First I would like to thank you, and your team members for arranging and overseeing this swearing in ceremony, and hosting it here at Government House.
Secondly, I would like to thank my wife Rochelle, for her endless patience, guidance and support. I know that it has not been easy, but it has been a sacrifice that we agreed to make. And while on the family, I would like to thank my two daughters, Morgan and Erin, and my niece Carmel. They always presented their ideas and recommendation on issues which impact our young people. Without their support and contributions, I could not be here today to accept this appointment.
As for my political family, let me start by giving special recognition and thanks, to The Hon. Craig Cannonier JP MP, the retiring leader of The Opposition.
He was one of the most dedicated, and engaging leaders that our team has worked with.
He has plenty of energy, and always made decisions that were in the best interest of Bermuda and her people.
He was a scrapper, and has a real passion in addressing the inequities faced in the working class, and the small and medium size enterprises, which forms one of the underlying engines, that support Bermuda’s economy.
In addition, I want to also thank my OBA Smiths South branch members, who have been by my side from the beginning.
Again, without their support, I would not be here today. They include Brenda and Al, Pat, Carol, Peter, Jack and Lisa, Rick and Beryl, Barbara and Austin.
While on thanks, my final thanks go my executive and my extended 2020 One Bermuda Alliance team.
This core team of approximately 40 ladies and gentlemen, include all of those candidates who ran in last month’s elections, who are still in the room, and have recommitted themselves to service as a part of the One Bermuda Alliance team.
They continue to be engaged, and are committed to playing their role in crafting and shaping Bermuda’s future. They continue their journey on the pathway of service, to and for the people of Bermuda.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the branch members across the Island, who worked with us leading up to the election, and on last month’s polling day. These field members are as dedicated as ever, and form an integral part of our team.
This as you can see demonstrates that the OBA is still alive, and kicking.
We have new energy and vigor.
Let’s be honest, comparatively speaking, the OBA is a relatively new party. We continue to establish new roots within the community. Our tree was damaged by a hurricane, and like damaged trees after a hurricane, we will come back with renewed energy and strength.
We are doing this because as an organization, the One Bermuda Alliance stands ready to grow deeper roots. Roots nourished on the principles of Opportunity, Responsibility, Integrity, Transparency, Fairness, Inclusiveness and Service. They will secure our foundation and future, within our community.
On a national level,
I would like to begin by commending the people of Bermuda for the discipline demonstrated in Bermuda’s national campaign against Covid 19.
Even though we are classified within the top tiers of the Centers for Disease Control prevention classification, at level 2 with sporadic cases , this pathogen continues to cause real health challenges and concerns to our people and institutions.
It continues to cause havoc socially, culturally and economically on our society. It was only through our discipline, that we are able to have a very respectable grip on the spread of the virus , and its reproduction rate.
As for the national elections,
I would like to congratulate the Progressive Labor Party for their election win. It was a clear victory which truly showed the will of the people.
Having said that though, it was a bitter pill for us, and we accepted it because the People have spoken.
We have heard Bermuda’s collective voice.
We also acknowledge our people’s behavior, with the 55.6% turn out during election day.
The lowest in 40 years.
It sent a crystal clear message, that many people in Bermuda feel that all is not well ..
They walked from this election, as they had real grave concerns about Bermuda’s post Covid 19 economic future.
Bermudians are concerned about their health and the health of their loved ones.
They are concerned about the security of their jobs, the USD3.5BLN debt burden, increasing unemployment, homelessness.
They are concerned about the availability of healthcare, and the continued escalation of violence and deaths plaguing our small community.
They are also concerned about youth unemployment which is around 25%
Lay offs continue at unsustainable levels because of mergers and acquisitions, the exportation of jobs to more competitive jurisdictions, and corporate restructuring.
They are concerned about how we deliver education to our young students and family members.
They are concerned about our tourism industry, our international business industry and the developing digital economy.
Interestingly enough, since my appointment as the Leader of the Opposition Designate, I have been approached by many Bermudians, and a great number of my PLP friends and associates. They all have passed on their congratulations, or commiserations to me for taking on this role. All but one also indicated that Bermuda wants, and needs a strong opposition. They all are very very nervous about a Government, where there is such a concentration of unchecked power. They want the checks and balances. They want accountability, transparency, integrity.
Our role as the Loyal Opposition is to address these concerns, and we will do so steadfastly.
As for me personally:
Leading the One Bermuda Alliance team will be one of the major privileges of my life.
So far, I can proudly say that our team is alive and well. We are rebuilding, and we will continue with the spirit of service and to help rebuild this country. Our commitment is unwavering.
The One Bermuda Alliance team, has been given its mandate, and that is to be an effective opposition.
Our job is to hold the government accountable to Bermuda’s agenda, and at the same time, support and make contributions to government policies, and initiatives, which will lead to Bermuda’s economic, cultural, and social success , and to develop real opportunities for our people.
We will not be alone, we will partner with other community minded partners, like the unions and other community minded activists.
As Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados recently said, “There can be no time for gloating…moaning. We are one people,”
We are Bermudians.
Let us move forward, recognizing that this truly is a defining moment in our history. It is about people claiming their future.
The task of rebuilding begins now.