy for aviation and shipping sectors. The groups feature government officials, law firms, ship owners and ship-management companies and other representatives. Bermuda’s aviation register was created in 1931 and has more than 700 aircraft listed. The island’s shipping registry dates back to 1789 and is today a Category 1 member of the Red Ensign Group, it includes cruise ships, tankers, bulk carriers and cruising and mega-yachts. Commenting on this week’s shipping event in Stamford, Mr Richards said: “This is the largest North American conference devoted to the shipping industry. Our industry representatives have individually promoted Bermuda at previous conferences. As a result of the unity, cohesion and partnerships we have developed over the last six months, the BDA is now pleased to provide a central Bermuda presence for our jurisdiction’s stakeholders to leverage at this event.” The three-day event, which ends today, attracted about 2,500 people. Mr Richards was accompanied by representatives of Bermudian-based Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, Charles Taylor & Co, Conyers Dill & Pearman, and Shoreline Managers, together with members of the Department of Maritime Administration. Mr Richards will also represent the BDA and the island at maritime and shipping events later this year in Greece, New York and Monaco, and at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events in New York, in May, and Chicago in June. He is working closely with island law firms and the Department of Civil Aviation to promote the island within the aviation sector, and attended the Global Airfinance Conference in Dublin, in January. A BDA team also joined Cedar Aviation at the National Business Aviation Association Schedulers and Dispatchers conference in Tampa, Florida in January.
March 23. Public meetings about the St George’s hotel project will be held this year, according to the Bermuda Government. Responding to questions by Progressive Labour Party backbencher Zane DeSilva, Grant Gibbons, the Acting Minister of Tourism, told the House of Assembly that the developer, Desarrollos Hotelco Group, and the Government intended to host public meetings in the second or third quarter. The Government has previously stated that they expected the project to break ground later this year. Meanwhile, Dr Gibbons said that since December 1, 2013, the Government and the BTA had paid $437,818.18 to the Hemisphere Group, a Miami-based international real estate advisory firm that has been advising on the St George’s hotel project. He was also questioned about the board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He said the board had met 24 times since its inception in 2013, and that board members had been paid a total of $229,996 to date.
March 23. Visitors, staff and patients at Kind Edward VII Memorial Hospital can now relax in the newly refurbished Pink Café while supporting a good cause. The café, which is run by the Hospitals Auxiliary of Bermuda, was officially opened by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday. “We did an extensive renovation,” Liz Titterton, the Hospitals Auxiliary of Bermuda president, told The Royal Gazette. “Everything has been spruced up and done over. We have also revamped our café menu: it has a lot more specials and favorites.” Over a three-week period, new floors, tables, chairs, counters and signage were added and the floor space was expanded to include the old gift shop. Ms Titterton said the café, which is run by volunteers except for four paid kitchen staff, now offered an open, clean and whole new modern look. She added that it was a “really nice place to come to and relax”, and she is hoping that more members of the public will come along to take advantage of the renovated space. Ms Titterton stressed that there was plenty of parking and explained that the proceeds raised by the Pink Café, as well as HAB’s thrift shop The Barn and the HAB Gift Shop, go towards supporting the hospital. Ms Atherden said she was delighted to tour the café and to “celebrate the exemplary work of the HAB, which has a distinguished and accomplished history supporting the Bermuda Hospitals Board.”
March 23. A colorful floral design from the Garden Club of Bermuda has taken top honours in Toronto. Club representative Cindy Young picked up the gold medal and the Heather Fuller Award for best international design at the Canada Blooms flower and garden festival, which ended on Sunday. The exhibit beat 10 international competitors from destinations including France, Barbados and Australia, based on factors such as creativity and originality. Ms Young’s design consisted of mini yellow callas, purple and lime green lisianthus, mini hot pink gerberas, orange gloriosa, mini lime green button chrysanthemums with pink amaranths hanging down below as well as ruscus, galaxy leaves, camellia leaves and asparagus plumosa fern. Steel grass was looped in and over the design to create movement and add texture. Little wire balls in copper, lime green, hot pink and silver were also added.
March 23. Marc Bean is “doing well” after suffering a suspected stroke. The Leader of the Opposition, 42, is taking a medical leave of absence, according to a statement from acting Progressive Labour Party leader David Burt. The Warwick South Central MP, who has been PLP leader since after the General Election defeat in 2012, was taken to hospital due to the illness. Mr Burt said in a statement this afternoon: “On behalf of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, I would like to acknowledge the sincere inquiries from the Bermuda community regarding our party leader, Marc Bean. I have just spoken to party leader Bean by phone, and he is doing well. He thanks all of Bermuda for their prayers and well wishes. The party leader has informed the party chairman [Maynard Dill] that he will be taking a medical leave of absence. While he is on leave, it is our party’s hope that all Bermudians will respect his privacy and continue to hold him and his family up in prayer.” Michael Dunkley also expressed concern and extended well wishes to Mr Bean and his family, with a spokeswoman confirming that he had reached out to Mr Bean. “On behalf of the Government, myself, my family and colleagues, I extended my best wishes to the Opposition leader for a speedy recovery,” the Premier stated. “I pray that he and his family are blessed with the strength required to work through this medical challenge together and am hopeful for his return to good health.”
March 23. A former Royal Gazette reporter spoke of his relief yesterday after he narrowly avoided a bomb explosion on his way to work in Brussels. Ahmed ElAmin also praised the “incredible” solidarity of the people in the Belgian capital after the attacks that killed more than 30 people. Another 180 people were left injured after terrorists targeted the Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro at about 8am. “I passed through the metro station half-an-hour before,” Mr ElAmin told The Royal Gazette. “Luckily I came into work just a little earlier today.” The communications consultant and former business reporter said he got to work early because his partner took their seven-year-old son to school, which he normally does. “What’s incredible has been the solidarity of people in Brussels and at work,” he added. Mr ElAmin said people offered strangers a place to stay or a lift home and added that he and his partner would put up friends, who had been at the airport, for the night, because they could not find a hotel. “The city is coming together around this tragedy, which is heartening to see,” he said. Mr ElAmin, who has been living in Brussels for about five years, said he found out about the attacks at the airport when he arrived at his office just across from the central station in the city centre. “The second attack at the metro station, which is only three stations away, happened about 20 minutes later,” he said yesterday afternoon. “It’s eerily quiet except for the sounds of sirens and the occasional helicopter. There’s definitely shock and people are tense. The entire transportation system has been shut down — metros, trains. The order is for everyone to stay at work and at school while the security operations are going on.” And with the mobile phone network also shut off, Mr ElAmin said people were using social media to stay in touch and check everyone was all right. “It’s really hit home that this is probably the new normal in terms of having to be vigilant, having security forces everywhere and being checked when you go into buildings,” he said. He added that their soldiers had been on the streets since November and reports of an imminent attack had been circulating since Salah Abdeslam, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, was arrested on Friday. “It’s really come home to Europe; Paris and now this. Security will probably be ramped up even more. We’ll get used to seeing soldiers with guns in the metro and other key places.” Michael Dunkley yesterday expressed Bermuda’s “profound” sympathy for the loss of life. “Bermuda joins with the rest of the world in expressing profound sympathy for the loss of life in Brussels earlier today,” the Premier and Minister of National Security said in a statement. “The impact of these kinds of attacks is felt beyond the shores of the affected countries and, on behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured as they confront the sad reality of these life-changing events.” A ministry spokeswoman added that the Premier will be sending formal condolence correspondence to Bermuda’s Belgian Consulate and to Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman from the Consulate General of Belgium in Montreal told this newspaper yesterday afternoon that Belgium’s terrorist threat level had been upgraded to level four: a serious and imminent threat. She added that the national security council was in an emergency session while authorities concentrated on taking care of the wounded and closely monitored the security situation. All flights out of Brussels airport were cancelled, with incoming flights redirected to other airports in neighboring countries, and the Brussels metro was closed.
March 22. Opinion. By Allan Doughty, a human rights lawyer who practices with BeesMont Law Ltd. "I write, in my capacity as a human rights lawyer, to respond to a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition, Marc Bean, in relation to the debate on immigration reform. Specifically, Mr Bean said, on the heels of an agreement reached between the Government and the protesters that: “Your PLP parliamentarians will now work to ensure that the One Bermuda Alliance government does not attempt to bring or introduce the Pathways to Status Bill in a phased approach.” To explain the context of that statement, one must first remember that on March 17, 2016, protesters led by Chris Furbert and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed reached an agreement with the Government, which ended a five-day “withdrawal of labour” and protest that was called in response to the “Pathways to Status” Bill. That agreement required the Government to withdraw the “Pathways Bill” and instead approach immigration reform through a “phased” approach. The agreement further held that the major areas of immigration reform, which would have become law simultaneously with the passage of the “Pathways Bill”, would be broken down into discrete subjects that would be dealt with in order so that the reforms would be passed into law in incremental phases. The agreement also requires that a working group consider each subject before it is tabled and make recommendations to Parliament that may lead to amendments of the framework Bill. The first “phase” of the process will deal with the adoption of non-Bermudian children, the granting of status to non-Bermudian children born in Bermuda and non-Bermudian children who arrived in Bermuda at a young age, and allowing for the grant of status where some family members hold status where others do not. Notwithstanding the terms of the agreement that was reached, Mr Bean now appears to be saying that the Opposition will not co-operate with the Government when it embarks on this “phased” approach. The stance taken by Mr Bean, however, does not appear to take account that on March 4, 2016, the Supreme Court of Bermuda, in the Barbosa case, held that the wording of Section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act was unconstitutional. In that decision, it was found that the applicant, who was born in Bermuda to expatriate parents and who left Bermuda as a child and later returned as a young adult, had been discriminated against on the basis of his “place of origin”, as there was no legal mechanism by which he could apply for Bermudian status. That ruling was extraordinary because Section 20B is a key section of the Immigration Act, which controls how Bermudian status is awarded to long-term residents. In rendering judgment in the Barbosa case, the court held that, notwithstanding the unconstitutionality of Section 20B, immediate action to enforce the rights of the applicant would not be taken as the “Pathways Bill” had been tabled in the House of Assembly. In making that comment, the court held that the “Pathways Bill” would cure the present unconstitutionality of the Immigration Act provided that it was passed into law. The court also held that if the “Pathways Bill” was not passed, it would be open to the applicant to apply to the court to secure the “enforcement” of his constitutional rights. This means that if the court were to order such “enforcement”, there is a likelihood that it will order that the applicant, and others like him, will be granted Bermudian status notwithstanding the bars that exist in the Immigration Act. Alternatively, there is also a possibility that key sections of the Immigration Act simply may be struck down as being unconstitutional. On reading the decision as rendered in Barbosa, the “Pathways Bill” and the agreement reached between the Government and the protesters, it seems that if only the first “phase” of the agreement is passed into law, that amendment may cure the present unconstitutionality of the Immigration Act. For that reason, I do not think it would be in Bermuda’s best interests if Mr Bean was to continue to oppose the passage of the first “phase” of the agreement. With the greatest of respect to Mr Bean, he had a better position when he said in his Reply to the Throne Speech that: “[The PLP] will create a policy of equal political status for individuals in a family, rather than the current circumstance where one sibling could hold Bermuda status and the other have no rights at all to permanent residence.” Also, David Burt, in a speech made in the House of Assembly on February 26, 2016, made perfect sense when he said: “Let us work together to fix the problems for those who know no other home but Bermuda, but who have no legalized right of permanent abode to what is essentially their home. Let us work together to ensure that we can attract persons to our shores who are willing to invest and bring jobs to Bermuda. Let us work together to ensure that those who have contributed to the betterment of Bermuda can continue to stay in Bermuda to help make our island a better place.” It seems to me, having read the Barbosa ruling, that our Immigration Act is now broken and is in immediate danger of being modified by the courts if the Legislature fails to act. While the protesters have made their point, it seems that their leaders have also realized that doing nothing on the issue of immigration reform is no longer an option. For that reason, I would suggest that both political parties follow Mr Burt’s suggestion and work together. Such co-operation is now needed to ensure that it is the Legislature that decides how the delicate issue of immigration is to be handled, as opposed to the courts."
March 22. Senate president Carol Ann Bassett has called for unifying talks between blacks and whites to heal Bermuda’s racial tensions. Drawing on her family’s personal experiences of racism, Ms Bassett delivered an impassioned speech to the Upper House, declaring herself encouraged by the highly charged demonstrations of last week. Such actions allow for the release of toxic pressure that has been threatening to explode for generations, Ms Bassett said. “We are so divided by racial lines,” she said, before quoting Bob Marley. “He who feels it, knows it. When the people of colour in Bermuda come together and show their displeasure at not being heard, there’s so much under that we don’t understand. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t know it.” She said she grew up in the knowledge that her father had worked as an entertainer in hotels that her mother was not allowed to go inside, while her 91-year-old aunt was a brilliant woman who was held back by a glass ceiling. Her aunt was a staunch protester last week. “Being raised on those stories, that anger and that hurt that comes from that, what I see and what I felt, in the last week there’s so much healing in our community that needs to take place,” she said. And although she said there may be encouraging economic signs, for many people that is not their reality, as they do not see themselves as “getting a piece of that pie. What I really, really witnessed and what encouraged me in the midst of all that is there has to be that clearing, that bubbling up, of all that poison. We have to come to a point where we can march, where we can protest, where we can air what we feel at the core level because if we don’t this island is going to explode. We came close to that. We haven’t even been able to clear out that stuff that being institutionalized instilled in generations. Talking about such issues in a gentle manner is not enough. The protesters were observing on the proposed immigration reform: This is our home. You are not going to do this in our home without saying we have a place at the table. This economy is more than just an economy. It’s people. If we can’t hear and we can’t listen to what people are saying, even if it’s just a small group of people. Bermuda needs to get to that point where we can get around the table and be honest about what we really feel. The conversation of whites only, and the conversation of blacks only, is totally different. Until we can get that unity in our community, where we can be real about what we are really, really feeling — that anger, that hurt, that resentment is real; it’s real, it’s real people that are feeling that anger. It’s about having that honest conversation with each other. It’s about surrounding ourselves not just with the people who are like us but opening up our ears and our hearts to hear the different things that are being said. As long as we continue to butt heads, beat each other up about who did what, there are people out there who are hurting who say, ‘I can’t look at them to hope.’ I encourage my Bermudians to continue to stand for what we believe. Continue to express yourself. Continue to be in order as you express yourself. Continue to know that when you do it in the right mode, love does not fail. We need more of that airing of that stuff so we as a community can heal.” Earlier during the general economic debate, independent senator James Jardine emphasized the importance of population growth as Bermuda tries to get its fragile economy back on track. “A stagnating population will likely result in a stagnating economy,” Mr Jardine told the Upper House. “We have to do something about our demographics. It’s all very well to talk about increased immigration and bringing back young Bermudians, but, if there are not jobs here, why would anyone want to come back?” Mr Jardine outlined a number of stark economic realities in Bermuda, including its small size, lack of natural resources, ageing population, outside economic pressures, more than $2 billion of debt and further liabilities. He quoted David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, who said during his Budget response that Bermuda needs to attract investment and jobs, as well as identifying new opportunities for economic diversification. One Bermuda Alliance senator Lynne Woolridge spoke of the lingering threat of public sector job losses. Mrs Woolridge pointed to job freezes, pay decreases and job losses in the private sphere, which have not been replicated in government. “Certainly, that’s something that does have to be taken into account,” she said. “There are some in the private sector who feel that public servants should feel some of the [same] pain as those in the private sector.” Noting previous protests over furlough days in the public sector, Mrs Woolridge added: “Who champions those in the private sector when they face those same dilemmas?” Reflecting on discontent about social difficulties under the OBA, Mrs Woolridge also said that unemployment and underemployment have been around for generations, not just for the past few years. OBA senator Jeff Baron noted that in past years, the Government has not been able to support charities to the extent that it would like owing to the economic challenges, but that the Cabinet was working to find creative solutions to help. He also noted comments by economist Craig Simmons, saying that while the lecturer has often criticised the Government’s financial decisions, he had offered some praise for the 2016-17 Budget. Government senator Vic Ball, meanwhile, said the two-track strategy was putting Bermuda in the right direction, averting a debt crisis and tackling the issue of debt, noting that last year’s fiscal targets were met or exceeded. He said that increased home sales was a sign that the economic outlook is improving. While he said Bermuda is experiencing international and local “headwinds”, the greatest headwind is the deficit. “If we are downgraded, the international businesses that are based here will also be downgraded,” he said. Mr Ball said he agrees that a bipartisan approach to immigration reform was needed, praising Michael Dunkley, the Premier, for listening to the concerned segment of the population. “If we can all begin to work together and recognise that we are together, then Bermuda can reach the heights that it deserves to reach,” he said. “We are all in this together. The Government, the Opposition and the people.” Independent senator Joan Dillas-Wright said it is imperative for everyone to speak on an issue as important as the Budget, adding that the economy needs tweaking because of the burden of debt. She expressed concern about the less fortunate members of the public, particularly seniors who are struggling to get through the “short-term sacrifices” put in place by the Government, given the high cost of food and healthcare. Ms Dillas-Wright said the island needs to take a closer look at health issues, such as placing a greater emphasis on home care and encouraging healthy lifestyles. While she said she was disappointed not to see an increase in pensions, she was pleased to hear from the finance minister that an actuarial review is being carried out that could lead to a boost for the island’s seniors. The senator also expressed concerns about the level of unemployment and the emigration of Bermudians. Continuing the debate, Georgia Marshall, of the OBA, attacked the financial record of the Progressive Labour Party, saying that finance minister Bob Richards was walking a tightrope between competing interests with the Budget. “It does look like we are moving in a positive direction and that’s good for the community as a whole,” she said. “But we still have a massive problem. Our problem is our national debt.” Mrs Marshall also took issue with finger-pointing from the Opposition. “I ask the PLP, what did you do for these people,” she said. “If they feel disenfranchised, it’s because you disenfranchised them. I would suggest that their anger not be directed to the OBA because we are doing the best we can.” She said Bermuda needs to retain the people it has and make them feel like part of the community, not that they are hated and spat upon and told to go home. Mrs Marshall added that economic recovery is not going to happen if Bermuda is seen worldwide as “a place of unrest, a place that does not welcome people who are not from this land; that is counterproductive.”
March 22. The Progressive Labour Party is to boycott the Senate Budget debate, with Senator Marc Daniels calling for the resignation of Senator Michael Fahy over the Pathways to Status affair. Mr Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, issued a public apology yesterday morning, conceding that he had misjudged the level of concerns of many struggling Bermudians that sparked the five-day demonstration outside the House of Assembly last week. However, Mr Daniels, the PLP’s Leader in the Senate, responded by declaring the Opposition would take no part in the four-day Upper House Budget debate because of its dismay at the One Bermuda Alliance’s handling of the island’s social problems. He later said Mr Fahy’s apology was not enough and only a resignation would suffice. During a tense Senate session, Mr Daniels also questioned the deal struck between union leaders, the People’s Campaign and the Bermuda Government that signaled the end of the protests last Thursday, asking whether it was what the protesters had signed up to. Near the beginning of the sitting, Mr Daniels told senators there was no point in discussing the Budget when Bermuda was facing a crisis that the OBA is failing to address. “What are we really achieving right now when the real work that needs to be done, as we have seen, is here in this country, is taking steps to work towards what is best for each and every Bermudian? Where is the focus and effort to make sure our Bermudians who seek opportunity overseas have a place in their country, can play a part in their country and contribute to their success? All I have seen is silence and contempt and disrespect from this government. How can we come to this table and actually pretend as if we are going to accomplish anything? This Budget and debating the Budget over the next week is not going to alleviate the pain, anger and hurt. There’s nothing that’s been stated that makes me feel that as a result of this Budget that I’m on a pathway to recovery or financial independence.” Mr Fahy had opened the general economic debate by expressing regret at the Government’s failure to communicate its plans more effectively, although he said he maintained Pathways would be for the good of Bermuda and that it could bring economical benefits for all. The minister reflected on the protests, which continued yesterday in small numbers outside Sessions House where MPs also met for the conclusion of their Budget debate. “There are obviously people in this community that continue to hurt,” Mr Fahy said. “That has been shown to be the case in the last couple of weeks. There are many here in Bermuda that feel that they have been excluded, not just from the way the Bill was to be proceeded, but it’s a wider issue than just immigration. I hear a raft of issues: lack of opportunity in entry-level international business, a feeling that children of Bermudians will not be given opportunity in the future. We have people in Bermuda who are long-term unemployed. This government is charged with tackling that issue. It remains my view that this government can do better communicating its plan for success. Despite what some may say that the Government doesn’t listen, and this ministry doesn’t understand the community, I beg to differ. Where this government has fallen down is not communicating why some of the decisions have been made. When this government came into office, we were dealing with something that was very badly broken. I make no apology for doing everything we can to address that. What I do apologies for is that the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been. It’s hurtful when people make accusations that we are not interested in Bermudians, and I say that as a father of three Bermudian children. I take it very personally for them not to have the opportunity for success in this country. I want people to understand in Bermuda that, as far as I’m able, no matter where I am, we will continue and I will push to make sure we move in a direction to help everyone. We will try to do our very best to bring along these individuals who feel they have not had an opportunity.” Mr Daniels spoke again during the Motion to Adjourn, telling fellow senators: “We have an opportunity for us to try and work together, but we can’t work together in some fictitious, fake sense or pushing things under the carpet and pretending things are OK when they are not. Noting Mr Fahy’s appearance at the vigil in favour of Pathways, he bemoaned the absence of government ministers during the anti-Pathways demonstrations. “Every person on the House of Assembly was chanting, ‘Look at them run and flee’,” Mr Daniels said. “When you have got people knocking on your doors, begging to be heard, begging for acknowledgement, to not walk among them, how disconnected are you?” The Pathways Bill was withdrawn last Thursday, with the Government pledging to set up a consultative group to make recommendations before any legislative changes are made, while immigration reform will now be made through a staggered approach. Bermuda Industrial Union leader Chris Furbert and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign, won applause from the crowd when they announced that proposal, but Mr Daniels told the Senate: “Is that what we have signed up to? Does everyone buy into this concept? Can we sit here in good conscience and say everything that was done was in the spirit of one Bermuda? Or was it in the spirit of some Bermuda?” Regarding Mr Fahy’s apology, he said: “What I don’t see right now is any steps of recognition, a resignation.” Mr Fahy responded by backing Senate president Carol Ann Bassett’s call for more open talks on Bermuda’s racial tensions. “The people around this table, we have the opportunity to do that together,” Mr Fahy said. He added that he was extending an olive branch to the PLP’s three senators, Mr Daniels, Senator Kim Wilkerson and Senator Renée Ming. “I’m very sad to hear people felt they had no voice,” he said. “My eyes are open wider, I will do everything I can as I always have done to bring everyone along.” Earlier in the Budget debate, Ms Wilkerson backed Mr Daniels, questioning why Mr Fahy had not sought consultation as he had on other issues. “Why was this rushed to the fore and pressed upon the people?” she said, adding that even when the people rejected the proposal, the Government told them: “No, you are going to have it anyway.” Senator Jeff Baron, of the OBA, also spoke of lessons that have been learnt from the protesters. “All of them were not there simply because of a piece of legislation,” he said. “They were there because of our general economic status in Bermuda. It was about jobs. I took a lot away; there were a lot of lessons learnt. When there are a lot of Bermudians out there who are hurting in various ways, they are going to be emotional.” Referring to the continuing controversy surrounding the airport redevelopment, Mr Baron added: “What we have learnt from last week is having the conversation is never a bad thing.” Ms Ming was absent sick, although Mr Baron said he believed she would attend in the week to discuss the Budget as it relates to St George’s. The Senate debate on the Budget is expected to run until Thursday evening.
March 22. Former Attorney-General Larry Mussenden has been appointed Bermuda’s new Director of Public Prosecutions, Governor George Fergusson announced yesterday. Mr Mussenden, who was also the Government Senate Leader under the former Progressive Labour Party administration, will succeed Rory Field. “I am honored to be appointed the Director of Public Prosecutions,” Mr Mussenden told The Royal Gazette. “I look forward to serving the people of Bermuda in this capacity and look forward to working with the Crown Counsel and staff of the Department in presenting cases in Court. I am keen to engage with various agencies, including schools and youth groups, in how we can work to reduce serious crime in Bermuda and how we can help our young people to make good choices and be productive citizens. I have a background in information technology, so I am keen to bring some modern case management tools to the department to complement what may exist already, especially in challenging budget times. Bermuda is very fortunate to have a criminal justice system - comprised of the court, police, prosecution, defence and the public as jurors and concerned citizens - that can try a variety of cases in relative short time as compared to many other countries. This is extremely important to complainants, defendants and the general public – all who have to have utmost confidence in the system. I am forever committed to those principles.” The senior director of law firm Mussenden Subair, who has also served as an acting magistrate in criminal matters, has experience in criminal and civil litigation matters, as well as insolvency, public law and commercial litigation. “Having soon to leave the defence bar, I have always cherished my function as a defence counsel giving my best efforts for my clients and working alongside other defence counsel,” Mr Mussenden said. “It is truly an honorable part of how our justice system works and it will always have my respect.” Mr Fergusson announced in December that Government House would seek a new DPP after Mr Field, who first took up the post in 2007 and whose reappointment in 2010 and 2013 sparked controversy, tendered his resignation to take other opportunities. In appointing Mr Mussenden, Mr Fergusson accepted the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Committee, a statement from Government House said yesterday. And Mr Fergusson said: “I am very pleased to make this appointment. Mr Mussenden will bring to this important role long experience of the law, from the perspective of a defence counsel as well as a prosecutor and in private practice as well as in government service. I wish him well in this often challenging role and have every confidence that he will make an excellent DPP.” Mr Mussenden was admitted as a barrister in England and Wales in 1995 and in Bermuda a year later, having earned a law degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury and studying at the Inns of Court School of Law in London. He served as a Crown counsel in the Attorney-General’s chambers in 1996, and then as a prosecutor in the office of the Department of Public Prosecutions. He was appointed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Bermuda and Government Senate Leader in January 2004, having being appointed a senator in 2003, and served as such until October 2006. As Attorney-General, he set up the Justice System Review Committee and oversaw the implementation of its recommendations.
March 22. Cleaner and cheaper liquefied natural gas could be powering Bermuda inside four years, a report has revealed. Consultants Castalia said that electricity generation in Bermuda could be switched over to LNG by 2020 with a price tag of between $258 million and $315 million, depending on the arrangements for supply and delivery to a power plant. The report, tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday, said: “By quickly deciding on the best approach for procuring LNG, the Government can set Bermuda on the path to begin importing LNG by the end of 2019. “Deciding on an approach and awarding contracts to providers will take until early 2017. From that point, it will take about 30 months to build an LNG carrier and other infrastructure necessary to receive LNG and to complete the rest of the needed infrastructure.” The Castalia report came down in favour of making the switch from using fuel oil and diesel to produce electricity. The report said: “Our analysis suggests that Bermuda could procure LNG and use natural gas to generate electricity at a lower cost than continuing to depend on oil products. Our market research suggests that LNG is quickly becoming available for small island markets such as Bermuda soon. Indeed, recent agreements in Jamaica and elsewhere suggest that it could be available immediately for Bermuda, if the right agreement were in place.” The report, however, said that Bermuda would still have to pay a premium for the new fuel, although it would be cheaper than other options or continuing to use oil-based products. It explained: “Current and projected prices for natural gas at Henry Hub, the largest natural gas trading hub in the United States, are easily the cheapest of the fuels shown. However, high transportation costs and competition for globally-traded gas lead to higher prices for imported natural gas, as shown by relatively high prices in Europe and Japan.” Bermuda imported 1.6 million barrels of oil in 2014, with more than half, 54 per cent, used to generate electricity. Using natural gas instead of oil would, depending on power plant specifications, would cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 56 per cent and carbon dioxide by 38 per cent, while sulphur dioxide emissions would be cut to almost zero. The report said: “The cost of the new power plants would make up about half of these investments — since much of Belco’s generating capacity needs to be replaced soon, costs of this magnitude would be incurred regardless of the fuel chosen for electricity generation. The rest of the investment is made up mostly of facilities to store and re-gasify the LNG and conversions of existing oil-fired plants to use natural gas.” But the Castalia consultants said that their estimates showed power generated from LNG could be 16-20 cents per kilowatt hour, a discount of between 15 per cent and 42 per cent compared to oil-fired generation. Tabling the report, Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, told the House: “Bermuda has been wholly dependent upon environmentally unsustainable fuel — heavy fuel oil and diesel — for the majority of its electricity generation, leaving residents and businesses vulnerable to price shocks as global oil prices fluctuate. It seems that we are in the eye of a perfect storm of energy generation issues — we know that the utility’s existing generation assets area at or near the end of their useful lives and we watch as the world considers the long-term proposals for oil while monitoring the stability of supply and projected low prices for LNG. Bermuda is at a cross roads. We can either continue as we have for the past 100 years or take advantage of the opportunities before us by investing in lower-cost and more sustainable alternatives to oil-fired generation such as LNG. Any future action to adopt and deploy LNG as the principal source of fuel for the generation of electricity in Bermuda will not be made by the Government but by the private sector. Government’s role in this process will be simple — either we will or will not approve of the development of LNG. The mechanics, specifics and time frame for development will be up to the market and the private sector and contingent upon what is economically feasible for the developer.” Natural gas: what the conversion would entail The consultants’ report said that the size of the Bermuda market dictated that only one liquefied natural gas import point would be needed. Castalia experts said the existing oil terminal at Ferry Reach in St George’s appeared to be the best choice, while using the existing Belco power station in Pembroke would probably be cheaper than building a new plant elsewhere. A new ship of a size suitable for Bermuda and its market, would also have be built, which would cost around $75 million and take around 30 months to construct. The report considered Ferry Reach and Marginal Wharf in St David’s as potential natural gas import points. It said: “There is already a jetty in place at the Ferry Reach terminal that could receive LNG carriers with minimal modifications and the fuel storage site is relatively removed from surrounding residential or commercial areas.” The consultants added that it would cost about $20 million to modify the Ferry Reach terminal for LNG. The report said: “These changes would be relatively minimal, reducing costs and lessening the environmental and social concerns of an additional dock. The jetty is easily accessible by sea for ships of the adequate size, though this may leave ships exposed to extreme weather when docking.” The report added that a re-gasification and storage plant, costing around $57 million, would also have to be built at the chosen import point. It said that the Ferry Reach terminal was zoned as industrial land and large enough to build the new plant. The consultants said: “The terminal is also surrounded by a mound, making it relatively well-protected from the elements and also protecting nearby buildings from the very small possibility of a fire or explosion.” If Ferry Reach and Belco at Pembroke were found to be best option, a new gas pipeline running alongside the existing oil pipeline could be built for around $12 million. The report added that it would cost in the region of $31 million to convert Belco’s existing power station to use gas, with new plants at the site costing an additional $138 million. Options for supply are that a single supplier organizes and manages the process, a single tender for gas-fired generation and tendering out suitable parts of the LNG supply chain that fit with competitive procurement. Government could use its powers “requiring access to the Ferry Reach terminal on the grounds of it being a uniquely favorable asset required for the country’s benefit”. Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, told the House of Assembly yesterday that a “Swiss challenge” — where, a process to allow for competition for projects proposed by the private sector — was the most innovative method of procurement. Dr Gibbons explained: “In a Swiss challenge, the Government first approves of the principle of the proposed project, then an open bidding process is conducted in which the project proponent is also invited to participate. This process is used to encourage competition when one bidder controls a uniquely favorable asset and reduces risks associated with other development paths, such as mandatory access. A Swiss challenge also ensures transparency, which is critical with a infrastructure developments of this magnitude.”
March 22. A new chief executive officer has been appointed to head Bermuda’s telecoms watchdog organization. Matthew Copeland was appointed chief executive of the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda at the start of this month. He is the third permanent chief executive officer to lead the organization, which was created in 2013 to oversee the island’s telecommunications sector. Details of Mr Copeland’s background have not yet been made available through the RAB, however, his appointment was confirmed in minutes of the March 1 board meeting of its commissioners. The Authority’s responsibilities are anticipated to increase in the near future with the transfer of regulation and oversight of the energy sector from the Ministry of Economic Development and the Energy Commission to the RAB. A search for a permanent chief executive began in September, following the resignation of Robert Watson who took on the role in January 2015. At the time he was seen as an ideal choice to guide the authority into its dual-sector responsibilities due to his previous experience leading telecoms and electricity companies in Canada. However, Mr Watson resigned for personal reasons. The RAB’s first CEO was Philip Micallef. He led the organization for almost two years, between 2013 and late 2014, before resigning for personal reasons and returning to Europe. He is now the CEO of Air Malta. Kyle Masters, the RAB’s legal and regulatory advisor, acted as interim CEO between the departure of Mr Micallef and the appointment of Mr Watson, and again between the departure of Mr Watson and the appointment of Mr Copeland. Angela Berry is chairwoman of the RAB board of commissioners. She took on the role in January. The previous chairman was Carl Musson. The RAB has traditionally had three commissioners, but at present only Ms Berry and Kenneth Robinson are listed as commissioners on the Authority’s website. The Royal Gazette has requested more details on the appointment of Mr Copeland, and at press time was awaiting a reply.
March 22. More than 100 requests for public information have been submitted to PATI (Public Access to Information) since the Act was passed last April. Of those, 23 were refused in whole; 16 had access granted in part and 34 had access granted in whole during the period between April 1 to December 31, 2015. Twenty nine decisions are pending. Details of Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez’ first annual report were released yesterday. “Our Annual Report provides a snapshot of the first ten months of the PATI Act,” said Ms Gutierrez. “We knew that the public and public authorities are interested in information about the early use of the Act. This is also the first opportunity the Information Commissioner and our staff have had to share our vision for building a new institution to support the democratic process and good governance. The Annual Report explains how the Information Commissioner seeks to establish a long-lasting, independent office to provide robust and fair oversight of the PATI Act. It also sets out clearly the Information Commissioner’s Key Performance Indicators for 2016, giving everyone a sense of the work we are setting out to accomplish.” The first reported PATI request was received on April 1 by the Planning Department and full access was granted. From then up to the end of December, 102 requests were submitted. Public authorities reported a total of 11 requests for an internal review (an internal appeal) to be decided by the head of the authority. 8 internal review decisions refused access in whole or in part; 1 internal review decision granted access in whole, and 2 internal review decisions were still pending as of December 31, 2015. The Information Commissioner’s Office received 11 applications for an independent review by the Information Commissioner in 2015. 4 of the independent reviews were closed (one was settled and three came to the Information Commissioner too early), and 7 reviews were pending as of December 31. The final reported PATI request was received by the Department of Marine and Ports on December 24 (and eventually in 2016 partial access was granted). Copies of the Annual Report are available at www.ico.bm or by emailing a request for a copy to email@example.com. Limited copies will be made available from our Office at the Valerie T. Scott Building, 60 Reid Street, Hamilton this Wednesday.
March 22. Bermuda will take on Cuba today in the first of two Caribbean Cup first-round qualifying matches in five days. The island’s team face Cuba at the Pedro Marrero Stadium in Havana before returning home to host French Guiana in their remaining group three match on Saturday at the National Stadium, National Sports Centre. Today’s match between Bermuda and Cuba kicks off at 2.30pm (Bermuda time). Attempts to interview from team staff yesterday were unsuccessful, with David Sabir, the Bermuda Football Association general secretary, admitting that “communication isn’t easy from Cuba.” In their previous outing Bermuda lost 3-0 away to St Kitts and Nevis in a Caribbean Cup warm-up last month. The defeat prompted harsh criticism from Andrew Bascome, the Bermuda head coach, who said that his team simply were not good enough. It should be pointed, however, that Bermuda were missing overseas professionals Nahki Wells, of Huddersfield Town, Reggie Lambe, of Mansfield Town, Rai Simons, of Chesterfield, and Dale Eve, of Forest Green Rovers. Wells, the Bermuda captain, and Simons have also made themselves unavailable for the two Caribbean Cup first-round qualifying games, opting instead to remain with their clubs in England. Bascome said his team’s defeat against St Kitts was a wake-up call for Bermuda and a sad indictment on the state of the local game. “What we do day-to-day at the local level just isn’t good enough,” he said in a previous interview. “St Kitts showed that they are a level above what we see at the local game. We have to step up and be honest and humble and realize we need to do more both individually and collectively. We must continue to work on our game every day and be doing something with the ball to keep our touch sharp. We have to realize that if the local players want to play at this level they have to make sure they get the right diet, commitment and the right fitness.” Bermuda’s squad has since undergone a major facelift, with more than half of the squad based overseas, either in college in the United States and Canada or playing professional or semi-professional football in England. Bermuda arrived in Cuba at the weekend for final preparations ahead of today’s match against Cuba, who are ranked 29 places above them in 135th in the Fifa world rankings. Bermuda have not competed in the Caribbean Cup since 2012 when Bascome’s side, without several of their key players, failed to qualify from their group, losing 2-1 to Puerto Rico, 3-1 to host nation Haiti before finishing off with an 8-0 thrashing of St Martin. Cuba were the first Caribbean team to reach the World Cup, which they did in 1938. They defeated Romania in a replay 2—1 after drawing against them 3—3. They were then eliminated in the quarter-finals after losing to Sweden 8—0. Cuba finished second in the Caribbean Cup in 1996, 1999 and 2005 and won the 2012 tournament. The format of the Caribbean Cup has been altered with countries now to play against each once rather than the original format which would have featured home and away legs. Each match must also have a winner, with extra time and penalty kicks in the event a game is level after 90 minutes. Another amendment to the format now sees only the top two countries from each of the seven groups advancing to the second round to be played May 15 to 21, and not the top two plus the next best team as originally planned. The third round of the competition will be played October 3 to 11, with the finals to take place in 2017. The top four Caribbean nations will qualify for the next year’s Concacaf Gold Cup, which will be held from July 9 to 30. Squad Bermuda: D Bascome, N Griffith, J Bather, R Lambe, K Bean, D Bell, A Russell, Z Lewis, J Raynor, T Ming, J Donawa, D Ming, D Eve, J Minors, R Lee, L Simmons, D Leverock, J Smith, M Warren, K Elkinson. Coaches: A Bascome (head coach), K Lightbourne (assistant coach).
March 22. A fourth consecutive month of lower fuel and power prices kept the lid on inflation in January. The fuel adjustment rate on Belco bills fell 11.1 per cent in the first month of the year, thanks mainly to a fall in the price of the diesel and heavy oil fuel that the utility’s generators burn. Fuel and power prices overall plunged 3.7 per cent from December to January. The Consumer Price Index, released today by the Department of Statistics, showed that consumers paid 1.7 per cent more in January than they did a year earlier for a range of goods and services. The level of inflation dropped 0.1 percentage point from the 1.8 per cent measured in December. The health and personal care sector was the largest contributor to the year-over-year increase, rising 7 per cent. The major driver in this sector was the cost of insurance premiums and prescribed medicines. Food prices rose 2 per cent year over year, while prices in the household goods, services and supplies sector were up 2.6 per cent. After two months of decline, food prices rose by 1.2 per cent between December and January, with notable rises in the cost of red grapes (7 per cent), pork loin rolls (6.4 per cent) and evaporated milk (6.3 per cent). The transport and foreign travel sector also saw a 1.6 per cent fall in prices between December and January. Airfares fell 8.2 per cent, while the average cost of cycle repair and maintenance fell 6.6 per cent.
March 22. The Premier has expressed Bermuda’s “profound” sympathy for the loss of life in Brussels this morning. More than 30 people were reportedly killed and another 180 injured in the Belgian capital after terrorists targeted the Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station at about 8am. “Bermuda joins with the rest of the world in expressing profound sympathy for the loss of life in Brussels earlier today,” Michael Dunkley, the Minister of National Security, said. “The impact of these kinds of attacks is felt beyond the shores of the affected countries and, on behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured as they confront the sad reality of these life-changing events.”
March 21. The Progressive Labour Party has closed the gap on the One Bermuda Alliance to just one point, according to a new poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette. In the Global Research survey this month, the OBA had a 39-38 lead over the PLP, compared with the 42-30 advantage it held in our previous poll last December. The number of people choosing to back neither party has fallen from 28 per cent to 22 per cent. OBA leader Michael Dunkley and deputy leader Bob Richards both saw their performance approval ratings fall, with PLP leader Marc Bean and deputy leader David Burt registering improved scores. The survey took place between March 7 and March 14, while tensions were rising ahead of an angry five-day demonstration against the OBA’s controversial Pathways to Status Bill. A breakdown of results by race shows that both parties have lost support from the black community, with the PLP making a slight inroad into the white vote. Among whites, 89 per cent said they would vote for the ruling party, unchanged from December, with 4 per cent opting for PLP, up from 3 per cent. The number of blacks backing the OBA has fallen from 21 per cent to 13 per cent; the number of blacks supporting the PLP has gone from 64 per cent to 58 per cent. The OBA is comfortably taking the male vote, with 45 per cent compared with 35 per cent for the PLP. Among females, the reverse is true, with 34 per cent opting for OBA and 41 per cent for PLP. Mr Dunkley, the Premier, dropped 13 points from a 48 per cent approval rating to 35 per cent. This breaks down to a 67 per cent rating from whites and 19 per cent from blacks. He has taken the biggest hit from the older generation, with his rating among over-65s falling from 64 per cent to 38 per cent. Mr Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, saw his approval rating climb from 20 per cent to 24 per cent. His score from blacks rose from 33 per cent to 36 per cent, and his rating among whites stays on 2 per cent. Mr Richards, who as the Minister of Finance delivered the Budget last month, dropped nine points, with his approval rating falling from 28 per cent to 19 per cent. His score among whites fell from 54 per cent to 38 per cent; among blacks he fell from 12 per cent to 9 per cent. Mr Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance who heavily criticised Mr Richards’s Budget, went from 29 per cent to 32 per cent, thanks largely to an improved rating among blacks, from 46 per cent to 50 per cent. Among whites, Mr Burt’s rating fell from 4 per cent to 2 per cent. Favourability ratings, which assess the popularity of the politicians, show Mr Dunkley has fallen from 53 per cent to 41 per cent; Mr Richards has fallen from 36 per cent to 22 per cent; Mr Bean has risen from 21 per cent to 25 per cent; and Mr Burt has risen from 30 per cent to 34 per cent. The telephone poll of 400 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minor 5 per cent.
March 21. A handful of protesters has continued demonstrations at the House of Assembly today. Eighteen people, with tape over their mouths and holding placards, stood at the entrance to Sessions House urging the Bermuda Government to withdraw the Pathways to Status Bill. While the demonstrators, which include hunger striker Enda Matthie, are standing or sitting at all of the entrances to the House, they do not appear to be blocking people from entering and exiting. One Bermuda Alliance MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin is among those who have been allowed in, as have court staff. Several police officers have also gathered at the building. It comes after five days of demonstration outside the House came to an end last Thursday, when union leaders and the People’s Campaign agreed to a deal for the legislation to be withdrawn so that recommendations can be made by a consultative group. The Pathways to Status Bill was not on the order paper for today, and no union or pressure group has openly called for any action. Slogans today include: “OBA does not care about me.” Meanwhile, Government has tabled a report investigating the potential and feasibility of bringing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Bermuda. While Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, said that LNG would be more cost effective and produce less harmful emissions, he said concerns have been raised about the manner in which it is extracted, and that it would act as a disincentive to adopting renewable energy due to its lower cost. “In order to assess the viability and trade-offs relating to the potential deployment of LNG into Bermuda, the Department of Energy’s consultants researched the issues and produced the report you have before you,” Dr Gibbons said. “The consultants focused on whether LNG could be part of Bermuda’s energy mix and, if so, if that would be the best strategy for its procurement and development, specifically as it relates to the necessary infrastructure development.” He said the report found the deployment of LNG in Bermuda was feasible if the pricing differences between natural gas and oil are sufficiently disparate and that LNG is available for our island. He added that the decision to pursue LNG would be up to the private sector, but it would be up to the Government to decide if it would approve such a development. Turning to the St George’s hotel project, Mr Gibbons said public meetings will be held this year. Responding to questions by PLP’s Zane DeSilva, Mr Gibbons told the House that developer, Desarrellos Hotelco Group, and the government intended on hosting public meetings in the second or third quarter. Government have previously stated that they expect groundbreaking on the project to take place later this year. The acting tourism minister was also questioned about the board of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He stated that the board had held a total of 24 meetings since its inception in 2013, and that the board members have been paid a total of $229,996 to date.
March 21. Michael Fahy has issued an apology for the way the Bermuda Government has handled the Pathways to Status Bill. Speaking as the Senate opened its Budget debate today, Senator Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, conceded he had misunderstood the level of concerns of many struggling Bermudians. He maintained that the controversial Pathways legislation would be for the good of Bermuda and that it could bring economical benefits for all, but expressed regret at his Government’s failure to communicate its plans more effectively. Reflecting on five days of demonstrations outside the House of Assembly, Mr Fahy told the Upper House: “There are obviously people in this community that continue to hurt. That has been shown to be the case in the last couple of weeks. “There are many here in Bermuda that feel that they have been excluded, not just from the way the Bill was to be proceeded, but I believe it’s a wider issue than just immigration. I hear a raft of issues: lack of opportunity in entry level international business, a feeling that children of Bermudians will not be given opportunity in the future. We have people in Bermuda who are long-term unemployed. This government is charged with tackling that issue. It remains my view that this government can do better communicating its plan for success. Despite what some may say that the government doesn’t listen, and this ministry doesn’t understand the community, I beg to differ. Where this government has fallen down is not communicating why some of the decisions have been made. When this government came into office, we were dealing with something that was very badly broken. I make no apology for doing everything we can to address that. What I do apologize for is that the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been. It’s hurtful when people make accusations that we are not interested in Bermudians, and I say that as a father of three Bermudian children. I take it very personally for them not to have the opportunity for success in this country. I want people to understand in Bermuda that, as far as I’m able, no matter where I am, we will continue and I will push to make sure we move in a direction to help everyone. We will try to do our very best to bring along these individuals who feel they have not had an opportunity.”
March 21. The controversial Pathways to Status immigration legislation was formally withdrawn from the House of Assembly yesterday after five days of protests. Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister for Home Affairs, made the move shortly after the session began. Opening today’s session Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, said he spent last Monday effectively locked in the House with parliamentary staff and St George’s MP Kenneth Bascome as a result of the protests. “All day my attention was drawn to my credenza and the photo of my daughter, son-in-law and their children, my grandchildren. I spent the day reflecting on our history and considering the future of my grandchildren and all of Bermuda’s young people. “It was troubling. On Tuesday I reached out to all sides to urge that they move forward quickly to break the impasse. The deadline to pass the budget was getting tighter and tighter. I was not prepared to resume this House until the impasse was resolved. I am grateful, I am gratified that we are here today to proceed with the people’s business. The agreement is a real achievement of courage and compromise, and I congratulate all that contributed in any capacity to bring us together to sit and proceed with the people’s business.” While the House then continued with its scheduled budget debate, opposition backbencher Rolfe Commissiong questioned the lack of any statement in the House on the subject by Michael Dunkley, the Premier. “I thought it was contemptible for the Premier not to give a statement to not only the Members of Parliament, but the public at large, especially in light of the dramatic events that have occurred over the last three-and-a-half weeks,” Mr Commissiong said. “All of this could have been avoided if they had accepted Walton Brown’s motion weeks ago calling for comprehensive immigration reform to be fleshed out by a joint select committee.” Noting the group of demonstrators that had been outside the House earlier in the day, he said they personified the trust deficit which exists when it comes to the OBA. “They didn’t trust the government to actually pull the Bill,” he said. “They had to witness it, see it themselves.” While Mr Commissiong acknowledged that Mr Dunkley had made statements in the media about the protests, he said it was important that he made a statement in the House. “This is where he was elected to serve as part of our system of representative democracy,” he said. “I think that he showed some degree of cowardice because if he had made a statement, it would have allowed members on both sides, if they so choose, to question him during the question period about the statement he made.” Mr Commissiong also accused the OBA of “borrowing liberally” from a motion he tabled in the proposals to demonstrators last week without acknowledging it. Mr Dunkley offered to “address a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians”, while Mr Commissiong’s motion called on the House to form a Joint Select Committee to “examine the efficacy of establishing a livable wage for Bermuda. “The fact that my motion also called on us to look at the impact over the last couple of decades of low-cost, foreign sourced labour on the Bermuda workforce and economy was also important, and they borrowed liberally from that, as well in their overall suite of proposals,” he said. While he said he was pleased to see Government moving in this direction, he added: “At least give some attribution. I think ethically it was their responsibility to acknowledge that, and I think it would have helped with the bipartisan buy-in. “Everyone in Bermuda knows the former UBP and now the OBA is not a party philosophically or ideologically in favour historically of putting things like a living wage in place Bermuda. The business sector has been a large part of their support base, and this would be anathema to that sort of idea.”
March 21. MPs will return the House of Assembly this morning to finish debating the 2016/17 Budget. The final two debates, which will focus on the ministries of Community, Culture, and Sport and Economic Development, have been delayed for seven days due to last week’s withdrawal of labour. The protest against the Bermuda Government’s immigration reform plans saw large crowds gather around Parliament for five days in opposition to the Pathways to Status initiative. On Monday the protesters locked arms around the perimeter of the building preventing MPs access to the House to table the proposed changes. As a result the final Budget debate, which is scheduled to last for eight hours, had to be delayed a week and is expected to begin this morning at 10am. The Budget has to be debated before the beginning of the new financial year on April 1. Once the entire budget has been passed by the House of Assembly it is sent to the Senate to be debated. Senators will also return to work today and gather at the Senate chambers. The day’s schedule includes a series of motions as well as the first reading of several new bills including the Referendum (Same-Sex Relationships) Act 2016. The order of business also includes a general economic debate.
March 21. Huge crowds turned out to participate in this year’s Palm Sunday Walk, which comprised a five-mile stroll through Pembroke. Organized by the Bermuda National Trust, the event began and ended at the Berkeley Institute — with walkers following a course that passed Government House, North Shore Road, Mission Lane, Pembroke Marsh and Marsh Folly, St Augustine’s Anglican Church, Cottage Hospital, Fort Hamilton, Union and Angle Streets, Princess Street, The Centre, St John’s Church and Euclid Avenue. This was the 43rd year of the walk, which promotes appreciation of the National Trust. After the event, participant Ramona Douglas conceded that she had struggled due to the hilly nature of the route. “My friend encouraged me to do the walk, but I grumbled from the beginning to the middle,” she said. “After that, it was all downhill. I’m very tired but I enjoyed it.” Debutant Jackie Tyler told The Royal Gazette: “Normally I spend Palm Sunday at home in bed, and by this time I’ve had a cocktail. I was glad to do the walk though, because there were sights I had never seen before, and I haven’t been to Pembroke Marsh in more than 50 years.” Linda Stemphlet said she enjoyed the camaraderie among participants. “It was very friendly, we interacted with a lot of people we’d never even met before,” she added. Meanwhile, Winnette Trimm said she looks forward to the event every year. “I’ve done the walk many times,” she added. “Last year it rained, but this year the weather held out for us — thank the Lord. We didn’t need it to rain on top of climbing all the hills.” Rosina Hardtman took part this year with her niece Meshalae Hayward-Furqan and her friend Keitha Simmons. “This is something we participate in most years,” she said. “The walk wasn’t too bad,” said Ms Hayward-Furqan. “I’m just happy the sun wasn’t out.” Ms Simmons added: “It was really pleasant weather; the hill on Mission Lane was a killer though. It’s great to see bits of the island you normally wouldn’t see.”
March 20. The Governor has praised the Bermuda Police Service for its “professional handling” of last week’s protests around the House of Assembly. Large crowds gathered around the Parliament building for five days to express their strong opposition to the Bermuda Government’s plans for immigration reform. “I know that they will have had their critics, probably from both sides of the argument,” said the Governor, George Fergusson. “Policing events like these involve difficult judgments. But I am clear, the police have a duty to maintain public peace as well as to enforce the law. These can be two different things, though it is not good if they diverge too far or for too long. The law should not be broken. However, it is not always sensible for the police to apply zero tolerance at the time, especially when emotions are running high. There was a risk of violence last week, despite the good efforts of the protest leaders to prevent this, and violence would have had serious consequences for the whole community. Although the police will no doubt be learning lessons too, in my view the police got this right.”
March 19. After a week of protests and heightened tensions, the island must now come together in order to move forward. Sylvia Hayward-Harris, an ordained pastor and addiction counselor, said that communication was the only way to move beyond the lingering issues facing the community. “The primary thing for the Premier and his Cabinet is to do exactly what they said they plan to do. Listen more and consult more,” she said. “That is the whole issue. There are a lot of deep-seated traumatic memories that have come down through the generations that need to be addressed and heard. To not address them and not even attempt to understand what is going on in this community is a recipe for disaster because we have seen what can happen when people get angry and don’t feel they are being heard.” Asked about her feelings as the tensions raised over the past week, she said: “I was scared, frankly. I was scared for the island because it felt like all we needed was just the slightest spark. I know some people were upset that the police didn’t become more involved, but I’m glad they didn’t. I think it would have been a major error. That would have been just what we would have needed to set everybody off.” Ms Hayward-Harris said both black and white Bermudians still carried the weight of slavery and racism, adding: “People still remember. Stories are passed down.” As a result of the tensions, Ms Hayward-Harris launched an open meditation event at Victoria Park to help the public move forward. “Because there was so much damage, not physical damage, but heart damage and spiritual damage and relationship damage, we needed to start healing. We needed some peace, some harmony. We need some attempt to try to see the other side, and that goes for both sides.” While she said the Government needed to set a standard for the community, she said the community itself must also take responsibility. Recalling her experience as an addiction counselor, she said that one thing that addicts were told is that while their parents make decisions for them while they are young, there comes a point when they must make their own decisions and stop blaming their parents if they wish to move forward. “The community as a whole needs healing, and the only way that is going to happen is if the community takes responsibility,” she said. Bishop Nick Dill, meanwhile, said that in light of the recent tensions, the Cathedral on Church Street would be hosting a quiet time for prayer and reflection next Wednesday from noon until 12.45pm. He said: “This occasion is not a time for speeches, banners, marches or debates – but a coming together as brothers and sisters from all backgrounds, from leaders to the man and woman on the street, irrespective of race, nationality, political parties or persuasion to sit together, to pray, to reflect and to go back to our families and communities resolved to love God and our neighbor once again. And as we go to those with whom we may disagree, let us resolve not so much to speak about one another, or to speak at one another, but to speak to one another and to listen carefully as we speak in order to understand and respect each other with whom we will have to live in this small, fragile yet beautiful place.”
March 19. Opposition leader Marc Bean has vowed not to allow the Government to pass its Pathways to Status Bill in future. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, removed the Bill on Thursday evening, in order to allow a working group of key stakeholders to discuss the initiative and make recommendations. This afternoon, Mr Bean released a statement congratulating the leaders of the immigration reform protest movement for their success. He said: “The Progressive Labour Party would like to thank and commend the organizers, led by Reverend Tweed, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward, (hunger striker) Enda Matthie and the people of Bermuda, who sacrificed their time and income, showing strength, solidarity and unity over the last five days. Mr Bean said that his party was seeking assurance that the controversial Bill would be withdrawn from the order paper in Monday’s House of Assembly. He added: “We would like the public to be aware that there is still work to be done. “Your PLP Parliamentarians will now work to ensure that the One Bermuda Alliance Government does not attempt to bring or introduce the Pathways to Status Bill in a phased approach.” The first stage of the new Bill, to be tabled on May 13, will deal with children who were born in Bermuda or arrived at an early age, as well as mixed-status families and adoptions. The second stage will deal with the granting of permanent residence certificates for residents of 15 years, and is scheduled to be debated in the House’s summer session. The third stage will deal with the granting of Bermudian status for residents of 20 years, and is due to be discussed in the House in November. Meanwhile, as part of the Government’s deal with the protesters, the injunction against Mr Furbert and Reverend Tweed has been discharged, with no order as to costs. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. The court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” was held on Thursday, and was set to resume next Thursday before being quashed by Mr Dunkley.
March 19. As government frets over a shrinking population, students and Bermudians living overseas have highlighted the limited opportunities available in Bermuda and voiced concerns over returning to the island. Some Bermudians living abroad say they need to know that the government has a vested interest in their future and will encourage them to return to Bermuda. Considering Bermuda’s specific case in which there are limited local higher education opportunities, many young Bermudians have no option but to live in other parts of the world for eight months out of the year. Ryan Robinson Perinchief, a Bermudian student in the UK, hopes to eventually return to Bermuda “to work and settle”. A student at Durham University, Mr Perinchief was youth Premier in the island’s Youth Parliament. He said: “Unfortunately, the challenges I expect to face are the same challenges that many of my Bermudian peers have faced with regards to difficulty finding employment, often being told that they either lack experience, or that there are simply no opportunities available. I know quite a few recent graduates who have been forced to settle for jobs in which they are overqualified, as well as entire families who have gone overseas. There are always opportunities to gain experience abroad that may seem more attractive, but personally, I feel that living and studying abroad causes many students to appreciate Bermuda even more. The current immigration debate has, in my view, proven that Bermuda truly is a place coveted by many, which is why it is vital that any changes to the immigration policy must be made comprehensively, with special attention given to the historical background of citizenship in Bermuda, and only after careful consideration by all parties involved.” Clare O’Connor has built a life and career in New York as a staff writer at a business magazine. She said while the island couldn’t begin to compete with the city’s restaurants or cultural institutions, those were secondary considerations. “I’m concerned about opposition to the Pathways to Status initiative. Bermuda’s economic success is contingent on international business. We must make the long-term residents working in this sector feel welcome and valued for their crucial contribution to Bermuda’s future. Their presence in Bermuda is a significant plus for an economy that simply can’t depend on tourism anymore. It’s also our best chance at attracting more large companies in the future. Of course, reinsurance and finance also provide good careers for many thousands of Bermudians.” Kevin Minors lives in Bath, England. The 24-year-old is doing a PhD in mathematics and said he “absolutely” hoped to return to Bermuda. “I have been advised that it would be good to stay abroad and gain valuable experience before I return — but I will definitely return. I was born and raised in Bermuda. It is my home. The community there made me who I am and I hope to return to give back to the very same community. I want to inspire and support the next generation in the same way that I was inspired and supported.” He said that as a mathematician he fears that there may not be many opportunities for him once he returns and recognizes that he may have to create those opportunities for himself. But he added that “if I look for a job in the international business and finance industries, I’m afraid that companies will prefer to hire people that have immigrated with the companies instead of locals. I’m concerned that the Bermuda Government is more concerned about people they can give Bermudian status to than people who currently have Bermudian status. I’m concerned that Bermuda has a severe historical blind spot and we have not yet truly acknowledged, let alone accepted, the history of the country. It’s quite discouraging to be honest. Why would they care about my future, my career opportunities, and my social mobility if they can just import someone else and ignore the larger social implications? In a weird way, it’s beginning to feel like my country views me as the foreigner. I’m afraid that the government is only thinking of very short-term solutions. Very little, if any, energy has been given to looking for a long-term solution. We need to be able to educate and train locals to carry out jobs in all sectors and at all levels of Bermudian society. We need to diversify the economy so that we are not so heavily dependent on tourism and international business in terms of industries or the US and England in terms of countries. We have to acknowledge, address, teach, and constantly be reminded of the history of Bermuda. For independence, we have to build our links with the Caribbean and Africa. Lawyer Peter Sanderson said: “While I’m by no means an expert, I can only offer my opinion based on impressions I have. I’m sure that both parties could come up with some eye-catching policies to show they were trying to entice Bermudians back — payroll tax exemption, cash back of overseas qualifications if you come back to work. I’m sure there are plenty of examples. But let’s face it, given the state of public finances, it would be largely tokenistic. Once a country has accumulated significant debt, as we now have, options to spend your way out of a problem become very limited. Ultimately there is only one way that Bermudians will come back in numbers and that is if the economy is booming again. And all the government can do about that is try to provide the right environment for businesses to do well here.” In October when Bob Richards reportedly said: “Our priority is money — not people ... because without money, the people don’t matter”, the ex-Berkeley student said: “that attitude as indicated by the government’s responses were diversionary and reflected a lack of preparation or willingness to tackle and acknowledge many of the issues that the community feels strongly about.”
March 18. Michael Dunkley has sent a message to the black community that under his leadership the One Bermuda Alliance will concentrate on unity and creating opportunities for “all of Bermuda.” Mr Dunkley said valuable lessons had been learnt following a week of protests, and that in future the OBA would “always listen” and “get the consultation that is required”. The Premier’s comments came a day after Shawn Crockwell resigned from his position as Minister for Tourism Development and Transport, accusing him of being out of touch with black people and the struggles they endure. Speaking shortly before the Pathways to Status Bill was withdrawn yesterday evening, Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: “When you have critical issues like this they get very emotional and divisive and this one has done so along racial lines to a great extent. So that is what we will be concentrating on and that is why we are working so hard and listening to those who are protesting against it to find the best way forward for all of Bermuda. Everyone agrees that there is the need for immigration reform and that is something we have to accomplish. I think it would be important for me to let the people know that we face tremendous challenges in the community and the impact of the economic troubles have gone very deep in our community and specifically the black community. We have tried to do everything we can to right the ship and create opportunity for everyone across Bermuda. I think the decisions we have had to make are against the backdrop of there being no easy avenues. We continue to work hard every week to help us move forward on one issue after another.” Among Mr Crockwell’s criticisms of the Premier and his party was a lack of foresight over the potential for civil unrest. Asked if he would have done things differently with hindsight, Mr Dunkley said: “Hindsight is 20/20 vision and it is not something for me to share publicly. “We have learnt some very valuable lessons that we will continue to improve on and I can assure the people of Bermuda that we will always listen and will always try to move forward and get the consultation that is required to bring about the best decisions to help the people of Bermuda.” Mr Crockwell will remain a member of the OBA as a backbencher in the interest of continuity and to avoid the destabilization of the government. Minister for Economic Development Grant Gibbons has been made interim Tourism and Transport Minister and the Premier said an announcement for a permanent replacement will be made shortly. Mr Dunkley said he deeply regretted Mr Crockwell’s resignation and wished he had had the opportunity to persuade him to remain in his position. “We spoke in our caucus meeting and I spoke to the press afterwards. I was very disappointed to be given the news. I consider Shawn not only a friend but a trusted party colleague and he has done great work in the time that he has been minister of tourism and transport. He should be recognized and thanked for that. I reiterate that I have tremendous respect for Shawn — he was a valuable Cabinet Minister and I am very disappointed that he has made that decision. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to work with him to resolve some of those issues but I am glad to see that he has committed to working on the back bench so our work for the people of Bermuda can go forward. He will continue to have my ear.” The future of the OBA remains precarious — it would only take a couple of defectors to topple the government’s majority and risk Parliament being dissolved. “I think everybody is well aware of that slim majority and have been since the last election. This has made our position even more difficult as we govern. That is not new and we will continue to have to work with it. We are the democratically-elected government and people are counting on us to lead. Even MP Crockwell said we have made a lot of positive changes but there were some areas he had concern with. The message was received loud and clear. Any opportunities and challenges we have we will deal with those among ourselves so we can continue to put ourselves in the best position to serve the people of Bermuda. I know many people are very concerned, not only the people on the hill but many people across the island from all walks of life and we hear those and we are working day and night to try and bring a resolution.” Asked whether the unrest in his country was affecting him emotionally, the Premier said: “Leadership positions always are very strenuous — the Premier of Bermuda is one of those positions that is seven days a week. Obviously during tough times the pressure builds up but I try to keep myself in a regime to keep myself moving forward and to keep myself fresh. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. So I will continue to be open and accessible, work with people and try to get through issues and look for the support from colleagues as we continue to try to make progress knowing full well that we still have a lot of work to do. We certainly appreciate the tensions throughout the community and as I said at the beginning of the week I ask the people to be patient, show understanding to their brothers and sisters wherever they may be. We will work through this, come to a proper resolution and allow people to get back to their lives and allow us to get back into the House and conduct people’s business.”
March 18. Immigration reform campaigners celebrated last night after the Government withdrew its highly controversial Pathways to Status Bill. The resolution also means that public services will resume island-wide today following five days of disruptions, as civil servants end their “withdrawal of labour” protest. Shortly after 6pm yesterday, Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign read aloud a letter from Michael Dunkley, the Premier, to the crowd outside the House of Assembly. Loud cheers greeted the news that the One Bermuda Alliance would withdraw the Bill, which protesters claimed ignored the concerns of the Bermudian public. In accordance with the demand for a bipartisan approach, a consultative working group of key stakeholders will now discuss the initiative and make recommendations before any legislative changes are made. The first stage of the new Bill, to be tabled on May 13, will deal with children who were born in Bermuda or arrived at an early age, as well as mixed-status families and adoptions. The second stage will deal with the granting of permanent residence certificates for residents of 15 years, and is scheduled to be debated in the House’s summer session. The third stage will deal with the granting of Bermudian status for residents of 20 years, and is due to be discussed in the House in November. Mr Tweed also explained that the Labour Advisory Council would concurrently delve into issues including amendments to work permit policies to address a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians, cracking down on unscrupulous business tactics that undermine Bermudian labour and working with the international business sector to provide summer job opportunities for Bermudians. Mr Dunkley’s letter concluded: “All sides are committed to working for the betterment of Bermuda. I trust that this fair and reasonable offer will be accepted to help resolve the current situation.” Following on from Mr Tweed, Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown told the crowd: “This agreement gives us everything we’ve been calling for in the last month. We will shape that consultative committee. All of us who worked so hard, and you the people, have made this possible. This is what we wanted. This is what we demanded. All the power is with the people.” Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert assured the crowd that no official response would be given without their approval. He said: “It’s for you to decide if (the agreement is) sufficient. I believe we’ve delivered exactly what we were asked to deliver.” He asked for a show of hands to approve Mr Dunkley’s offer, and was met with near-unanimous support. Mr Furbert added: “We’re certainly not going to be open to giving the country away. Let’s not tear apart all the good work that we’ve done over the last five days. We need your input. Put your suggestions in so we can protect who we need to protect: the children. All I hope for, going forward, is for the Government to finally start listening to the people and hearing what the people are saying.” Mr Furbert thanked the protesters for sacrificing a week’s wages by participating in the demonstrations, adding that he had asked the Premier whether their time off work can be counted as paid vacation leave. Speaking to The Royal Gazette shortly after the announcement, Mr Dunkley called the agreement a “good deal”, adding: “The basic principles of the Bill are still there and the envisioned time frame isn’t too different.” Mr Dunkley denied that the Wednesday night resignation of Shawn Crockwell as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport had proven a tipping point for the Government in dealing with the Pathways furore. “That’s a separate matter,” he said. “Obviously Mr Crockwell was very frustrated through this whole approach, and I’m very disappointed to lose a colleague of that stature in Cabinet.” When questioned about the potential for negotiatory stalemates within the working group, he replied: “That is always a possibility, but I don’t think we’ll see that because of the genuine intent of everyone and the need for immigration reform. Sometimes democracy can be messy, and it always has to be a learning experience.” A further Government statement from Mr Dunkley revealed that MPs will next convene at the House of Assembly on Monday, rather than today as planned, as they prepare to pass the 2016/17 Budget. He added: “The agreement will see us press the reset button on the immigration reform schedule, setting the stage for wider input into the specific reform proposals. What has emerged is better community understanding of an issue that is critical to individual lives, our collective future and the meaning of our island home. We’re going to get back to the business of the people, working to restore security and prosperity for all Bermudians.” Late last night, a pro-Pathways group released a statement expressing its “disappointment” that the Bill had been withdrawn. A spokeswoman for We Support A Pathway to Bermuda Status added: “We still have hope that the Government is dealing with the important parts of the legislation in a staged approach. We will continue to monitor developments and to hold the Government and all community stakeholders accountable. We also hope that this will be an opportunity to improve the legislation.” Throughout the day, Mr Furbert addressed the crowd outside the House of Assembly, urging the protesters to be non-violent and courteous, and warned that anyone with alcohol would be asked to leave. He also apologized to four white children who he said came to Wednesday’s demonstration and were told they were not welcome. “It doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, pink or green. We made a call for all people. Those of you that have those kind of agendas, you can be gone. Get right off the Hill.” He later added: “Anybody that curses a white person and is caught, they are going to get a cut tail. You shouldn’t be doing that in this type of setting.” He said that “guest workers are invited to be here ... people should be careful about attacking those people.” Yesterday’s crowd was much smaller than on previous days. By 9.30 there were only some 300 demonstrators surrounding the House, including PLP MPs Walton Brown, Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert. Noting that commentators had questioned why police had not cracked down on the protesters, Mr Furbert said: “We are not doing anything to break the law, and the police are about protecting law and order. They are not going to be put in the middle of anything. They will not be used like that.” Before the Bill was withdrawn, a court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” was adjourned until next Thursday. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. In the case involving the Minister of Home Affairs versus the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, Crown counsel Gregory Howard told Dr Justice Kawaley there was “no evidence” that the named parties had been in violation of the incitement order, which was served on Friday last week. Announcing the adjournment, Dr Justice Kawaley said he wanted to “avoid a situation where the matter drifts without any mooring. " Yesterday’s events as they happened. 8.30am: The One Bermuda Alliance releases a statement saying Michael Dunkley, the Premier, retains the faith of his MPs in spite of the blistering attack and resignation from Cabinet from Shawn Crockwell. Fewer than 100 protesters, with a handful of police officers, mark a quiet start to the day outside the House of Assembly 9.30am: The crowd grows to about 300, including the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign, Chris Furbert of the Bermuda Industrial Union and a handful of Progressive Labour Party MPs — Walton Brown, Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert. 10.35am: Addressing the crowd, Mr Furbert says there are things to share that are “very disturbing”, adding that there were some people on the Hill who have been saying things they should not. He adds that if this behavior continues, those people will be identified and asked to leave. 10.40am: Mr Furbert says four white children came to yesterday’s demonstration and were told they were not welcome. Mr Furbert says he wants to apologize to the children, inviting them back. “It doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, pink or green. We made a call for all people. Those of you that have those kind of agendas, you can be gone. Get right off the hill.” 10.50am: Mr Furbert makes mention of the critical letter from backbencher Leah Scott, discussions with Sir John Swan, the former Premier, and last night’s resignation by Mr Crockwell. He says during the second march on Wednesday, the Police Commissioner thanked him for the behavior of the protesters. He says the Commissioner asked Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, if the House could be reconvened at 2pm rather than 10am tomorrow. Noting that commentators were questioning why police have not cracked down on the protesters, he says: “We are not doing anything to break the law, and the police are about protecting law and order. They are not going to be put in the middle of anything. They will not be used like that.” 11.05am: Mr Furbert says that dock workers have gone to unload refrigerated containers from the Bermuda Islander, but they would then return to the protest. He adds that the protesters should not agitate members of the public while marching, noting that there are white people participating. “Anybody that curses a white person and is caught, they are going to get a cut tail,” he says. “You shouldn’t be doing that in this type of setting.” He says that guest workers are invited to be here, saying people should be careful about attacking those people. 11.40am: The crowd now numbers about 400, much less than on previous protest days. 11.40am Grant Gibbons is announced as the interim Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, in addition to his role as Minister of Economic Development, following the resignation from Cabinet of Mr Crockwell. 12.30pm Numbers dip while protesters go to fetch lunch. The atmosphere is friendly and calm. 1.15pm: During a conference call with the Court Registrar, Mr Furbert was told there were concerns about the noise on the Hill. Meanwhile, Mr Furbert says, since there was no security issue, “we are not giving up the grounds tomorrow.” Mr Tweed says: “We have confirmed that during the time that court is in session, the House will not be in session. We have to remember our target was never the court. Our target was Parliament.” He says they were not helping their cause by inconveniencing the Court of Appeal. A second meeting between Mr Dunkley, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed is scheduled for 2.30pm 3.05pm: Sir John Swan, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed meet at BIU headquarters. 3.10pm: PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong takes the mic and thanks all those who have support the protest but says they are still waiting for an answer. “Mr Dunkley, we are waiting,” he says. He questions if the Premier will put the country ahead of the OBA’s political agenda. 3.15pm: The crowd is reminded once more not to drink alcohol on the grounds, with two groups of people reportedly removed for drinking. 3.40pm: Drummers play in front of the House of Assembly after making their way around the building. 3.50pm: The meeting at BIU has ended. Walton Brown tells The Royal Gazette: “At this point we’re very close to a resolution.” 4pm: More than 20 representatives from the group enter the Cabinet building. 4.30pm: Zane DeSilva and Derrick Burgess arrive at Cabinet. They wait outside the building. 5pm: The court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” has been brought to the Chief Justice’s chambers. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. In today’s hearing of the case involving the Minister of Home Affairs versus the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, Crown counsel Gregory Howard tells Dr Justice Kawaley there was “no evidence” that the named parties had been in violation of the incitement order, which was served on Friday last week. Noting that he wanted to “avoid a situation where the matter drifts without any mooring”, Dr Justice Kawaley arranges the next hearing for 2.30pm next Thursday. 5.20pm A press conference has been called for 5.45pm 6.10pm From the House of Assembly, Mr Furbert says: “We have an agreement but it’s for you to decide if it’s sufficient. We believe it is. I believe we’ve delivered what we were asked to deliver.” 6.12pm Mr Tweed tells the crowd: “The government will withdraw the Bill.” Massive cheers. Government promises consultative working group for Bill. 6.15pm: It is explained that the first stage will deal with children, to be tabled in House on May 13 — children who were born in Bermuda or who arrived here at an early age. The second stage will deal with PRCs of 15 years, which will be debated in the summer session. The crowd seems uncertain but Mr Tweed implores them to listen. The third stage will deal with status after 20 years, during the new session in House in November. Government will look into training opportunities for Bermudians. “All sides are committed to working for the betterment of Bermuda.” 6.20pm: Walton Brown says: “This agreement gives us everything we’ve been calling for in the last month. We will shape that consultative committee. I think that all of us who worked so hard and you the people have made this possible. All the power is with the people.” 6.25pm: Mr Furbert says: “We are where we need to be.” He promises “we’re certainly not going to be giving the country away”. “Let’s not tear apart all the good work that we’ve done over the last five days,” he adds. “Put your suggestions in so we can protect who we need to protect — the children.” He asks the people to put their hands up if they are in favor of the agreement. Lots of hands shoot up. Who is not in favour? A few hands go up. Mr Furbert thanks Sir John Swan. 6.30pm: A 89-year-old protester says: “I believe I should congratulate you, but there’s only one thing that I’m a bit perturbed about. That’s the point of status after 20 years. I think that needs more consideration given the size of this island.” He urges them to be “very careful what you agree to” when consulting in the future. He thanks businesses who helped and the police for their “mutual respect”. Mr Furbert says: “All I hope for going forward is for the government to finally start listening to the people — and hearing what the people are saying.” He shouts out to hunger striker Enda Matthie and thanks the people for sacrificing a week’s wages. He said he has asked the Premier if they could see if they can list the time they’ve taken off as vacation time, therefore paid. 6.40pm Mr Tweed says: “If there’s one regret, it’s that it took this long. But I hope that what we have achieved together will not be squandered. I believe that this is not just a victory for us, but for Bermuda.” He compares the situation to Joshua and the walls of Jericho. Hip-hip hoorays. Mr Tweed closes with a prayer and the protesters head to the BIU headquarters. 7pm: More than 500 march along Church Street, chanting “the people united will never be defeated”.
March 18. The fear of foreigners taking jobs from Bermudians is considered to be the top reason why registered voters oppose the Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status Bill. Meanwhile, the main reason given by people supporting the controversial legislation, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette, was: “It is the right thing to do.” Earlier this week, this newspaper reported how 56 per cent of voters were in favour of the Pathways bill, which has been the subject of industrial activity for the past week, with 29 per cent against it, and 15 per cent unsure. A breakdown of reasons provided by participants has now been released by Global Research, the company which carried out the telephone poll earlier this month. Of those in favour of the bill, 25 per cent said it was the right thing to do, with 16 per cent saying people born in Bermuda or contributing to the society should have the opportunity to get status. Another 16 per cent said long-term residents deserved rights and security, and another 16 per cent said it was an added revenue source during a tough economic period. Other reasons included human rights, the need to increase the population and to help international business. Of those opposing, 36 per cent said they were taking jobs from Bermudians, with another 15 per cent saying the island needed to take care of its own citizens and future generations. Other reasons were that the island was too small, more information was needed on the subject, it will mainly benefit expats and the One Bermuda Alliance was hurting Bermuda with its policies. The telephone poll of 400 Bermuda voters was conducted between March 7 and March 14.
March 18. The five-day protest has affected the arrival of goods into Bermuda by sea and forced one shipping line to charter another container vessel to ensure supplies from the east coast of the United States reach the island. Port workers temporarily returned to Hamilton Docks on Tuesday and Thursday to ensure that essential items including perishable produce and animal feed from the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander could be unloaded and delivered. However about 400 full and 200 empty containers remain on the dockside, some of which have been there since last Thursday. Meanwhile the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander both remain alongside in Hamilton with more than 150 full containers and other cargo on board. Neither vessel can leave until the full containers have been unloaded. As a result of the disruption the Oleander’s operators, Neptune group, have had to charter another container ship, the MV Birk, to bring in the next cargo of goods bound for Bermuda from the US. That vessel is expected to arrive in New Jersey on Sunday and make to Hamilton next Tuesday if the weather remains good. Warren Jones, chief executive of Stevedoring Services Limited, said: “Staff were on-site first thing Thursday morning to tie-up the Bermuda Islander, move the Oleander and discharge essential cargo. They completed this process by approximately 12pm. The Oleander, and now also the Bermuda Islander, sit alongside number 7 and 8 berths in order to be discharged once the present situation is resolved. Approximately 150 containers and other cargo remain on-board the two ships.”
March 18. The Government has told one of the people featured in its Pathways to Status publicity campaign to hire a lawyer to find out if she already has the right to Bermudian status. Nicole Fubler, 21, appeared on a flyer issued last month by the Ministry of Home Affairs in support of the proposed immigration reform. The description accompanying her photograph said she was born in Bermuda to a Bermudian father and Jamaican mother and her father died when she was just five months old. “Despite having lived here all her life, and having a Bermudian brother, she is neither Bermudian nor a permanent resident certificate holder,” said the flyer. “She is also unable to work, which she says puts a strain on her mother as the sole breadwinner of the householder ... She has no passport at all, making her unable to leave Bermuda.” The flyer went on: “Under the Proposed Pathways legislation, Nicole would be granted Bermudian status and finally be able to travel, study abroad and work in Bermuda.” The flyer does not detail why the CedarBridge Academy graduate is currently ineligible for status and a request by The Royal Gazette for a full explanation from the Ministry of Home Affairs was stonewalled. Researcher LeYoni Junos said she was perplexed since amendments to various laws appear to suggest Ms Fubler is already eligible for status. Under the Immigration and Protection Act 1956, anyone born in Bermuda to a Bermudian parent should enjoy Bermudian status themselves. Although Ms Fubler’s parents were not married at the time of her birth, a 2002 amendment to the Children Act 1998, which came into force in 2004, removed any distinction in law between children born in or out of wedlock. According to Ms Junos, that amendment led to the removal of a clause in the Immigration Act which required children to be born in wedlock to gain status if only one parent was Bermudian. It also led to the removal of another clause relating to the domicile or status of the mother alone being used to determine whether or not a child could acquire status. Ms Fubler was born before both clauses were removed from the Immigration Act but the Children Act states that the abolition of the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children applies to “any statutory provision made before, on or after the day this part comes into operation”. Ms Junos said her layman’s interpretation of the law was that the Children Act amendment was retroactive, meaning Ms Fubler had been eligible for Bermudian status since she was nine years old. And she suggested that the Bermuda Government had misinformed the public by using Ms Fubler in its Pathways campaign. “If what they have said is true about her circumstances, then Miss Fubler is entitled to a declaration that she has had Bermudian status since the day she was born. Any Minister of Immigration, since 2004, could have granted Miss Fubler the Bermudian status that should have been her legal right at birth. Miss Fubler does not need a ‘Pathway to Status’. She already has one.” A Home Affairs spokeswoman did not provide an explanation for why exactly Ms Fubler was ineligible. She said: “We have advised Ms Fubler to take legal advice. But up to now she has not had success in her endeavors to gain Bermuda status.” Questions about how many applications had been submitted and rejected by Ms Fubler went unanswered.
March 18. New Bermuda name Chubb has announced its management team on the island. Chubb, the new name for the combined Ace and Chubb insurance companies, will be headed by Joseph Clabby as division president, Bermuda and global accounts. A spokesman for Chubb said: “In his Bermuda role, Mr Clabby has executive operating responsibility for the Bermuda-based commercial property and casualty insurance business that writes high-excess liability, property, political risk and directors and officers coverages worldwide.” New appointments by Chubb are April Andruczyk, who is senior vice-president, head of excess liability. Philippe Bacon has been named as senior vice-president, head of financial lines, while Richard Porter has been appointed senior vice-president, general counsel. Mr Porter has taken over as general counsel from Joshua Schwartz, who has left Bermuda to join Chubb’s legal operations in the US. Price Lowenstein will continue in his role as division president, Sovereign Risk Insurance Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary set up to underwrite political risk insurance. Judy Gonsalves will continue as executive vice-president and chief underwriting officer, with leadership responsibility for liability, property and financial lines. Robert Rebellato will continue as senior vice-president, head of excess property and Allison Towlson will remain as senior vice-president with responsibility for distribution and operations for all lines of business. The senior vice-president, chief financial officer role will continue to be occupied by George Ohsiek, while Jeff Trimarchi will keep his senior vice-president, claims and claims counsel post. John Lupica, vice-chairman of Chubb and president of North America major accounts and speciality insurance said: “Our Bermuda insurance operation, with 30 years of experience in the excess marketplace, is a significant contributor to Chubb North America’s operating results. “Our leadership team has deep knowledge of the market, solid broker relationships and a solutions-focused approach to our clients’ priorities. We expect that this strong leadership team in Bermuda will continue to drive superior results for the new Chubb organization.” Ace completed its takeover of Chubb in January and the firm is expected to become Chubb Bermuda in the second quarter of this year, although Chubb branding has already appeared on the company’s Hamilton headquarters. Chubb is the world’s largest publicly-traded property and casualty insurance company, with operations in 54 countries. The company has executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations and employs around 30,000 worldwide.
March 17. Tourists commenting on a popular travel website have questioned if they should change their plans as a result of the ongoing labour unrest. While some contributors on TripAdvisor’s Bermuda forum said they had been “severely impacted” by the events, others urged potential visitors not to be put off. The “buses and ferries not running” thread was started on Tuesday by a contributor from Boston calling themselves “9thtimes”, who questioned how long the island’s public transportation would be shut down. That person said they had friends planning to visit next week “but they are not sure if they should change their plans to another destination”. While some contributors suggested that the protests should come to an end soon, others explained the situation and impact the events were having on tourists and locals. “BostonYaYa” wrote on Tuesday that they were in their sixth week of an eight-week stay in St George’s and described the situation as “very, very sad to see. We planned bus trips this week to the dockyards to meet a local artist to commission a work, a trip to Hamilton to watch a concert and donate to the cause sponsoring the concert — and then eat dinner in a local restaurant. Instead, we cannot move and we are developing a very sour taste.” Meanwhile, “Rebecca R” said yesterday that she and her husband had been in Bermuda on a two-week trip but had to leave early “thanks to the transportation mess. I suggest you reschedule unless you’re willing to invest a lot in taxis,” she added. And “expat52” from the Netherlands wrote on Tuesday: “We have been on the island for eight days with another eight to go. Our plans are seriously impacted. Having initially thought we had found the perfect holiday destination, we would now seriously think twice before considering visiting again. There are plenty of affordable destinations that are far more welcoming and a lot less expensive.” The commenter added yesterday: “It is hard to relax and enjoy a vacation when there is tension in the air. This week feels rather different to last when I thought I had arrived in heaven.” But “KDKSAIL” from the United States responded that “the issues in question deeply affect Bermudians and their futures — individually and nationally — and go well beyond the convenience or inconvenience of the vacationing tourists. Canceling a trip is certainly any traveler's prerogative,” the contributor wrote, “but an overreaction to the current situation and circumstance.” “Doug K” from Massachusetts, added: “To be fair, tourists are not their concern presently; it’s the future of those living and working there as residents.” One commenter, “travelpatty” from Townshend, Vermont, asked if there were any safety concerns. This drew a mixed reaction with some suggesting people avoid the areas where the protests were happening. Contributor “Matt_UGA” suggested those who were able to should get a refund and cancel their trips. “The Government is shut down until Friday when they will try and reconvene. You shouldn’t have any safety concerns provided you stay away from downtown. Going there during the protest probably won’t result in physical violence but you will definitely have protesters yelling at you. This happened to me.” But most insisted the protests were “peaceful”. AK0620”, from Boston, wrote: “My husband and I are on the island currently for vacation. We were wandering around Hamilton today and walked right by it. If we hadn’t of known about the situation, we honestly would’ve thought it was a reggae festival of some sort. We felt perfectly safe. We are having to eat more taxi fares than we like and probably won’t make it to some further out destinations we wanted to see, but we’re still having a great time and wouldn’t have cancelled if we knew ahead of time.” Meanwhile, others offered to assist visitors or detailed the helpful nature of Bermudians. “Markbermudagooner” wrote: “Please do not change your plans. If you need any assistance just let me know as I can help.” Attention was also drawn to an advisory issued yesterday by the United States Consulate General in Bermuda, who said: “The demonstrations have been largely peaceful but as general guidance, we urge citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations and ask that they exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.” The Bermuda Tourism Authority yesterday apologized for any inconvenience experienced by guests because of the unrest, but stressed that there had been no reports of arrests or violence. “Since March 11, peaceful demonstrations have been held on the island surrounding proposed immigration legislation. This has resulted in labour issues affecting public bus and ferry services,” Glenn Jones, the director of public and stakeholder relations, said. “The peaceful demonstrations have been confined to the City of Hamilton and there has been no reports of violence or arrests. Although visitors are still enjoying their Bermuda experience, we apologize for any inconvenience these labour issues are having on other guests. We are optimistic a resolution will be reached soon. Visitors are advised to use private transport to get around the island in the interim. Private transport information is available on our website or by calling the Visitor Information Centre at 441-295-1480.”
March 18. The first 35 luxury villas and a marina capable of berthing superyachts will be ready for the America’s Cup next year, Morgan’s Point chief Craig Christensen said last night. Mr Christensen, the chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan’s Point Ltd, was speaking after the upmarket Ritz-Carlton chain yesterday confirmed it will operate a $400 million-plus luxury hotel and residences on the Morgan’s Point site in the west end. Mr Christensen said: “We are looking at opening in 2018 — but we will have some residences and the marina completed by 2017.” He added: “This is a huge vote of confidence in Bermuda — Ritz-Carlton did a full due diligence survey.” Ritz-Carlton will operate under a long-term management agreement with George’s Bay Hotel and George’s Bay Residences, arms of Morgan’s Point Ltd. Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of Ritz-Carlton, said: “We have watched Bermuda as a destination closely for many years and believe the timing has never been better to introduce what will be a one of a kind, luxury experience to the Island. We are delighted to work with such an esteemed partner as George’s Bay Hotel Ltd and we are confident that the resort will offer the most sophisticated traveller an exciting new destination to experience through the eyes of Ritz-Carlton Reserve.” Mr Christensen said: “This collaboration resonates with the vision that we have for our development and we are thrilled that this stunning setting lends itself to the Reserve promise of sophistication, seclusion and engaging experiences. This announcement, combined with the confidence of Ritz-Carlton in our beautiful island is meaningful to all Bermudians as it helps to elevate the allure of the destination and enhance the future of tourism.” When completed, the development will have a 79-suite hotel, with two presidential suites, and a total of 161 residences. Mr Christensen said: “They will be very high-end branded luxury condos.” The Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand is at the top end of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s extensive list of 91 luxury hotels, with the number expected to have increased to 100 by the end of this year. The Morgan’s Point site, once the site of the US Naval Annex, is a 250-acre peninsula extending into the Great Sound and has more than two-and-a-half miles of coastline. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company said its Reserve brand is “for travelers seeking to discover a singular location and peerless resort that, through its design and services, has a distinctive personality that blends together the culture, history and heritage of its setting. The Reserve brand extension will be distinguished from other award-winning resorts by offering guests exotic, hand-selected ‘hideaway’ destinations globally, a relaxed, casually elegant atmosphere and an even greater level of individualized service through a higher staff to guest ratio.” The Ritz-Carlton Reserve chain includes Phulay Bay in Thailand, Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico and the Mandapa in Bali. A further Reserve hotel, Puerto Los Cabos in Mexico, is expected to open in two years’ time. The Royal Gazette reported in 2015 that Ritz-Carlton appeared to have been selected to operate the new hotel after Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, told the House of Assembly that Morgan’s Point Ltd had confirmed Ritz-Carlton’s involvement.
March 17. Grant Gibbons has been appointed acting Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, in the wake of Shawn Crockwell’s resignation last night. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, announced the appointment this morning in a statement that said Dr Gibbons would take on the responsibilities in addition to his economic development portfolio. He will serve in the role until the Premier “appoints a full-time minister in short order”. Mr Crockwell, the One Bermuda Alliance’s MP for Southampton West Central, has confirmed that he will continue to serve as a government backbencher.
March 17. Former Premier Sir John Swan said he was compelled to bring together the Bermuda Government and union representatives to form a constructive dialogue over immigration reform because his country is in a “perilous state”. Sir John, who was Home Affairs Minister during the 1981 General Strike, initiated a meeting between the two parties, as well as representatives from the international business community yesterday afternoon at Cabinet, in the hope they could work towards a resolution. Speaking to The Royal Gazette shortly after the meeting, Sir John said: “I played a role then [in 1981] and my role today has been very simple — it is to get the parties together and see if they can resolve their issues. The country is in a perilous state, not only in terms of its economics and social conditions which means that people will not be able to get the help they have been getting and if things deteriorate then people get laid off and so forth. We are heading into a tourist season and I just felt that if I could help to bring parties together without any interference other than trying to facilitate it maybe there is some way in which there could be grounds for some kinds of accommodation.” Sir John drew some comparisons with today’s protests that have seen four days of work stoppages by civil servants but said Bermuda’s current situation is quite different than in the past. “You had two parties that had an impasse. Often it was the result of misunderstanding — one has information about something and you have to bring the information process together to arrive at a conclusion and then determine whether the parties could live with it. In 1981, the whole country was on strike — the hotels were closed, the airport was not functioning, the cab services were not running ... the consequences were complex. The world has changed — in the Eighties we didn’t have the debt we have now, we didn’t have the international rating agencies on our back, we didn’t have the level of unemployment and the level of debt. The equation today is far more formidable — the disruption today has a whole lot of consequences not only for the government but for the public at large.” Sir John said he was hopeful a resolution could be met adding: “I am very hopeful that can happen but we will have to wait and see, won’t we? The meeting was a cordial, constructive, forthright discussion with a view to seeing whether any progress can be made. Everybody is looking for a solution and a solution that everyone can live with and justify.” Asked whether he will be involved in the resolution going forward, Sir John added: “I will be at the will and the wish of the request of either party if they so desire my service.”
March 17. For the fifth day, demonstrators have gathered outside the House of Assembly in protest against the proposed Pathways to Status legislation. A crowd of about 400 was in place by midday, having steadily risen throughout the morning. Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, has made several calls to the crowd to keep their behavior in check, warning that anybody cursing white people will get a “cut tail” and stressing that guest workers are welcome to attend the demonstration. Government MPs have been meeting in recent days to discuss the dispute and, more recently, the resignation of Shawn Crockwell from the post of Minister of Tourism Development and Transport. Grant Gibbons, the economic development minister, will take on Mr Crockwell’s portfolio on a temporary basis. At just before 8.30am, the One Bermuda Alliance followed up Michael Dunkley’s statement on the Crockwell resignation, with the significant aside that the Premier retains the faith of his fellow MPS. The statement, authored by party chairwoman Lynne Woolridge, reads as follows: “At a meeting of One Bermuda Alliance parliamentarians yesterday afternoon minister Shawn Crockwell announced his resignation from the Cabinet. I would like to thank him for his excellent work in tourism and transport, and value his continued participation as a Member of Parliament for the One Bermuda Alliance. It was heartening that all MPs pledged their full support for the Premier as the leader of Bermuda and the One Bermuda Alliance.” Today’s events as they happened: 8.30am: The One Bermuda Alliance releases a statement saying Michael Dunkley, the Premier retain the faith of his MPs in spite of the blistering attack and resignation from Cabinet from Shawn Crockwell. Fewer than 100 protesters, with a handful of police officers, mark a quiet start to the day outside the House of Assembly 9.30am:The crowd has grown to about 300. Along with the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign and Chris Furbert of the Bermuda Industrial Union, a small handful of Progressive Labour Party MPs are present, including Walton Brown, Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert. 9.30am: Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed leave the area for another session of discussions, walking towards Church Street. 10.25am: Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed return to the House to the applause of supporters. 10.35am: Addressing the crowd, Mr Furbert says there are things to share that are “very disturbing”, adding that there are some people on the hill who have been saying things they should not. He adds that if the behavior continues, those people will be identified and asked to leave. 10.40am: After a prayer, led by Mr Tweed, Mr Furbert says: “Apparently yesterday we were having a conversation about children. It shouldn’t be our children versus their children.” He says four white children came to yesterday’s demonstration and were told they were not welcome. Mr Furbert says he wishes to apologize to the children, inviting them back. “It doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, pink or green. We made a call for all people. Those of you that have those kind of agendas, you can be gone. Get right off the hill.” 10.50am: He notes developments including the critical letter from backbencher Leah Scott, discussions with Sir John Swan, the former Premier and last night’s resignation by Mr Crockwell. Mr Furbert says, during the second march, there were efforts by the Police Commissioner to reach him. He says he responded, saying he would be happy to have a conversation this morning. During this morning’s meeting, the Commissioner thanked him for the behavior of the protesters, and he was told the Court of Appeal has to meet tomorrow, asking that a “window” could be arranged. He says the Commissioner asked Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, if the House could be reconvened at 2pm rather than 10am. While some in the audience boo at the reference to the Speaker, Mr Furbert says the Commissioner had done the right thing. He says the hope remains that the bill is withdrawn today, noting that the Premier said a letter would be sent today. “If the speaker says the House is going to convene at 2pm and all the proceedings finish at 1pm, then there’s a window for the OBA to get in the House,” Mr Furbert says. The commissioner, however, says that the police would not be a part of such an action. “They are trying to work with us, not against us, because we said while we understand the issue of security on the grounds, maybe we could be outside the grounds,” he says. “I think this is a situation where we are working together.” Noting commentators questioning why police have not cracked down on the protesters, he says: “We are not doing anything to break the law, and the police are about protecting law and order. They are not going to be put in the middle of anything. They will not be used like that.” 11am: Mr Furbert refers to the meeting with government leaders yesterday afternoon, saying that some people have said they should not have gone to the meeting. “That works against us,” he says. He adds that another meeting is scheduled for this afternoon, and Sir John Swan has asked if he could come by and talk this afternoon. “All we have to do is what we have done for the last four days. Be patient. Because every day something happens that benefits our cause.” 11.05am: Mr Furbert says that dock workers have gone to unload refrigerated containers from the Bermuda Islander, but they would then return to the protest. He adds that the protesters should not agitate members of the public while marching, noting that there are white people participating. “Anybody that curses a white person and is caught, they are going to get a cut tail,” he says. “You shouldn’t be doing that in this type of setting.” He says that guest workers are invited to be here, saying people should be careful about attacking those people. He concluded his speech saying that they would come together again early this afternoon to decide what to do tomorrow, given the request of the police commissioner. 11.40am: The crowd now numbers about 400, much less than on previous protest days. Grant Gibbons is announced as the interim Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, in addition to his role as Minister of Economic Development, following the resignation from Cabinet of Shawn Crockwell last night. 11.45am: Music continues to play as Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed do another circuit of the House, surrounded by a small group of supporters. 12.30pm: Numbers have dipped while protesters go to fetch lunch. The atmosphere is friendly and calm. 1.15pm: During a conference call with the Court Registrar, Mr Furbert was told there were concerns about the noise on the Hill. Meanwhile, Mr Furbert said, since there was no security issue, “we are not giving up the grounds tomorrow.” He said efforts would be made to make everyone feel safe, including those who have official business in Supreme Court. Mr Tweed said: “We have confirmed that during the time that court is in session, the House will not be in session. We have to remember our target was never the court. Our target was Parliament.” He said they were not helping their cause by inconveniencing the Court of Appeal. A second meeting between Mr Dunkley, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed is still scheduled for 2.30pm 3pm: Earth Hour celebrations will go ahead as planned on Saturday, according to a press release from organizers. 3.05pm: Sir John Swan, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed are in a meeting at BIU headquarters. 3.10pm: PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong takes the mic and thanks all those who have support the protest but says they are still waiting for an answer. “Mr Dunkley, we are waiting,” he says. He questions if the Premier will put the country ahead of the OBA’s political agenda. He leads the crowd in a chant of “withdraw the bill” before the music resumes. 3.15pm:The crowd is reminded once more not to drink alcohol on the grounds, with two groups of people reportedly having to be removed for drinking, a speaker says. 3.25pm:A letter from 28-year-old Chardonne Paynter, who has an MBA in public relations and communications, is read to the crowd. The letter details Ms Paynter’s “unemployment history and discontent with the new Pathway to Status proposal”. 3.40pm: Drummers are playing in front of the House of Assembly after making their way around the building. 3.50pm: The meeting at BIU has ended. Walton Brown told The Royal Gazette: “At this point we’re very close to a resolution.” The group are making their way towards the Cabinet building. Sir John Swan, who has been involved with negotiations, declined to comment. 4.00pm: More than 20 representatives from the group have entered the Cabinet building. 4.30pm: Zane DeSilva and Derrick Burgess have arrived at Cabinet. They are waiting outside the building. 4.45pm: A speaker tells the protesters at the House of Assembly that their leaders should be coming in the next ten to fifteen minutes “so hold tight”. 5pm: The court hearing to determine the legality of immigration reform protesters’ “withdrawal of labour” has been brought to the Chief Justice’s chambers this afternoon, this newspaper can report. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley had previously said it was “strongly arguable” that those shunning work to demonstrate were breaching section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. In today’s hearing of the case involving the Minister of Home Affairs versus the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, Crown counsel Gregory Howard told Dr Justice Kawaley there was “no evidence” that the named parties had been in violation of the incitement order, which was served on Friday last week. Noting that he wanted to “avoid a situation where the matter drifts without any mooring”, Dr Justice Kawaley arranged the next hearing for 2.30pm next Thursday. 5pm: A press conference will be held in Cabinet at 5.45pm. 6pm: The press conference venue has been switched to the hill on the House of Assembly. 6.05pm: The group, along with Sir John Swan, the former Premier, have arrived on the hill to whistling, cheering and drumming. 6.10pm: Mr Furbert tells the crowd: “We have an agreement but it’s for you to decide if it’s sufficient. We believe it is. I believe we’ve delivered what we were asked to deliver.” Mr Tweed reads the letter from government, stating: “The government will withdraw the bill.” This prompts massive cheers from the crowd. A consultative working group for the bill is also promised. 6.15pm: It is explained that the first stage will deal with children, to be tabled in House on May 13 — children who were born in Bermuda or who arrived here at an early age. The second stage will deal with PRCs of 15 years, which will be debated in the summer session. Crowd seems uncertain but Mr Tweed implores them to listen. The third stage will deal with status after 20 years, during the new session in House in November. Government will look into training opportunities for Bermudians. “All sides are committed to working for the betterment of Bermuda.” 6.20pm: Walton Brown says: “This agreement gives us everything we’ve been calling for in the last month. We will shape that consultative committee. I think that all of us who worked so hard and you the people have made this possible. All the power is with the people.” 6.25pm: Mr Furbert says: “We are where we need to be.” He promises “we’re certainly not going to be giving the country away”. “Let’s not tear apart all the good work that we’ve done over the last five days,” he adds. “Put your suggestions in so we can protect who we need to protect — the children.” He asks the people to put their hands up if they are in favor of the agreement. Lots of hands shoot up. Who is not in favour? A few hands go up. Mr Furbert thanks Sir John Swan. 6.30pm: A 89-year-old protester says: “I believe I should congratulate you, but there’s only one thing that I’m a bit perturbed about. That’s the point of status after 20 years. I think that needs more consideration given the size of this island.” He urges them to be “very careful what you agree to” when consulting in future. He thanks businesses who helped and the police for their “mutual respect”. Mr Furbert says: “All I hope for going forward, is for the government to finally start listening to the people — and hearing what the people are saying.” He shouts out to hunger striker Enda Matthie and thanks the people for sacrificing a week’s wages. He said he has asked the Premier if they can see if they can list the time they’ve taken off as vacation time, therefore paid. 6.40pm: Mr Tweed says: “If there’s one regret, it’s that it took this long. But I hope that what we have achieved together will not be squandered. I believe that this is not just a victory for us, but for Bermuda.” He compared the situation to Joshua and the walls of Jericho. Hip-hip hoorays. Mr Tweed closes with a prayer and the protesters are now heading to the BIU headquarters. 7.00pm: More than 500 march along Church Street, chanting “the people united will never be defeated.”
March 17. The Morgan’s Point hotel development will carry the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand in 2018. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, announced plans to unveil its first Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort in Bermuda yesterday. Media reports state that the Southampton resort will operate under a long-term management agreement with George’s Bay Hotel Ltd and George’s Bay Residences Ltd. “We have watched Bermuda as a destination closely for many years and believe the timing has never been better to introduce what will be a one-of-a-kind, luxury experience to the island,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton. “We are delighted to work with such an esteemed partner as George’s Bay Hotel Ltd and we are confident that this resort will offer the most sophisticated travelers an exciting new destination to experience through the eyes of Ritz-Carlton Reserve.” The project will represent the third Reserve location to open in the region, following the opening of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in 2012, and the expected opening of Puerto Los Cabos, Ritz-Carlton Reserve in 2018. “This collaboration resonates with the vision that we have for our development and we are thrilled that this stunning setting lends itself to the Reserve promise of sophistication, seclusion and engaging experiences,” said Craig Christensen, president and chief operating officer of Morgan’s Point Ltd, the holding company of George’s Bay Hotel Ltd and George’s Bay Residences Ltd. “This announcement, combined with the confidence of The Ritz-Carlton in our beautiful island is meaningful to all Bermudians, as it helps to elevate the allure of the destination and enhance the future of tourism.” Earlier this week, Morgan's Point Ltd revealed that three local firms have stepped forward to provide crucial funding for the hotel development. The multimillion-dollar financing commitment from Arch Reinsurance Ltd, Axis Specialty Ltd and Validus Holdings Ltd will pave the way for construction of the five-star hotel resort development. The first round of funding was announced on Tuesday night as it emerged that work on the project had already started. The development on the former US Naval Operating Base will include a 79-room, high-end branded hotel complete with restaurants, retail shops and spa. It will also comprise 173 branded private residences and a mega-yacht marina that can accommodate 77 boats and 21 mega-yachts.
March 16. Hundreds of protesters marched through Hamilton twice today after the Bermuda Industrial Union and the People’s Campaign rejected an offer by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, to a series of concessions to Government’s controversial Pathways to Status plan. A meeting between protest leaders and Mr Dunkley, which former Premier Sir John Swan attended, finished with the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign suggesting that a resolution could soon be reached. Speaker of the House Randy Horton had adjourned today’s scheduled session until Friday but by 7am some 50 demonstrators had already gathered to continue their protests and by 9am the crowd had swelled to around 1,000. Mr Furbert told the crowd this morning: “I received a letter yesterday evening (from the Premier) . . . they are testing us. This issue is bigger than a furlough day, and this is directed to all employers, not just Government. “They are trying to play our children against their children, saying they want to make sure there is a pathway to status that everyone would agree with. They are setting us up. At least they are trying to set us up. That letter is going to the people.” Mr Furbert said it was “totally irresponsible” to release the letter to the media, saying the decision belonged to the people, not him.” BPSU chief Jason Hayward said: “Mr Premier we have listened to the contents of your letter. The people have heard it, digested it and rejected it. Please do not send any further communication to this Hill unless you’re communicating that the bill has been withdrawn.” It was then that the protesters moved to Court Street to begin their march, along Front Street, up to Church Street and back to the House, chanting “justice” and singing “We Shall Not Be Moved”. A second march took place through Hamilton late this afternoon, causing police to shut off major roads including Church Street at rush hour. The Progressive Labour Party, in a statement released just after midnight, made clear its objection to Mr Dunkley’s “olive branch”, which was contingent on the family and children pathways being implemented. “The position of the PLP remains the same,” Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, said. “That the OBA withdraw this Bill and take a bipartisan, comprehensive approach to immigration reform.” Bus and ferry services are still suspended. The Royal Gazette will provide updates on this story throughout the day: 9am: Despite occasional showers, hundreds of demonstrators have again gathered outside the House of Assembly for a fourth day. While the numbers are not as great as Monday, when more than 1,000 people marched on the House in protest of the controversial Pathways to Status legislation, crowds have still surrounded all entrances to the building, some huddled underneath umbrellas. 9.20am: Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign, have arrived at the House with a crowd of supporters. 9.30am: All of the demonstrators have gathered in a group around Mr Furbert, who is about to speak. 9.40am: Mr Furbert tells the protesters: “I received a letter yesterday evening. That letter was read on the news. They are testing us. This issue is bigger than a furlough day, and this is directed to all employers, not just Government. They are trying to play our children against their children, saying they want to make sure there is a pathway to status that everyone would agree with. We are not trying to deny them anything. I’m sitting at my desk and the phone rings. It’s a reporter with The Royal Gazette,” he said, adding that he had also been sent the letter. They are setting us up. At least they are trying to set us up. That letter is going to the people.” Mr Furbert said it was “totally irresponsible” to release the letter to the media, saying the decision belongs to the people, not him. “It’s for you to decide. You decide where we go after we read to you what’s in the letter.” 9.45am: Mr Tweed read the letter. “It maintains that everything they do is aimed at providing and decrying job opportunities for Bermudians, including the America’s Cup.” Mention of the letter prompts raucous laughter from the crowd. 9.50am: Jason Hayward takes the mike: “Mr Premier we have listened to the contents of your letter. The people have heard it, digested it and rejected it. Please do not send any further communication to this Hill unless you’re communicating that the Bill has been withdrawn.” Mr Furbert reminded his “brothers and sisters” that they are in control. He said: “There are high-profile people within the community that are trying to get this matter resolved. This matter has to be resolved on behalf of the country. I told them we are not going to the table without the people. The people have spoken and the people have to be involved. So there’s no way we’re going to meet with you without a representative of the people.” 9.55am: Mr Furbert said they must go to the table with a minimum of ten people. He said: “We’re going down there not for the Premier, not for the OBA government, but for the people. It doesn’t cost the Government one dollar to hold this Bill for a while.” He added: “If they want to take me to jail. Let them take me to jail. If they want to handcuff my mouth like that, I may as well put down this mike.” He told the crowd that now was the time to demonstrate and asked anyone with weapons, alcohol or drugs in their possession to leave now. They applauded the efforts of the Bermuda Police Service. “We have been law abiding citizens and we want to keep it that way.” Mr Furbert added: “It has to be about us and how we get the result for our children and our children’s children. When I think about this country and where we are, I get a bit emotional. You know why? Because it hurts.” Mr Furbert is crying. He’s trying to tell the crowd about his love for his 15-year-old daughter. “She wants to be involved because she understands what it’s about.” He criticizes the Minister of Finance for cutting the budgets for education and seniors while raising the tourism allowance. “This country is being taken away from us,” he said. 10.15am: The crowd are now marching north up Parliament Street, making their way to Court Street. They are now on Front Street, chanting “Justice”. They being led by the children in the group. 10.20am: Front Street has been closed to traffic. 10.50am: The marchers are touring the city, and are now heading back to the House of Assembly. 10.55am: They are chanting: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now,” and singing “We shall not be moved.” 11.20: The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport confirms that there would be no bus or ferry services until further notice, as a result of the industrial action. “The Ministry apologizes for this development and will keep the public advised of the status of service. In the interim, please note that other available transportation includes the island’s taxi services listed in the telephone directory and the minibuses. 11.25am: Around 1,500 protesters have arrived at the House. Brandishing flags and banners, they are chanting: “Reject the bill on the hill.” 11.40am: Mr Furbert said they would be marching again this afternoon. The children will lead, followed by seniors and then the rest. Mr Furbert added: “If you didn’t know before that it was a national issue when you have international press calling, you know now. The Premier likes to say, ‘I’m listening’. But is he hearing? They’re telling us we need to find a pathway for these individuals that have been here for 20 years, but in the Premier’s letter he’s telling us they’ve gone home.” He confirmed a meeting between himself, elected representatives and the Premier would take place at 1pm 11.45am: Mr Tweed told the crowd: “When the people hurt, the island suffers. I’m not going to be drawn into an us and them. One community ought not be more valued than another. Despite the disparities in wealth, progress in this island was built on the backs of our ancestors. It is the blood of our ancestors that has drained into the soil of this island. We are deeply opposed to being taken advantage of and being pushed back anymore. We are committed to a process that will be to the benefit of everyone on this island.” 11.55am: Mr Furbert urged the crowd to stand their ground and not return to work. He said delaying was a “divide and conquer” tactic used by the Government. He said: “If it is about a dollar, what are you prepared to sell your child’s future for?” 12.15am: A bag for cash donations is being walked around the House. The crowd seeks shelter from the rain. 1pm: The Premier and Mr Furbert are meeting at Cabinet. Arnold Smith has addressed the crowd, reminding them that they were there for one reason only and that is to have the Bill withdrawn. 1.50pm: The United States Consulate General in Hamilton urges its citizens to stay away from the demonstration areas. “The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but as general guidance, we urge citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations, and ask that they exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the Consulate says in a statement. 2pm: There will be no garbage collection today due to industrial action, the Ministry of Public Works has confirmed. Residents are encouraged to take their trash to the Tyne’s Bay public drop-off which will be open daily from 8am to 7pm for the rest of the week. The Marsh Folly Depot, Government Quarry and Airport Disposal Site are also not operating today. 2.15pm: The doors to Cabinet remain firmly closed as Mr Dunkley meets with Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed. A few select people have gained access to the building over the past hour including senator Jeff Baron. 2.30pm: Education minister Wayne Scott turns up to Cabinet but says he is not there to join the negotiating table. 2.45pm: Representatives from the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Bermuda International Companies have emerged from the Cabinet Building, but have given no comment on how discussions unfolded. 2.55pm: A general meeting of the West Indian Association of Bermuda has been called for this Saturday at the Manchester Unity Hall. The agenda includes discussing its position on Pathways to Status. 3pm: Sir John Swan, the former Premier, emerges from Cabinet to say: “We have had a long discussion about the matter but it is obviously confidential. I can say the discussions were cordial, productive and informative with the idea that we seek to resolve this as best we can. We have agreed to consult later with representatives and organisations.” Sir John says they will update further when they can. 3.10pm: The crowd moves back to the House of Assembly grounds, where Mr Tweed addresses them to say: “We may have reached a point where a resolution is in sight.” 3.15pm: Mr Furbert tells the crowd outside House of Assembly they had met with Sir John this morning and spoke with him for the last two hours. “If we don’t talk, we won’t get a resolution,” he says. Mr Tweed says their meeting covered the whole range of issues. They demanded the Bill be withdrawn. “I believe there is potential for a resolution. I would respectfully say that the less detail I expose, the better it will be.” Waiting to hear back from other parties and hopeful it will be good news. 3.20pm: Crystal Caesar of IRAG says: “We expect a cordial resolution to this cause.” Arnold Smith tells the crowd: “brothers and sisters, it is not over yet. We are going to march at 4.30.” 3.25pm: Mr Tweed says discussions were extensive. Addressing the crowd he said: “We made it clear that fundamentally to move forward the Bill would have to be withdrawn. I believe there is a potential resolution and way forward. Hopefully a decision will be made in the best interests of all Bermudians. We are hopeful it will be good news.” Mr Furbert said that now they await a response from the Government and expects that that will come by Friday. 3.28pm: Speaking of some of the issues laid out by Government yesterday, including the promise of a living wage, Mr Furbert said: “These are things we expect Government to be doing anyway” rather than them being tied to immigration reform, hence they were not part of the negotiations. He said he had made it clear that “if we can’t talk there is no resolution. This is a matter of national urgency.” 4.15pm: The rain has started pouring 15 minutes before the protesters are scheduled to begin their march. 4.40: Mr Furbert says 25 per cent of the money collected could go to hunger striker Enda Matthie “for the sacrifices she’s made”. Crowd agrees. 4.45pm: Protesters are marching down Church Street, chanting “Take it off the table.” The march is heading onto Front Street, via King Street, led by the Gombey drummers. 5.30pm: The march heads up Bermudiana Road. Police clear Church Street as protesters approach, passing City Hall. 5.45pm: The protesters walk past the House of Assembly and are waiting to go down Court Street, seemingly on their way back to BIU headquarters. 6pm: Marchers are now back at Union Square. 6.10pm: Mr Furbert marks the end of another day of protesting by telling the crowd: “See you tomorrow.”
March 16. With tensions surrounding immigration reform threatening to boil over, the Bermuda Government last night offered a series of concessions to its controversial Pathways to Status initiative. The announcement came shortly before the House of Assembly session scheduled for today, which was due to feature a debate on the legislation opposed by hundreds of protesters, was adjourned until Friday by Speaker of the House Randy Horton. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, announced he had contacted Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert to lay out the concessions. They would include a three-month delay on implementation of the “15-year pathway” — allowing those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency — which he revealed had caused the most widespread concern. In the meantime, a working group would be established “comprising representatives from various stakeholders”. The group would offer recommendations on this matter as well as a living wage and training requirements for Bermudians, unscrupulous business tactics that undermine Bermudian labour and summer job opportunities for Bermudians via the international business sector. However, Mr Dunkley underlined his desire to shore up children and family pathway issues “in short order”. He said that there was general agreement on both sides of the debate that immigration reform legislation needs to address children who are born in Bermuda or arrived here at a young age, those who have remained on the island for 20-plus years and mixed-status families. Mr Dunkley also highlighted the Government’s continued commitment to Pathways, as well as its belief that the Bill is in Bermuda’s best interest. “Everything that we have done is aimed squarely at investing in our people and in job opportunities for Bermudians,” he said. He also downplayed suggestions that the OBA was hoping to bolster the island’s white populace in order to secure more votes. How new Bermudians may vote plays no part in our policymaking process,” Mr Dunkley said. Notwithstanding this, the Government would be committed to discussing questions pertaining to the timing of voting rights and implementation date of the 20-year status pathway.” The Premier criticised protesters’ decision to physically block MPs from entering the House of Assembly on Monday by forming a human barricade, calling the move “simply unacceptable behavior. This government is always willing to listen. We have always said that we take no issue with people expressing their democratic right to voice their opinions and have their views heard. But bolting the doors of the House posed a danger to everyone inside the building and the disruption also prevented the courts from being able to go about their business, with several trials having to be moved.” Mr Dunkley ended his correspondence on a conciliatory note. Noting that the past few days had been “challenging” for the island, he added: “The discourse and the tensions regarding immigration reform have been distressing for many in Bermuda. The decisions we make as a government have always been taken with the best interests of Bermuda at heart. Yet, we recognise that if we are to achieve any progress, we must address this issue collaboratively, for the greater good of Bermuda and for our future generations.” When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Furbert declined to comment on the matter. However, earlier in the day he had detailed his previous discussions with the OBA to the crowd of protesters at Sessions House. “The Government (said) they would take everything else off the table, or put it on hold, and we can deal with the children part of it. We said no. The whole Bill has to be taken off the table.” Last night, Opposition leader Marc Bean described the announcement that the House of Assembly would remain adjourned until Friday as most surprising and unusual. “We can only hope that this is not a desperate attempt by the OBA to delay answering to the people of Bermuda,” he said. “As the official Opposition we have not committed nor rejected any new approach put forward by Minister Fahy and Minister Moniz. The position of the PLP remains the same, that the OBA withdraw this bill and take a bipartisan, comprehensive approach to immigration reform. After rejecting the offer to form a Joint Select Committee on this matter, the OBA have made it abundantly clear that they are not willing to compromise nor negotiate as honest brokers. The PLP believed that a bipartisan comprehensive approach to immigration reform would address not only the immigration issues that have divided families, but will also address protecting Bermudians from being marginalized from jobs and opportunities in our own country. The issues surrounding immigration in Bermuda are complex and carry with them significant baggage from historical misuse and abuse of immigration policies. For that reason, we will continue to stand strong for an approach that is inclusive, addresses the full spectrum of issues and concerns surrounding immigration and that strengthens the job and economic security for Bermudians."
March 16. More than 20 containers full of “essential supplies” were unloaded and delivered to their destinations yesterday as port workers temporarily returned to work. Bermuda Industrial Union president, Chris Furbert, told protesters who gathered at the House of Assembly in the morning that it was “the right and responsible thing to do”. By 10.30am stevedores had begun unloading containers from the Oleander container ship, which arrived in Bermuda on Sunday afternoon. “We have to be accountable for the things we do,” said Mr Furbert. “We will take the essential items off. If they are unable to get the refrigerated containers off then the items inside will have to be thrown away. This is the right thing to do. We are not irresponsible. Nobody can ever accuse the people of Bermuda being irresponsible.” Mr Furbert confirmed that all 42 stevedores returned to work to ensure that essential supplies arrived at their destination. There are about 23-25 containers that need delivering,” he said. “Once those are delivered they will join back up with us.” Barry Brewer, president and CEO of the Neptune Group, which runs the Oleander, said another vessel has been chartered to enable Bermuda Container Line to provide services in the coming week. “The Oleander remains in port partially loaded with certain refrigerated and some essential cargo discharged. BCL’s Oleander will remain in Hamilton until the vessel is fully discharged and adequate empties for future cargo can be back loaded.” Meanwhile court staff and judges were allowed to gain access to Supreme Court 1 and the Court of Appeal yesterday, despite the presence of the protesters. Mr Furbert said: “Our goal on Monday was to keep MPs out of the House of Assembly. If people want to come and go to the court today just let them go. Tomorrow is going to be a different day because if MPs try to get back in the House the people can make the same decision as yesterday. Let’s not be confused about why we are here.” Warren Jones, chief executive of Stevedoring Services Limited, said: “We are thankful to our staff and the union executive for addressing essential cargo which was on the docks. In what is a very difficult and highly charged environment, staff met their commitment to the people of Bermuda by moving that which is most required. While we would all like things to be back to normal, this was a positive gesture which was appreciated by the management.”
March 16. Supermarkets were this week bracing themselves for some shortages, particularly imported fresh produce, as a result of a withdrawal of labour that has hit the docks. The movement of shipping containers came to a halt on Friday due to work stoppages connected to protests against Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status proposals. A fresh batch of containers were offloaded from the Oleander yesterday, but it was not immediately clear if they would be delivered or simply stacked alongside 200 containers that have been left at the dockside since the protest action commenced. As of yesterday some supermarkets were reporting dwindling stocks of certain fresh produce, and it is predicted more shortages will become apparent in the coming days unless the delivery situation changes. Wednesday is a popular grocery shopping day for many residents due to discounts offered by a number of retailers. “People will soon start to notice things running out,” said Frank Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Markets, explaining that the island’s supermarkets are set up for ‘just-in-time’ delivery. “If deliveries are out ‘x’ amount of days then the projections go out,” he said, noting that meat, chicken, fish and other fresh produce are particularly sensitive to delivery holdups. Mr Arnold said the supply situation was not yet critical, but people will notice a difference this week. Giorgio Zanol, president of Lindo’s Group of Companies, which owns the Lindo’s supermarkets in Warwick and Devonshire, said all the island’s supermarkets are in the same boat. He reported a few shelves were beginning to look bare, particularly in the fresh produce section. “Normally our containers come in on Monday morning so we have a good display of produce. That has not happened this week and has already meant some customers have been unable to buy certain produce. There will be some disappointed customers." The supermarket has a good supply of non-perishable goods, such as breakfast cereals and tinned items, which should last for anywhere between a week and a month depending on demand. “We just hope this thing is over soon,” added Mr Zanol, referring to the dispute. Gary Shuman, president of MarketPlace, the island’s largest chain of supermarkets, yesterday afternoon said it was too early to make a comment as there were conflicting reports on whether containers with perishable items were being released from the docks.
March 16. Deputy Opposition Leader David Burt has reiterated calls for Government to withdraw Pathways to Status immigration in favour of open and constructive consultation. “The approach taken by the Ministers Michael Fahy and Trevor Moniz thus far has caused discord in the community and heightened tensions to the point where many persons in our vital international business sector are justifiably worried. The Premier’s belated attempt at a ‘compromise’ falls far short of what is needed to end the impasse that continues to cripple the island. The Premier’s compromise amounts to letting the OBA pass their controversial Pathways to Status plan while temporarily delaying the implementation of some elements for three months — that is not a compromise as permanent residence and status are not temporary, they are permanent. It is a fundamental premise of public law that consultation must take place at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage. The OBA Government have not met that basic standard; therefore, they must engage in a proper consultation process, including a sustainability impact assessment, before any fundamental changes are made to Bermuda’s immigration laws.” Noting that the OBA had pledged it would engage in public consultation prior to amending immigration in the 2015 Throne Speech, he said that government needs to withdraw the legislation in a show of good faith as the first step in diffusing the situation. As a next step, he called on the government to hold public consultation on the issues of children born in Bermuda and mixed-status families so new legislation can be tabled this summer. “Most groups agree that those who know no other home but Bermuda through no choice of their own should be given certainty to live and work in Bermuda,” Mr Burt said. “However it is irresponsible to ask Parliament and the country to consider any such proposals on short order without the required public consultation that enables feedback and allows unintended consequences to be considered. Following this consultation, Parliament can debate a bill and resolve many of these complex issues before Cup Match.” Mr Burt added that further reforms, involving permanent residency and granting status to those who originally came to Bermuda on a time-limited work permit, would require genuine collaboration with all stakeholders, including the opposition, trade unions, business groups and other interested parties. “We have recommended a Bi-Partisan Joint Select Committee, on which the OBA members would still be in the majority, however the OBA have twice rejected that approach,” he continued. “Whatever form of consultation the government ultimately decides should result in a green paper examining the various options that will be published for public comment and will be debated in parliament. The business of the country is on hold, the country’s budget has not been passed, public services have been affected, trash continues to pile up on the streets, racial tension is escalating, community leaders have been threatened with arrest, and a brave woman is on a hunger strike. Is Sen Fahy’s agenda more important than Bermuda and our international reputation as a stable democracy? We again urge Premier Michael Dunkley to withdraw this bill so that the country can step back from the precipice. Our reputation as a stable democracy that keeps its word to the electorate and follows through on its Throne Speech commitments depends on his willingness to stand up to Sen Fahy.”
March 16. Shawn Crockwell quit as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport yesterday, telling The Royal Gazette he has lost confidence in the One Bermuda Alliance under Michael Dunkley. Last night, Mr Crockwell launched a stinging attack on the Premier and his party’s leadership, saying their lack of understanding of the black community has resulted in the tense demonstrations and industrial activity of the past week. He and many party colleagues had forewarned that unrest was brewing, Mr Crockwell said, but their advice had not been acted upon. He further accused Mr Dunkley of failing to rise above political posturing. The Southampton West Central MP added that he would stay with the OBA because he feared for the stability of the country if the ruling party loses numbers. He said: “This issue is reflective of the inability of the Government to listen and to appropriately gauge the temperature of the community, to understand the frustration and lack of trust that has been created. Time and time again, it’s not just the decisions that have been made but the manner in which they have been made, and the inability to communicate appropriately with the black community in particular, to bring them along and get them to understand what we have to do.” Mr Crockwell said his colleagues had also shown an “inability to put aside the political pride, listen and make the required adjustments. Our community has challenges when it comes to race and political trust. With the slim majority that the OBA has, we have not done a good job in navigating some of the difficult issues. So, as a member of Cabinet, if I feel that the leadership is not doing what it should be doing, if I lose confidence in its direction and methodology, then it is my responsibility to step aside. I have tried to lend my voice on certain issues in the room. More often than not my voice has been heard but it has not been adhered to. That is fine, but I felt that I could no longer serve under Premier Dunkley and the direction in which he is taking this country. We have a budget to pass. If the budget does not get passed, people do not get paid, Government cannot pay its bills, and that will bring about instability. I do not want to see this government or Bermuda destabilized, but this impasse that we are seeing right now could and should have been avoided. The Premier and others couldn’t even see it coming despite the fact that many of us did. When it came, it could have been resolved quickly, but it wasn’t. So we are now on the brink of civil unrest because of the management style of this government. And this is just one issue. There are many other issues that could and should have been avoided. And so for that I felt compelled to resign.” Explaining why he will remain with the OBA, Mr Crockwell said: “If the OBA starts to lose numbers then you have an unstable government. You may not have a government at all. So it’s important that we have continuity and move forward, but I cannot support the direction and leadership of this government. I am very concerned and feel as if we are going backwards. This is 2016 and this issue is clearly divided along racial lines. The challenge is that we have a majority black electorate and they want to feel as if their government is listening, has empathy and is going to respond to what they are saying. I am concerned that we are being torn apart as a community and we can’t continue down that road. We are seeing a manifestation of racial undercurrents that have not been addressed. And they need to be addressed. From an economic position, I think the Government has done a fantastic job in turning the economy around. But it makes no sense turning the economy around when there is social unrest. For the first time in history, our government could not get into parliament. That shows you the gravity of the matter. If you cannot gauge how the people are feeling, then you cannot lead them.” Late last night, Mr Dunkley said that Mr Crockwell had informed him of his decision to step down, and that he had accepted the news “with regret”. The Premier added: “I am disappointed with this development, as Shawn was an effective minister who progressed the Government’s agenda to restore workplace jobs and opportunity for Bermudians across the island, from the formation of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Gaming Commission and the imminent development of a new hotel in St George’s. I will be calling the Governor [George Fergusson] shortly for a new appointment to the Cabinet so that we can continue the work to restore opportunity and prosperity to Bermuda.”
March 16. Americans in Bermuda have been advised to avoid demonstration areas and to exercise caution when near large gatherings or protests. The United States Consulate General in Hamilton alerted US citizens to continuing protests over the Pathways to Status Bill that would grant status and permanent residency to current non-Bermudian residents who have lived in Bermuda for extended periods. The Consulate said in a statement: “The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but as general guidance, we urge citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations, and ask that they exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. We strongly recommend that US citizens travelling to or residing in Bermuda enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveller Enrolment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov. STEP enrolment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the US Embassy or nearest US Consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.” The US Consulate in Bermuda can be called on 295-1342.
March 16. More than half of registered voters support the Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status Bill, with just over a quarter against, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette. The controversial legislation, which has been the subject of industrial activity since last Friday, was approved by 56 per cent of people, with 29 per cent against it, in the survey by Global Research this month. The remaining 15 per cent were unsure. Whites and One Bermuda Alliance supporters overwhelmingly gave their backing to the Bill, with opinions more evenly split among blacks and Progressive Labour Party supporters. Among whites, support came from 90 per cent, with 4 per cent against and 6 per cent unsure. Among blacks, 38 per cent were in favour, 42 per cent opposed and 20 per cent said they don’t know. Similarly, 90 per cent of OBA voters said they were in favour of the Bill, with 4 per cent opposing and 5 per cent unsure. Of PLP voters, 25 per cent said they were in favour, 56 per cent opposed and 18 per cent were not sure. The telephone poll of 400 Bermuda voters was conducted between March 7 and March 14, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.
March 16. Protesters who stop work to demonstrate against immigration reform are likely to be breaking the law, according to a ruling from Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. The island’s top judge said it was “strongly arguable” that the withdrawal of labour in “circumstances where it has no connection to a labour dispute” was a breach of section 34 of the Labour Relations Act. However, at the end of a third day of action on the grounds of the House of Assembly yesterday, Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, argued that the protest is in line with Section 10 of the island’s Constitution, which protects the right to assemble. Fellow organizer Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign urged the crowd to come back for more, saying: “We need you to show up for the work of justice. We need you to show up for freedom. We need you to show up to engage in self-determination. It’s only by taking our destiny in our hands that we can determine our future for as long as it takes. We are going to finish what we started!” The demonstrations which saw hundreds of people gather outside Parliament on Friday and Monday continued yesterday, with ferries and buses also cancelled again. A nine-hour blockade outside the House of Assembly on Monday prevented Parliament from sitting and from the Pathways legislation being debated — an outcome described by Progressive Labour Party politicians as unprecedented in Bermuda’s history. That session was rearranged for today, and then again for Friday following a late announcement from House of Assembly Speaker Randy Horton last night; it is due to be the last before MPs break for Easter. Although the Pathways bill could theoretically stay on the order paper and be read at a later date, the budget debate is more pressing, as the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the financial year 2016-17 must be approved by Parliament before March 31. MPs still have two Ministries to scrutinize over the course of eight hours — Community, Culture and Sport and Economic Development — before senators start their budget debate. The Senate has postponed its meeting for today, with a new date yet to be set. The Upper Chamber has allocated 22 hours to debate specific budget items chosen by the Opposition and that time is usually spread over three days. Senators also have a general economic debate, with no time limit. Dr Justice Kawaley’s comments accompanied an interim injunction he issued against the BIU, Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed — respondents in a civil action brought by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, to prevent the further withdrawal of labour. Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed were not present at a hastily-held hearing at Supreme Court on Friday but Dr Justice Kawaley said they would be asked to appear before him tomorrow to argue their case and could apply to be heard sooner on short notice. Section 34 of the Labour Relations Act 1975 declares any “lockout, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike” to be unlawful if it is not related to a labour dispute or if it is “designed or calculated to coerce the government either directly or by inflicting severe hardship upon the community”. The Act says any person taking part, inciting or in any way encouraging others to take part in such a lockout, strike or irregular industrial action commits an offence, punishable upon conviction in the Supreme Court by a two-year jail term and/or a $2,000 fine. Senator Fahy, in an affidavit to the court, said: “There is an imminent danger of unlawful activity occurring if the respondents are not restrained from inciting or in any way encouraging, persuading or influencing any person to take part in, or otherwise act in furtherance of a strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike, contrary to [the Act].” He cited as evidence a letter sent to the Premier by Mr Furbert on March 8 threatening to call on “all people” to protest the proposed Pathways legislation by withdrawing their labour unless the Bill is removed from the order paper of the House within 24 hours. The Minister also referred to a call to action from both the union and pressure group the People’s Campaign, issued and later withdrawn on March 9, as reported by this newspaper, and reissued on March 10. He said: “I am very concerned that this withdrawal of labour may escalate in coming days unless the government accedes to the primary demand relating to the legislation ... I am asking the court to exercise its authority ... to order the respondents to stop inciting workers so that a measure of calm may allow proper debate and assist in maintaining public order and public services.” The Chief Justice, in his ruling, wrote: “In this case, I have been concerned to avoid granting an injunction to restrain action that might be construed to be civic and/or political action which falls without the scope of the Labour Relations Act. However, I am satisfied that the scope of relief sought is indeed narrowly focused and aimed to prevent the withdrawal of labour which, it seems to me to be very strongly arguable, constitutes a breach of section 34 of the Act, in circumstances where it has no connection to a labour dispute. And although the inciting words complained of are not explicitly directed towards union members alone, it seems clear that calling on persons to withdraw labour is very arguably contrary to the Act, whether the persons called upon to withdraw labour are unionized or not.” Lawyer Tim Marshall, who is not involved in the civil proceedings between the Bermuda Government and the union, said the granting of the injunction meant the protests appeared, on the face of it, to be unlawful. “It is hard to see on what basis the unions could argue that their strike is lawful in these particular circumstances,” he added. “There is no employment dispute between any employee or employer.” Mr Furbert told protesters on Monday that there was “talk” of the Royal Bermuda Regiment being deployed to assist police with the demonstrations outside Parliament. But Governor George Fergusson said it was not expected to have any public order involvement in the protests. Its soldiers are on a regular 72-hour “notice to move”, according to its website. Mr Fergusson, the Regiment’s Commander-in-Chief, told this newspaper: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment has always had a public order remit within its mission but there is no current expectation that it will be embodied or deployed.” Assistant police commissioner Antoine Daniels also quashed rumours that overseas military assistance had been summoned to assist the Bermuda Police Service with the protests. “These rumours are not true, as the BPS’s overarching principle of policing public protests is to facilitate free speech while protecting the rights of everyone,” he said. “Where the police are required to intervene during a public protest, they will do so using the least intrusive and coercive law enforcement measures possible to resolve issues that arise.” The police did not answer a question on whether they were investigating possible breaches of the Labour Relations Act 1975 and the Parliament Act 1957, which outlaws interfering or attempting to interfere with either House of the legislature. The BIU did not respond to a request for comment about the injunction by press time.
March 16. Improvements to the Royal Naval Dockyard continue ahead of the America’s Cup with more than $10 million invested into the historic site over two years. Projects include renovations to the Glassworks building, work on the Sail Loft, the Spar Lane apartments and Prince Alfred Terrace, according to the West End Development Corporation. “This last year and for the coming year, Wedco will have spent $10m on improving buildings,” chairman Ray Charlton said. “It has been a busy year and it is about to get even busier.” Mr Charlton was speaking at the sixth annual pre-season breakfast held at Bone Fish Grill, in Dockyard. Wedco General Manager Andrew Dias added that a $900,000 renovation of the Glassworks building would soon be completed and that work on Cross Island was on schedule, with piling in its final phase and the area should be completely finished by the end of June. “We have stayed on deadline and on budget,” he added. According to Wedco, improvements on the Sail Loft cost $500,000, while the Spar Lane Apartments has seen a $300,000 investment. Meanwhile, Prince Alfred Terrace will have benefited from $3.5 million, the hangar building on Boaz Island from $300,000, North Basin building 4 from $1 million, Detached Cottage 7 from $300,000 and Moresby Plains Road will have seen a $200,000 investment. Mr Dias added: “Wedco’s mandate is to look after and improve the beautiful and historic buildings in the Royal Naval Dockyard and these projects, including the infill at Cross Island, have been in the pipeline for several years and I am delighted that people can now see the benefits of all our work.” Mr Dias said that by the end of 2016, Wedco will have reached a milestone in that every historic building inside the North Basin will be wind and waterproof, apart from the Victualling Yard and associated buildings, which are being looked at under a Memorandum of Understanding. “In Bermuda, that is an extremely large task and we, at Wedco, are very pleased with that. It has been a busy and challenging eight or nine months for us but this is going to be a great season. The season will continue to build towards the America’s Cup and we want to deliver a product for Bermuda that all of us can be proud of.”
March 16. Three local firms have stepped forward to provide vital funding for the Morgan’s Point hotel development to be built. The multimillion-dollar financing commitment from Arch Reinsurance Ltd, Axis Specialty Limited and Validus Holdings Ltd will pave the way for construction of the five-star hotel resort development. The first round of funding was announced last night by Morgan’s Point Ltd as it emerged that work on the project had already started. “The support from these local companies demonstrates the confidence that they have both in our island and in our project,” said, Craig Christensen, Morgan's Point Ltd president and chief executive officer. Their investment in Bermuda’s future has been a huge shot in the arm for our project, and will allow us to assist in the revitalization of Bermuda tourism and of this historic site. We are overjoyed that these icons of industry in Bermuda are so supportive of our vision for the next level of international tourism development for our island.” The development on the former US Naval Operating Base will include a 79-room, high-end branded hotel complete with restaurants, retail shops and spa. It will also comprise 173 branded private residences and a mega-yacht marina that can accommodate 77 boats and 21 mega-yachts. A statement released by Morgan’s Point Ltd said the Bermuda Government had been “wholly supportive” of the project “through the granting of a Government guarantee to provide assurances to the investors that this is a viable project that the Government is willing to stand behind”. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, added: “The movement in development plans for the Southampton peninsula is wonderful news for the island and is another indication of the growing business confidence in Bermuda’s future. The Government believes that as this project scales, it will be a key part of a significant stimulus to the Bermuda economy. Congratulations are due to the development team.” A major three-year remediation programme of the former United States military base was completed at the beginning of this year. The project involved the removal of container-loads of asbestos and old oil tanks as well as the demolition of abandoned, dilapidated and vandalized buildings on the property. Morgan’s Point Ltd obtained the land in 2008 as part of a land-swap agreement under the condition that the Bermuda Government remediate the site to residential standards. Phase one of the two-phase project will include the 79-room luxury hotel which is expected to open in 2018 including 173 branded residences; restaurants; a spa; high-end retail, and a mega-yacht marina providing slips for 77 boats and 21 super-yachts. Plans for the second phase include a commercial development along a boardwalk that runs alongside the harbour; a large upscale hotel with potential for a world-class casino out on the peninsula; and the ability to create an inner-harbour mega-yacht marina and additional waterfront communities throughout the development.
March 16. Bermuda’s historic Dockyard is in line to get added sparkle this summer. For New York-based Diamonds International, the Caribbean’s largest gems retailer, is poised to set up shop in the former Royal Navy base’s restored North Basin building 9 — bringing a jobs boost to the island. The firm yesterday advertised for up to 20 staff for sales roles in the new venture, in partnership with Jan Card of upmarket gift shop Vera P Card in St George’s. Joanna Cranfield, business development manager at Wedco, said: “They are a huge diamond and watch retailer. They are very prominent in the cruise ship ports of the Caribbean. “We are looking forward to having them in Dockyard. They have teamed up with a local business, which is part of what we required and we’re hoping it will bring a boost to Dockyard.” The new venture, which will include a branch of Vera P Card, will be spread over two floors of the building, which is also the headquarters of America’s Cup Team Oracle USA. Ms Cranfield said: “It’s a wonderful historical building and one we looking to get a revenue-generating business into because we have spent a significant sum on renovating it. It’s a nice boost to the area and we’re looking forward to it. They have already started with the planning department and we hope it will be up and running for May.” Mr Card yesterday declined to comment on the new venture. Diamonds International was founded more than 20 years ago with a single store in St Thomas and now operates from more than 125 locations, including Mexico and Alaska, as well as the Caribbean. The advert in yesterday’s edition of The Royal Gazette said: “We are partnering with a Bermuda firm to create a new kind and quality of jewellery store in Bermuda and we are looking for Bermuda residents to participate.” The firm added that, in addition to a mine-to-display case gemstone operation, they offer a range of timepieces and accessories as well. The advert said: “We believe our most valuable assets will be our Bermuda-based staff. We provide extensive training opportunities to add value to their careers.” Diamonds International said that in-store training for individual brands was carried out, while watch training is carried out in the factories that make them and jewellery and gemstones training is carried out at the firm’s headquarters. "There is also the potential for successful candidates to be posted to other locations and to grow into the company. We value hard work, adaptability, and teamwork. We recognise our employees’ achievements and reward those who demonstrate success with greater opportunities.” The Bermuda jobs, all retail, will have “modest” salary components with a commission-based bonus. The company will hold a jobs fair on Thursday, March 24 between 11am and 2pm at the Church Street courtyard of law firm Appleby, next to the Anglican Cathedral.
March 15. Hundreds of full containers remain on the dockside in Hamilton as a result of two days of industrial action. Although containers were unloaded from the Somers Isles and Bermuda Islander last week about 200 containers have not moved since Thursday when Stevedoring workers joined the protest outside the House of Assembly. The major backlog has caused disruption to many local businesses as well as Green Land Dairy, which only has enough feed for its herd to last one more day. “This is a serious concern for us,” said Lidia Medeiros, whose husband, Valter, runs the dairy which has herds at Store Hill and Spittal Pond. We have two containers of feed on the docks at the moment that have not moved since last Thursday and another one coming in later in the week. I understand this is a concern for other businesses, but it is serious for us too. Without feed the cows will not produce milk and could ultimately die and consequently there will be no milk in the shops. We have a herd of more than 200 cows and not enough feed to keep them going past today. It’s extremely worrying.” Meanwhile, the Oleander, which arrived on Sunday afternoon, was not unloaded yesterday because of the industrial action. It is unclear at present when the ship will be unloaded. Barry Brewer, president and CEO of the Neptune Group, which runs the Oleander, said yesterday evening: “The Oleander remains alongside fully loaded with refrigerated cargo plugged into the vessel. We have been advised that Stevedoring Services have been in informal discussions today with union representatives in an attempt to see what can be done to move things forward on the dock. Scheduling this week’s BCL’s NJ departure will be determined once labour availability is determined.”
March 15. One Bermuda Alliance MP Leah Scott has pleaded with her party colleagues not to push ahead with Pathways to Status in its existing form, saying the proposals “may well be the right thing to do, but it is not right at this time.” However, OBA chairwoman Lynne Woolridge responded by defending the party’s stance on the “hot-button issue”, adding that the initiative was for the benefit of Bermuda and its people. Backbencher Ms Scott, who told this newspaper last month she believed her party should consider a “staggered approach” to immigration reform, sent the recent correspondence to Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Attorney-General Trevor Moniz, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, and his junior minister, Sylvan Richards. The proposals would lead to Bermudian status being granted to permanent resident’s certificate holders who have been domiciled on the island for 20 years. Among Ms Scott’s concerns are the possibility of creating an “en masse OBA voting block” and jeopardizing the job security for future generations. “I have said repeatedly that if we were ten years back and the economy was awash with cash, people were working, and houses were rented, Pathways would not be an issue,” she wrote. “But we are here in an economy that is barely recovering and the country is in turmoil. People don’t have jobs, those who do have jobs, don’t have job security. People can’t pay their bills, can’t pay rent, are losing their houses. So everything that we do that seems to be ‘anti’ Bermudian is magnified.” She criticised Mr Fahy for “pursuing his own agenda” and went on to claim that a majority white permanent resident population “will be fairly well connected. Accordingly, it is those Bermudians who will get the jobs, thereby displacing our Bermudian children. Please give me a good argument to dissuade me of this. You need to step back and reassess this. Not only do we need comprehensive immigration reform, but we need to reform immigration comprehensively. We have to start listening to the people and stop thinking that you have all the answers and the way that you do things is right or is the only way. Based on the law of averages, you cannot always be right and you don’t always do things right. Granted, I don’t know all of the things that have gone on behind the scenes in terms of collaboration. But I have had several people, including some of my constituents, contact me and ask me why the OBA isn’t listening, and what will it take to make them listen. We are public servants — we are elected to serve the people. Minister Fahy is not elected; however, in 2012, when we became Government, Minister Fahy chose immigration as the ministry that he wanted and since that time he has clearly and steadfastly pursued his own agenda. Are you prepared to let one man’s desire to promote his agenda be the driving force behind bringing this island to its knees? This is one of those issues that you can’t dismiss as folly. What you are doing is cutting right to the heart of Bermudian people. Both sides agree that there should be a pathway. Both sides agree that there are long-term residents who should be granted status. However, a consensus has not been reached as to how those grants should be processed and the people of this country have not been provided with any level of comfort as to how this government intends to protect our Bermudian children.” Ms Woolridge called Ms Scott’s comments “an example of the free and sometimes intense discussions the party conducts in fulfilling its commitments to providing the people of Bermuda with a strong, secure and prosperous future. Immigration is a hot-button issue around the world and Bermuda is no exception, as the past few weeks have demonstrated. Clearly, some of the decisions taken by Cabinet are controversial, but they have also been right for Bermuda’s well-being and instrumental in helping to bring about the economic recovery all Bermudians need. We can appreciate that Minister Fahy’s decisive approach to public issues disturbs some in the community, but he, like his Cabinet colleagues, is doing all he can as quickly as he can to create conditions that will provide the jobs and opportunity Bermudians need now.”
March 15. The Supreme Court approved an interim injunction against Chris Furbert, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and the Bermuda Industrial Union last Friday, according to court documents. According to an Ex Tempore Ruling, the Ministry of Home Affairs sought an interim injunction from the court in a hearing to restrain the parties from “inciting, commencing, encouraging, persuading or influencing any person to take part in, or otherwise act in furtherance of a strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike”. Mr Tweed, of the People’s Campaign, and Mr Furbert, president of the BIU, have consistently described the demonstration as a “withdrawal of labour” rather than an industrial action. The application was supported by a draft affidavit by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, stating that both Mr Tweed and Mr Furbert had called for a work stoppage in protest of the Pathways to Status legislation, which was set to be debated yesterday. Noting that demonstrations were taking place at the same time as the hearing, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley wrote in the ruling: “The evidential background is primarily supported in terms of the BIU and Mr Furbert by a letter of March 8, 2016 from the union threatening to call on all people to protest the proposed legislation by withdrawing their labour. It is supplemented by newspaper articles which suggest that, although initially on or about March 9 a call to action was withdrawn by both the union and the People’s Campaign, the call to action was reinstated at some point on Thursday.” The ministry argued that the Labour Relations Act had already been breached, stating that the legislation renders industrial action unlawful if it has any objective other than the furtherance of a labour dispute within the industry or trade of those taking the action, or if it is designed to influence government by inflicting “severe hardship” on the community. Dr Justice Kawaley wrote: “In this case I have been concerned to avoid granting an injunction to restrain action that might be construed to be civic and/or political action which falls without the scope of the Labour Relations Act. However, I am satisfied that the scope of relief sought is indeed narrowly focused and aimed to prevent the withdrawal of labour which, it seems to me to be very strongly arguable, constitutes a breach of section 34 of the Act in circumstances where it has no connection to a labour dispute. And although the inciting words complained of are not explicitly directed towards union members alone, it seems clear that calling on persons to withdraw labour is very arguably contrary to the Act, whether the persons called upon to withdraw labour are unionized or not. In these circumstances I am satisfied that this is an appropriate case for granting the interim injunction sought. I should just add that I accept that this is a case of urgency and that some attempts to give notice to the respondents has been made, and, that it is appropriate to proceed on the basis that the respondents are likely to be given an early return date of next week Thursday and would in any event be at liberty to apply on short notice to be heard.”
March 15. International General Insurance Holdings Limited reported net earnings of $35 million for 2015, an increase of 2 per cent from the $34.3 million from 2014. The group, which is registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre, has its primary underwriting operations in Bermuda in the form of class 3B insurer IGI Bermuda. It also has units in Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco and a wholly owned subsidiary in the UK. Gross premiums and investment income were both slightly down, but the group’s combined ratio improved to 84.3 per cent from 86.9 per cent in 2014, while shareholders equity grew to $284.9 million at the end of 2015 from $263.2 million a year earlier. Wasef Jabsheh, vice-chairman and chief executive officer of IGIH, said: “2015 was another good year for IGI in which our team was able to deliver an improved profit over 2014. The continued competitive trading environment coupled with further excess capacity and another benign year had kept the pressure on rates. “Our underwriting teams maintained their focus on profitable business whilst keeping the discipline needed to navigate through these very challenging times. It should be noted that our gross written premiums had declined from $252 million in 2014 to $242 million in 2015, however, our net underwriting profit increased from $50 million to $53 million demonstrating our focus on the bottom line whilst insuring that we maintain our service standards to our clients and brokers. The year saw our loss ratios drop from 53 per cent in 2014 to 45 per cent in 2015 giving us a 3 per cent drop in our combined ratio to 84 per cent. “2015 was a year where we invested in the future by opening of our new Casablanca operation and the further strengthening our existing underwriting teams and platforms. In addition, I am pleased to announce that our UK and Bermuda entities are now Solvency II compliant.”
March 14. MPs found themselves locked out of the House of Assembly all day as the protest against the Pathways to Status initiative stepped up a gear. With politicians due to debate the controversial Bill, demonstrators formed a human chain around the building; the doors were locked behind them. At 7pm, following a nine-hour demonstration in the grounds of Sessions House, the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton, released a statement confirming it has shut for the day, and will reopen for parliamentary business on Wednesday. The entrance had remained blocked all day, with an estimated 1,500 protesters in attendance. Some protesters had warned they had no intention of leaving until it is confirmed the debate will not go ahead. They have also vowed to return to the grounds tomorrow. Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks said that to his knowledge no MP made it inside, telling The Royal Gazette this morning: “I think right now it is just a waiting game because the people are standing firm and now the next move is going to be on the Government — are they going to come and listen to the people and address the people?” In anticipation of island-wide work stoppages, the Government forewarned citizens last night to expect disruption to public services. Schools this morning reported low student attendance due to the lack of public transportation, but teachers are said to have arrived for duty as usual. Protesters began gathering at Union Square this morning, before marching to the House of Assembly shortly before 10am. Reform comes in the name of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016 that would open the door for long-term guest workers to gain permanent residency after 15 years and Bermuda status after an additional five has split the country. The protesters are calling on the Government to withdraw legislation providing new pathways to status for Long Term Residents. The Royal Gazette will keep you up to date with the happenings in and around the House of Assembly as they happen: 8.20am: Outside the House of Assembly sound equipment is being set up for today’s protest. There are now a collection of five tents set up where Enda Matthie is staging her hunger strike, which is now in its seventh day, and Ms Matthie has been joined by about seven or eight supporters. MPs are starting to arrive at the House, with Walton Brown and Wayne Furbert, of the Progressive Labour Party, among the first to arrive. 8.30am: Protester numbers back at Union Square are gradually increasing, while the road has now been blocked off. More than 100 are now present outside the BIU headquarters, including Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Haywood and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign. 8.30am: Education minister Wayne Scott tells The Royal Gazette: “As far as we know schools are open as normal.” Mr Scott says people are being sent to the schools to assess if there is going to be any impact, stating that “we just can’t tell at this point”. But he adds that it “should be a regular school day” and that staff and students are expected to be in. Protester numbers back at Union Square are gradually increasing, while the road has now been blocked off. 8.30am: More than 100 are now present outside the BIU headquarters including Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, of the People’s Campaign. 8.45am: Some of the protesters — who now number comfortably 200 — are beginning to make their way to the House of Assembly. However, a significant portion of the group are remaining at Union Square. 8.55am: The Chamber of Commerce issues a statement in support of the Pathways to Status legislation, as long as the Bermuda Government introduces measures to address the social needs of the community. “With the Chamber’s mission being to ‘cultivate the best environment in which all businesses can prosper’, the Executive Board of the Chamber of Commerce supports the concept of the proposed immigration reform legislation but stresses that there must be simultaneous measures taken to address the social needs of the community to ensure its success for all sectors of Bermuda.” 9am: Protesters are preparing to march towards House of Assembly led by BIU president Chris Furbert, Mr Hayward and Mr Tweed. 9.10am: The group is heading down King Street on to Front Street and then up to the House of Assembly, where MPs will being their day’s work in less than an hour. Outside the House, protesters have linked arms as they await the arrival of the marchers. 9.15am: Marchers have arrived at the House of Assembly where all the entrances into Parliament have been blocked. 9.20am: Protesters have now circled the whole of the House of Assembly, locking arms. 9.25am: Crowds have swelled to an estimated 500. MPs including health minister Jeanne Atherden and Progressive Labour Party MPs Wayne Furbert and Michael Weeks are unable to get into the House of Assembly as the doors have been locked for the second time in four days. The action has also caused disruption for the Supreme Court, with court staff temporarily blocked, before a door is opened for them. 9.30am: Bob Marley music is once again the backdrop to the discontent. One Love is being played. Mr Tweed is side by side with BIU president Mr Furbert at the front of the House. MPs from both sides of the House remain outside the building. 9.55am: MPs are still stuck outside the House. A speaker appeals for more people to come along — especially schoolchildren. He says he has seen pupils from Prospect and Berkeley, and adds that it is “their future” at stake. “This is for their future: a better one than we have,” he tells the crowd. 10am: There will be no trash collection as a result of today’s industrial action, the Ministry of Public Works advises. The Marsh Folly Depot, Government Quarry, and Airport Disposal Site are also not operating today. However, Tyne’s Bay drop-off will be open and hours will be extended until 8pm tonight to allow residents to dispose of their trash. 10.10am: The crowd calls for “justice” as music plays in the background. Applause breaks out as a small group of children joins the protest. 10.15am: PLP MP Michael Scott says: “The Government needs to come out and concede that this policy, this planned debate, should be suspended completely because the people don’t want it. It must be obvious people don’t want it.” 10.25am: A 40-year-old woman, an administrator who asks not to be named, says: “Basically, they’re shoving this down our throats. They tried to consult with the people once and once is not good enough, being it got shut down.” 10.30am: Applause rings out again while dozens of children from Creative Touch Home Preschool, dressed in uniforms, arrive on the grounds of the House. The entrances to the Parliament building remain blocked and the crowds continue to surround the building. 10.40am: Kennisha Nisbett, 32, from Warwick, who is unemployed, but serves in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, says: “I’m here to see a change. I’ve got a daughter and it’s her future. It’s a good turnout, but I wish more people would come out — but it’s still early.” 10.45am: Rickeesha Binns and Larrita Adderley provide entertainment by singing to the crowd. 10.50am: An ambulance arrives at the House of Assembly to provide first aid to a man, who appears to have collapsed. 10.55am: Kovell Bean, 27, a waiter at Fairmont Southampton, says: “I’m on strike until we resolve this. I’m here for equality, to stand my ground. “I’m not against foreigners, but once guest workers come to Bermuda, they get what they get and they move on to their homes.? I’m not against workers being in Bermuda but, permanently, no.” 10.55am: Protesters around the House join hands to pray as water supplies are handed out to the crowd. 11am: The Government advises that so far no schools have been officially closed adding: “At this point we expect that all schools will remain open.” 11.05am: Mr Furbert tells the crowd: “This is not a labour issue this is a national issue. All we are asking for is what is just and fair. The country needs to see the bigger picture.” He questions who the Government will actually listen to. 11.10am: Large numbers of MPs remain locked outside the House, including Michael Dunkley, the Premier. This morning’s session, due to begin at 10am, appears to have not started yet. Mr Furbert condemns One Bermuda Alliance MP Glen Smith for using his Facebook page to encourage people to attend last night’s vigil. “We need to remain united,” he adds. “We can not afford to divide ourselves. Divided we truly will fall.” 11.15am: Mr Tweed tells the crowd: “We believe God, truth and justice are on our side. We are here because the Government is introducing a bill without consulting the people? that they serve. There is nothing more great than when people come together, bound together by a righteous cause. How long, as long as it takes. We are going to remain vigilant and steadfast until the bill is withdrawn.” 11.20am: BPSU president Jason Haywood tells protesters: “Today we put up our fists. If you want peace do the right thing. I am done with talking. We are here to stay.” 11.25am: Mujib Swan, 44, a community care worker from Devonshire, says he has withdrawn his labour to attend the demonstration. “I’m opposing the legislation as far as the reform the OBA wants to present without consultation or a bipartisan approach. They have had talks, the talks have been very one-sided. They have said what they intended to do rather than have input from the people or committees from which they have input and they go from there.” 11.30am: Opposition MP Michael Weeks says that to his knowledge all parliamentarians have been locked out of the House of Assembly. Speaking to this newspaper from the grounds of Sessions House, the shadow health minister says they are all still waiting to gain access. “The public have formed a chain link around the building that is about five-people deep. They are not letting anybody in. If anyone turned up early this morning they may have got into the building but to my knowledge there are no MPs in there now. A few came back outside. I think right now it is just a waiting game because the people are standing firm and now the next move is going to be on the Government — are they going to come and listen to the people and address the people? For the good of the country they should come and speak to the people. The mood is calm and peaceful but people are standing strong.” Mr Weeks says he has received no information with regards to when Parliament might resume. 11.35am: Mr Furbert tells the crowd: “This is all about votes. The OBA are trying to hoodwink and bamboozle us.” More schoolchildren arrive and are greeted by cheers and applause. 11.45am: Student population at Berkeley Institute was adversely affected by the lack of public transportation today but the teachers were all present Principal Phyllis Curtis-Tweed tells The Royal Gazette: “All the teachers are in as normal. The students are hampered, I think, by lack of public transportation. “That is the real issue we are seeing. We have seen some students trickling in — attendance has been adversely impacted by the lack of transport, but school is open as normal. I am writing a note to parents now to let them know that we are open for business. It is probably a bit confusing because they don’t know what is going to happen. Friday was awkward because we didn’t know what teachers would do and some of them also rely on public transportation. Some people were late. It has had a deleterious impact on people’s perception of whether or not school is open. For people who have to come from St David’s, St George’s, Somerset, or any parts further out, having no transportation makes it kind of difficult.” 11.55am: A 32-year-old Canadian woman, who works in Bermuda, says: “I’m Canadian, but I’m pro-Bermudian. I came because I’m supporting my Bermudian co-workers, my Bermudian friends. I understand their needs were not taken into consideration and this bill will affect all stakeholders, native Bermudians.” 12.30pm: With the protest showing no signs of letting up, demonstrators begin singing “We Shall Overcome”. About 12 police officers arrive at the House, taking the total presence to about 25. 12.35pm: Organizers of the demonstration warn protesters to “be on guard” but remain peaceful. It comes amid rumblings that there may be another attempt to enter the House of Assembly. 12.55pm: Mr Tweed tells the crowd that they have received information that writs have been filed to arrest himself and Mr Furbert. “We have just been told they have issued the writ for the arrest of Mr Tweed and Mr Furbert. Maybe they’ve got blindfolds on,” Mr Furbert adds, bringing cheers from the crowd by saying he has no intention of standing down. 1pm: The crowd has gathered around Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed, linking arms. Demonstrators have also been urged to gather around the entrances to the House. “We need to make sure those entrances are protected at all times,” Mr Tweed says. 1.15pm: Mr Tweed and Mr Furbert walk around the house surrounded by fellow protesters, attracting claps from some in the crowd. 1.20pm: Spectators across the street are urged to join those guarding the House by protesters shouting: “All the spectators come up here.” 1.30pm: A large crowd has gathered to the side of the House, with Mr Tweed and Mr Furbert in the centre. They appear to be speaking with Walton Brown, the PLP MP. 1.35pm: Mr Furbert tells the crowd that he has now heard there has not been an order issued for his arrest, adding that he believes they are very close to the end of the dispute, and that something could come forward in the next half-hour. Both Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed express their gratitude for the support of the people, saying they have both faced criticism for their stand. Mr Furbert adds: “This House belongs to the people. If you’re not doing the people’s business, then you do not deserve to be here.” 1.40pm: The crowd is quieted as Mr Furbert speaks to someone on the phone, surrounded by supporters. 1.45pm: The music resumes, with no word of a resolution. The choice of Bob Marley track was One Love earlier today; now it’s War. 1.50pm: The Bermuda School Sports Federation, along with the Department of Education, confirms that the 2016 Primary School Zone track and field meets are still going ahead as scheduled today for the west and west central zones, and tomorrow for the east and east central zones. Parents are reminded that tomorrow’s events begin at 9.35am. The 2016 Middle and Senior School Basketball play-offs will also start as scheduled. 1.55pm: The music dies down again. 2pm: The Tyne’s Bay public drop-off will be open until 8pm tonight, the Ministry of Public Works advises. For the rest of the week, its hours will be 8am to 7pm 2.05pm: Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed speak with Opposition MP Mr Brown outside the western entrance to the House, circled by dozens of demonstrators. 2.10pm: Mr Furbert, Mr Tweed and Mr Brown make their way around the House again surrounded by their supporters. 2.40pm: A group of protesters, led by Mr Furbert, talk to a man who is believed to have slipped down a grass verge. He appears to be dazed but not injured. Protester Arnold Smith tells the crowd to call on all their friends and family to join. “We want this bill to be withdrawn,” he says. Music continues, in the form of Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now by McFadden and Whitehead. 2.40pm: Linda Mienzer, a protester and member of the BPSU, tells the crowd: “We’re not going to come at night to get heard. We’re not going to hide in the cover of darkness. We’re not going to come out when it’s easy, we’re going to come and stand up when we have to — first thing in the morning until late at night — until we get it done. These men were willing to go to jail for you folks. Give ‘em a round of applause folks.” 2.40pm: Protesters and drummers circle the House led by a centenarian. “It seems that some of you have had some lunch. And you know what happens when we have lunch. We get sleepy. But we’ve been asleep for too long. What do we want?” The crowd calls back: “Justice!” 3pm: Gombey drummers are performing for the crowd. 3.15pm: Mr Brown tells this newspaper: “We’ve reached a stalemate and it does not bode well for the country. We’ll stay here if we need to but hopefully the Government will come to some reasonable decision. They have to withdraw. For three years we have made repeated sincere efforts at collaboration. It appears that time for collaboration has passed.” 3.20pm: A breakaway group of about 30 people heads down Church Street. Members ask Mr Brown whether he will join them, but he declines the offer. 3.25pm: The group arrives on Queen Street and calls at the Moniz and George legal firm’s office, apparently hopeful of meeting Attorney-General Trevor Moniz. A spokesman tells someone who comes out to meet them that they’re demanding change. “I’m not here for pretend. I told my children that daddy may go to jail, he may even get killed,” the spokesman said. 3.30pm: After failing to get a conversation with Mr Moniz, the group comes back outside. “This wasn’t the right strategy because it was intimidating,” one protester is overheard to say. Co-workers of Mr Moniz at Moniz and George tell this newspaper: “We are a law firm. We are in the business of law here. No comment.” 3.50pm: Back at the House of Assembly, Mr Furbert addresses the crowd, comparing the events to 1981. Referring to the Oleander container ship, he says: “Not one container came off that boat today.” He admits protesters are walking a thin line, but adds that it is in everyone’s interest to resolve the matter. He says that he believes businesses are pressing the OBA to get the matter resolved. “Let’s be patient,” he says, calling Bermuda “the laughing stock of the world right now”. 4pm: Mr Furbert says a government offer has been rejected as it was not good enough. He said he needs to find out if government is shutting down for the day, after which they will make a decision. When asked what they would prefer to do, the crowd chants “stay”. Mr Furbert also reminds protesters to be careful with how they address each other, after ugly words were exchanged on Friday. Mr Tweed says: “Any agreement has to be acceptable to us.” 4.30pm: The Reverend Gilbert Hayward of the AME Church calls for the withdrawal of the immigration bill and urges the government to consider making a commitment to comprehensive immigration reform through a bipartisan joint parliamentary select committee in consultation with all stakeholders. Mr Hayward adds that the AME Church stands in solidarity with Enda Matthie in her hunger strike. 4.40pm: Protester Mr Smith tells the crowd: “It’s getting up to 5 now. Brothers and sisters, you may have to stay here tonight. Get your umbrellas. Get your family to bring you some soup.” 5.25pm: The crowd chants to withdraw the bill. 5.35pm: Deputy Opposition leader David Burt, holding his daughter, thanks supporters, saying he is overcome to see so many people come out to stand up for their rights. He says Parliament has to meet at the House, and the OBA has enough votes to force the legislation through if given the opportunity. “Right now, we are at a standstill. It is important that we stay. We want to go back to the table for an agreement we can all support. We will be here as long as it takes,” he says. 5.40pm: Portable toilets are being brought to House of Assembly grounds. A protester draws cheers from the crowd as he chants “shut the island down”. 5.55pm: Lawyer Rick Woolridge tells the crowd not to be moved. “Let them come here and get Bermudian spirit, Bermudian hospitality, but how can they get that when we’re not happy,” he says, urging the demonstrators to make sure their voices heard. And he says the protest is for the future of white and Portuguese Bermudians as well. Mr Woolridge tells the crowd not to allow themselves to be dumbed down, saying: “This is the day Bermuda changed.” 6.15pm: Mr Tweed tells told the crowd that they have been told the Cabinet has gone home and the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton, has advised that Parliament recommences on Wednesday, but he warns that the news does not mean they have won. Mr Furbert asks the public what they wanted, causing members of the crowd to call for the group to return tomorrow. He said there has been talk of the Regiment possibly coming and securing the grounds, but he says that it is just talk. “We will take each situation as it comes, but you have to know,” he said. He says the group should not leave yet, but that once the House is closed for the day it cannot reopen. “It’s the Speaker that says the House is closed, and he said it is closed for the day,” he said. “We confirmed that from the police.” Mr Tweed says: “We have decided to return tomorrow. You have decided to return tomorrow. There’s one condition. We double the number. We triple the number.” Asked how long the demonstrators should remain tonight, the majority shouts 7pm. Mr Furbert continues: “We are going to wait until the Speaker officially tells the Opposition that the House is closed. We expect him to reach out to the Opposition and tell them the House is closed. That shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.” 6.25pm: Despite word that the House may have been closed for the day by the Speaker of the House, some members of the crowd call for people to remain on the grounds overnight. Mr Smith has confirmed that the Opposition have been told the House will not be open until Wednesday morning, suggesting that the demonstrators form up in an orderly fashion and march to Union Square in an orderly fashion. The group is expected to gather again at 7am tomorrow at the House, but Mr Furbert says: “Those of you who want to make 7am, make 7am. Those of you with children, make it here as soon as you can.” Mr Smith also calls on the crowd to counter act any bloggers who speak out against the event on websites such as The Royal Gazette, urging them to “keep it positive”. 6.45pm: The demonstrators begin to organise themselves for a planned march back to Union Square to end a long day of protest. 7pm: Speaker Mr Horton releases a statement confirming the House has been adjourned until 10am on Wednesday.
March 14. The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on Pathways to Status, stating this morning that it supports the legislation. However, president John Wight said “simultaneous” efforts must also be made to address the social needs of the community. “With the Chamber’s mission being to ‘cultivate the best environment in which all businesses can prosper’, the executive board of the Chamber of Commerce supports the concept of the proposed immigration reform legislation but stresses that there must be simultaneous measures taken to address the social needs of the community to ensure its success for all sectors of Bermuda,” Mr Wight stated. He added that the Chamber believes getting Bermuda’s economy and community “back on track should be the focus of our collective efforts”. The legislation, which Mr Wight described as a “very critical issue for all of Bermuda”, has been introduced to provide more permanence to guest workers who have met minimum threshold limits of residency in Bermuda. “We are very sensitive to the emotion in our community over this issue,” Mr Wight said. “There are many struggling businesses and unemployed persons who, through no fault of their own, are barely surviving and are having difficulty supporting themselves and their families. We also recognise that there are deep rooted feelings, based on historic amendments to immigration policies that have adversely impacted certain segments of our community.” And while Mr Wight said that it may “understandably be illogical to feel that the proposed legislation will improve the situation”, the reality is that with an ageing population and “more people drawing upon the Government’s bank account that paying into it, Bermuda must increase the numbers of people contributing to the system through increased employment and population expansion”. More people working and living on island equates to more economic activity, he added. “We have been very clear and consistent in our message; Chamber members, who represent all sectors of the business community, small, medium, and large, need more people in Bermuda to sell their goods and services to. Several of our members have been struggling for many years. The only way for these companies to measurably improve their economic circumstances is to generate more volume of sales, which can only occur if we have more people in Bermuda. The discussion therefore should not be ‘if’ Bermuda needs more residents. The discussion needs to be around how do we address the real and current needs in the community, increase the numbers of residents, benefit our economy and ensure the economic success of both current and new residents. In addition, one part of the solution we believe, has to be to attract many of those Bermudians who have left, to come back home and to prosper in a growing economy.”
March 14. Unaddressed inefficiencies in the Civil Service mean that it continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars unnecessarily, according to the former chairman of the Sage Commission. “Bermuda would be better served if the Civil Service had proper accountability,” Brian Duperreault said. “The current structure we have does not allow for that.” Mr Duperreault spoke to The Royal Gazette after Michael Dunkley, the Premier, revealed that civil servants took almost 38,665 sick days in the 2015/16 fiscal year, at a cost of $10,625,000 to the Bermuda Government. “With focus, we can do better, hence the need for a policy on sick leave that provides for a systematic approach,” Mr Dunkley said in the House of Assembly on March 2. We have engaged in consultation that will continue through the next fiscal year.” However, the statistics Mr Dunkley quoted were similar to those contained in the Sage (Spending and Government Efficiency) report, published in October 2013. The 142-page report, which was intended to reduce government costs and streamline its practices, stated: “There is a high proportion of government workers (33 per cent) who take an unusually high level of sick leave. This group is responsible for the bulk of the almost 42,000 sick days taken in 2012/2013. Sick days cost Government over $10 million.” The report suggested that there was a “large abuse” of sick leave, which was allowed to continue due to “poor monitoring by senior managers within Government”. It concluded: “There are clearly departments with chronic sick leave problems. These need to be investigated thoroughly and those determined to be abusing sick leave must be managed appropriately.” Mr Duperreault said that the continued sick leave abuse represented “just one symptom of the management issues” within the Civil Service. “I don’t blame the average guy,” he said. “Even with the demotivation, there are many motivated civil servants who want to come to work and actually do something meaningful. We need to help them.” He reiterated the Sage report’s suggestion that the Public Service Commission become an independent body, as opposed to being appointed by Governor George Fergusson, thus allowing it fair oversight of the Civil Service and its employees. “The existing commission isn’t laid out in a way that gives it full powers and clear responsibilities. There should be key performance indicators and real metrics around what the goals are. The consequences of performance should be there, whether positive or negative. This move would be the single most important thing Bermuda could do. If you solve that issue, it goes a long way to solving all of the issues. There has to be a concerted effort to empower the PSC, which we haven’t seen yet. I would strongly encourage this Government and the Governor to effect those proper controls, which would produce savings that would ultimately help reduce the deficit we have.”
March 14. Changes to the standard health insurance providing additional benefits without increased costs have been approved by the House of Assembly. Opening debate on the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2016, health minister Jeanne Atherden said she was pleased to announce that the cost of the standard insurance would remain untouched at $338.07. “This is the first time in many years we are able to bring a Bill that doesn’t raise health insurance premiums,” she said. Additional benefits will include expanded duplex ultrasound screening for peripheral artery disease, therapeutic plasma exchange for immune mediated diseases and extended period ambulatory cardiac rhythm monitoring devices. Rates for the HIP and FutureCare programmes will also remain unchanged, she added. The amendments also change the definition of “child” in the legislation, removing the term “school-leaving age” and replacing it with “under the age of 19”. Shadow health minister Michael Weeks supported the legislation, but questioned why some of it specifies that some of the new benefits must be provided by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, saying it could be considered anti-competition. The House also approved the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 2016, which allows the parties to allow a third party to legally enforce a contract. Contracts in Bermuda have been regulated by the common law “doctrine of privity”, which does not allow rights or impose obligations arising under it to be conferred on to a third party. The Progressive Labour Party expressed their support for the legislation, which they said would help the island remain competitive.
March 14. A resolution has been found in the dispute between the Bermuda Police Association and the Bermuda Government, according to Michael Dunkley. Speaking in a budget debate, the Premier said a joint statement by the parties would be issued in the near future, but provided no further details about the agreement. The two sides have been at loggerheads over the terms and conditions of employment as part of budget negotiations since last year as the Government has tried to reduce spending in the service. Matters came to a head in December, when about 100 police officers amassed on Cabinet grounds to present complaints to the Premier. After the demonstration, Mr Dunkley acknowledged that a resolution would probably not satisfy either side completely, but maintained that one could be reached if both parties were prepared to compromise.
March 13. A huge crowd gathered this evening on the grounds of Cabinet in support of the controversial Pathways to Status legislation. As of 7.30pm, the gathering of about 1,000 people cheered as the candlelit vigil began with the raising of the Bermuda flag. Paul Harney, a recreation specialist, said: “I came down here today because of my concern that Bermuda is becoming divided on the issue of immigration. Our population is shrinking and we should honour those people who have given up 20 or 30 years of their lives investing in our community. It’s ridiculous that we would try to kick them to the side and ignore their contributions. Let’s make it fair for everyone and monitor the numbers moving forward.” Meanwhile, Janice Mullings-George, originally from Jamaica, said: “I have lived in Bermuda for the past 25 years. I came to support individuals who, like myself, have fallen into this predicament where, after spending almost our whole lives in Bermuda, are unable to obtain status. “I don’t want to have to say goodbye to the home I’ve had since I was 7 years old. I just want to continue giving back to the community.” The vigil comes days after hundreds of demonstrators protested outside of the House of Assembly against the legislation, calling for bipartisan immigration reform.
March 13. Buses are not expected to run tomorrow morning as a labour withdrawal over immigration legislation continues. The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport this afternoon announced that the bus service would be cancelled at least during the morning, adding: “The ministry apologizes for this development and will keep the public advised on the status of service.” The announcement came shortly after the Bermuda Union of Teachers has called on members to follow their conscience in advance of a further withdrawal of labour. In a statement to members, the union stated: “Please be advised that there has been a further call for an island-wide withdrawal of labour tomorrow. Brothers and sisters, once again, the matter of immigration reform is not directly related to our collective bargaining agreement; rather, it is a matter of national significance. The constitution of Bermuda affords every citizen the right to protest and the freedom of association. As citizens of this great island, on the matter of immigration reform, we urge you to let your conscience be your guide.” Public transportation, waste collection and other government services were halted on Friday as more than 1,000 people descended on Parliament to protest the controversial Pathways to Status immigration legislation. While Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, has said the legislation is the right thing to do morally and economically, opponents have criticised a lack of consultation, calling for a bipartisan approach. In wake of Friday’s demonstrations, supporters of the legislation have announced plans to host a candlelit vigil this evening on Cabinet Grounds.
March 12. Michael Dunkley remained adamant that the One Bermuda Alliance Government was “trying to save Bermuda”, as Opposition MPs maintained that the Government’s “intransigence” was pushing the island into turmoil. While the Premier said he was open to listen, and supported the peoples’ right to freely express their views, he called the work stoppage by the People’s Campaign irresponsible and disruptive. His statement came as about 1,200 people gathered outside Sessions House after opponents of the Government’s immigration policies marched through Hamilton from the Bermuda Industrial Union Headquarters. "Children will not be able to get transport to school. Parents will be forced to remain home from work to care for them. The list of disruptions goes on. The call for withdrawal of labour threatens Bermuda’s work to rebuild the economy — work that produces the jobs and opportunity Bermudians sorely need to provide for their families. It will impact us far beyond our shores, and far beyond today.” Opposition leader Marc Bean asked if the Government had changed its position on the unpopular Pathways to Status. Mr Dunkley said it remained the same. Amendments to the island’s immigration laws are set to proceed on Monday. Asked by Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown if he would accepted that “greater and greater social unrest” was likely to follow, Mr Dunkley said he did not support those who stoked tensions, and that the Government has been “swamped by people who support this proposal”. While he said that “everyone’s opinion matters”, the Premier said that tough decisions would “please some people and make some people unhappy”. Questioned by MPs on “disrespectful” and inflammatory comments online, he called on people from all sides to “cease and desist” from provocative remarks. While Mr Dunkley repeatedly told Parliament that he and the OBA were open to discussions, the Premier said later during a press conference at the Cabinet office that booing and chanting prevented talk. “This Government is always keen to speak to as many people as possible, but we realize after the meeting held a couple of weeks ago in the Cathedral Hall that there were certain people who don’t want to hear the message.” In a partial compromise on Thursday, the Government had announced that Pathways to Status would not be implemented until the summer to allow time for discussions with labour leaders on work issues. Asked if he might delay it further, Mr Dunkley said that when people were “entrenched in their position and not listening to the dialogue that’s going on, it’s very difficult for anyone to kick the can down the road”. Flanked by his Cabinet as well as OBA senators, Mr Dunkley grew more heated as he told the press that “this process is not about taking jobs. This is a mosaic of Bermuda; this is a diverse political party — why would we want to disenfranchise Bermudians?” Saying the Government would “not allow Bermuda to go backwards”, the Premier said people had to “come the table and understand that they have to discuss things in a respectful and tolerant manner.”
March 12. As more than a 1,000 demonstrators arrived at the Session House grounds, police took no chances and guarded the locked doors of Parliament. The orders were said to come from the sergeant-at-arms, as Progressive Labour Party MP Walter Roban confronted officers. “You can’t lock the doors to Parliament — you are breaking the law,” Mr Roban repeatedly told police. Legislators as well as media were unable to use the public entrances to the building. The Royal Gazette was able to access parliament with Mr Roban and Opposition MP Jamahl Simmons shortly before the day’s business commenced. There was a substantial police presence through the building, with an officer inside the chamber for much of the morning, as the public galleries filled. Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, had made it clear in February that he would not tolerate outbursts from onlookers when chanting protesters briefly interrupted legislators on February 12. Yesterday, as some in the gallery registered their disapproval during the question and answer session after the Premier’s statement on the work stoppage, Mr Horton interjected: “I’m noticing some reaction by members in the gallery. “Let me just say that if you sit in the gallery it is a privilege, and there should be no reaction to anything said. Otherwise you will be asked to leave.” The Speaker made good on his warning shortly thereafter, ordering that a woman be escorted from the gallery, and later reminded the sergeant-at-arms to be vigilant. Most of those in the public gallery quit the chamber, however, once the budget debate got under way.
March 12. Ferries, buses and the docks were among a host of services stopped yesterday after hundreds of workers responded to a call for an island-wide labour withdrawal from the People’s Campaign. About 1,200 people took part in a peaceful but at times fiery demonstration outside the House of Assembly and on Cabinet grounds, in opposition to the Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status Bill. Inside the House, Michael Dunkley was involved in angry exchanges with Progressive Labour Party MPs over the action, which the Premier described as “irresponsible and misconceived”. Protesters, largely led by Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert and the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign, began the day at Union Square in Hamilton and marched on Parliament shortly before 10am. They packed out the House public gallery at one stage, before storming the Cabinet Building as Mr Dunkley held a press conference on the matter at lunch time, prompting the intervention of police officers. A similar protest is expected on Monday, when MPs are due to debate the controversial legislation. The island failed to come to a complete standstill however: all schools remained open, although many parents faced disruption and confusion, while trash collections were still completed as some Corporation of Hamilton staff filled in for their missing colleagues. Meanwhile some motorists picked up residents who were stranded at bus stops, to play their part in ensuring the many thousands not taking part in the stoppage could still make it to work. The action has been described as illegal by Mr Dunkley, and at one point yesterday Mr Furbert and Mr Tweed told the crowd that they had been served draft injunctions by the Government. The Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Hotel Association were among those to vent frustration at the labour withdrawal, saying it was counterproductive to the island’s fragile economic recovery and complaining they had not been given any forewarning to better accommodate guests who were inconvenienced. The day’s events followed a week of tension in which Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, and other senior One Bermuda Alliance members had been in talks with union leaders over the legislation, which would make it more straightforward for long-term residents to gain both permanent residency and status. Early on Thursday evening, Senator Fahy said the unions had indicated they had no desire to take part in unlawful action. However, by 11pm, following a call to arms by LaVerne Furbert of the People’s Campaign, the Government warned industrial activity was likely, an action Mr Dunkley described as illegal. Confusion reigned early yesterday morning, and by 8am the only news to come from any union was a message from the Bermuda Union of Teachers leadership to its members, telling them they should let their conscience be their guide. As a result, many parents were left with little choice other than to make alternative arrangements for their children, with CedarBridge Academy reporting less than half its usual attendance of students. Shortly after 8am, it emerged the ferries and buses were out of order, while the crowd of protesters started to gather at Union Square. Only about 150 were present at 8.30am, but about 1,200 were involved by the time they marched to the House before 10am. Rallying the crowd early in the day, Mr Furbert said: “What we said to the ministers is the people are crying out for you to take this legislation off the table.” Mr Tweed said: “We are going to stand strong, fighting for freedom.” Mr Dunkley said people are free to express themselves, but he added: “The call to withdraw labour is intended to disrupt life in Bermuda, inconveniencing many families and interfering with the delivery of service. Children will not be able to get transport to school. Parents will be forced to remain home from work to care for them. The list of disruptions goes on.” Protesters were largely upbeat, as Bob Marley anthems played repeatedly in the background, but many expressed their anger. One demonstrator, Pat O’Connor, told The Royal Gazette: “There’s been a lot going on that is very upsetting. We need to see change.” Enda Matthie, the high-profile protester four days into her hunger strike on Cabinet grounds, earned a round of applause by taking the microphone to say: “Dissolve parliament and go to the polls.” Near the end of the afternoon, Mr Furbert told the crowd they would be back bright and early on Monday, with one protester calling out: “Bring your children.” The gathering left at about 5pm, embarking on a second march through Hamilton, before winding up back at Union Square, where several hundred people began dancing to more Marley music. Last night Senator Fahy said he did not believe the demonstrations were reflective of the Bermudian community, saying that the OBA were greeted by spitting and threats. He further claimed his black colleagues were called “House n***as” and “sell-outs” by protesters “Today was not Bermuda,” he said. “Today was not ‘us’. Today was fear mongering of the worst kind. It was un-Bermudian. I ask you, not as the Minister of Home Affairs, not as a member of the Senate — I ask you as a Bermudian father of three Bermudian children — are you your brother’s keeper? I know you are which is why I am proud to be Bermudian and why I know that the silent majority will stand for what is the right thing to do.” According to the Government, public services disrupted yesterday were:
• buses and ferries;
• customs freight services at LF Wade International Airport;
• teacher and student absences at schools;
• Vector Control Department;
• trash collection, Marsh Folly composting site, Airport Disposal Site, Government Quarry and Prospect Depot;
• all post offices except the General Post Office, Crawl and Southampton sub post offices.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Bell, Simon Jones and Lisa Simpson
The timeline below comprises our live updates on Friday’s demonstration and its knock-on effects throughout the day: 8.05am: Confirmation is received that the ferries will not be running. 8.15am: It has been determined that buses will also not be running. However, The Royal Gazette understands that the Transport Control Department is open as usual. 8.30am: About 150 people have gathered outside of the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters on Union Street, where music is blaring. The street is blocked and there is a small police presence. A podium is set up on the BIU steps. 8.45am: Numbers outside the BIU have now swelled to 200. The block is closed off to traffic. 9am: Crowds have reached about 300. People are largely standing listening to gospel music, with a speech of some sort expected soon. 9.05am: Education minister Wayne Scott tells The Royal Gazette it “looks like all schools are functioning as normal at this point”. He says more information will be provided shortly. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport apologizes to the public for any inconvenience as a result of labour action taken this morning which resulted in the loss of ferry and bus service. The ministry says it will keep the public advised on the status of service. 9.20am The Reverend Nicholas Tweed addresses the crowd outside the BIU. “It appears that democracy for some is a spectator sport,” he says. “They want to sit and make all the decisions and have us sit in the back while we just watch them work. We come to remind them that democracy is a participatory process, and those entrusted to govern are servants of the people and not rulers of the people.” 9.25am: BIU president Chris Furbert takes the mike and says the Government is not hearing the people. Mr Furbert recounts his meeting with government ministers on Wednesday because tensions and frustrations were rising. “This is no game,” he says. “What we said to the ministers is the people are crying out for you to take this legislation off the table.” 9.30am: Mr Furbert says the BIU is calling on all the people to stop work today in protest — and apologizes for not putting out a statement last night instead of this morning. 9.35am: “This is absolutely not a labour issue. This is a political issue in relationship to your constitutional right of freedom of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest,” Mr Furbert tells the crowd, adding that the one-day stoppage is in keeping with protests around the world. 9.40am: The crowd embarks on a march to the House of Assembly. Mr Furbert urges them to maintain respect and public conduct. The Bermuda Public Services Union is holding a meeting this morning, with Mr Furbert saying he is not sure if they will join in. 9.55am: Marchers arrive outside Sessions House, where protester Enda Matthie is continuing her hunger strike. “I feel good,” Ms Matthie says, pointing to her sign calling for Parliament to be dissolved when asked how long she plans to remain. Asked about statements online that she was in fact an actress from the United States, Ms Matthie laughs. “At one point in my life a thousand years ago, I put my profile online — that was a whole other lifetime,” she says, adding: “And I have never lived in Philadelphia.” 10am: All doors are locked to the House of Assembly, with Opposition MPs Jamahl Simmons and Walter Roban among those unable to get in. 10.05am: The remaining MPs are allowed into the building after Mr Roban remonstrates with police that the public entrance to the House cannot legally be locked. 10.15am: People young and old, including dozens of school-age children, are talking and some are sitting on the grounds. A few are carrying signs, one saying: “We are not anti-foreigner, we are pro-Bermudian.” Pat O’Connor says she is there to show her support for people out of work, adding: “There’s been a lot going on that is very upsetting. We need to see change. Enough is enough. We want the right decision do everyone can benefit, not just a select few.” Saying that money has been taken away from schools, she adds: “What we have to recognise is that our children are really our future.” 10.15am: The Corporation of Hamilton thanks residents for their patience amid delays to services caused by the action, revealing staff have taken on trash collection duties. 10.20am: Michael Dunkley, the Premier, tells MPs that the Government hears people’s concerns and that people are free to express themselves, but calls the call by the People’s Campaign for work to be called an irresponsible act that has disrupted life in Bermuda and inconvenienced people. “The call by the People’s Campaign for an island-wide withdrawal of labour in response to the Government’s plan to engage in a full debate of its proposals for comprehensive immigration reform cannot be considered a responsible action,” says Mr Dunkley. "This honourable House is the place to debate the issues that we as a country must face, especially the most challenging and most uncomfortable issues. The call to withdraw labour is intended to disrupt life in Bermuda, inconveniencing many families and interfering with the delivery of services. Children will not be able to get transport to school. Parents will be forced to remain home from work to care for them. The list of disruptions goes on. The call for withdrawal of Labour threatens Bermuda’s work to rebuild the economy — work that produces the jobs and opportunity Bermudians sorely need to provide for their families. It will impact us far beyond our shores, and far beyond today.” Opposition leader Marc Bean rises to ask the Premier “if in light of this strike action, if the Government’s position on Pathways to Status is unchanged”. Mr Dunkley responds that it was not a strike but has been worded “a withdrawal of labour”, adding: “Our current position remains the same.” Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown asks Mr Dunkley if he would accept that “greater and greater social unrest is likely to follow. I do not support the approach of some in the community who like to see tensions rise,” Mr Dunkley says, adding that it is “unfortunate that there are Members that continue to walk along this path”. He adds that the Government has been “swamped by people who support this proposal”. 10.20am: There will be no trash collection today, while the Marsh Folly composting site and the Airport Disposal Site are not operating today. Tyne’s Bay drop-off will be open as normal, the Ministry of Public Works advises. 10.25am: Campaigner Peggy Burns addresses the crowd shouting: “Free this island by any means necessary.” 10.30am: Asked by Mr Roban if he believes it becoming to refer to the public as “bullies”, Mr Dunkley says he would turn the question back and ask if it is “OK for Members of Parliament to refer to others as cockroaches.” Opposition MP Diallo Rabain asks if the Premier plans to address protesters outside. “I’m always happy to talk and speak to people,” Mr Dunkley says. Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, interjects: “I’m noticing some reaction by members in the gallery. Let me just say that if you sit in the gallery it is a privilege, and there should be no reaction to anything said. Otherwise you will be asked to leave.” 10.45am: BPSU president Jason Hayward releases a statement that expresses solidarity with the action taken by the People’s Campaign. 10.45am: One protester, who asks not to be named, says a change in government is needed. “The people are crying out for the old government. The new government is hopes and promises and doesn’t deliver. We’ve never had so many people out of work in all my years. They’re not listening to the people. “Come out of that suitcase, bring it out of that suitcase to help everybody, not just themselves. They need to stop with this prejudice on the people.” 10.50am: Inside the House, Mr Dunkley is asked by the Opposition if he would address protesters or ignore them; he responds that everyone’s opinion matters. “This country faces many challenges and leadership requires tough decisions that are going to please some people and make some people unhappy. We are not in a position on this side of the House that make people unhappy.” The Premier agrees with MP David Burt of the PLP that disrespectful comments online from all quarters are inappropriate, adding that one of his colleagues had been slandered by protesters outside on Monday. There is no place to tear our brothers and sisters down.” Mr Horton asks the sergeant-at-arms to remove a member of the public from the gallery. 11am: The crowd outside the House of Assembly is now estimated to be about 1,000. Protester Warren Foggo says he has attended to “support the rest of the people here for our country. I would like for Government to sit down and Congress with the people of this island,” he says, adding that there has not been enough consultation with the people. Flyers are being handed out to the crowd that state the proposed legislation is about votes. The flyer reads: “Come one let’s be real! We all know it’s not really about human rights for PRCs. It’s really all about importing votes for the OBA in the next General Election.” 11am: In response to questions from PLP MP Dennis Lister, Mr Dunkley says the Government would proceed with debating the immigration legislation on Monday. 11.05am: Opposition MPs leave Parliament in union. Much of the gallery empties as well. Mr Dunkley’s remarks have ended. 11.15am: More protesters are holding signs, with one reading “Bermudians fighting for Bermuda”. Crowds are milling around the House; no one is talking, but the sound of proceedings in the House can be heard over a loudspeaker. 11.20am: Stevedoring Services confirms it is not able to provide a service today as a result of the withdrawal of labour. 11.25am: A group of PLP MPs including Michael Scott, Rolfe Commissiong and Walton Brown emerge from the House to a ripple of applause. 11.30am: MPs suggest that there are “thousands outside” on the grounds of Parliament. A more accurate assessment, supported by watching police, is hundreds, approaching 1,000. 11.40am: PLP MPs including Opposition leader Marc Bean go through the crowd greeting protesters, while the tones of Mr Dunkley talking about the Royal Bermuda Regiment continue in the background. More people have now arrived, taking the estimated crowd to about 1,200. 11.45am: The Sherri J show has now replaced proceedings from inside the House on the loudspeakers. 11.45am: The Ministry of Education advises that no schools have officially been closed. 12.10pm: Protester Graham Maule takes the microphone and accuses Government of “bamboozling” the people. He says the Pathways to Status initiative is not about human rights but the OBA securing its power base. He then launches into “we shall not be moved” on the trombone. 12.15pm: Opposition MPs, including Mr Bean, are filtering back into the House. 12.30pm: BIU president Mr Furbert tells the crowd: “We cannot back down. This is about the country and the people.” Mr Furbert says Mr Dunkley may be listening, but he is not hearing. “It’s time for the people of Bermuda to stand up and send the government a clear message,” he adds. 2.40pm: Mr Tweed tells the crowd: “We are going to stand strong, fighting for freedom .” He asks the crowd: “What do we want?” and they respond “justice”. 12.40pm: Bermuda Tourism Authority and Bermuda Hotels Association release a joint statement saying today’s action is essentially a call to “shut down the country”, and counter-productive to Bermuda’s fragile economy. 12.50pm: PLP member Makai Dickerson demands that Government consult with the people over immigration reform. “If we have to come back it may not be so pleasant for you,” he adds. “Let’s do the right thing.” 1pm: Crowds are now heading from the House of Assembly to the grounds of the Cabinet, where Mr Dunkley is about to start a press conference. 1.05pm: Mr Dunkley tells a press conference at Cabinet that the call for the withdrawal of labour threatens the island. As he speaks, protesters assemble outside, calling for a “conversation” with the Premier. Asked if he would speak with protesters, Mr Dunkley referred to a recent public meeting that was shouted down and said it was “futile” when there are “certain people who don’t want to hear the message”. 1.10pm: Angry members of the crowd invade the Cabinet Building. Some try to enter the press conference as the Premier wraps up, while others enter the Senate Chamber, prompting police to step in.
March 11. Tourism was hit hard by yesterday’s industrial action, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority and Bermuda Hotel Association. And a continuation could cost the island dearly. Both organisations called the work stoppages “counterproductive to the fragile economic recovery”. “The call for a ‘withdrawal of labour’ today and this coming Monday is essentially saying: ‘shut down the country’,” read a joint statement sent out by the BTA and BHA. The Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Hotel Association realize that our labour force has certain legal rights to lay down tools and express their opinions on management and labour issues. However, it appears this work stoppage is not one of those occasions. We see this action as counterproductive to the fragile economic recovery that is under way among retailers, restaurants, hotels and tourism attractions. It was noted that the BIU had previously assured that business and tourism sectors would be forewarned if any work stoppage was planned by union members. However, that didn’t happen, leaving hotels, restaurants and retailers caught off guard. As a courtesy, the warning would have helped businesses to better plan to accommodate our valued guests who are now on island,” added the statement. “Unfortunately, we received no forewarning from labour leadership on this matter. A typical visitor to our island spends on average $201 per day and this weekend Bermuda is hosting hundreds of individual visitors, several conference groups and a major golf tournament. Many will be inconvenienced by the work stoppage as they attempt to use public transit and other public services. These activities negatively impact upon their view of Bermuda and diminishes their local spending, directly harming an already bruised economy and the workers the unions represent. Furthermore, a ruined vacation, convention or golf experience is a memory they take with them and share with their friends and family, and greatly reduces the chance of their return. More importantly, this work stoppage and the highly adversarial political environment continually covered in the local media and on social media channels is damaging our global image. Travellers looking for a vacation destination are looking online as they consider which destination to choose. The negative and divisive discourse concerning our civic disagreements is a deterrent to those audiences and prospective business, investors and leisure visitors which ultimately is the determining factor as they select another destination. We are calling on Government and union representatives to resolve their important civic issues with more sensitivity to the impact on our tourism and hospitality industry — the one sector all parties agree is vital to the overall growth and economic recovery of Bermuda.” Responding last night to the BTA/BHA statement, Jamahl Simmons, Shadow Minister of Tourism and Economic Development, said the PLP shared the tourism concerns. “Like them, we are deeply concerned about the impact that any industrial action has on the second pillar of our economy,” said Mr Simmons. “Where we part ways, however, is in our understanding that this current and potentially ongoing action is a direct result of the OBA’s approach to immigration and a refusal to listen by Premier Dunkley. This has caused the people to take action. The OBA have no mandate to carry out this agenda. In fact, the OBA’s current and former leader repeatedly denied prior to the 2012 election that would grant status to thousands of non-Bermudians. This deception, failure to listen and their refusal to engage in bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform have led Bermuda to this point. I would encourage the BTA to lobby the OBA to keep their promises and adjust their approach to immigration or return to the polls and get a mandate from the people. If they are unwilling or unable to lobby the OBA, we encourage them to focus their energies on improving our current record 49 year low in air arrivals.”
March 11. Bermuda was braced for industrial activity this morning, with Michael Dunkley describing the People’s Campaign’s call for an island-wide work stoppage as “irresponsible and misconceived.” At 11pm last night, the Bermuda Government warned of likely disruptions to public services today, suggesting several days of talks with union leaders had failed to stave off a major demonstration from opponents to the Pathways to Status Bill. The Premier had said the proposed work stoppage would be illegal and, earlier yesterday evening, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, had said all parties involved had indicated they had no desire to take part in unlawful action. However, People’s Campaign member LaVerne Furbert reissued a statement that had initially been retracted due to unspecified errors on Wednesday, urging people to join in an island-wide withdrawal of labour. “Remember one thing, people, there is no law against you calling in sick for one day,” Ms Furbert wrote on Facebook. At about 10.20pm, Mr Dunkley responded by urging people to ignore the call, saying it was coming from a group whose leadership is “accountable to no one”. But by 11pm, the Government had issued a statement saying: “The Government is advising the public this evening that it is anticipating industrial activity tomorrow. As a result, there will likely be a disruption of public services — such as public transportation and others — which is expected to inconvenience the public. The public is encouraged to make alternative arrangements wherever possible. The Government will update tomorrow once a full assessment of service disruption has been determined.” It is understood the Bermuda Union of Teachers circulated a communication to its membership yesterday stating that a withdrawal of labour had been called and that, while immigration reform was not directly related to the union’s bargaining agreement, it was a matter of national significance and members should let their conscience guide them. Senator Fahy released to the media correspondence between union leaders and the Government which showed the threat of an island-wide labour stoppage was made as early as Tuesday. Mr Dunkley had responded to that threat, from Bermuda Industrial Union leader Chris Furbert, by saying the move would “no doubt harm the economic recovery of Bermuda, which we can ill afford”. Initially writing on behalf of the union’s general council, Mr Furbert gave Mr Dunkley 24 hours to withdraw the legislation, saying it was the latest in a series of critical issues in which the Government refused “to listen or include the people of Bermuda.” In his reply, dated Wednesday, March 9, the Premier pointed out that the contested legislation was not up for debate in today’s House of Assembly, adding that a disruption of public services risked sending “the wrong message to people thinking of visiting or investing in Bermuda, potentially hurting employment opportunities. I invite you to pause and not call on all people to withdraw their labour, so that we can agree a way forward.” According to a statement from his ministry, Mr Fahy had met on Wednesday with Mr Furbert and Jason Hayward, the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, with Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, in which the request to withdraw the Bill was reiterated. Mr Fahy said both presidents had said some in the community had called for “undesirable activity”, but that there had been “healthy and fruitful discussion. Both parties indicated that they had no desire to see any form of unlawful action in the community.” Another meeting yesterday included the Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign. While the Pathways to Status Bill has not been removed from the Order Paper of Parliament, the Government offered a consultation committee to discuss “matters of mutual interest” with unions. If the legislation were approved by MPs, its implementation would be held off until “later in the summer” to enable a dialogue on matters including the use of low-income foreign workers over Bermudian staff. Although Mr Fahy said the contentious Bill would not be taken off the parliamentary orders, the Government proposed that if it passed its debate in the House, it would be delayed for talks with unions to take place. Those talks “could include but not be restricted to a living wage, review of work permit policy to further ensure that Bermudians are given even more training opportunities and dealing with concerns about the use of low paid guest workers over Bermudian workers,” the statement added. “The Government believes this will assist in ensuring that Bermudians get every opportunity in their own country.” In a radio interview on the Sherri J show, Rev Tweed said a swiftly retracted People’s Campaign e-mail sent out on Wednesday calling for “an island-wide withdrawal of labour” had been issued in “administrative error”. Opposition leader Marc Bean said yesterday morning that he had not heard about the People’s Campaign’s recalled work stoppage proposal until he read about it in The Royal Gazette. Also yesterday morning, Mr Fahy told this newspaper that the Government had not had any dialogue with the People’s Campaign “for some time”, expressing disappointment if the group had planned a work stoppage. The minister added that no decision had yet been made on which day the Pathways to Status Bill would be debated. By 8pm yesterday the petition at change.org in favour of Pathway to Status had 3,200 supporters, while the Immigration Reform Action Group’s petition calling for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform stood at just over 1,300 supporters.
March 11. The Human Rights Commission, accused in Parliament of taking a “narrow” focus on same-sex marriage, called the comments “disheartening”. The response, from HRC chairwoman Tawana Tannock, followed remarks in the House of Assembly given by Marc Bean, which included the commission’s selection and appointment committee. “It is disheartening that a politician of Mr Bean’s calibre has a misguided view,” Ms Tannock told The Royal Gazette. She said the HRC had attempted without success to “reach out” to the Opposition Leader. Its efforts over the past year in expanding the Human Rights Act included adding mental disability as a protected ground and addressing discrimination based on age in employment, she said. It also addressed the definition of a public place, to bring it in line with the Criminal Code, as well as “clarity of residency rights, protection of discrimination by association and perception, clarity on the treatment of gender association under the HRA, and further independence of the HRC”. The commission, she said, “firmly supports the right of same-sex couples for legal recognition as highlighted in local and European court rulings. Its advocacy and education campaigns had brought increasing numbers of people to the commission to have their grievances heard. It is disappointing that this progress has not been noted or indeed appreciated by some who seem to only focus on the issues that can be used to promote destructive discourse or further a political agenda.” Both the Premier and Opposition Leader have the remit of selection representatives for the HRC’s selection and appointment committee, Ms Tannock added. “We are pleased with the commissioners selected by the committee, and look forward to having these commissioners work with the Government, Opposition and general public to further positive and constructive dialogue on human rights issues in Bermuda. Additionally, the HRC encourages everyone to remember that when discussing these very important, yet potentially divisive issues, that we are all neighbors, colleagues, friends and relatives and when having these debates, we should try and remain calm, rational and most of all, respectful.”
March 11. Controversial legislation calling for a referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage is set to be debated today as MPs return to Parliament. Tabled last Friday by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, the Bill will also put to the public whether they are in favour of same-sex civil unions. However, no date has been set to discuss the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016, which would be debated on Monday at the earliest. As well as offering pathways to permanent residence and Bermudian status through long term residence, the Bill covers the acquisition of status by adoption in “certain circumstances”. Additional legislation set for today includes land tax amendments, the Government Lands Amendment Act 2016, the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 2016 and the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2016. The ongoing Budget debates are then set to continue with National Security to proceed this morning, and Transport and Tourism on the diary for the afternoon.
March 11. Mounds of blue-bagged trash at the decaying Devon Springs Recycling Centre have grown into an “eyesore” for area residents. The facility, closed down in 2007 and later damaged by storms and fire, “looks horrible” in the words of a Christopher’s Close resident, with recycled trash spreading out to the perimeter fence. “It doesn’t smell but it has been piling up for months. It was clean for a while but they started dumping stuff up there — they just need to hurry up and do whatever they’ve got to do,” the man said, adding: “But leave it to Government.” The mounting piles spilling behind the Devonshire facility, which adjoins the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Centre, have grown since the new Materials Recovery Facility at Quarry Road by Harrington Sound broke down last year. The rusting warehouse, now containing derelict recycling equipment and drifts of broken glass, stands open to the elements, starting with extensive damage from a 2008 fire. Hurricane Gonzalo in 2014 was the final push, residents said. “It’s more of an eyesore than anything else, but you do get rats around it,” said a man socializing with others by the roadside in front of the facility. A worker at the depot promised that the pile was temporary, and would be tackled before the advent of hotter weather, while a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works last night told The Royal Gazette that the backlog would be trucked away starting next week. She said that the MRF had been up and running for a week, and three containers of recyclables had been shipped out. Once its bunkers were clear, the Devon Springs backlog would be removed over “the next few weeks”, while ministry staff were keeping litter away from the fence. “It’s just been recently, over the last six months, that they’ve started really piling up,” said a member of staff at the nearby Barn where second-hand goods are sold. It’s unsightly and if it were my neighborhood, I wouldn’t like it.” Another area resident said the pile had either settled under its own weight or been moved within recent weeks. Having lived there since 1989, she said recycled trash had piled up regularly even in the days when the plant was operational. “It looks bad, but it’s not as bad as it was around here when the sewage plant wasn’t working,” she said, referring to the stench that plagued the area when the hospital’s sewage treatment facility was out of commission. Stuart Hayward, the chairman of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, called the situation “untenable” but acknowledged that the delay was caused by the MRF’s wait for repair parts. “Having the pile so visible is a mixed blessing,” Mr Hayward added. “It does more good than harm for us, the public, to occasionally be confronted face-to-face with a reminder of the extraordinary amount of waste we produce on this little island. The high visibility also adds to the pressure to have the recycling machine fixed and adequately maintained. Perhaps the greatest plus is the attention this situation brings to our recycling programme and how much room there is for improvement. In that sense, it’s good that people are noticing the problem and pushing for resolution.” Mr Hayward said he hoped the accumulation would not dissuade the public from separating their recyclables for collection. We need all the encouragement we can get to do better at managing our waste — reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling,” he said.
March 11. The Corporation of Hamilton, left liable for a “misappropriated” $18 million loan for a hotel on Par-la-Ville car park, has come a crucial step closer to refinancing its bad debt. Charles Gosling, Hamilton’s mayor, said his administration had been saddled with the guarantee plus interest on the deal, made under the city’s previous administration, that it was obligated to pay back. Mr Gosling would not speculate on what had become of the missing millions from Mexico Infrastructure Finance, signed over as part of a funding deal for a luxury hotel and residences. The mayor was speaking in the aftermath of a crucial reprieve, after Wednesday’s marathon session in the House of Assembly included the tabling of legislation enabling the Corporation to use properties as collateral for a loan of roughly $28 million with a local bank, identified on the order sheet as Clarien. That loan, which effectively links the hotel development debt with another loan for the Corporation’s works depot, would enable the Corporation to pay off its creditor. Both the Corporation and the developers, Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences Ltd, were sued last year by MIF after defaulting on the loan. “We got in this situation because we have people who obligated the Corporation to an $18 million debt without contemplating how to pay it back,” Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette. The matter has since come under police investigation, with authorities announcing on January 26 that a 41-year-old Smith’s man had been arrested in connection with the missing funds. On February 3, police said that the man had been released on bail, and that their inquiry was ongoing. Mr Gosling acknowledged the situation was far from rosy, but said that the best step for now was to pay off the creditor for MIF. “We would like to have the ability to say ‘bon voyage’,” he added. The legislation that went before MPs in the early hours of yesterday is subject to negative resolution, meaning it will have to wait 30 days before getting approved. If no objections are raised in Parliament or in the Senate, “it is deemed as having passed — if not, then they will debate issues”, Mr Gosling said. Mr Gosling said the new deal for the city was a step up, beginning with interest-only payments, and 15 years to pay it back. “One of the requirements in the terms of the loan is that the ratio between collateral and the loan is 65 per cent. For a loan just under $28 million means about $40 million in terms of collateral. That’s more than one piece of property.” The Corporation had to bring car parks, some residential buildings and properties such as the former Lemon Tree premises to the table. The mayor said his administration had been working on an “ever-changing list of corporation real estate as the various players have changed”. The Bermuda Government assumed stewardship over the municipalities in December 2013, effectively putting Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, in charge of the city’s purse strings. That move came shortly after Arlene Brock, the then Ombudsman, issued a damning report on the handling of City Hall under the “Team Hamilton” administration of the former mayor, Graeme Outerbridge. Yesterday Mr Gosling said he had received “very strong assurances” from the minister and “support” from Michael Dunkley in getting legislation enacted for the City to pay off its obligations. Today’s orders for the House of Assembly include the second reading of the Hamilton Sewerage Amendment Act 2016, aimed at raising funds, plus further consideration of agreements between the Corporation and Clarien Bank. The Corporation is also seeking revenues via traffic ordinances and parking charges. “The minister and the permanent secretary have worked particularly hard to get us what we are asking for,” Mr Gosling said. However, internal communications shared with this newspaper give some measure of the anxiety within City Hall over the pace of legislative affairs. In a letter to Premier Michael Dunkley dated February 19, Mr Gosling writes that the Corporation “has never been so fiscally challenged as it is now due to this unfortunate series of events”. E-mails to Derrick Binns, the Secretary of Cabinet, questioned whether Cabinet appreciated the deadlines faced by the Corporation, while Mr Dunkley was told that the “continuous patience of MIF is clearly at its limit”. “The current Council, in seeking election, took this on to fix the issue but as has been explained numerous times the restored and improved revenue stream must be there to service the debt of the loan.” Telling the Premier that the “travesty” had to be fixed, the mayor said the island’s financial reputation risked being tarnished, adding: “I refuse to have the alternative be my legacy.” However, in his response, dated February 24, Mr Dunkley noted that the Corporation was in regular dialogue with Senator Fahy, who also briefed Cabinet on the issue each week. “I would, therefore, encourage you to continue this dialogue with the minister,” Mr Dunkley added. Yesterday, Mr Gosling said the Corporation had known with the start of February that “the Government and the Opposition were going to be fixated on the Budget”. “The fact is that we have had a somewhat impatient creditor who wants to get his money and leave the island,” he added.
March 11. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin has told MPs how she was “beaten for breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea” by her ex-husband. The Minister of Community, Culture and Sport spoke of her experiences as a young woman during a debate on setting up a joint select committee to look at the issues facing women in the challenging economic environment. “I can speak to personal experiences,” she told the House of Assembly on Wednesday night. “Having a child at the age of 15, married at the age of 17, having been beaten for breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea — fractured skull, fractured ribs, divorced at 21, and one would think perhaps in those circumstances, being a single parent, having divorced my partner and having to rely on my own devices that it could really have spelled doom and gloom. I stand here 50 years later to say that it was not the end of the world. Having family support was critical.” But she said many young women who are single-parent heads of households may not have a support system. “These are the kinds of things that can be explored as to how such a committee can make recommendations so these young women will find themselves better off able to handle their circumstances. The fact that somebody is single and perhaps head of a household, a single-parent and they have an unemployment situation, doesn’t have to be the end of the world for them.” The House of Assembly agreed to form the joint select committee as a result of a motion tabled by PLP backbencher Kim Wilson and amended by Nandi Outerbridge, the Junior Minister of Community, Culture and Sports. Launching the debate, Ms Wilson noted the results of the recent job force survey that found woman often make 65 per cent of what men do for the same work. She also said that in the present economic climate, many women have found themselves unemployed, leading to a great deal of emotional distress, particularly for single mothers. Ms Wilson also noted the phenomenon of the “sandwich generation” — women who are caught trying to manage a career while caring for children and ageing parents — and recalled speaking to one woman who was forced to bring her daughter home from university after losing her job. But she said age discrimination can also increase challenges facing women looking for work, adding: “When a middle age person loses their job it’s going to be much harder for them to regain employment.” Mrs Outerbridge added that while the island has come a long way towards gender equality, there was still a long way to go. She spoke of her own challenges as a single mother balancing work and raising children, adding: “If you are unemployed, doing all of the above while trying to figure out how to keep the lights on, it can be very stressful.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin also stressed that Bermuda, despite the Employment Act, had “a long way to go in terms of some of the conditions that must be made available to women, that could be perhaps consistent with international standards”. Another major aspect is ensuring women are afforded equal rights to credit “free from discrimination”, she added. PLP backbencher Zane DeSilva challenged banks to “try and find a little more sympathy” for single mothers and also encouraged more companies to include women on their boards, noting that many boardrooms are run by males. The committee could also consider extending maternity leave and look into paternity leave, he said, adding that some countries allow women one year with full pay. “Employers need to me more sympathetic and supportive of our mothers,” he said. Mr DeSilva also encouraged the committee to talk to Brian Duperreault, the CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group, whom he described as an advocate for women in the workforce. PLP backbencher Walton Brown said statistics showed the island still had systematic structural discrimination against women, saying that more women need to find positions in power to fully address the issue. “It’s important to have women in power to readjust that power imbalance,” he said. “The more you have representation, the less certain issues become issues.” And Lovitta Foggo, the Shadow Minister of Education, said she hoped the committee would look into the importance of networking and the support women can provide to each other to create opportunities for success. Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment, also welcomed the motion, saying it is important to maximize opportunities for families. She urged the committee to look at all aspects of women’s lives with the view to breaking the life cycles of single-parent households. Jamahl Simmons, the shadow tourism minister, spoke to the effects of unemployment on women, particularly single mothers, and said it is important to teach women the necessary skills to get a job. And according to Michael Scott, the Shadow Attorney-General, who said unemployment had risen and discriminatory practices had worsened the impact on women, especially those over 50, the motion was timely. He drew attention to Enda Matthie, who is staging a hunger protest outside Parliament, saying she “is yet another example of a middle-aged woman out of work and being impacted by these issues”. Mr Scott said the committee would have to consider Bermuda’s immigration policy, adding that it was important that this did “not exacerbate or militate against reintroducing employment”. Meanwhile, shadow finance minister David Burt implored the Bermuda Government to provide the resources for the committee to be successful and to be able to produce its report in a timely manner.
March 11. NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — Two units of Cayman National Corp pleaded guilty to helping US clients evade taxes and hide more than $130 million in offshore accounts as a Justice Department crackdown on tax cheats expands beyond Switzerland. Cayman National Securities and Cayman National Trust pleaded guilty in New York federal court with Stuart Dack, Cayman National’s chief executive, saying the bank advised and helped Americans evade taxes for more than a decade beginning in 2001 by helping US citizens hide their money. “Cayman National Trust and Cayman National Securities engaged in this conduct knowingly and willingly, and did so knowing it was wrong,” Dack said. The two units agreed to cooperate with a government probe and provide investigators with client files to identify Americans who dodged taxes. As part of a plea agreement with the US government, District Judge Thomas Griesa sentenced both units to pay fines, forfeitures and other penalties totaling $6 million. The conviction was the first for a non-Swiss financial institution, the US said. “We are committed to finding and prosecuting not only banks that help US taxpayers evade taxes but also individual taxpayers who find criminal ways not to pay their fair share,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said. Switzerland’s three largest banks have resolved criminal tax cases with the US, paying a combined $3.9 billion and admitting how they helped Americans dodge taxes. Another 80 Swiss banks avoided prosecution in the past year by paying penalties of $1.37 billion and voluntarily disclosing their wrongdoing as part of a Justice Department programme. Cayman National, the parent, has offered full-service banking and investment opportunities since 1984, according to the Grand Cayman-based bank’s website. The two Cayman National units encouraged US clients to open accounts in the names of sham Cayman companies and trusts, Bharara said. In 2009, the two units managed about $137 million of US client assets in undeclared accounts, according to court papers. Combined, they earned more than $3.4 million in gross revenues from these accounts, the US said. After learning of the investigation of UBS Group AG around 2008, the two Cayman National units continued to maintain undeclared accounts of US taxpayers. The units didn’t start to try and follow the law until 2011 and 2012, prosecutors said. On February 5, Julius Baer Group Ltd agreed to pay $547 million to avoid US prosecution and admitted it helped American clients hide billions of dollars in assets from tax authorities while coaching its bankers on how to avoid detection. Julius Baer followed larger Swiss rivals UBS and Credit Suisse Group AG in resolving US tax probes. UBS did so by agreeing in 2009 to pay $780 million, while Credit Suisse reached a $2.6 billion deal in 2014.
March 10. The Bermuda Government is anticipating industrial activity tomorrow, with a likely disruption of public services. The warning, at 11pm, came shortly after Michael Dunkley, the Premier, called on the public to ignore an “irresponsible call” for an island-wide withdrawal of labour from the People’s Campaign. The Government stated: “The Government is advising the public this evening that it is anticipating industrial activity tomorrow. “As a result, there will likely be a disruption of public services — such as public transportation and others — which is expected to inconvenience the public. The public is encouraged to make alternative arrangements wherever possible. The Government will update tomorrow once a full assessment ?of service disruption has been determined.” The People’s Campaign, in a statement identical to one released and retracted by the group yesterday for unspecified “inaccuracies”, had this evening called for a mass work stoppage in protest at the Government’s decision to move forward with the Pathways to Status immigration legislation. Group member LaVerne Furbert also urged workers to call in sick tomorrow. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, and Mr Dunkley had warned that an island-wide withdrawal of labour would be illegal. Speaking in the wake of the People’s Campaign release, the Premier described the call as “irresponsible and misconceived. This group, whose leadership is accountable to no one, is calling for workplace disruption on a matter that is scheduled for debate in the Parliament of Bermuda — an exercise that is fundamental to the integrity and effectiveness of our democracy. The Government welcomes and encourages people to express themselves — it’s the essence of how we govern ourselves — but not at the behest of a vague organization. The Government calls on people of goodwill to reject this irresponsible call, attend to their places of business as normal and keep helping Bermuda move forward. Putting our shoulders to the wheel, as we do each day, will do more to help our brothers and sisters who are struggling than to fall into line with a demonstration that is designed to disrupt the lives of the many.” The legislation was tabled on Monday and, while it remains on the order paper, is not expected to be debated tomorrow.
March 10. The House of Assembly last night approved an increase in payroll tax despite vocal opposition. While Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said the move was a temporary but necessary measure, shadow minister David Burt said it would place an additional burden on struggling Bermudians, noting that workers will now face the highest payroll tax rate in local history. “At the same time that you are rolling out these payroll tax increases you will note that health insurance rates, which was promised to go down under the OBA, are going up,” he added. “We also know the Minister is raising taxes on fuel, so we know prices are going to go up. The cost of living will continue to increase. What this Budget and this bill does is make the standard of living for people in this country worse.” Opening the debate, Mr Richards said the 1 per cent increase was an interim measure as the government plans a wider reform of the island’s tax structure. The amendments also allows employers to increase the percentage of the fee that must be paid by the employee from 5 per cent to 6 per cent. Meanwhile, government will continue to roll back payroll tax exemptions in the hospitality and retail industries, increasing payroll tax from 5.5 per cent to 8 per cent. He argued that current revenue is insufficient to pay for government at its current size, so government needs to increasing revenue while at the same time reducing expenditure, adding that he believed the economy had recovered enough that it could withstand the effects of a tax increase. However, Mr Burt took aim at the increase, saying that the people are paying for the government’s failure to listen to the Opposition. He said that he hoped the increase is, in fact, a temporary one rather than something that remains in the long term. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, called the increase a last resort, describing it as necessary given the economic situation faced by the government. “It’s clear that no one likes tax increases,” he said. “No government likes a tax increase. It’s the last thing that any government would like to do and this government is no different.” Opposition leader Marc Bean, however, said the increases would lead to job losses, saying: “If there is one single decision that can destroy jobs by the stroke of a pen, it must be the increasing of taxes. This is a backwards step. It’s going to punish those who earn the least. It’s going to punish businesses. It’s going to punish everyone in the country for some short-term gain.” Community minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin expressed her support for the increase, saying that Bermuda must address the issue of the debt while it still can. She noted that the government had pledged to move forward with comprehensive tax reform, and that she would like to see those who earn the least be able to avoid payroll tax entirely in the future. “We don’t take heart in the fact that we have to raise this tax, but we do take heart in the fact that we are paying the bills,” she said.
March 10. The Progressive Labour Party has queried how the island’s newly registered voters went up 50 per cent more in this fiscal year than the forecast figure — with a target of 2,000 new voters for 2016-17. Marc Bean, the Opposition Leader, declared himself “surprised” that there were 1,000 new voters expected for 2015-16 but the revised numbers went up to 1,500. He suggested the rise in figures could reflect a greater number of voters opting to sign up because they were fed up with the One Bermuda Alliance’s performance as government. However, Mr Bean speculated that another factor, “much more subtle and dangerous”, might be non-Bermudians being added to the voters’ roll, prompting Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sport, to point out that non-Bermudians could not be included in the parliamentary register. Mr Bean clarified that the spike in numbers could emanate from new status Bermudians as part of the Government’s “anti-Bermudian policies”. However, Michael Dunkley maintained that the increases reflected more robust work on the part of the Parliamentary Registrar. “I have been informed that only a small percentage is due to people who have received their Bermuda status recently,” the Premier added.
March 10. A shipwreck discovered off the coast of North Carolina could be a Confederate blockade runner that ran perilous journeys between Bermuda and the United States. The iron-hulled steamer was found at the end of last month off a beach near Wilmington, according to US media reports. Experts say that three blockade runners ran aground in the area; the Agnes E Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw. Although Billy Ray Morris, director of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, believes the Fry, which successfully traveled from Bermuda to Wilmington in November 1864, is the “leading candidate”. “A new [blockade] runner is a really big deal. It is the right location to be one of these three,” Mr Morris told media in the US. “The preservation of this vessel is astounding. You can see that in the sonar image.” Mr Morris and a team of divers were expected to dive the wreck yesterday, with the ship’s identity expected to be confirmed by the end of the week. The news of the possible find was welcomed by Edward Harris, director of the National Museum. “Billy Ray Morris, who is working on this shipwreck, spent several summers in Bermuda working on shipwreck heritage in the island,” said Dr Harris. "He and his colleagues, including Dr Gordon Watts recorded the two Confederate blockade runners that sank at Bermuda and so we have some good records of them. They were the vessels named Montana and Mary Celestia. Sadly not as well preserved as the Agnes E. Fry, the shipwrecks are great underwater museums, as most other blockade runners are found in the muddy estuaries and rivers of the east coast, where visibility is almost zero.” Dr Harris added: “Bermuda made a fortune during the Civil War, because of the trade and economy of transshipment of goods at St George’s, with cargo vessels coming in from Europe and transferring freight in the harbour there, for shipment into the Confederacy through the Union States blockade of ships into the southern war zone. The recent discovery of wine and perfume on the Mary Celestia, however, indicates that guns and bullets were not the only goods to pass through Bermuda.” The Agnes E. Fry was built on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1864. Historical accounts suggest the vessel conducted business in Havana, Cuba, and other neutral ports in Bermuda and the Bahamas. She was a large vessel, 237ft long by 25ft in beam, with a depth of hold of 13ft. She made two successful runs into Wilmington, the first from Nassau in late September 1864, and the second from Bermuda in November. She was lost on her third attempted voyage into Wilmington, two days after Christmas 1864. Records indicate that in the spring of 1864 Captain Fry was stationed in Bermuda as government agent for the Confederate Navy. He was later sent to Scotland to bring out a new blockade-runner, which, in honour of her future commander’s wife, was named the Agnes E Fry. It is thought that Captain Fry’s small crew ran it aground near Fort Caswell rather than let it fall into enemy hands.
March 9. Bermuda’s immigration laws have been found to contravene the island’s constitution by the Supreme Court. The latest ruling to raise questions about the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 comes after Michael Barbosa challenged provisions in the statute that he claimed discriminated against him on the basis of his place of origin and prevented him gaining status. In his judgment, Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman recognized the Bermuda Government’s new Pathways to Status policy as a remedy for the constitutional violation and said Mr Barbosa could bring the case back to court if the proposed changes were not enacted. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the case highlighted the need for the Pathways to Status initiative. “The court held that our immigration legislation was discriminatory on the basis of place of origin in failing to provide a pathway to status to him and to other British Overseas Territories Citizens who were ordinarily resident here on July 31, 1989. The court did this on two alternate grounds. “It is unconstitutional to discriminate between firstly a BOTC born to Bermudian parents and a BOTC who was not, and a BOTC born in Bermuda and a BOTC born outside. The courts have ruled there must be a pathway to status for people in Mr Barbosa’s situation. This also means that any person born in Bermuda before 1 January 1983 has the constitutional right to live and work in Bermuda free of immigration control.” Mr Barbosa was born in Bermuda in 1976 and lived on the island until he was 16 when he moved to the Azores with his family. He returned to live on the island 11 years later and initially obtained a work permit until he was granted indefinite leave to remain in Bermuda in 2013. But under the 1956 Act he is not eligible to obtain status or a permanent resident’s certificate because neither of his parents possessed Bermudian status at the time of his birth. In n a civil lawsuit heard in December, Mr Barbosa’s lawyer, Peter Sanderson, argued that section 20B (2)(a) of the Act unlawfully discriminated against Mr Barbosa on the ground of place of origin because it treated him less favorably than someone at least one of whose parents possessed Bermudian status at the time of his birth. Judge Hellman said: “I agree. In my judgment, which is guided by the principle of giving full recognition and effect to those fundamental rights and freedoms with a statement of which the constitution commences, the prohibition in section 12 of the constitution against affording different treatment to someone attributable wholly or mainly to his description by place of origin, such that he is subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another place of origin are not subject, extends to affording different treatment of that nature to someone by reason of his parents’ place of origin. In the circumstances I grant a declaration that Mr Barbosa has been discriminated against on grounds of place of origin contrary to section 12 of the Constitution. The proposed Pathways to Status will provide him with an effective remedy. If, by the end of the current legislative session, no such remedy has been provided, Mr Barbosa has liberty to restore this matter to court.” In his judgment Puisne Judge Hellman also found that Mr Barbosa was a person who belongs to Bermuda under the Constitution, and is therefore free to work in Bermuda free of immigration control. He said: “Mr Barbosa feels keenly that he has second-class status in Bermuda, although he looks upon the island as his only home. The practical consequences include restrictions on his employment opportunities and his ability to purchase property. The less tangible consequences include the prejudice which he has encountered from some of those who do not regard him as ‘really Bermudian’.” Mr Barbosa and his wife, Christine, also challenged present legislation that prevents them from adopting. However, Judge Hellman reserved judgment on the question of adoption as well as damages until the 2015 case of Williams v Minister for Home Affairs had been heard by the Court of Appeal. In that case, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley held that section 11(5) of the Constitution conferred on persons who were deemed to belong to Bermuda not just the right to reside in Bermuda but also the right to seek employment in Bermuda without any restrictions and without being discriminated against. Judge Hellman added: “Mrs Barbosa was born in the Philippines. Mr and Mrs Barbosa married in Bermuda in May 2007. Mrs Barbosa has a niece in the Philippines whose mother has died. Mr and Mrs Barbosa would like to bring her to Bermuda in order to adopt her. However, they have been advised that they cannot adopt her here as they are not residents of Bermuda within the meaning of the Adoption of Children Act 2006.”
March 9. Many supporters of the Bermuda Government’s Pathways to Status plan are “absolutely terrified” to publicly back it because of the Opposition’s “nasty” and racially charged “campaign of misinformation”, according to Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs. Senator Fahy told The Royal Gazette that the majority of people he had spoken to were in favour of the proposed immigration reforms, adding: “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people in the community who are very supportive but are absolutely terrified of being identified. “They are terrified of making public statements because of the nasty dialogue from the Opposition and some of their supporters.” His comments came a day after Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban was chastised during a parliamentary debate on the reforms for saying: “I have to ... almost compare the OBA to a cockroach ... which carry certain diseases on their appendages.” During the same session, Opposition leader Marc Bean said the Government had 48 hours to withdraw the Pathways bill or, he predicted, “all hell will break loose”. Mr Fahy said various organisations that supported the plan, including the Jamaican Association and the West Indian Association, told government they wanted to issue public statements but changed their minds after they saw the reaction to the Association of Filipinos. That group went public on its support for Pathways last month, prompting what the minister described as a high number of “hateful remarks on the blogs”, including comments about Filipinos stealing jobs from Bermudians. Mhely Carlit, who came here from the Philippines in 1996 and who is featured in a government campaign promoting Pathways, told this newspaper her family had suffered threats and abusive language in the past. She said since the publicity campaign was launched “we just try to avoid people who are congregating because we don’t want any action towards us”. The Vasco da Gama Club and Portuguese Cultural Association has also publicly backed the reforms, which would allow those resident in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency and permanent residents who have lived here for 20 years to apply for Bermudian status. “People have a real fear,” said Mr Fahy. “When you use racially charged language it scares away that silent majority to speak out. That’s exactly what has happened here. That’s why we saw such inflammatory language in the House last night.” An online petition in support of Pathways to Status had gathered more than 2,500 signatures by yesterday afternoon but the person understood to have launched it didn’t respond to interview requests from this newspaper. Mr Fahy said he had nothing to do with the petition or an associated Facebook page, adding: “They did this absolutely on their own as concerned citizens. They felt this was the right thing to do.” The senator said the Progressive Labour Party claimed to want a bipartisan approach to the reforms, while deliberately fostering unrest. “On the one hand, you have got a shadow minister calling for collaboration and he likened the OBA to diseased cockroaches. This is someone who wants to be the Minister of Home Affairs. It’s outrageous. When you hear Marc Bean saying in his speech ‘there are not enough police in this country to hide behind, we can’t be responsible for the consequences’ — you can’t say to me that that’s a genuine offer for collaboration in any shape or form, when it’s laced with racial remarks, it’s laced with remarks that will intensify people’s feelings on both sides. “I find it so ironic that people can say the kinds of things they are saying when many of them are married to foreigners, they have gone overseas to have children to benefit from citizenship rights in those countries, they have parents who are from other jurisdictions. It is designed to inflame and it’s designed to bring about social unrest. That’s what they are doing and what they are deliberately doing. I have absolutely no doubt, having been in the unfortunate position of having to spend my time listening to it yesterday, that this is a deliberate campaign of disinformation and misinformation and it’s designed to inflame racial tensions in Bermuda and it’s absolutely wrong to do so.” Mr Roban yesterday expressed disappointment that the One Bermuda Alliance had “refused an olive branch extended by the Progressive Labour Party” to establish a joint select committee on immigration reform, which prompted Monday night’s debate. “In taking this course of action, Premier Michael Dunkley and his fellow OBA members of Parliament have collectively thumbed their noses to and ignored the wishes of a significant portion of our community,” he said. “This current Government does not represent anything that it was elected under and clearly has lost its way.” There have been several staged protests against Pathways since it was announced at the start of February, with campaigners shouting down the minister and Cabinet colleagues at a public meeting and police criticizing a rush-hour demonstration that brought traffic to a halt. One-woman protestor Enda Matthie, meanwhile, began a vigil outside Sessions House yesterday morning to protest against the reforms. She was joined overnight and this morning by supporters. The anti-Pathways Immigration Reform Action Group said in a statement today it was “unacceptable” that Ms Matthie was compelled to stage a “hunger strike” because the OBA was not “listening to the people”. Mr Fahy said it was no surprise some people were scared to go public with their views. “Can you blame them when the leader of the Opposition is prepared to stand up in Parliament and say people should be marching outside my house?” he asked. “That kind of language: most people do not have the appetite to deal with it and I don’t blame them. But the majority of people you talk to in the street, they say ‘this is the right thing to do’. It is fear [that stops them speaking out]." He said an analysis of polls showed support for extending residency and status rights in Bermuda had risen over time and no one had publicly articulated any opposition to the “substance of government’s proposals”. And, citing an editorial in the Cayman Compass newspaper this week on the immigration debate in Bermuda, which applauded the Bermuda Government’s “pro-business” approach, Mr Fahy said: “We are doing exactly the right thing in terms of human rights and economic growth. There’s nothing to disagree with what their assessment is, from the outside looking in.”
March 9. Janie Brown has lived in Bermuda for 23 years, employs a predominantly Bermudian workforce in her dental practice and has two Bermudian children. And yet, without status, the US native can still be made to feel like a “second-class citizen” in her adopted home. “It just never seems to be enough. How much can one foreigner give to a country which treats them so poorly sometimes?” said the New Yorker, who featured in a February government campaign explaining the reasoning behind its controversial immigration reform plan. Dr Brown first visited Bermuda in 1992 to celebrate finishing dental school, met her husband here and married a year later. They have since divorced and she raises their children, aged 17 and 14, in Paget. She spoke to The Royal Gazette at Par-la-Ville Dental in Hamilton, which she owns, after the Bermuda Government opted to press forward with its Pathways to Status legislation on Monday. In the House of Assembly, the One Bermuda Alliance rejected the Progressive Labour Party’s insistence that the changes be decided via a bipartisan committee. Tabled by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, the initiative would make it more straightforward for long-term residents to gain both permanent residency and status. Dr Brown rejected the Progressive Labour Party’s suggestion that the OBA’s underlying motive with Pathways to Status is to bolster the island’s white voting population, therefore helping the party secure its future in power. “Part of me feels like it always becomes this racial issue in Bermuda. I really don’t think that this is a platform for racism. Because in 23 years I haven’t been allowed to vote, I’ve ignored all the political nonsense that goes on. Who would I vote for in the next election? Not so much the party that would provide status for me, but the party that would represent my views best. Neither of them appeal to me, honestly.” The New Yorker, who has a permanent residence certificate, said that gaining status would affect her on both a personal and a professional level, securing her sole proprietorship business and helping her to potentially buy a home. She said: “There’s a joke in my family. When I’m cross with my son, he’ll say to me tongue-in-cheek, ‘You should watch your mouth, because I can march down to immigration and have you kicked off this island’. We laugh about it, but there is also an element of truth to it. It would be really hard to leave Bermuda now. This is my children’s home, we don’t have another home to go to unless we create one.” Filipina housekeeper Mhely Carlit, who has lived in St George’s for 20 years, said that she had occasionally been treated like a second-class citizen by some sections of Bermudian society. “When I’m in the store, the cashier might look at us as if we’re not entitled to anything,” said Mrs Carlit, who followed her husband Renato here from the Philippines in 1996 after he secured a chef’s job at Tom Moore’s Tavern. “But we have a lot of local friends and they accept and support us. They don’t think of us as a burden to anybody; they accept us the way we are,” added the mother-of-one, who also featured in the Government’s awareness campaign. Mrs Carlit said that gaining PRC status would help the family to avoid the stress of renewing work permits and secure their place in Bermuda. “We’re not taking opportunities away from anyone, because we’ve already been here for 20 years. We just want to be part of the society and the community,” she said. “It’s not about race, it’s about human rights.”
March 9. A motion calling for a joint select committee to be appointed to look at the historic issues surrounding immigration has been withdrawn by Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown. The motion also called for the committee to report on its enquiries and make recommendations to Parliament. It comes two days after an urgent motion to launch a joint select committee to tackle the issue of immigration was rejected.
March 9. A bid to bring a slice of Hollywood to Bermuda will be launched today. The Bermuda International Film Festival Purpose Trust is to highlight the advantages of the island as a base for film financing and production. Patrice Horner, a Biff Purpose Trust trustee, said: “We want to encourage people to incorporate film companies in Bermuda. “We’ve done this over the last year, talking to various industry members and local service providers as the BIFF Purpose Trust.” Ms Horner, a financial consultant with a background in film production and finance, said that film giants Disney and Paramount run distribution and some licensing out of Bermuda. She added that an increase in alternative distribution channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu had fuelled demand for more movies to be made, but at a cheaper cost than the blockbuster budgets from major film studios. And Ms Horner said that, with the financial expertise already available in Bermuda, it could become an industry hot spot for film professionals looking for efficient corporate structuring, financing and investment opportunities. The Biff Purpose Trust is to host three panel discussions starting tonight to turn the spotlight on the island as a hub for the film industry. Dan Barnett, chief commercial officer for the America’s Cup, will discuss managing international marketing and broadcast rights for the 2017 race series. Tomorrow, representatives from law firm Appleby, the Bank of Butterfield, the Bermuda Stock Exchange and professional services firm KPMG will look at the legal structures and financing options in Bermuda, which could help film makers manage international royalty streams and give them administrative efficiency. The panel will also look at the Bermuda Stock Exchange’s mezzanine financing, which can provide mid-range financing for company listings on the BSX and attract investors. On Friday, there will be a panel discussion on BidSlate, a global content rights marketplace and online platform for buying and selling distribution rights which targets the independent film sector, while IT company Fireminds will outline the island’s electronic infrastructure. Ms Horner said: “There will need to be more quality films, which means that, because of the economics, films will have to be produced more efficiently. A lot of the cost of films is the contracts up front and negotiations for financing.” She added that Bermuda’s separate accounts company legislation could also be attractive to film makers. Ms Horner said: “Bermuda is a unique locale for becoming an international media hub, not necessarily filming here, although that would be great, but incorporating here and creating business for law firms. It would also support the accounting and advisory firms like KPMG.” She added: “Companies can get access to private equity through the Bermuda Stock Exchange. That provides an added level of comfort to investors because they know the companies are vetted, properly established and adhere to sound regulations. Bermuda is looking to pursue new business opportunities and this could very well be one of them — and it will help the Bermuda International Film Festival be more relevant. Fireminds are involved because we believe we could actually digitally store and disseminate films from here once the rights are purchased. It’s also possible to have a pay-on-demand system as well because there is so much optical cable available from Bermuda.” The Mezzanine Film Market — Going Independent series of discussions will be held at the Biff Lounge, 46 Reid Street, Hamilton, between 2pm and 4pm over the three days.
March 9. The Corporation of Hamilton, left liable for a “misappropriated” $18 million loan for a hotel on Par-la-Ville car park, has come a crucial step closer to refinancing its bad debt. Charles Gosling, Hamilton’s mayor, said his administration had been saddled with the guarantee plus interest on the deal, made under the city’s previous administration, that it was obligated to pay back. Mr Gosling would not speculate on what had become of the missing millions from Mexico Infrastructure Finance, signed over as part of a funding deal for a luxury hotel and residences. The mayor was speaking in the aftermath of a crucial reprieve, after Wednesday’s marathon session in the House of Assembly included the tabling of legislation enabling the Corporation to use properties as collateral for a loan of roughly $28 million with a local bank, identified on the order sheet as Clarien. That loan, which effectively links the hotel development debt with another loan for the Corporation’s works depot, would enable the Corporation to pay off its creditor. Both the Corporation and the developers, Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences Ltd, were sued last year by MIF after defaulting on the loan. “We got in this situation because we have people who obligated the Corporation to an $18 million debt without contemplating how to pay it back,” Mr Gosling told The Royal Gazette. The matter has since come under police investigation, with authorities announcing on January 26 that a 41-year-old Smith’s man had been arrested in connection with the missing funds. On February 3, police said that the man had been released on bail, and that their inquiry was ongoing. Mr Gosling acknowledged the situation was far from rosy, but said that the best step for now was to pay off the creditor for MIF. “We would like to have the ability to say ‘bon voyage’,” he added. The legislation that went before MPs in the early hours of yesterday is subject to negative resolution, meaning it will have to wait 30 days before getting approved. If no objections are raised in Parliament or in the Senate, “it is deemed as having passed — if not, then they will debate issues”, Mr Gosling said. Mr Gosling said the new deal for the city was a step up, beginning with interest-only payments, and 15 years to pay it back. “One of the requirements in the terms of the loan is that the ratio between collateral and the loan is 65 per cent. For a loan just under $28 million means about $40 million in terms of collateral. That’s more than one piece of property.” The Corporation had to bring car parks, some residential buildings and properties such as the former Lemon Tree premises to the table. The mayor said his administration had been working on an “ever-changing list of corporation real estate as the various players have changed.” The Bermuda Government assumed stewardship over the municipalities in December 2013, effectively putting Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, in charge of the city’s purse strings. That move came shortly after Arlene Brock, the then Ombudsman, issued a damning report on the handling of City Hall under the “Team Hamilton” administration of the former mayor, Graeme Outerbridge. Yesterday Mr Gosling said he had received “very strong assurances” from the minister and “support” from Michael Dunkley in getting legislation enacted for the City to pay off its obligations. Today’s orders for the House of Assembly include the second reading of the Hamilton Sewerage Amendment Act 2016, aimed at raising funds, plus further consideration of agreements between the Corporation and Clarien Bank. The Corporation is also seeking revenues via traffic ordinances and parking charges. “The minister and the permanent secretary have worked particularly hard to get us what we are asking for,” Mr Gosling said. However, internal communications shared with this newspaper give some measure of the anxiety within City Hall over the pace of legislative affairs. In a letter to Premier Michael Dunkley dated February 19, Mr Gosling writes that the Corporation “has never been so fiscally challenged as it is now due to this unfortunate series of events.” E-mails to Derrick Binns, the Secretary of Cabinet, questioned whether Cabinet appreciated the deadlines faced by the Corporation, while Mr Dunkley was told that the “continuous patience of MIF is clearly at its limit”. “The current Council, in seeking election, took this on to fix the issue but as has been explained numerous times the restored and improved revenue stream must be there to service the debt of the loan.” Telling the Premier that the “travesty” had to be fixed, the mayor said the island’s financial reputation risked being tarnished, adding: “I refuse to have the alternative be my legacy.” However, in his response, dated February 24, Mr Dunkley noted that the Corporation was in regular dialogue with Senator Fahy, who also briefed Cabinet on the issue each week. “I would, therefore, encourage you to continue this dialogue with the minister,” Mr Dunkley added. Yesterday, Mr Gosling said the Corporation had known with the start of February that “the Government and the Opposition were going to be fixated on the Budget. The fact is that we have had a somewhat impatient creditor who wants to get his money and leave the island,” he added.
March 8. Consultants have pitched their services to the One Bermuda Alliance amid complaints within the party that they lack a coherent strategy. According to party sources, the meeting was called for Saturday at the OBA’s headquarters on Reid Street. The meeting, at which political consultants met with party members, has been planned for some time: OBA MPs were said to have been promised that a new party consultant would be in place by the end of 2015. The ruling party’s significant defeat in the February 4 by-election for Devonshire North Central prompted calls from within the OBA for a reappraisal of its stance. In an internal communication shared with this newspaper, the OBA was criticised as seemingly aloof from the concerns of average Bermudians. The announcement of the controversial Pathways to Status immigration initiative on the day after the by-election also drew the ire of some party members.
March 8. Michael Dunkley has said he was convinced the Government’s immigration reform policies would “not be to the detriment of Bermudians”. The Premier spoke minutes after a Bill, brought about by Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown to form a joint select committee to examine immigration reform, was rejected in the House of Assembly by 18 votes to 14. While saying he “lauded” Mr Brown for a “great political strategy”, Mr Dunkley added: “We understand there are some green shoots in the economy but we also understand there are still many people struggling. I am convinced this policy will not be to the detriment of Bermudians. Why? Because we will not let it. We feel very strongly that the approach we are taking is the correct one. It is up to us to continue to listen to people and show people who don’t support that approach why we are doing it and what it will mean to them.” Asked whether he was concerned about rising tensions on the island surrounding the proposed granting of status to long-term residents, Mr Dunkley added: “Any time anyone talks about raising tensions in the community there has to be a concern. I call on people, in spite of the challenges they may face, that we need to continue to express ourselves in an appropriate way. Destroying parts of the fabric of our community and culture is not going to take us forward.” Mr Brown described the outcome of the vote as a “disappointment”. He told The Royal Gazette: “We knew we had a low probability of success but, given the significance and island-wide concern, we thought the appropriate step to take was to try one last Parliamentary maneuver to bring about a collaborative approach. The outcome was disappointing. It means Parliament is seemingly no longer the vehicle for addressing these matters.” Speaking on potential civil unrest in light of comments made by the Opposition with reference to the 1977 riots in Bermuda, Mr Brown added: “I don’t think anyone wants to see unrest. There is deep, pervasive concern but I don’t think we are at the point today that we were in December of 1977. “
March 8. Progressive Labour Party backbencher Rolfe Commissiong was ordered to leave the House of Assembly during a debate after talking while another MP was on his feet. Speaker of the House Randy Horton made the order after issuing several warnings to MPs about cross talking. After leaving the chamber, Mr Commissiong acknowledged that he had said something “innocuous”, adding that the Speaker appeared to be under a good deal of pressure. “Certainly the Government is not happy with the fact that we have been successful in bringing this motion to move this whole issue to a bipartisan framework via a parliamentary joint select committee. “I made a comment, which was somewhat of an innocuous comment. The Speaker was in a stressful situation and for the second time objected — I had earlier made an off-the-cuff comment to a colleague — and he told me to leave. Obviously I’m hoping that we can restore a healthy relationship moving forward.”
March 8. An urgent motion to launch a joint select committee to tackle the issue of immigration was rejected following a prolonged debate in the House of Assembly last night. The motion was launched by Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown before the Bermuda Government could table its Pathways to Status legislation, with the MP warning of “growing and sustained unrest." Voting along party lines, 14 PLP members voted for the motion while 18 OBA members voted against it. A succession of Opposition MPs told the House of Assembly that the island stood on the brink of national turmoil over the Government’s immigration policies, brought to a head by the Pathways to Status initiative. Mr Brown’s motion calling for a joint select committee to examine comprehensive immigration reform was approved by Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, who ruled that it was “a point of urgency” that had to be dealt with. It was an occasionally rancorous debate, with Opposition MP Rolfe Commissiong asked to leave for talking while another speaker was on his feet. Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, voiced scepticism as to whether it was genuinely urgent, but Mr Horton considered it was after “significant and full consideration in relation to what’s happening on our island right now”. Mr Brown’s motion said the committee’s report would be debated before any Bill on the subject went before MPs, and the committee would submit its report to Parliament within six months. Opening the debate, Mr Brown said the country was on a precipice, with its stability at stake, calling the issue “fundamentally divisive”, and describing his motion as an opportunity for the House to demonstrate leadership on a matter “that is tearing this country apart”. He accused the OBA of going against its previous positions, adding: “There is a danger of unilateralism, of one side doing what it wants without regard for opposing or competing viewpoints.” Mr Brown said it would be unhealthy, saying the PLP would undo such legislation if it regained government, and that the issue merited “serious, mature” discussion in a bilateral fashion. He said a committee could come up with firm criteria and a set procedure for awarding status and permanent residency, reminding the Government that it would control a bipartisan committee. The Government, he said, was refusing to discuss the issue, noting that from the tenor of online comments, the country appeared to be “at war” with itself. My legislation has to be mindful of what is a right and what is a privilege — what are the rights of Bermudians and the rights of those who are here on work permits,” Mr Brown continued, arguing that the issue was “delicate and sensitive. In the absence of bipartisanship, this country is going to go through a period of turmoil and unease — it is not good for anyone.” Mr Moniz again rose to query the need for the motion, asking: “Who’s out there urging people to the brink but the honourable member himself?” The Attorney-General said there had never been a PLP Premier who governed with a bipartisan approach, pointing out that Mr Brown was not the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs. “The unrest in our society seems to be emanating from you,” Mr Moniz said, calling the motion “obstructionist” and pointing out that a public meeting on the immigration measures had been shouted down by protesters. Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, accused the Government of disregarding its promise from the last Throne Speech for “public consultation preceding amendments” to immigration. He was told by the Speaker to “withdraw that nonsense” after likening the OBA to a disease-carrying cockroach, with Mr Horton saying the debate was too important for unparliamentary language. Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said that no member of the OBA had defended the lack of consultation on the bill, saying that their rhetoric needs to be based on fact. “The only thing that giving them permanent resident status does is remove them from work permit control. That is all you are doing right now If the OBA truly care about the economy, they would vote for presenting a unified front though bipartisan immigration reform. If not, it’s not about economy, it’s not about jobs, it’s not about hungry people. It’s about votes,” he said. Finance minister Bob Richards responded that actions speak louder than words, saying that if the PLP wanted a bipartisan approach they would have given prior notice to the motion being debated, saying the OBA were hit with an “attempted ambush. You cannot have it both ways, say you’re coming here to take us back from the brink when you put us there in the first place.” Mr Bean described the OBA as “morally bankrupt” and called on the “silent back bench” to vote in favour of the joint select committee. “If they proceed to vote down the joint select committee, then they will have 48 hours to withdraw the bill. That is not a threat, it is what I suspect will happen. After that point the OBA will have involuntarily submitted themselves to the will of the people. All hell will break loose. This is the ultimate and final appeal.” Finally, Michael Dunkley, the Premier, weighed in to say: “We believe in the approach we are taking and we won’t stop listening to the people even if the Opposition wants to threaten action at all times. The people of Bermuda — although some may be frustrated, they understand. President J. F. Kennedy challenges: ‘We cannot negotiate with people who say what is ours is ours and what is yours is negotiable’.”
March 8. Special needs education has been prioritized for the coming fiscal year, according to Wayne Scott. The Minister of Education said the department had experienced an increase in requests and demands for Para educators to meet the diverse needs of children in Bermuda’s education system, particularly those on the autism spectrum, students who are deaf or hard of hearing and those in need of specialized vision programmes. Mr Scott said the department aimed to create supportive classroom environments to meet student needs. The department has also highlighted the importance of evaluation and early intervention for children with autism, allocating more than $4 million for learning support. The department funds three education officers for special education and learning support in addition to 40 learning support teachers for preschool, primary and middle school. “The increase in funding is a direct result of assessment materials needed to ensure appropriate diagnosis of students with special needs and the purchase of unique learning system, a special education curriculum, used for autism functional skills and special school programme,” said Mr Scott. An additional $3 million has been allocated for para educators. “Last year the department of education committed to increase the monitoring and supervision of para professionals with more scrutiny applied to the development and review of criteria and paraprofessional placements.” In October, professionals participated in training that “focuses creating environments that support student success by acknowledging that students have unmet needs and latent skills, which can be addressed by staff response and action”. Currently 29 students are supported in the ASD programme at five public primary and middle schools. Opposition member Lovita Foggo said she hoped that somewhere embedded in that figure was an allocation for a permanent commissioner within the department. In light of the hiring freeze it has been filled in the interim and she emphasized that the acting party should remain. She said it sent a message to the public when we fill posts with Bermudians — “We do have the intellect and the skilled Bermudians on-island who are capable of sitting in that position,” she said. Ms Foggo partially commended the new initiative before, while noting the number of Bermudian students who suffer from some degree of autism. “Again we have a five per cent deduction in the budget allocation where there’s actually a need to ensure more is put in place to help these students have success in education. Aspects of the budget were unrealistic to achieve the government’s goals in education, saying areas such as school improvement and scholarships should have been boosted. We need to do everything we need to do to ensure that public education is seen and accepted in the public domain as being the first choice, always.” PLP MP Diallo Rabain, meanwhile, referred to the recent Score report’s findings on the condition of the island’s public schools, saying that the issue was not a new one. He noted that in the 2013 Throne Speech, the OBA identified the issue and stated that a facilities plan would come. In 2013, we knew we had to put money in our schools and upgrade our facilities,” he said. “In 2014, the minister spoke about an RFP. Now, in 2016, we have the Score report talking about the same thing.” Mr Rabain said there was a public perception that private schools were better than public schools, and that more needed to be done to address the issue. He suggested that a certain percentage of the Bermuda scholarships be earmarked for public school students.
March 8. Healthcare in Bermuda has historically focused on curing patients and treating problems once they have happened. However, with changing eating habits and a fast-paced society setting the stage for chronic conditions, medical practitioners at the Bermuda Wellness and Outreach Centre argue it is time for a new philosophy. “We need to see more emphasis on the preventive side and funding for lifestyle approaches, programmes,” said Leonard Gibbons, a lifestyle intervention specialist with a doctorate in preventive care. Dr Gibbons explained that Bermuda’s acute care model, which works well for acute care conditions, becomes a problem when trying to address chronic conditions. Caren Griffith-Fadlin, a medical practitioner and preventive healthcare provider, added: “It’s the premise that you’re waiting for people to get sick and then you jump in to try and save them instead of helping people to remain well. We need a new system now that is going to address the new challenges that we have.” Dr Griffith-Fadlin said focus had in the past been placed on tackling communicable diseases. However, as eating habits have changed and people are moving less, “the set-up for non-communicable diseases has arisen.” More than 75 per cent of the island’s population is overweight or obese, according to the Steps to a Well Bermuda 2014 survey, and a third of all adults reported a diagnosis of raised blood pressure or hypertension. Furthermore, the Well Bermuda health promotion strategy in 2008 highlighted that the leading cause of deaths in Bermuda was now circulatory diseases. “You’re living in a society where the environment doesn’t encourage wellness and this is a big problem,” Dr Griffith-Fadlin said. “Everywhere you go there is something unhelpful in front of you.” She drew on the example of grocery stores where it is commonplace to see unhealthy snacks lining the checkouts and fruit and vegetables were strategically located on the periphery. The Bermuda Wellness and Outreach Centre was set up a year ago to promote wellness and to prevent medical problems from happening in the first place. It offers healthy living and diet advice programmes, as well as weight loss and management services. It also has an antigravity treadmill and spinal decompression machine that are unique on the island. It is part of a global trend towards preventive care, Dr Griffith-Fadlin told The Royal Gazette. But both doctors stressed that making this shift happen in Bermuda would take a concerted effort of all involved, from policymakers to insurance companies. “In terms of helping people to change, you need to create that environment, that support system. We also need to make sure that people have accurate information,” Dr Gibbons said. “How can we require people to be healthy if they don’t have the accurate information that they need? We need to be supplying them with that.” Dr Griffith-Fadlin added: “One aspect is making sure that people are responsible for their behavior but the other aspect is that the powers that be need to create that environment for people to live healthily more easily. Bermuda Wellness is only a piece in the puzzle and we don’t stand alone — there is no way that on our own we can make the changes that we want to, even with the outreach aspects. The Ministry of Health and the Government need to get really involved in the process of changing the way we do things to create an environment that makes it easier for people to be healthy.” But she stressed that insurance companies also needed to play a part, adding that the practice had had trouble with claims being returned. If their insurance company is going to cover them to get some medication and not cover them to get wellness services, then what are they going to end up doing? They’re going to get medication and the medication is not a cure in a bottle, it’s a kind of Band-Aid over what is going on. If the underlying cause of a condition is not treated you’re just going to end up back in the same position you were in before”. And with many chronic conditions costing a lot of money, Dr Gibbons also stressed the important role preventive care could play in reducing healthcare costs. He said flying heart attack patients overseas for treatment, for example, could routinely cost more than $100,000. But by focusing on wellness, such events could be avoided and the money could be put towards preventing chronic conditions from happening, he said.
March 8. Passengers have raised questions after a ferry crashed into a dock on Friday afternoon. According to several travelers, the 5.20pm Rockaway ferry struck the dock at Cavello Bay hard enough to cause some minor injuries. Deborah Smith-Joell said she hurt her finger during the collision, while another woman was knocked to the ground. “I’m one of the people who doesn’t stand up until the ferry is finished moving,” she said. “I was reading my Kindle when I was just knocked forward into the table. When I looked around, there was one lady who was on the ground. Then a guy came down from the wheel house and said it was his fault. He wasn’t wearing a uniform or anything. I was thinking he’s not in costume, what is he doing on stage. He must have been a trainee or a friend of the captain. He said, ‘It was my fault, I touched the panel’.” Mrs Smith-Joell said that the captain later came out and asked the passengers if anyone had been injured. A second passenger on the boat confirmed the incident, saying: “The ferry hit the dock quite hard. It was a real thud. I know one woman injured her finger and another who hit her head quite hard. Then someone comes out of the wheel house where the captain should have been and said: ‘Sorry. It was my fault.’ And he wasn’t dressed like a ferry employee. I don’t know what he was doing in there. Maybe he was joking, but it seemed rather odd.” A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport yesterday confirmed that there had been a “hard landing” by a ferry on Friday that was reported to the ferry superintendent, adding that inquiries into the incident continued.
March 8. The parent company of The Royal Gazette has announced profits of $514,000 for its last fiscal year. The figure was $391,000 down on the $905,000 recorded in 2014. Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd posted revenues of more than $27.2 million for the year ended September 30, 2015, up $1.9 million on the previous year. BPH chairman Stephen Thomson said 2015 was “a year of transition” for the company. He added the major focus for last year was the amalgamation of printing company Island Press and information and events website Bermuda.com into BPH’s existing business structure. Mr Thomson said: “We are now beginning to realize the synergies from the combined and revitalized operations.” He added that the past seven years had seen a deterioration in the Bermuda economy. Mr Thomson said: “Through the economic downturn, we focused on cost-cutting by finding operational efficiencies, by modernizing production and through the physical consolidation of operations. We introduced new products and diversified revenue by expanding our digital print operations and by growing our digital advertising platforms. The largest project of 2015 was the merging of the Bermuda Press and Island Press operations into one building. The move involved reducing the amount of space occupied by the Office Solutions warehouse and relocating all of the equipment, inventory and employees from the Elliott Street property into the Bermuda Press building, while we remained fully operational. The move was completed before the end of September 2015 and had a significant impact on the cost of the print operations in the year. Looking forward, the print division will recognise substantial cost savings during 2016.” And Mr Thomson told shareholders: “When Bermuda emerges from the recession, your company will be in a position to leverage an improving economy and to continue its 188 years of service to the Bermuda community.” Mr Thomson said that the increase in revenue in 2015 was due to the first full year of amalgamation of Island Press and Bermuda.com, combined with an increase in print and digital advertising sales at The Royal Gazette. He added that increase had been “slightly offset” by a decline in revenues from business supplies store Office Solutions, which had now been addressed. Mr Thomson said that the decision to suspend dividends to shareholders last September was “difficult”, but that it had been necessary to preserve cash and limit borrowing related to the acquisition of Island Press and Bermuda.com. But he added that the board had announced in January that shareholder dividends would be restored this month. The sales teams from online shopping portal eMoo and The Royal Gazette merged into a single entity, called BP Media. Mr Thomson said: “BP Media has been repositioned as the sales arm of our publishing companies to streamline customer relationships, increase customer engagement and to enhance the value proposition to the customers through bundled products. The Royal Gazette soft-launched its IOS and Android mobile and tablet apps for news. A public launch will be tied to the release of a new content subscription model in 2016.” Mr Thomson added that there had been signs of recovery in the economy, with several quarters of GDP growth, although the economy is still very fragile. He told shareholders: “Your company’s and Bermuda’s largest hurdle to success remains the declining population and workforce. Examining our key operational units, it is obvious that the size of the workforce will have a dramatic effect on our success.” Mr Thomson added that a share repurchase programme started at the beginning of this month. The BPH board has approved the repurchase of up to $1 million worth of shares, a total of 153,846 shares, about 11 per cent of outstanding shares. Mr Thomson said: “We believe that the repurchase is the best strategic way to add value to our shareholders as the shares are trading below their book value on the BSX at present.” And he added the BPH board was “confident that the company is positioned correctly to take full advantage of any future improvement in the local economy.”
March 8. Bermuda’s largest information technology company just got bigger. Applied Computer Technologies has acquired cloud and technology services firm Ignition Bermuda Ltd. The deal consolidates two of the island’s significant cloud services providers under the ACT umbrella. All Bermuda technical and management staff at Ignition have been offered post-merger positions. It is a “good news story for Bermuda,” said David Bart, chief executive officer of ACT. “There are no perceived redundancies. Everyone has been offered a position in the merger. The joining of the companies was driven by market conditions. It is a natural progression to where the market is. There is some symmetry and it tied in with our move into the cloud space.” Last year the company invested close to a million dollars as it created and tested a fully structured cloud service, known as ACT CloudOne, that is hosted in Bermuda. In January, Mr Bart said cloud computing was the future for ACT. With the merger he believes the company can further speed up its growth and presence in the cloud space. “It’s an opportunity for us to advance and it establishes us as the leader in the market,” he said, noting that Ignition was an early adapter to the world of cloud computing services. The merger involves Ignition Bermuda’s core technology platform. Graham Pearson, president and CEO of Ignition, said the deal would be good for clients with the Ignition teams continuing their work with more business depth. He explained that leading up to the deal Ignition had reached a crossroads. “We had to decide whether to follow the GRC side (governance, risk and compliance) or continue the cloud business,” he said. Ignition has been in the managed cloud platform and disaster recovery arena for more than a decade. Mr Pearson has reassured clients of Ignition that: “Essentially it will be business as usual but with much needed additional resources and the combined entity of Ignition and ACT will provide clients with access to more skills, products, services and the largest IT support organization in the region.” He will continue to run Paragon GRC Solutions, which is a Bermudian-headquartered company offering software and consulting services, with a focus on offshore governance, risk and compliance. Its team and partners service Bermuda and other offshore markets, including the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Caymans, and the Channel Islands. Meanwhile ACT, which has offices in Par-la-Ville Road, will see its employee count rise to around 60 as a result of the merger. Mr Bart said: “We are very excited to be bringing our established and successful service methodology to the Ignition customer base. By acquiring Ignition we are poised to leverage our recent investment in cloud technology and provide the island with the only true offshore cloud infrastructure where data can reliably and safely be stored.” ACT has been in business for 33 years and was initially a reseller of Compaq and Hewlett Packard computers before moving into systems integration and service and engineering in the early 2000s. Regarding the merger, Mr Bart added: “It reinforces our commitment to ensuring Bermuda has all of the core technologies required to support the global landscape of our customer base. ACT will, following the merger with Ignition, have the ability to support solutions in multiple jurisdictions, including the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Britain.
March 7. By Michael Fahy, Minister of Home Affairs and a government senator. "One of those who commented on my recent opinion about Bermuda’s coming demographic crisis suggested that to be better understood, I should speak more from my heart than my head. I understand what he or she meant, but this is a world full of facts, and at this point in Bermuda’s history, some of the facts we face are not pleasant. All of us have to do what we can to try to make a constructive response to those facts, whether in our personal lives or, in my case, the lives of those I am in public office to help. From my heart, let me say this: the actions I take as Minister of Home Affairs are all designed to make life better for Bermudians. That’s what I do. I have three born-Bermudian children and my brother has two. How absurd would it be for me to want to jeopardize their futures, never mind anyone else’s? This difficult job is made more difficult, sometimes, by critics who want to deal with all our problems emotionally, without bothering to face the facts at all; or, sometimes, by critics who are prepared to make things up to do little more than gain some political advantage by opposing what the Government does. Walton Brown, the Progressive Labour Party MP, who has been rallying protesters against the ministry’s Pathways to Status plan, seems to fall into both those categories. In his campaign, he has been prepared to sacrifice the comfort of ordinary, innocent citizens by such means as the East Broadway demonstration or by trampling on the dignity of the House of Assembly. What he thinks he is accomplishing isn’t clear to me — we all know what his opinion is and the opinions of those who support him. He has made it clear that he feels there can be no real immigration reform without independence. On social media, he has posted a series of claims about citizenship that he presents as facts. His claims are not facts. They are his opinions and some of them are just plain wrong. He claims, for example, that all countries have quotas for the grant of citizenship, by which I guess he means we should do the same thing here. He’s wrong. The grant of citizenship in nearly every country, like ours, is simply a matter of law, and those countries feel that it would be wrong to treat one qualified applicant any differently than another. Some countries do use quotas — and perhaps this is what he is thinking of — for skilled migration programmes, such as the US Green Card or the UK Tier-1 and Tier-2 visas. He says the One Bermuda Alliance focus is not to ensure that Bermudians can gain quality jobs in their own country. Wrong. The Ministry of Home Affairs has put in place a substantial and well-known programme to make sure that people can be trained or retrained to fill jobs in the economy, to require employers to be more careful about the process of hiring and that information about jobs is much more easily available to jobseekers than once it was. We are light years ahead of the past government in terms of enforcing our immigrations laws. We’ve increased the penalties greatly and under this government people are just not going to get away with thumbing their noses at the law any more. At the end of last year, the Immigration Compliance section was processing 87 cases of immigration violations. Those 87 active cases could result in fines of up to $1 million. Mr Brown says Pathways is discriminatory under the Constitution because it will result in more whites getting status than blacks. Any lawyer would tell you that that is completely wrong. The plan allows all people living here for a certain time to apply for status regardless of race, as the Constitution demands. Mr Brown says that the only vehicle for securing permanent resident’s certificate status today is through the Job Makers Act, which applies to senior executives in the private sector. Actually, the Job Makers Act was introduced in 2011 by the Progressive Labour Party. It’s a very small group of senior executives ... we deal with perhaps nine or ten a year. They can get PRCs after ten years. Pathways, which involves a wait of 20 years, deals not with executives but ordinary folk — from the top to the bottom of the demographic scale. Mr Brown seems to be telling us that he approves the status quo, which favors executives, but disapproves giving Pathways status to less affluent people from the Caribbean and the Azores. Under our Pathways proposal, everyone is treated equally. The numbers involved every year will be low and far more racially balanced than quotas, which would involve a cumbersome points process. The last one of these points of his that I will deal with is his contention that dealing with Pathways as we have done is divisive and that we should have more dialogue with those who oppose us. I would like to make two points: the first is that Pathways is much less divisive than he says. Every poll or survey done in Bermuda has shown the majority are in favour of granting status to long-term residents. His firm is the only one whose survey has measured that support at less than 70 per cent. His poll was conducted in 2000, but Bermudian opinion has shifted significantly since. I have made considerable efforts to engage the Opposition in dialogue about immigration matters. Mr Brown tries, but has never seemed able to bring his party to the table. It obviously prefers a strategy of drawing red lines in the sand and telling me not to cross them. The tactics of Mr Brown’s campaign against Pathways have the same flavour: his idea of engagement really comes down to me simply agreeing to do what he says. Let’s face it, Mr Brown’s thinking about this issue may well be affected by the frustration he feels with his own party at the moment. People must be puzzled, as am I, by the way his views on the human rights issue of same-sex marriage seem so at odds with his views on the issue of equal rights for long-term residents. Pathways is the right thing to do. I know it in my head and I know it in my heart."
March 7. United States Consul General Mary Ellen Koenig will host an information session about exchange opportunities available to young Bermudians to work and travel in the United States The session in Bermuda College’s North Hall at 1pm on Wednesday, is open to young people from any school in Bermuda and their parents. The US Department of State oversees exchange programmes, which provide opportunities to work in a wide range of fields while also providing exposure to American culture and travel opportunities. Participants in these exchange programmes work as camp counselors, au pairs or interns, or in fields such as the hospitality industry and theme parks around the country. Work and study programmes are operated by numerous organisations in the United States that promote educational travel. Each programme seeks to introduce young people from abroad to American culture. These organisations are responsible for job placements and provide advice on visas, housing, and other programme issues; fees for these services are charged and vary from organization to organization. Each organization is vetted by and overseen by the Department of State to ensure participants’ health, welfare and safety through government-mandated regulations.
March 7. The constitution could be breached if it was determined that the Bermuda Government’s same-sex marriage referendum had been prompted by religious beliefs. That is the view of human rights lawyer Tim Marshall, who believes that recent calls for a referendum by church members would have resonated with parliamentarians before the One Bermuda Alliance tabled a Bill for one last Friday. Mr Marshall, who also described the pressure group Preserve Marriage as religious “in substance”, warned that any change in legislation rooted in religion might contravene Section 8 of the constitution covering the protection of freedom of conscience. The lawyer told The Royal Gazette: “In order for traditional marriage laws to withstand a constitutional challenge, they must be justified on secular [non-religious] grounds. “If the underpinning of the laws is to give effect to a dominant religious view then there is a very good argument that the laws offend Section 8 of the constitution. It is possible that Government might be able to articulate a secular basis for the laws or any amendment designed to fortify traditional marriage but thus far it does appear that religious beliefs of a dominant, conservative religion is behind maintaining the status quo in order to impose a view on Bermudians, residents and tourists alike that being gay is unnatural and the work of the devil. In 2016, that view is not only archaic but it openly encourages the oppression of gay people by diminishing their rightful place in society by letting them know every day of their lives that their human, natural desire to love and to be loved is not recognized or respected by the state. Even the introduction of legislation recognizing civil unions falls well short of the right thing to do. It is qualitatively the same as Jim Crow laws [enforcing racial segregation] where a group is reluctantly acknowledged by the majority as being equal but different in a way that requires separation. Heterosexuals, this way please. Gays, please stay in this line.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, tabled legislation paving the way for a referendum on both same-sex marriage and civil unions in the House of Assembly on Friday. It came after Preserve Marriage lobbied the OBA to call a referendum and distributed material claiming that marriage should be “upheld as a special union ordained by God between a man and a woman”. Mr Marshall observed that Preserve Marriage was therefore “in substance” a religious group despite its claims it represents the religious and non-religious sectors of the community. “They are entitled to exercise the same rights and liberties that all citizens have. Where any society has to be careful is where one dominant, or any religion, influences the state to such an extent that the religious doctrine becomes the law of the land. Is legislation that strengthens the concept of marriage as being restricted to a man and a woman in substance giving us up to a religious view? If that is the case, doesn’t that then infringe the rights and liberties of others to hold a different view?” The Referendum Act is likely to be debated in the House in the next few weeks. Once approved by MPs and enacted, the Premier then has 90 days to publish a referendum notice. The ballot must be held between 30 and 60 days following the publication. Mr Marshall added: “The churches have tremendous influence in Bermuda society. Various churches have influence on their congregations and the congregations will include people who are involved in the political process. I have no doubt that their call for a referendum resonated with Members of Parliament. People have different views and we are starting to hear them on the House floor. In my view, that is the appropriate place for this issue to be resolved.” Preserve Marriage has argued that the government must not allow “the few to decide for the many” by allowing parliamentarians or non-elected judges to make the decision. Mr Marshall said that by calling for a referendum the pressure group is doing exactly that. “In a case where you are talking about human rights specifically, it is quite possible that the minority will continue to be oppressed. The classic example is if you left the issue of segregation to a poll or to a referendum, chances are at that point in history the majority would have supported segregation. Chances are in terms of women’s suffrage if you put that to the society at large the majority would have said women should stay in their place. If you left it to society to give their two cents, the majority is probably going to win the day and you are going to have situations that are morally offensive and sometimes reprehensible.”
March 7. Developer Tom Steinhoff has cast doubt over whether his plans for a restaurant at Shelly Bay will go ahead, citing frustration at government red tape and “disenchantment” at the negative response from some residents. The businessman has submitted a revised plan for the development, with a contentious parking lot removed from the drawings. But he told The Royal Gazette nothing was approved almost 18 months after he began discussing the proposal with officials from the Department of Parks and it was not clear if the final plan would result in a viable business proposition. “People are so negative; it’s disenchanting, it’s disheartening, whatever term you want to use. It’s an emotional thing. We have to see what Parks will approve and then reconsider the viability of this sort of spend. The whole community would lose out if the project was abandoned but I want to do it. The problem is that the building is in such disrepair. The investment [needed] is tremendous. By the time you outfit it all it’s going to be close to a million dollars and I won’t own it. “ Mr Steinhoff, owner of Snorkel Park at Dockyard, has been given a lease by the Ministry of Public Works, following a tender process, to run a restaurant and beach concession in the derelict government building that stands within Shelly Bay national park. He wants to create a 100-seat restaurant, ice-cream counter and rental shop for items like snorkels, paddleboards and kayaks and says nearby parking is needed to make the restaurant a year-round business. Discussion over where to place a parking lot began in October 2014. Mr Steinhoff, who lives near Shelly Bay and regularly takes his two daughters to the playground, initially wanted the parking lot next to the restaurant but claimed that idea was knocked back by local MPs Wayne Furbert and Derrick Burgess. An application was submitted to the Department of Planning in October 2015 showing the car park next to the playground, provoking an outcry from protesters, who said it would restrict use of the public picnic area and a pose a danger to children in the playground. The new proposal, available to view at Planning, no longer has a parking area for 16 cars and 18 cycles next to the playground. Instead, it is proposed that an existing cycle parking bay farther away from the play area is extended, creating 14 spaces for cars and 16 for cycles. Mr Steinhoff said he had no idea if the National Parks Commission would approve the latest draft but planning rules require him to provide additional parking for his restaurant. His concern is that if the parking lot is too far from the restaurant, customers will be reluctant to visit the eatery at night or in bad weather. The new plan shows lighting along the path between the new proposed car park and the restaurant. “Five or six months of the year there is a 50/50 chance of bad weather,” he said. “That’s a real concern.” He said the original building plans were submitted to government last June but the process had taken so long it was now questionable whether the restaurant could be ready for this summer. “It’s at least 20 jobs that are delayed and it might only be seasonal jobs,” he said. “These are real issues.” The Parks Commission is expected to provide its assessment of the plan to the planning department this week, before the drawings can go before the Development Applications Board. This week, campaigners issued a press release stating that public works minister Craig Cannonier had informed them the parking lot would not be built. The Community Against the Shelly Bay Parking Lot said it welcomed the news. The revised plan has been reviewed by Keith Masser, government’s principal engineer for highways. He cited “reservations” in an e-mail to planning last week, including the safety of a disabled parking space in a lay-by and how “safe and unobstructed use of the Railway Trail” would be accommodated.
March 7. The public is being invited to help shape the future of reclaimed land at Dockyard after its use as an Event Village for the America’s Cup is over. The West End Development Corporation’s creation of nine acres of reclaimed land, known as Cross Island, is well under way, with seven loads of fill having already been delivered by ship. Infrastructure and utilities such as power, potable and grey water, lift stations and communications, will soon be put in place after which the area will be prepared for the upcoming America’s Cup 2017 Event Village as an interim use. Joanna Cranfield, Wedco’s Business Development Manager, said: “As has been well publicized, the end use for Cross Island was removed and Wedco must now determine the best use for this area post America’s Cup. Approval for the project was first announced in 2009 as part of a public-private partnership. The plan as originally announced included a marina with a mix of approximately 200 slips in a variety of sizes to accommodate both larger and smaller vessels. Marine support and club facilities were also to be included, as well as provision for a Marine College to provide the necessary education to Bermudians to enable them to choose a marine career. Marine and Ports were also to lease a portion of the new facility, using it to house all of its ferries and tugs. It was unfortunate that this plan cannot go ahead as originally planned but we understand and respect the reasons. Now we have to look to the future and we hope that as many people as possible attend the public meeting and we look forward to the ideas that they might bring to the table.” Wedco will hold the meeting on March 23, from 7pm to 8pm, upstairs at the Clocktower Mall to share further information on Cross Island, its roots and subsequent creation.
March 5. The Opposition accused the One Bermuda Alliance of disregarding the voices of the people during the House of Assembly last night. Zane DeSilva, Walter Roban, Rolfe Commissiong, Jamahl Simmons, Wayne Furbert and David Burt all spoke out in the House with the message that the OBA have not listened to the public and ignored protesters who gathered outside the building earlier in the day. PLP MP Mr DeSilva accused Sylvan Richards of “gerrymandering” and strategically setting up votes by using his position on the boundary commission. Labeling this perceived failing a “trust deficit”, he said OBA has put policies in place that they would never have earned votes with had they proposed them sooner. He also said that polls taken in 2012 suggested that the OBA had inherited the white vote, a hypothesis fellow party member Rolfe Commissiong agreed with. Continually referring to them as the UBP, Rolfe Commissiong accused the government of being part of a long-established racialised system that disadvantaged black Bermudians. He said polls prior to the election always indicate “the same thing” — namely, that 85 to 90 per cent of whites will vote for the OBA. The backbencher called it a stumbling block that has stunted the growth of the country and that today’s events “send a powerful signal to the leaders of this country. We don’t want to see this country torn apart but if it does it rests solely on the shoulders of this Government,” he said. Walton Brown, meanwhile, accused the Premier of ignoring “clearly demonstrated concerns. This Government has taken one of the most divisive issues in the country and turned it into an opportunity for political gain. Government must listen. They must have a level of sensitivity. It seems that this Government refuses to learn any lessons of history. I’m one person. Don’t listen to me — listen to the voices that were out there today.” David Burt called the Government rule “tyranny”, saying: “If you arrive at your position before you consult, you are not listening.” He said Michael Dunkley had lost control over his own party and could not pass legislation, noting comments made in yesterday’s edition of The Royal Gazette regarding the same-sex marriage referendum. Mr Burt concluded: “The premier is weak. This Government has lost its way. The people are tired and I suggest that the Premier put himself out of his misery, go to the Governor and ask him to dissolve parliament.” The Premier did not respond in the House but when asked by this newspaper about Mr Burt’s claim he did not have control of his party, he said: “I don’t agree with that in any way. You can ask any member of my cabinet and they will tell you their opinions. I believe very strongly that this Government has very difficult decisions to make and when you have difficult decisions to make people are going to question those decisions. It’s easy to be the Opposition because you can say whatever you want and there’s no accountability. This Government took over in 2012 and this country was in an absolute mess and every decision we have made has been difficult. We are making the way forward and we will not be sidelined by the opposition.”
March 5. The House of Assembly last night passed legislation allowing the Minister of Finance to waive government fees. Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said the Government Fees Amendment Act allowed the waiving of fees under “exceptional circumstances”, such as in the wake of a hurricane. He explained that the waiver process would be transparent, going through the negative resolution procedure. David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said he had no issues with the legislation as tabled, but told the House that items which should have gone through the negative resolution procedure in the House had not. “They are published online on Bermuda Laws, but they don’t get tabled in this House,” Mr Burt said. “It’s a problem and it needs to be fixed.” Attorney-General Trevor Moniz responded that Mr Burt should approach him about any concerns, stating that the rule is that they must be brought to the House as soon as reasonably practical. The House also approved the Government Authorities Fees Order, which adds the Insurance Appeals Tribunal to the list of government authorities, with Mr Richards saying it had not been included previously as a result of an oversight. No objections to the order were raised.
March 5. An interactive pirate show complete with sword fighting and fire displays is on the books for this year’s tourist season in Dockyard. The event will be put on by Calico Jack’s Floating Bar and is one of several new initiatives announced yesterday to tourism stakeholders at the preseason Royal Naval Dockyard Breakfast. Others include a permanent zip line, possible helium balloon, expanded Dolphin Quest programme and revamped re-enactment and walking tour. "This is going to be a great season,” Andrew Dias, the general manager of the West End Development Corporation, said. “The season that we have before us will continue to build towards the America’s Cup in 2017 and we really want to deliver a product for Bermuda that all of us can be proud of.” According to Wedco marketing and social media coordinator Rebekah Cabral, Calico Jack’s has become a great business and entertainment provider in Dockyard. This year, she said the bar would be having a twice-weekly pirate show with a fully-dressed character interacting with the guests and possibly making them walk the plank. Nicole Lindo, the bar’s general manager, added they would be putting on the “piratey-fire show” featuring sword fighting and fire breathing with Rockfire Productions Meanwhile, Wedco business development manager Joanne Cranfield said a permanent zip line would be installed and a helium balloon was being looked into. Additionally, a new jewellery store will be set up in the North Basin Building Nine and Ms Cabral added that Dolphin Quest would also expand, with programmes planned for the new outer habitat. And the historical re-enactment and walking tours will be combined and made much more visible and interactive. Public relations and marketing strategist Jodi Lewis also introduced the interactive marketing tool Social Box, which will be based in Dockyard. The sixth Wedco preseason breakfast was held at Bonefish Grill to inform stakeholders of the new events planned for the upcoming season. “It gives us the opportunity of connecting the new vendors and the existing vendors here in the Dockyard with the concierge services at the hotels to show them what their guests can expect at the Dockyard for this season,” Wedco chairman Ray Charlton said, adding that the breakfast saw a great turnout. Mr Dias also highlighted some of the achievements over the past year, saying that work on Cross Island in the South Basin was expected to be done on time and on budget by the end of June. Restoration of Dockyard’s buildings has also progressed, with every North Basin historical building expected to be wind and watertight with new roofs and windows by the end of 2016. Other improvements include new sprinkler systems and upgrades to the water and sewage infrastructure to ensure Dockyard can handle the volume of visitors expected over the next two years.
March 5. A bus driver who ploughed into a line of parked cars has been found guilty of having cannabis in her system while behind the wheel. But Belterre Swan was cleared of careless driving in connection with the accident that took place outside Great Things on East Broadway in Hamilton at about 11.30am on March 11 last year. Magistrate Archibald Warner ruled that the 55-year-old’s driving had not fallen below the standards expected of a reasonably careful driver on the day of the accident. He also pointed towards the fact that the rear of the car she collided with was “jutting” out into the narrow carriageway. But Mr Warner said the mere presence of cannabis later detected in her body meant she was guilty of driving the bus while a dangerous drug was in her system, regardless of how the cannabis entered her system or whether she knew it had. Swan was released on bail pending her sentence next week. However, her lawyer, Larry Mussenden, indicated that he would appeal against the conviction. “I have every confidence we shall be successful in the Supreme Court,” Mr Mussenden said. During the trial, which had previously taken place before Mr Warner in Magistrates’ Court, Swan insisted: “I don’t smoke marijuana”. But she did acknowledge she had been at her brother’s home a few days before the accident where cannabis was being smoked in her presence. She also admitted to taking three “pulls” from a homemade cigarette. In his judgment, Mr Warner ruled that the offence of driving with dangerous drugs in your body was a “strict liability” offence, and made out regardless of intention or knowledge. “Clearly the prevention of people driving vehicles with dangerous drugs in their system is a public concern,” he added. Swan had been driving the number 8 bus along East Broadway when the vehicle struck a row of parked cars and a utility pole outside Great Things. After the crash, she told investigators that her steering wheel had locked. However, lab tests later discovered THC metabolites — chemicals formed when the body processes the active ingredient in cannabis — in her blood. Mr Mussenden had submitted that there was no case for Swan to answer, arguing that the prosecution had presented no evidence that his client knew she had consumed cannabis.
March 5. By Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS JSM, Masters of Law: International Tax and Financial Services. Part two of lowlights in the 2016-2017 Bermuda Government Budget, a 54-page, document containing observations on our local environment: finances, investments, government infrastructure and assets, impact on population, serious concerns relative to full employment, challenges Bermuda faces and an important economics lesson. "Readers, budgets are actually easy to set up, contrary to what is thought. After all, a budget only represents what we think we are going to spend in a year. A family budget can be monitored against actual spending on a routine basis; heck, even every day for some if you are smart phone literate. There is no excuse not to know where you (we) stand financially, given the huge numbers of apps available for laptops, and mobile devices. Quite frankly, I’d like to see technology available to monitor government spending every day, too. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the Bermuda Government budget whose projections and results are announced once a year, or six months at most. We have no means to know whether our money (yes, it is ours) is being spent irrationally, or conserved wisely — a frustrating situation, for sure. Further, the 2016-2017 Budget is presented to Parliament and the people of Bermuda before we know the actual real spending results for the last fiscal year 2015-2016. How can we — when that year does not end until March 31, 2016? We, the people, have to rely upon the professionals in the Civil Service ranks to do the right thing, with each and every invoice, each and every spending request, each and every bank statement. That requires enormous trust on our part to wait all during the year, with bated breath, sometimes, to eventually find out whether our government’s actual cash spending results come into line, or have cost overruns, with the projected budget for the same time frame. Here is only some of what we learn from the lowlight sections of the 2016-2017 Budget:
• Page 10 — Is Bermuda still paying Airline subsidies, if that is what the “statement securing enough airline capacity to meet demand” means?
• Page 10 — The Tourism Authority Fee for hotels has been raise to 5.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent to support the BTA.
• Page 13 — Eliminating our public debt is key to maintaining our credit worthiness as international business also reflects this situation.
• Page 4 and 31 — Government is living on credit. What will it cost to refinance this enormous debt as interest rates rise in the future?
• Page 15 — According to the Fiscal Policy Council, 85 per cent of current government revenues are pre-allocated to support civil service compensation, benefits, grants and debt.
• Page 35 — Net debt to annual revenue, now stands at 237 per cent. Example, if a demand from foreign investors to redeem their Bermuda Government bond investments came in today, our government — spending all revenue for the 2016-2017 year (meaning nothing available for civil service wages, benefits, capital projects, and the like) — would still owe in excess of $1.5 billion.
• Page 17 — Our demographic percentage of residents is changing for the worse. Less healthier younger people to grow the economy, higher numbers of seniors dependent upon our tax base.
• Page 19 — Government hiring freeze has reduced CS numbers by 225 people, not an appreciable number, nor did we see any reduction in percentage of benefits, including sick pay, and pensions — a hard fact when the private-sector employees have had many benefits stripped away.
• Page 21 — Payroll tax increases appeared to be grudgingly accepted.
• Page 22 — Abuses of the notional tax section of the payroll tax system will be corrected.
• Page 23 — Excise taxes increased. Most people probably would agree that tobacco and alcohol can be assessed additional tax, but would not agree to an increase on petrol.
• Page 24 — the new General Services Tax — the jury is still out, with not enough detail for comment, except that these costs will be passed on to the consumer, as usual.
• Page 18 — The cost of debt service to pay foreign investors, budgeted at $187 million this year, will overtake the Ministry of Health’s budget as the largest domestic government expense. Government’s ability to support the needs of Bermuda’s people is and will continue to be seriously undermined.
Everyone understands by now, I think that accumulating debt, whether personally or governmentally, is a bad thing. Contrary to what was expressed by politicians, debt is never a good thing. The only person who thinks debt is a great idea is the person or business to whom you owe the money! Debt ties you down, it creates the delusion that you own your purchase, but you don’t. Debt creates enormous stress; debt is immovable — you are not in control your creditor is; debt grows larger — the minute you fall behind in a payment. Final budget words. It is our duty, readers, to monitor on a routine basis what our government is spending, where our money is being allocated, how it is being spent, what the return on our investment is, and most importantly, is there any cash in the bank at the end of the month. Will we do it? I have faith in you, dear readers, don’t let me down. Personally, I would settle for quarterly (or more preferable monthly) Budget to Actual cash spent / revenue received reports from our Government. We cannot afford to be complacent about the financial future of our island economy. Bermuda today is a recovering, but still very fragile economy. We are in a better financial position, but much more needs to be done. Economic threats from large nations, BEPS, FATCA, CRS initiatives and the like from global policy and government revenue organisations are more aggressive than ever before. It is never stated, but it sure is implied (reading between the lines) that the ubiquitous “they” would like to see small island economies go out of business. We must be absolutely vigilant and determined to never let that happen.
March 4. Nearly 200 insurance and reinsurance executives from Bermuda are to join Government and regulators at a major industry conference in the US in April. The Bermuda Business Development Agency is coordinating the island presence at the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society meeting in San Diego, California. Ross Webber, the chief executive officer of the BDA, said: “RIMS and the networking carried out around it make this a vitally important business development event for the risk management industry and the BDA works to facilitate those connections. “Our significant ‘Team Bermuda’ presence at RIMS every year allows our domicile to demonstrate its strength, value and leadership as one of the world’s top three insurance and reinsurance centres, the largest property catastrophe centre, the biggest captives jurisdiction and home of the most insurance-linked securities listings.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance and Grant Gibbons, Economic Development Minister, will also attend the conference, along with Jeremy Cox, CEO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority and his director of licensing and authorizations Shelby Weldon. The government delegation will meet with RIMS president Julie Pemberton, tour the conference exhibition floor, visit Bermuda industry booths and attend various industry events. The Bermuda charm offensive will be run out of a two-storey structure designed on the distinctive lines of island architecture. Mr Weldon said that international regulatory standards is likely to be a major topic at this year’s RIMS. The Bermuda delegation will also hold speed networking sessions, pairing people interested in setting up a business in Bermuda with experts in various fields.
March 4. HSBC Bank Bermuda Ltd said today its net profit rose to $87 million last year, boosted by sharp falls in loan impairment charges and operating expenses. The bank, which sold off much of its Cayman operations in 2014 and its private banking unit last year — both bought by Butterfield Bank — said net profit increased by $39 million, or 81 per cent, from 2014. Loan impairment charges totaled $36 million, down from $64 million in 2014. However, the number showed many borrowers are still struggling to make repayments, as non-performing loans remained at 17 per cent of the bank’s total loan portfolio. Total loans and advances to customers totaled $2.45 billion, representing a fall of 17 per cent from last year. Acting chief financial officer Phil Alvey explained that the decrease was as a result of repayments made by borrowers outpacing new loans booked over the year. However, the bank said it saw an increase in demand for mortgages towards the end of the year, while the commercial banking operations “benefited from a more benign credit environment”. The balance sheet remained strong with total capital adequacy ratio of 22 per cent, comfortably exceeding the regulatory requirements under the new Basel III regulatory regime. Consolidated operating expenses came down by $18 million, or 9 per cent, to $175 million. The bank said the decrease was driven by the sale of the Cayman operations and added that staffing levels in Bermuda remained stable in 2015. Net operating income rose by $7 million, or 3 per cent, to $268 million. Mark Watkinson, the chief executive officer of HSBC Bermuda, said: “Banks continue to operate in a challenging economic environment, both globally and in Bermuda. The overall results were solid against a difficult global background. However, we continue to be a liquid and well capitalized business, ready to support the Bermuda economy and our customers.” HSBC Bermuda’s decision to sell its private banking operations, revealed in October last year, was made in order to focus on the customers of the core businesses in Bermuda. These are retail banking wealth management, including HSBC Asset Management and Premier banking, commercial banking and global banking and markets. The bank said these three businesses represented more than 90 per cent of total revenues and between them generated net profit of $92m for the year, up 33 per cent from last year, with a cost efficiency ratio of 59 per cent. Mr Watkinson said that last year 147 HSBC staff had contributed 500 volunteer hours in support of educational, environmental and community initiatives. He added that since inception in 2006, HSBC Bermuda’s Staff Volunteer Community Action Day Programme had accumulated a total of 9,000 hours of community service.
March 4. Changes to the existing ferry service will result in vast savings, according to transport minister Shawn Crockwell. He said compromise was necessary to operate within the Budget allowance. The Department of Transport continues to operate six high-speed ferries and three harbour ferries, with additional service between Dockyard and Hamilton. However, “minor” adjustments would have to be made to meet cruise visitor and local commuter demands. Mr Crockwell said public transport is highly subsidized, but wherever possible all efforts are being made to control costs with an emphasis on overtime reduction and fuel efficiency. The department was undertaking passenger load studies, hoping to use the harbour ferries on the blue West End route on winter weekends, replacing the faster catamarans. “This will result in vast savings as we will now be burning 24 gallons of fuel per hour as opposed to 110,” Mr Crockwell explained. “To operate within budget, a compromise in ferry service levels may be required if ridership levels do not improve — and flexibility in fleet operating methods and crewing will need to occur,” he added. He suggested changes be made in work practice, crewing and mechanical support staff schedules and a reduction in crew on certain routes. He said these adjustments were imperative to immediate cost savings and without such smaller cost-saving initiatives occurring, more aggressive changes in other areas may be required. Meanwhile, Mr Crockwell said that after ten years of efforts to amend the bus schedules, a new timetable had been finalized. Describing bus operations as the “core of the enterprise”, employing 163 staff, he said the introduction of a new schedule alongside a marginal increase in new staff, numbers were expected to fall within the budget. Turning to recent road fatalities, Mr Crockwell said the issue was “close to his heart” not only as transport minister, but as a relative of Ezariah Matthie, who died in a road accident this week. He said that although there had been a fluctuating supply in funds, it was tough to determine whether those figures played a significant role in the reduction of road accidents. “It’s not about money, it’s about us,” he said. “Every politician has a role to play in keeping the message at the forefront about using care and attention on our roads. Our teachers have a role to play, our church leaders have a role to play. Family, friends, we all have a role to play. “Take your time,” he urged the community.
March 4. There have been 277 applications for status granted as of February 9 under the “sleeping provision” 20(B) of the Immigration and Protection Act, Parliament has heard. The figure was given by Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, in response to parliamentary questions from Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs. There had been 804 applications received under the provision by the end of 2015. It came into effect after a landmark ruling in May 2014 by Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice. Mr Richards also revealed the number of work permits granted in 2015: 3,793 one- to two-year permits, 1,206 three- to five-year permits, and zero permits of above five years.
March 4. Bermuda’s list of reportable diseases will be updated to include recent threats such as the Zika virus, under legislation passed by Parliament. The Public Health Amendment Act, brought by health minister Jeanne Atherden, also provides a mechanism to keep the list regularly updated. Titles of officers were also brought up to date by the Bill, approved on Wednesday, and fines and penalties were modernized. Progressive Labour Party MP Walter Roban queried what facility the island had in place if quarantining should become necessary due to an outbreak. Ms Atherden said the Department of Health met regularly with the hospital board to discuss various situations that might arise, and kept an area designated for such a purpose.
March 4. Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) is calling for volunteers to clean up a Southampton neighborhood tomorrow. The Neighborhood Beautification Project will take place along Horseshoe Road on the South Shore between 8.30am and 1pm. The three-part programme has been designed by the BTA to support neighborhoods that want to clean up their public roadways. They are encouraging all residents to support the effort. With a view to “giving back, getting back” a flyer reads: “If you are a resident, property owner, tenant, business owner, church body, sporting club, school or organization on or near this road, we would appreciate your support and involvement in this non-political, community based effort.” The initiative is supported by Keep Bermuda Beautiful, Almeida’s Landscaping & Estate Maintenance, The Bermuda Landscaping Association and Butterfield & Vallis. To register, contact Lee Tucker at 333-8146 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 4. Michael Dunkley agreed to call a referendum on same-sex marriage because without one he could not be certain his MPs would back civil union legislation. The Premier told The Royal Gazette last night: “When you take a Bill to the House [of Assembly] you want to make sure that people are comfortable and it will pass, even with a conscience vote. Everyone in the room has strong opinions on it. The last thing we want is to take a Bill to the House and have it fail. It wouldn’t be appropriate to take it up there and have it fail.” The Referendum (Same-Sex Relationships) Act 2016 will be tabled in Parliament this morning by Mr Dunkley, after he announced plans for the ballot on Monday. That same day, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sport, tabled draft legislation on civil unions for “consultation only.” The civil union Bill will not be tabled officially until the result of the referendum is known. Mr Dunkley said the “vast majority” of the One Bermuda Alliance’s parliamentary caucus supported marriage between a man and a woman and “colleagues didn’t feel it was appropriate” to legislate without seeking the public’s view. He said the OBA parliamentary caucus agreed that Bermuda had to do something to recognise same-sex unions after recent court rulings here and abroad, and it was felt a draft Bill was most appropriate at this stage. “We thought the best thing would be to table the Bill as a consultative draft so people get an understanding of what same-sex unions mean and [to] allow people to continue to get a better understanding of all of the different facets of a very difficult and emotive subject,” the Premier said. He added that he made a “bit of a misspeak” at his Monday press conference when he said: “This Government is of the view that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. What I meant to say is that the vast majority of our caucus members are like that,” he clarified, acknowledging that some members support same-sex marriage. “My personal opinion is that I support human rights and I believe civil unions is the way forward.” He said the civil union Bill would ensure same-sex couples had all the rights of heterosexual married couples but would “protect the institution of marriage.” He would not be drawn on whether the Government plans to pursue another piece of legislation tabled two weeks ago: an amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act that would restrict marriage to heterosexuals and allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in relation to weddings. “It’s still tabled in the House,” he said. “That’s all I will say. It can sit there and if it’s not picked up then Bills can easily be moved over [to the next legislative session].” The Premier also would not comment on whether Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, and other opponents of same-sex marriage threatened to cross the floor of the House if a referendum was not held. “You’ll have to ask them that question,” he said. “I didn’t see it like that. One of the things that I love about the OBA is that we have a very diverse group of people in our room. We have great caucuses where issues are … discussed and nobody holds anybody back.” He added that his party was showing leadership on the subject, unlike the Opposition, whom he said were “taking the easy way out” by staying largely silent on same-sex marriage. The Referendum Act is likely to be debated in the next few weeks. Once approved by MPs and enacted, the Premier has 90 days to publish a referendum notice. The ballot must then be held no sooner than 30 days and no later than 60 days after the notice is published. The Bill tabled today will reveal the yes or no question to be posed on the ballot paper. Voter turnout will need to be at least 50 per cent for the result to be valid. The answer will be deemed affirmative if more than 50 per cent of those who vote mark their ballot “yes”.
March 4. The Referendum (Same-Sex Relationships) Act 2016 has been tabled in the House of Assembly by Michael Dunkley, the Premier. The Act states that the referendum will be held on the following two questions:
The referendum will be held in accordance with the 2012 Act. It will be debated by MPs later in the present legislative session.
March 4. Bermuda is at a “serious crossroads”, MP Jamahl Simmons warned yesterday at the latest immigration reform protest. “Our culture and what makes us unique is being eroded. What will a Bermudian mean in future?” The Shadow Minister of Tourism and Economic Development said. Mr Simmons was one of a succession of speakers who addressed the 250-strong crowd at lunchtime on the steps of the House of Assembly. Each laid bare their grievances with the Government and, specifically, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy’s controversial Pathways to Status initiative. The planned legislation, which will make it easier for long-term residents to gain both permanent residency and status, has led to multiple public demonstrations in recent weeks demanding a bipartisan approach to the matter. Mr Simmons also attacked Michael Dunkley, the Premier, as he and his fellow One Bermuda Alliance MPs departed the House and walked through the rally to a chorus of boos. He said: “We cannot be a country where the leader walks past hundreds of his fellow countrymen and doesn’t even take a second to say hello. That’s not very Bermudian, and that mindset is what we’re fighting against beyond immigration. Just because they do not welcome us into their homes, doesn’t mean that we should not still be open and embrace them. Even after this fight is won — and it will be won — let us never lose who we are.” Friday’s protest began with an instrumental rendition of We Shall Not Be Moved on trombone and drums, which was audible in the chamber as Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, was delivering his ministry’s budget brief. Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People’s Campaign then spoke to the crowd, many of whom were dressed in black as a symbol of their disapproval of the Government. Before reciting a prayer, he said: “You cannot serve the people by ignoring the voice of the people. We come as a reminder, standing on the shoulders of generations of struggle, of those who refused to be silenced and lie down. You can legislate law, but you cannot legislate morality.” Walter Roban, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, accused the Government of being dishonest about its immigration policies. He told protesters: “Your future is at risk. I do not say that lightly. It is time for the Bermudian people to tell the Government what they desire.” Bermuda Entertainment Union president Leroy Simmons compared the people of Bermuda to seeds. “There are two things you can do with a seed: you can plant it or you can bury it,” he said. “I believe the OBA government is putting Bermudians in the ground and burying us. We shall go forward, we shall move up and we shall have a future for our local entertainers and for our young people. I’m a little tired of the Canadian (Senator Fahy) telling me what I need to do in my country.” Protester Toby Butterfield said: “A lot of people will give me grief for being up here today, but I’m not here as a messenger of hate. We know there’s a role for expats and we know it’s essential, we’re not stupid. This is about a full conversation. This is about democracy. This is about making sure that the impact of our immigration policy has the most positive benefits for Bermuda and the least negative benefits.” Progressive Labour Party MP Rolfe Commissiong said that the OBA’s efforts to push the immigration reforms through was “nothing new. They say that we are too old, that we are too black, but we are old and black enough to remember what these type of racialised immigration policies did to our parents and to us. None of us should be surprised by the efforts of the OBA to perpetuate white privilege and dominance of this country at the expense of everyone else.” Opposition MP Walton Brown, who had previously called for a campaign of “civil disobedience” to protest the reforms, announced that the day’s gathering had sent “a very powerful message to the Government. I don’t see a small minority here. The Government has to listen. If they do not listen, I suspect things are going to get a lot more intense. This is a very serious matter. It affects every one of you, it affects your children and your grandchildren. We know this is not right, the Government knows this is not right, so we have to find ways to stop it.” Minister Fahy responded by saying: “It is of course disappointing that some in the community believe the only way to have their voices heard is through a sit-in at the House of Assembly. Unfortunately, I am concerned that many are being misinformed by the organizers of these events. I urge everyone with any questions about the proposals to look at the Ministry website and all the information we have provided as to why these initiatives are important for Bermuda’s future. In addition, despite many requests as to what is meant by comprehensive immigration reform, no statements are forthcoming. I would be happy to hear them. I believe in my heart that pathways is the right thing to do for Bermuda’s long-term success. I believe the majority of Bermudians accept this.”
March 4. Raymond Augustus, who helped to run the family business Augustus Funeral Home, has died at the age of 57. Mr Augustus was a funeral director along with his brothers Calvin, David, Derrick and Gary at their establishment on the corner of Brunswick and Elliott Streets in Hamilton. Last night, as family gathered at a residence near his Friswells Hill home, his niece Vonnek Augustus recalled him as “the most cheerful person in the world”. “He would put a smile on your face just by his presence; you would remember him from the first time you met him.” The business was founded by their father, David Augustus Sr, who was also among the founders of the Bermuda Recorder newspaper, and a key backer for the creation of the Devonshire Recreation Club. Mr Augustus maintained a close bond with the club, his niece said, adding: “He will be greatly missed by the family.”
March 4. The public consultation period regarding the school reorganization report is set to be extended, according to education minister Wayne Scott. The deadline for parents and other stakeholders to submit responses to the report and recommendations for the future of Bermuda’s primary schools had been set for today. The Score report highlighted widespread failings across the public primary school system and outlined several scenarios to address the problems including the potential closure of four schools — Heron Bay Primary School, St David’s Primary School, Gilbert Institute and Prospect Primary School. Speaking in the House of Assembly this afternoon, Mr Scott said he was pleased by the number of people interested in expressing their thoughts, ideas and concerns about the report, noting the high attendance at a series of public meetings. He said that several groups had requested that the period would be extended so they would have more time to make submissions. Further details would be released soon according to the minister.
March 4. Jamaica’s hard-fought elections were keenly followed from Bermuda, according to Orville Campbell, the head of the local Jamaican Association. Enthusiasm for the “fierce battle” heightened in the week leading up to February 25, when the Jamaica Labour Party narrowly beat the ruling People’s National Party. Mr Campbell said Jamaicans in the diaspora were unable to vote from overseas, but that with so many living abroad, the option had long been under discussion. “It is our view that such a move would be a step in the right direction, thus allowing us to have a greater say in the direction of Jamaica, even while outside,” he said. The island’s political culture is characterized by “a deep sense of party loyalty entrenched through family bonds”, Mr Campbell said. “To an extent that remains a feature of the Jamaican community here in Bermuda,” he added. However, he said performance in office was coming to hold greater sway over the electorate’s view of their representatives. While Jamaicans take elections and politics seriously, Mr Campbell said the national excitement and party atmosphere differed from Bermudian elections. “It would also appear that Jamaicans tend to be more enamored by politicians. Some may say that is evidence of immaturity but I believe it speaks to something else. At minimal it seems cultural but it may also be the Jamaican way of esteeming those who are our leaders.” Austerity measures over the last four years played a decisive role in last week’s election, he added. “Despite the many successes of the PNP administration in steadying the economy that earned national and international praises, there remains a large cross section of Jamaicans who are being affected painfully by those adjustments,” Mr Campbell added. “Unfortunately, these are the people who tend to grab on to anything or anyone that promises a better day than what they now see. That is where the JLP was able to capitalize on in a real way.” It was a slim margin, Mr Campbell noted: “The seat count is 32 for the JLP under prime minister designate Andrew Holness and 31 for the PNP under outgoing Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. As you can imagine, such a position makes governing difficult as conducting the nation’s business in the House of Parliament does require a two-third majority to pass. It is almost certain that government hands will be tied in getting Bills through the house at best in a quick time, at worst if any at all.”
March 3. Close to half a million dollars has been allocated in the Budget for a Commission of Inquiry to examine how government finances were handled under the former Progressive Labour Party administration. Meanwhile, Marc Bean has vowed to put in place a commission to look into the One Bermuda Alliance’s financial conduct if the PLP was restored to Government. The Leader of the Opposition said he found it “interesting” that $480,000 had been found for the commission during a time of government austerity. He added that the commission should get at least six months to carry out its work rather than the three months suggested by the Premier. Michael Dunkley said the OBA would “not in any way flinch” from having a commission investigate its handling of taxpayers’ money, and told Parliament that its time frame would be guided by the recommendations of its chairman, Sir Anthony Evans. During the Budget debate, PLP MP Walton Brown voiced regret that the commission was being held to a limited time frame, questioning whether its objective was “a serious examination of what many see as a systematic challenge within the civil service”, or if its motives were more “ominous.” The commission will commence its work on April 1. Mr Dunkley also provided a breakdown of consultancy spending by Cabinet in the 2015/16 fiscal year. He outlined $185,000 to the Caribbean Community, or Caricom; $210,000 to Benedict Associates for the Employee Assistance Programme throughout the Civil Service: $142,000 for a Public Access to Information consultant; $95,000 to the United States lawyer Ken Levine; $106,000 to publicist Don Grearson; and $180,000 for a government negotiating team to mediate on labour issues.
March 3. The Bermuda Government’s Bill for a referendum on same-sex relationships is due to be brought before MPs tomorrow in the House of Assembly. The Bill, to be tabled by Michael Dunkley, was announced on Monday when the Premier said that the Government was bound by court precedent to recognise “same-sex couples in a permanent relationship. As such, Government has an obligation to bring the matter of same-sex unions to a resolution,” Mr Dunkley said. “To get the widest possible reach of views from the people, it is the intention of the Government to table a Referendum Bill on the matter later in this legislative session.” Accordingly, the Referendum (Same Sex Relationships) Act 2016 will be tabled during tomorrow’s session. It comes after Opposition MPs called for the Government to clarify its position on the issue. Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert opted to defer his private Bill calling for an amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act.
March 3. It’s been a tough week for Oracle Team USA. Just days after allowing a victory that was there for the taking to slip through their fingers near the end of the sixth and deciding race at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Oman, the America’s Cup defender wiped out in their AC45S test boat during a practise run in heavy air in the Great Sound yesterday. Fortunately, none of the crew was injured while the foiling catamaran’s hull, wing and appendages did not suffer any damage during the mishap, which brought the team’s first training session since returning from Oman to a grinding halt. “Great day out on the water, we had a good 15-20 knots, sun was shining,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, said back at the team’s Dockyard base. “A few hours in unfortunately we had a capsize. The boat sort of went over, not through a nose dive, but actually sideways. So it was a really a good test of all of our on water safety procedures, and a real best case scenario. The crew all safe, there’s no damage to the boat or the wing, actually sailed back to the dock. Obviously we’re going to have a fair bit of electronic damage in the one hull that was in the water. The real reason for coming in was the electronics. We want to go through and check the electronic systems. That’s what happens in the sport, and I hope we don’t see too many more. But the fact is that’s where we are in the sport today, and we’ll learn a lot from this.” Oracle are the second team to capsize during training in the past few months. Land Rover BAR capsized on the Solent last December in their AC45S test boat, dubbed “T2”. “This shouldn’t slow us up too much,” Spithill said. “We’ll get a report from the guys and hopefully get back out in the next few days.” Oracle are presently second in the overall World Series standings, six points adrift of leaders Emirates Team Zealand, who they beat with a stunning comeback to defend the “Auld Mug” at the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.
March 3. Close to 40,000 sick days in the Civil Service equates to a Bermuda Government expense of more than $10 million for the 2015/16 fiscal year, according to Michael Dunkley. The Premier gave the figures during the House of Assembly’s Budget debate for the Cabinet Office. Mr Dunkley told MPs there had been 10,350 uncertified sick days and 28,315 certified days, which amounted to a cost of $10,625,000. “As a person who has been in business for many years, I understand that sick leave is an important part of compensation for employees,” Mr Dunkley said. However, he added that “with focus, we can do better. Hence the need for a policy on sick leave that provides for a systematic approach. We have engaged in consultation that will continue through the next fiscal year.”
March 3. Self-made billionaire Aubrey McClendon, who together with his wife owned vacation homes in Bermuda, died in a car crash in the US yesterday. The 56-year-old was killed in a single vehicle crash in Oklahoma City. His car hit an embankment under a bridge. Mr McClendon’s death comes a day after he was charged with rigging bids for oil and natural gas leases in Oklahoma. He cofounded Chesapeake Energy Corporation in 1993 and was its chief executive officer until 2013. Mr McClendon and his wife Katie, a Whirlpool heiress, bought a number of properties in Bermuda during the past decade. In 2007, the couple purchased the extensive Castle Point property in Tucker’s Town for $21 million. At the time the house and guest cottages on an eight-acre plot at the end of Tucker’s Town Road were in a rundown state. The property was given a makeover, which included a refurbished swimming pool, small golf course and a pond. The McClendons later sold that property. In 2011, Mrs McClendon bought the nearby beachfront Winsor House for $11 million, and apparently also purchased a neighboring house at the same time. Mr McClendon’s charisma as a businessman was noted by Forbes magazine, which once featured him on its front cover and declared him to be “America’s Most Reckless Billionaire.” He was a pioneering champion of the oil and natural gas drilling technique known as fracking, which led to a boom in US oil and gas production. Fracking is now seen as one of the major contributing factors that has led to the current world oil glut and the collapse in oil and natural gas prices. Mr McClendon enjoyed phenomenal success at the helm of Chesapeake Energy, which was set up with $50,000 of capital in 1989. At one point the company was valued at $35 billion and Mr McClendon’s personal fortune was estimated at $1 billion by Forbes. His lavish lifestyle included extensive ownership of properties and a stake in NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder. However, he left Chesapeake Energy in controversial circumstances after a governance scandal. A shareholder revolt by billionaire Carl Icahn cost him his annual bonus and the chairmanship in 2012 and led to his resignation in early 2013. Then, on Tuesday, he was charged by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma in connection with an alleged scheme between two “large oil and gas companies” to not bid against each other for leases in the northwest of the state. The scheme was said to have operated between December 2007 to March 2012. In a statement on Tuesday evening Mr McClendon called the charge “wrong and unprecedented. " The antitrust law he was accused of violating, known as the Sherman Act, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $1 million fine for individuals. At a press conference yesterday, Paco Balderrama, an Oklahoma police captain, said Mr McClendon’s Chevrolet Tahoe was travelling a “at high rate of speed” when it slammed into a bridge embankment in northeast Oklahoma City. The car burst into flames before responders could pull Mr McClendon’s body from the vehicle, Mr Balderrama added. According to KFOR News Channel 4, in Oklahoma City, Mr Balderrama said: “He pretty much drove straight into the wall. The information out there at the scene is that he went left of centre, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway, and that didn’t occur.”
March 3. More resources to make Bermuda’s roads safer would be “cost prohibitive” to implement, transport minister Shawn Crockwell told MPs. Meanwhile, the possibility of visitors being able to rent cars that would be safe to use on local roads remains under consideration, with no decision made yet on the issue. Responding to Lawrence Scott, the Shadow Minister of Transport, Mr Crockwell said speed cameras were still under consideration but did not have full support. Constitutional issues remain on the matter of random breath tests by police. Mr Crockwell said that Erica Rance Mill, the new chairman of the Road Safety Council, had committed to seeking private fundraising to put more stringent road safety measures in place. Ms Scott said Bermuda faced a national health crisis on the roads, and called for higher penalties for offences such as running a red light, as well as the introduction of a graduated licensing regime to better train novice drivers.
March 3. The recent spate of immigration reform protests will continue until the Bermuda Government changes its unilateral stance, LaVerne Furbert has promised. The former Progressive Labour Party senator spoke to The Royal Gazette before the latest demonstration, to be held tomorrow from midday to 2pm on the House of Assembly grounds. In her Facebook announcement, Ms Furbert asked attendees to wear black and bring a brown paper bag lunch to the event, being held to coincide with the day’s parliamentary session. The protest group is angry at Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy’s new Pathways to Status legislation, which would make it easier for long-term Bermuda residents to gain both permanent residency and status. Although recent rallies have taken the form of “civil disobedience”, such as when protesters brought East Broadway traffic to a crawl on Tuesday morning, Ms Furbert said tomorrow’s event would simply give participants a chance to have their voices heard. “We want Government to see that it’s not only a small group of people looking for immigration reform,” she said. “If parliamentarians want to come and speak with us, they’ll certainly be welcome to.” Ms Furbert added that the group was hoping to boost its numbers by encouraging members of the community to join the cause, including government workers on their lunch hours. “From where I’ve stood, the public is very supportive of what we’re doing,” she said. “On East Broadway, we asked people to honk if they supported us and they wanted immigration reform. I can assure you that we had a lot of honks. There were people who showed their displeasure at what we were doing, but I would say the overwhelming majority of people showed support for us. We see [these demonstrations] going on until we hear the One Bermuda Alliance government say that they’re going to reconsider, and set up a bipartisan committee to look at immigration reform.” Meanwhile, PLP stalwart and former Premier Alex Scott voiced his approval of the protest movement. “It just means that democracy is alive and well in Bermuda,” he said. “If members of the public have unreadiness with parliamentary initiatives, it is a tradition here that they can exercise the right to protest. It’s not a right to live in Bermuda or be given immigration privileges, it’s a privilege. Let us never confuse those.”
March 2. Government and developers have finalized a 262-year ground lease for the St George’s hotel project, it was announced today. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, flanked by East End MPs and representatives from the Desarrollos Group, said that the agreement was a significant milestone in bringing a new hotel to St George’s. “It is very clear that this project will generate jobs both in construction and when the resort is operational in a few years times,” he said. “The development plans for this site include a 120-room St Regis hotel, a spa, a renovated St George’s golf course, residential condominiums and, if permission is granted, a casino.” Mr Dunkley made note of the hotel developer and operator’s previous projects which include a Ritz Carlton resort in Aruba. “Desarrollos’s commitment to build a world-class resort that harmonizes with the Unesco World Heritage site of St George’s is a testimony of the company’s belief in a strong future for Bermuda in both hotel operations and the island’s residential real estate,” he continued. Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, said he was excited to see the project move forward, while St George’s MPs Nandi Outerbridge and Kenneth Bascome both said they were thrilled to be one step closer to a new hotel. Mr Bascome said: “As I said from jump, this is the real thing and you will see a hotel built on this site.” Representatives from the developer said the concept for the resort had been agreed, and architects and engineers were working on a detailed plan. Groundbreaking on the project is expected to take place this year.
March 2. The City of London is poised to launch a fresh bid to lure lucrative insurance-linked securities business to Britain, in competition with Bermuda. London’s prestigious Financial Times reported yesterday that the British government had set its sights on attracting the fast-growing sector of the insurance business. But Bradley Kading, president and executive director of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said it was predictable that London would attempt to capture a chunk of the market, especially with a major gap between the need for insurance and take-up, which the industry aimed to close — but that the city could face an uphill struggle. Mr Kading said: “It’s natural that London is exploring creating an ILS market — it is after all the longest standing centre of insurance underwriting. With the enormous need to grow insurance markets to close the protection gap we expect more capital to flow into the business. Multiple ILS centres of expertise seem inevitable and London is a logical place for a market to develop. Just as Abir members operate out of multiple global business hubs, it seems likely the same will develop in the ILS market. But to be successful though you need to bring something new, some innovation or added expertise to the market. Let’s see what London can do.” Mr Kading was speaking after the British government this week launched a consultation process on a new regulatory regime for ILS. The market for insurance-lined securities, including catastrophe bonds, has gone up by more than a quarter every year for the past four years. Bermuda is the global market leader, while Guernsey and Gibraltar, which moved into the market last year, are also active in ILS. Speaking to the Financial Times, Des Potter, of Guy Carpenter, said: “Less than 10 per cent of ILS capacity is managed in London and no ILS securities are issued from vehicles regulated or administered in London.” Ben Reid, chief executive of the London Market Group, which represents the city’s insurance and reinsurance sectors, added: “It is not hugely developed outside a couple of centres, which is why it is important for London to be embracing it. The threat to London is that our market continues to be static or shrink and that other markets such as Gibraltar pick up the business. We need to make sure we have new skills.” A report by the LMG and Boston Consulting Group two years ago highlighted the potential growth of insurance capital, but suggested London was likely to lose out to lower tax jurisdictions. A British government statement said: “With the right framework, London can make a major contribution to the continued growth and development of ILS business.” The new British regulations are expected to cover the structure, supervision and taxation of special purpose vehicles and the possible development of secondary trading facilities. The LMG said it hoped the new rules and structure would be in place by the end of this year. Mr Potter said: “London’s history, depth of talent and reputation will make it an attractive jurisdiction for many global firms.” But other experts were less sure of the value of ILS for London. Urs Ramseier, chairman of insurance investment management specialist Twelve Capital, said: “This is a low-value business.” He added that the location of ILS managers was independent of where the instruments themselves are issued. And he said: “There are a number of ILS funds in London, but they are not in the top five.”
March 2. Enstar Group Ltd’s full-year earnings climbed to $220.3 million last year as it continued to acquire businesses in run-off. The company, whose headquarters are in Queen Street, Hamilton, reported that revenue grew to $1.03 billion on a large increase in net premiums earned, which rose to $839 million from $646.4 million in 2014. Net income was up by $6.5 million from 2014, while net earnings per diluted share were $11.35. Enstar’s core business is acquiring insurance portfolios no longer writing new business from other insurance companies and managing the ongoing obligations and reserves that go with them. In recent years, Enstar has diversified its business with underwriting through its Atrium and StarStone segments. The company’s preferred metric to gauge its progress is fully diluted book value per share, which rose to $129.65 by the end of last year from $119.22 a year earlier — and from $31.85 in 2006. Enstar’s shareholders’ equity at December 31, 2015 totaled $2.52 billion, up from $2.3 billion a year earlier. The group has continued acquiring targets this year. Last month Enstar reached a deal to reinsure portfolios of Allianz’s run-off business, including 50 per cent of certain portfolios of workers’ compensation, construction defect, and asbestos, pollution, and toxic tort business that were originally held by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. In the process Enstar assumed net reinsurance reserves of around $1.1 billion. The financial results were announced on Monday night. Enstar shares rose by $3.16, or 2 per cent, in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange to close at $161.21 yesterday.
March 2. Bermuda’s rowers had three top ten finishes at the Crash-B World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston on Sunday. Six members of the Bermuda Rowing Association traveled to the US on the weekend to compete in 2,000 metre sprint races, with Ann Perinchief placing fifth in the Veteran Woman Division, in a time of 10min 47sec. Amy Ponnampalam placed ninth in the Lightweight Masters Women’s Division in a time of 8:24, while Sylvia Robinson finished tenth in the Lightweight Veteran Women’s Division in 8:57. Willie Forbes placed 22nd in the Veteran Men’s Division, 60-64, finishing in 7:49 while Nick Kempe finished 40th in the Masters Men’s Division, 30-39, in 6:55. Alyssa Paynter finished 219th out of a huge class of several hundred athletes in the Junior Women’s Division in a time of 8:32. Accompanying the team to the event at Boston University was coach Corey Brunton, who Mandy Sodergren, the Bermuda Rowing Association president, said had been an inspiration. “We are all very proud of our team and grateful to coach Corey for inspiring them to compete at such a high level with his excellent training and fitness programme,” she said. “We’d also like to thank the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club for providing the gym facility and dock access to the water that are so essential to the sport of rowing in Bermuda. Events such as the Crash-B are great fun, in spite of the many months of hard training required and create targets for our members to achieve. More international competitions on and off the water are planned.” The Bermuda Rowing Association is looking to grow its membership in the next 12 months and hopes that targeting events like the Crash-B and on- the-water competitions overseas, will give members platforms to test themselves off the island. “Many cross-fit athletes in Bermuda have taken to rowing with great excitement,” Nick Kempe, a member of the Bermuda team, said. “We really encourage them to try out rowing with us.”
March 2. The Bermuda Government has been accused of a blatantly inconsistent approach to tackling two separate human rights issues: same-sex marriage and immigration reform. The Centre for Justice claimed that while the country’s leaders were willing to push ahead with their Pathways to Status initiative “without engaging in effective consultation”, they were planning to use a referendum on marriage equality and civil unions to “skirt issues of controversy”. Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that the One Bermuda Alliance’s parliamentary caucus is split on the issue of same-sex marriage, with a small vocal faction in favour and an equally vocal group opposed. One party source told The Royal Gazette yesterday that the Premier’s announcement on Monday of a referendum, hot on the heels of two proposed pieces of legislation on marriage and civil unions, was an attempt to appease all sides, both within his party and among the electorate. “We are absolutely trying to do everything and please everybody,” said the source. “That’s what this is about.” A second source from outside the party said: “I suspect, like a lot of people on the outside, they are divided on the issue and [the Premier] is having to try to straddle two very strong camps: pro, like [backbencher] Mark Pettingill, and anti, like [Junior Minister of Home Affairs] Sylvan Richards, which feature some strong personalities.” Michael Dunkley told the House of Assembly on Monday that a referendum would be held on same-sex marriage and civil unions, less than three weeks after Attorney-General Trevor Moniz said a referendum was not appropriate. The Premier’s announcement followed the tabling that day in Parliament for “consultation only” of a draft piece of legislation called the Civil Union Act 2016. If approved, that Act would allow same-sex couples to have civil partnerships. Two weeks ago, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sport, tabled a separate piece of legislation called the Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act. If passed, it would mean the Human Rights Act no longer had supremacy over a specific section of the Matrimonial Causes Act, which restricts marriages to heterosexual couples. It would allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in relation to marriage. The first source claimed that the Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act was now likely to be shelved, in light of the referendum and the civil union legislation. The source said OBA members in support of same-sex marriage would vote in favour of the civil union legislation but would not support the amendment to the Matrimonial Causes Act. The Premier, claimed the source, was likely to let that bill fall off the order paper, rather than risk it failing in the House. “[The Premier] came out and said, ‘We as a party don’t support gay marriage’,” the source said. “Obviously, everybody doesn’t feel that way because it’s just divided.” The Centre for Justice spoke out against a referendum on marriage equality on February 18, before the Premier’s announcement. The civil liberties organization said: “The Government has on one hand sought to push ahead with immigration reform (which engages issues of fundamental rights and Bermuda’s international legal obligations), without engaging in effective consultation, at the same time that members of the Government have freely advocated for marital equality, or the question of the acceptability of civil unions, (which also engages issues of fundamental rights and Bermuda’s international legal obligations), to be made the subject of a popular vote. This inconsistency is blatant and ought to be explained. “If the Government is genuinely concerned about ‘doing the right thing’ and ensuring Bermuda meets international legal standards, it will not hold a referendum on the issue of marital equality or civil unions.” Venous Memari, the centre’s executive director, told this newspaper yesterday: “[Attorney-General] Trevor Moniz said on television that when it came to Bermudian status, this Government was democratically elected and it was its right and duty to formulate policy and forward that, especially when it comes to human rights issues. “I’m sorry, you can’t suck and blow at the same time. My position is very, very simple. The majority should not determine the rights of a minority in a democracy. That’s the role of government: to take whatever step is necessary in a civilized society to make sure that the rights of its minorities are protected.”
Ten year timeline of related comments::
February 12: The amendment is tabled and gets its first reading in the House of Assembly. Junior Home Affairs Minister Sylvan Richards announces plans, later abandoned, to bring a private member’s bill proposing a referendum on same-sex marriage. PLP MP Michael Weeks says he’ll bring a notice calling for a referendum on the lawfulness of same-sex civil unions. And PLP member Wayne Furbert proposes a bill to amend the existing Human Rights Act with a clause defining marriage as restricted to opposite-sex couples.
February 29: Mr Dunkley announces there will be a referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage this legislative session. He says: “This government is of the view that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin tables legislation to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples. The Bermuda Bred ruling comes into effect.
March 2. The next protest against the Bermuda Government’s immigration reform proposals will take place on Friday lunchtime on the grounds of the House of Assembly. Yesterday morning, former Progressive Labour Party senator LaVerne Furbert posted a Facebook announcement of the event. Participants are asked to wear black and pack a brown bag lunch, while non-attendees are asked to wear black as a show of support. “Bring a blanket or towel, bring a chair, bring another concerned Bermudian,” wrote Ms Furbert, a Bermuda Industrial Union spokeswoman. “We especially appeal to our fellow unemployed countrymen to join us. Let’s have a ‘sea of black’ on Parliament grounds. Let’s show the Government that there is not just a handful of Bermudians that are concerned about the proposed immigration legislation. They need to listen to the people of this country. We demand comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform now.”
March 2. Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy has said the behavior of protesters who caused chaos among early morning commuters on East Broadway yesterday was “unacceptable”. He also told demonstrators that if they objected to immigration reforms they should contact him directly with their questions. About 30 protesters temporarily blocked half of East Broadway from 5am as part of an active campaign of “civil disobedience.” The group is rallying against the controversial reform proposals declared last month by the Bermuda Government. The Pathways to Status programme, announced by Senator Fahy, has already been the subject of several protests. Under the new guidelines, those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years can apply for permanent residency, while those who have a permanent resident’s certificate and have lived on the island for 20 years, can seek Bermudian status. Yesterday’s action was the most disruptive so far as motorists were prevented from entering Hamilton, causing police officers to redirect traffic. Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, said the demonstration had placed officers in a difficult position, and they had been reluctant to use heavy-handed tactics. Apologizing to commuters, he said: “We circulated a notice last month advising on the correct procedure to obtain permission for a public procession under the Public Order Act. “Any protest that takes place in a public street must have a permit issued from the Deputy Governor’s office and all directions from the police must be complied with. That was not the case this morning and some of the behavior demonstrated may constitute the offences of unlawful assembly or obstruction. Accordingly, we are preparing a file for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether any charges should be laid.” Senator Fahy said: “Everyone has the right to peaceably assemble and make their views heard — robust dialogue is the key to democracy — but we must do so in a way that is appropriate and constructive. Preventing the majority from getting to work is unacceptable. I invite any of those individuals protesting today to contact me with their questions, concerns or alternate visions for what comprehensive immigration reform looks like to them. I want to hear from them which parts of the proposed reform they don’t like, and which parts they do, as it seems clear that we all support the need for some form of immigration reform. I invite them to go on the Government website, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, where we have posted a great deal of information on this initiative, in particular with regards to how it will directly benefit Bermudians. When the economy benefits, Bermudians benefit and the Pathways to Status initiative, along with many other initiatives put in place by this Government, will all work together in turning the economy around. We need to update our immigration policy to better serve Bermudians today and tomorrow. The Government remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform and has proposed exactly that.” Michael Dunkley said last night that it was “regrettable and disappointing that motorists were challenged” because of the protest. I called the Commissioner of Police to discuss the matter and he provided me with a full update,” the Premier added. “This Government supports individuals expressing their democratic right to demonstrate and voice their views, but I encourage members of the public to adhere to the appropriate laws, protocols and procedures as outlined by the Bermuda Police Service.” Last week, hundreds gathered outside the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street to voice their displeasure at the One Bermuda Alliance’s plans. Yesterday, the protesters handed out flyers that read: “Today’s traffic is slow because, having tried everything else, people are holding a street vigil to pray for the Government to listen to the call for comprehensive immigration reform. All of Bermuda will benefit from this approach to reform, as it will ensure all voices will be heard; a responsible immigration policy that measures all impacts, including economic, racial, social, educational, cultural, environmental and electoral; Bermudian opportunities will be preserved.” The flyer also invited members of the public to “direct your frustration” to Mr Dunkley; Senator Fahy; Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs; and Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, listing all of their telephone numbers. Protester Mujib Swan accused the OBA of using its legislative changes as a “political football”, adding: “The legislation has been biased against individuals by gender, by nationality and also by race. We want to represent the well-being of Bermudians. We feel that the legislation should be bipartisan and it should be carefully drafted so it doesn’t continue to be biased.” Lynne Winfield, from anti-racism group Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, called the reforms “wrong for the people”. “They don’t take into account the discriminatory effects,” she said. “It’s not that the people here are anti-foreigner, it’s not that we’re against giving out PRCs or status to people. That should happen, but the way it’s being done is insensitive to the concerns of Bermudians, especially black Bermudians.” Ronnika Darrell has been trying to find work in Bermuda since June, after graduating with a master’s degree in general business management from DeVry University. “I haven’t really had any type of response,” she said. “Where is the channel for Bermudian students with fresh talent and experience to transition into the workforce?” Elizabeth Isaac, 84, said: “Why, at this stage of my life, do I still have to be fighting for my civic rights? My son is trying to find a job as a truck driver but they told him he’s too old. He’s 55 and he’s qualified. So now somebody else will come in, and under this policy they’ll be able to get that job.” Walton Brown, the Progressive Labour Party MP who has rallied protesters via social media in recent weeks, said: “The idea is to engage in civil disobedience to provoke thought and to provoke a reaction. The purpose is to try to persuade the Government to step back from its unilateral position and engage in a sincere collaborative approach to one of our most controversial and divisive issues.” While many passing motorists cheered the demonstrators, one woman who gave her name as Doreen said she had been subjected to slurs, including “get a life”, and another calling protesters “idiots”. Mr DeSilva explained that the “unnecessary disruption to the free movement of the public ... placed the police in the untenable position of being caught in the middle. Whether a protest is about Pathways to Status, same-sex marriage or furlough days, the police do not hold any views on the merits of the debate. Rather, we are mandated to maintain peace and good order and facilitate the exercise of democratic rights to protest peacefully and lawfully. Where we must intervene, our policy is to use the least intrusive and coercive law-enforcement measures possible. It does no community any good for the police to use heavy-handed tactics to address protesters over issues that are already emotionally charged to begin with.”
March 1. Police have reminded the public to abide by the laws governing protests, after a demonstration against new immigration policies disrupted early morning traffic into Hamilton. Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, said that the demonstration had placed officers in a difficult position. Mr DeSilva apologized to commuters over the incident and said the police service was looking into submitting a file on the incident to the Director of Public Prosecutions. A full statement follows: “Members of the public will be aware of protest activity that took place this morning. Around 6:30am approximately 30 persons gathered near the junction of East Broadway and Lane Hill and commenced a protest. Police officers arrived shortly after and were immediately concerned that the protesters were standing across the road and had blocked both lanes entering the City of Hamilton. The police spoke with the organizers and urged them to move to the sidewalk for their own safety and to allow the free flow of traffic. The protesters did not co-operate with the police who resorted to directing traffic around the protesters for their safety. Police continued the effort to move the protesters to the safety of the sidewalk until around 8:15am when the persons eventually moved out of the road. The police then worked to relieve several traffic jams that had resulted and eventually traffic flow resumed normally, sometime after 9:00am. I would like to apologies for the significant inconvenience that was caused to many road users this morning who were made late by this incident. I would also like to thank the many members of the public who exercised patience and supported the efforts of the police to navigate through this spontaneous protest. I also want to remind the public that we circulated a notice last month advising on the correct procedure to obtain permission for a public procession under the Public Order Act. Any protest that takes place in a public street must have a permit issued from the Deputy Governor’s office and all directions from the police must be complied with. That was not the case this morning and some of the behaviors demonstrated may constitute the offences of unlawful assembly or obstruction. Accordingly, we are preparing a file for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether any charges should be laid. The Bermuda Police Service is alive to the issues that are being passionately discussed in the community. We respect and uphold the constitutional rights of everyone to free speech, and to gather and peacefully protest. But we remind protesters and organizers that their actions must be lawful and they must not intrude on the rights of others. The protest this morning caused significant and unnecessary disruption to the free movement of the general public, and it placed the police in the untenable position of being caught in the middle. Whether a protest is about pathways to status, same sex marriage or furlough days, the police do not hold any views on the merits of the debate. Our job is not to take a position on the issue. Rather, we are mandated to maintain peace and good order and facilitate the exercise of democratic rights to protest peacefully and lawfully. And where we must intervene, our policy is to use the least intrusive and coercive law enforcement measures possible to resolve conflict. It does no community any good for the police to use heavy-handed tactics to address protesters over issues that are already emotionally charged to begin with. This is of course the reason why there are laws that govern protests, and that is why the public must follow the rules: so that the police are not caught in the middle of protesters who have a right to protest and other members of the public who have the right to move about freely. These rules are in place to keep both protesters and other members of the public safe. I encourage anyone who is organising any other similar activities to contact our Operational Planning Officer at Hamilton Police Station where we will be happy to assist with planning and permits, where they are required, in order to avoid the potential of running afoul with the law.”
March 1. About 30 immigration protesters temporarily blocked half of East Broadway in Hamilton from 5am, as part of an active campaign of civil disobedience. The group is rallying against controversial reform proposals declared last month by the Bermuda Government, with police officers redirecting traffic. The Pathways to Status programme, announced by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, has already been the subject of several protests. Under the new guidelines, those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years could apply for permanent residency, and those who have a permanent resident’s certificate, having lived on the island for 20 years, could seek Bermudian status. Last week, hundreds gathered outside the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street to voice their displeasure at the One Bermuda Alliance government. This morning, protesters handed out flyers along East Broadway. Emblazoned with a Bermuda flag, the flyers explained: “Today’s traffic is slow because, having tried everything else, people are holding a street vigil to pray for the Government to listen to the call for comprehensive immigration reform. All of Bermuda will benefit from this approach to reform, as it will ensure all voices will be heard; a responsible immigration policy that measures all impacts, including economic, racial, social, educational, cultural, environmental and electoral; and Bermudian opportunities will be preserved.” The flyer also invited members of the public to “direct your frustration” to Michael Dunkley, the Premier, as well as Senator Fahy, Sylvan Richards, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, and Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, listing all of their telephone numbers. Protester Mujib Swan accused the OBA of using its legislative changes as a “political football.” He added: “The legislation has been biased against individuals by gender, by nationality and also by race. We want to represent the well-being of Bermudians. We feel that the legislation should be bipartisan, and it should be carefully drafted so it doesn’t continue to be biased.” Lynne Winfield from anti-racism group Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda called the present reforms “wrong for the people. They don’t take into account the discriminatory effects. It’s not that the people here are anti-foreigner, it’s not that we’re against giving out PRCs or status to people. We believe that should happen, but the way it’s being done is insensitive to the concerns of Bermudians, especially black Bermudians.” Ronnika Darrell has been trying to find work in Bermuda since last June, after graduating with a master’s degree in general business management from DeVry University. “I haven’t really had any type of response,” she said. “Where is the channel for Bermudian students with fresh talent and experience to transition into the workforce?” Elizabeth Isaac, 84, said: “Why, at this stage of my life, do I still have to be fighting for my civic rights? My son is trying to find a job as a truck driver, but they told him he’s too old. He’s 55 and he’s qualified. So now somebody else will come in, and under this policy they’ll be able to get that job. That’s not fair.” Walton Brown, the Progressive Labour Party MP, who has rallied protesters via social media in recent weeks, said that the demonstration intended to raise awareness of the issue. “The idea is to engage in civil disobedience, to provoke thought and to provoke a reaction,” he said. “The purpose is to try to persuade the Government to step back from its unilateral position and engage in a sincere collaborative approach to one of our most controversial and divisive issues. Hopefully, the Government will listen to the concerns of the people.” While many passing motorists were cheering the demonstrators, one woman who gave her name as Doreen said that she had been subjected to a number of slurs, including “get a life” and another calling protesters “idiots”. Traffic into Hamilton became unimpeded as of 9am, with police moving the protesters to the north side of East Broadway near the junction with Lane Hill. Last night, Michael Dunkley said: “It is regrettable and disappointing that motorists were challenged because of the actions of this morning’s protest demonstration. It’s also most unfortunate that those heading to work and taking our children to school had their morning commute disrupted through no fault of their own.” The Premier said he had discussed the matter with police commissioner Michael DeSilva. “This Government supports individuals expressing their democratic right to demonstrate and voice their views, but I would simply encourage members of the public to adhere to the appropriate laws, protocols and procedures as outlined by the Bermuda Police Service,” Mr Dunkley added.
March 1. A new radiation therapy initiative will allow cancer patients to receive comprehensive treatment on the island. Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and the Bermuda Hospitals Board have teamed up to offer the service, which was announced at a press conference this morning. “Between Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and the Bermuda Hospitals Board our patients will be able to have complete and comprehensive cancer treatment through the two facilities,” Tara Curtis, the executive director of BCHC, said. “Part of the agreement is the sharing of Dr Christopher Fosker. He is trained in radiation oncology and also medical oncology.” According to Dr Fosker, a BHB oncologist, there are about 300 new cases of cancer on the island per year and an estimated 120 to 160 patients will need radiation therapy. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the cancer patients of Bermuda and their families to be able to receive a comprehensive cancer pathway here on island once the radiation is up and running. At the hospital we are seeing all these patients to go through the diagnostic pathway to start their oncology consults but they’re having to go overseas for radiation. The radiation will increase that package so that everything can be done here. Some patients undergoing radiation therapy can continue working while others will be able to “carry on living a normal life and just have their treatment as part of their daily routine”, surrounded by their loved ones. The collaboration between the Bermuda Hospitals Board and the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre is a really important example of working together to improve the healthcare for everyone on the island.” The programme is expected to save “millions” in terms of what is presently being spent on overseas care, according to Ms Curtis. She said that while health insurance covers a lot of the cost associated with going abroad to receive treatment, the new initiative will “immediately” result in savings in terms of accommodation, flights and travel companions. She added that the programme is expected to be up and running within a year. “We’re very excited that we should be operational within a year. We’re working with a team of experts in making sure that what we are designing and what we are looking to build will meet industry standards regarding safety.”
March 1. Bermudian insurer Hiscox Ltd, which advertises itself in the UK as a reputable insurer, wrote more business last year but profits fell 6.5 per cent mainly due to dwindling investment returns. Hiscox said full-year profit fell to £216.1 million from £231.1 million in 2014, slightly better than analysts had expected. Gross written premiums climbed 10.7 per cent to £1.94 billion ($2.69 billion) in 2015 and the group’s retail businesses contributed 50 per cent of income. The group’s investment return was £33.7 million, or 1 per cent, down from £56.4 million, or 1.8 per cent, in 2014. The year had been “characterised by low yields and volatility in many asset classes”, Hiscox said. Hiscox Re, the reinsurance part of the business which operates out of the group’s head office at Wessex House on Reid Street, Hamilton, achieved growth of 8.2 per cent, £383.4 million, compared to £354.3 million in 2014. In local currency, growth was calculated at 2.9 per cent. Hiscox Re recorded strong profitability, with a combined ratio — reflecting the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses — of 46.6 per cent, bettering 2014’s 49.8 per cent. The company put the growth down to “a focus on product innovation”, which generated an extra $70 million of premium. “The benign claims environment continues to put pressure on rates,” Hiscox stated. “Last year’s important 1/1 renewals saw rates fall by 12 per cent and this year they fell again by 5 per cent.” Inside two years, Hiscox said its Hamilton-based ILS-focused Kiskadee arm had grown to be a significant brand in the market and was on track to reach $1 billion in assets under management this year. Last year, Hiscox also launched Cardinal Re Ltd, a special purpose insurer domiciled in Bermuda, “designed to transform collateralised insurance and reinsurance risk into a security more suited for capital market investors”. Hiscox declared a second interim dividend of 32p per share, which included a special dividend of 16p. However, the company warned investors that in future it intended to retain more capital to focus on “pursuing opportunities for profitable growth”. Bronek Masojada, Hiscox’s chief executive officer, said the firm, like its competitors, had “benefited from the absence of major natural catastrophes”. He added, in his outlook for this year: “Our bigger-ticket businesses are more likely to retreat, with growth coming from our new teams in specialty retail across the world.
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