Your Excellency, Senators, Members of the Parliament, party colleagues, family, and friends.
I’m very honoured and humbled to be appointed the Opposition Leader of Bermuda.
But before I begin, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the countless family, friends and colleagues who encouraged and supported me.
My wife Tiffany has been my rock, my biggest supporter and the person who holds our family together. My daughters Riley and Rebekah inspire me, give me a reason to work towards a better Bermuda.
My parents and wider family raised me to believe in certain principles, such as integrity, sincerity, and authenticity. My friends hold me accountable to those principles on a daily basis. They are my core.
I couldn’t be here without each of you, and I want you to know that, from the bottom of my heart.
I’m especially grateful for my predecessor, Cole Simons who served this community for 25 years in the House of Assembly. Cole is steady, reliable and principled. He is a politicianso unlike the American, Hollywood-style of politics of today. The buck stopped with him, but not before he asked for everyone’s opinion.
Cole managed to simultaneously empower party reform and deal with the day-to-day work of parliamentary democracy. Historians will acknowledge that Cole’s character was what Bermuda needed, when we needed it.
Now for today. I can assure you that at no point in my life did I ever aspire to become Opposition Leader. Sure, I believe wholeheartedly in service. I served in the police. I served in the regiment. Yet I figured I had done my time. I joined the corporate world to provide for my family.
Yet service is not something you ever really let go. It’s a part of you.
I joined politics not that long ago. Since then, I’ve sought to make the best decisions I could, based on the information I had, whatever the scenario.
But I am very concerned, like my predecessor, about the state of leadership and politics in Bermuda.
There’s a saying that a fish rots from the head. I think the state of politics explains our current situation as much as anything else.
My former colleagues in uniform, I know, would agree with me that leadership is crucial to performance.
Bermuda’s politics are now solely about ideologies and identity. We have reached a sorry state where people seem to believe that one side holds dominion of the truth so the other must be intentionally malevolent, mislead or irrelevant.
And the state of our country shows us how well this approach is working out. It’s not. Bermudians can no longer afford the politics of personal ambition and the settling old scores.
We can do better. I’ve seen, in Bermuda, in real-life, that principled conduct bring better results to complex, real-world situations.
I have worked with sworn constables, who walk into desperate and dangerous circumstances. Through their caring and guts, they make a family safer and stronger.
A cynic cannot do that.
Equally, in journalism. There are a higher set of principles that govern the actions of journalists. It was my duty to tell it fairly, objectively and accurately. My duty to be transparent, specific and truthful, so the public can make their own informed decisions.
A cynic cannot do that.
Teachers, nurses, doctors. Perhaps they can be momentarily cynical, but to be cynical everyday – it just doesn’t work.
Some people seem to think its ok for our politics to be manipulative, dishonest and corrupt. I think that is just wrong.
Tomorrow is about hope – not a fairy dream, but a clear vision that the things we do today make our lives and the lives of those we love better.
Tomorrow is about trust – in each other, because we want the best outcome for Bermuda.
When I think of the best parts of Bermuda, the parts that are so intrinsic the are unconscious, I think of Cup Match. Every year the whole island splits into two clear, unambiguous sides. We then spend a month, if not more, challenging and teasing each other.
What makes Cup Match unique in the world is, unlike a British football match, we don’t descend into resentment, anger (and in the worst case, violence) when our team doesn’t win. We don’t say the other side is malevolent, mislead or irrelevant. That would be absurd.
We could use more of that in politics., which is supposed to be our community’s highest form of problem-solving. Politics can solve community issues. Yet today’s politics seems to create them
I’ve heard politics described as a street-fight. Again, we don’t have enough people to fill a modern sports stadium. We are trapped on 21-square mile rock with only each other. And our recommended form of problem-solving is a street fight?
We should take our cue from those who came before us, those who served amongst us. We should ask them if aggression solves problems in a single community.
I’m positive they’ll say no.
I want to make this clear. We are engaged in a fight for the future of our country. It’s just not a fight between each other. Our struggle is to secure Bermuda’s place in the world at large.
As Bermudians, we are more alike then we are different. We all want safety, a decent standard of living, opportunities for economic gain and education. Clean water, beds and healthy food. We want our kids to be able to pursue their dreams, to spend time with friends and family. We want to laugh more than we cry.
Bermuda’s challenges have been referred to as ‘a perfect storm’. The recent news about international corporate tax compiles with our lagging tourism industry, while we are trying to simultaneously reform healthcare, education, and our infrastructure crumbles from lack of investment. These struggles are all too real despite having accumulated $3 billion of debt through spending and borrowing. Meanwhile we have no idea the actual number of people who have left Bermuda while debating the number of people we’ll let in.
We’ve been fed for some twenty plus years a diet of division, dissention and disregard. Told, and retold, that we are victims of fate and that our fortune has been taken from us. That we are victims of other people’s action. Blame is not a solution.
So, what’s the OBA going to do.
First things first, the Party I lead is not going to be in anybody’s pocket and we’re not going to let anyone in ours. Government is for the people, all people, not little groups of preferred individuals. Not for agendas, not for personal enrichment, not for settling scores. Netflix is for entertainment, Government is for schools, trash collection, infrastructure maintenance, getting out of the way of the economy, and protecting the vulnerable.
None of that can happen if we’re constantly preening and patting ourselves on the back.
The Party I lead is going to hold everyone accountable, starting with ourselves. Those who choose to serve the public must serve it well – politicians must lead, be seen to be leaders and of the highest character.
The Party I lead will seek to attract people who have proven their competency without reliance on politics. By this I mean small business owners, tradesmen, people well-respected in their professions. And also people who have demonstrated caring for the community through participation in charities and mentoring and events. These are the people at the beating heart of Bermuda.
The Party I lead will respond to the demands of the electorate.
Our candidates, our future Parliamentarians, will be there for you to question, our platform open for inspection.
Our team is decisive and dedicated. And we will never give up in our fundamental belief, that an inclusive Bermuda, managed with integrity and prudence, can provide ample economic opportunities, accessible healthcare, a world-class education, and a safe, strong community in a healthy, sustainable environment.
Thank you again for coming out. Thank you for your support. But most especially, thank you for holding us accountable when we form the next Government of Bermuda.