By Marc Daniels
I've been reflecting on the whole debacle of the gaming issue in Bermuda for much of the weekend. As a supporter of gaming, I wanted the end result to enable casino gaming. More importantly, I wanted Bermudians to be able to seek self-empowerment where possible as opposed to merely being the big spenders.
What concerns me, and most Bermudians, is the manner in which the government did a 180-degree turn in regards to holding a referendum.
I could respect the premier, if in his wisdom, he came out and merely said, "Listen Bermuda, my colleagues and I feel we can't afford to risk losing a referendum.”
Rather they acted like a five-year-old, when faced with being in trouble, in trying to bring down someone else to escape or diminish their responsibility. Granted, I have read a few OBA supporters cheer the move as bold and necessary for our collective success, however, the deeper issue is a matter of trust.
Confidence in OBA?
As locals, we should feel confident that the government is taking strides that are designed for the benefit of the majority, knowing that very few decisions will attract 100% support.
International investors must also have confidence in Bermuda as a jurisdiction to do business. Trusting that the government will not make spur of the moment decisions that will affect their investments in the future.
Many of the OBA’s recent moves seriously raise question marks over their integrity. Unlike the broken promise of suspending term limits or the promises yet to be delivered on, the referendum issue is one in which we are making a cultural and historic shift in our tourism and cultural product.
There are many moral, social, and economic consequences to this decision. Which is why the PLP saw it necessary to obtain the majority approval in a democratic fashion.
What is most challenging for me is what I consider to be the deceit employed specifically by MPs Cannonier, Pettingill and Crockwell.
Deceit is a strong word, and knowing how the OBA roll I may get sued. So I'll raise my "fair comment defence” now as this is my personal opinion. Based on what my party leader said to me at length about the OBA's various attempts to get him on board and his subsequent advice to them.
Yes, the premier has reached out to MP Bean repeatedly earlier this year on the gaming issue. Yes, he has asked for MP Bean to support him and hold a press conference to move away from a referendum. But each time MP Bean refused. Why? Because the PLP caucus felt it was best to leave the decision to the people.
Internally, we have those in favour and those against gaming. Yet we decide to let you, the people of Bermuda, decide this important matter.
The OBA had all year to write that one-line question. The Referendum Act was already in place prior to the election so there was no "urgency of now" in this u-turn of events on Friday. Did some investor offer some type of reward for the immediate turnaround? That is a legitimate question.
I will leave you, the people of Bermuda, to ponder this question.
Next week I will share Part 2 of my thoughts on this saga. Until then stay blessed.