Co-operative problem solving needed
Our political climate appears to be creeping towards further confrontation between the Government and the Opposition over a range of issues.
While the political arena is seldom without controversial clashes, too often the people and their needs take second place while political groups battle over scoring points.
At least that is a realistic perception by many who voted, hoping for things to get better.
All governments with democracy as their anchor in conducting the business of the people should realise that without transparency and a strong link with the people on all matters that concern their daily welfare, they risk a loss of credibility and confidence.
It matters little whether it is the Progressive Labour Party, the One Bermuda Alliance or any other group vying for political power.
In a highly competitive world, where so much has changed in the way business is conducted these days, projecting a positive image is crucial because in so many countries, especially those with large populations, there are challenges that make life for many almost unbearable.
Even in the area of tourism, some places have fallen off the map as a result of turmoil and what has been described by many observers as blatant corruption.
In Bermuda, we certainly are not perfect. In fact, there are still unresolved issues dealing with the handling of the public purse, when the Auditor-General’s Office noted in a report that it was unable to account for large amounts of money involving government contracts. Without pointing fingers at anyone, it remains a serious matter that the electorate has not forgotten. The important factor is that the people have a right to be concerned when such a report is issued, with no one being held accountable.
All governments in a free society, in order to maintain credibility, must never allow truth and transparency to be pushed under the bus. The free press usually comes under fire, at times and globally, for probing government matters where irregularities have been detected in serving the people.
The One Bermuda Alliance has a new leader in Craig Cannonier, who resigned as premier during that party’s stint in office over what has become known as the Jetgate affair. He could be in for a rough ride in trying to re-establish credibility.
Cannonier has openly apologised for an error in judgment when he boarded a private jet for talks in the United States that he felt would promote Bermuda. Just how this matter will affect his ability to move the OBA forward could depend on whether full transparency about the trip has taken place. A police investigation into the matter continues, according to reports.
Parliamentarians on both sides of the political divide, the PLP and the OBA, should be mindful that careful thought should be given to neither side being without issues that could give the electorate reason to question truth and transparency in conducting the people’s business. With the many challenges facing the island, including protecting our image as a stable international business sector, we need our leaders to work in a more co-operative spirit for the good of the Bermuda people.
This does not mean being in agreement on every issue before Parliament; it does mean learning how to disagree in a respectful mode, paving the way for reason to prevail.
Most Bermudians are still very proud of their beautiful island, but there is growing concern throughout our communities about violent criminal behaviour that has made its way in so many areas of community life. Our leaders must focus more on seeking ways to improve attitudes in a diverse society, where every person is important in building a better Bermuda.
Apart from violent behaviour, and continuing recklessness by some road users in addition to illegal substances that have affected many families, more than ever we need a co-operative approach if we are to rekindle that old Bermudian spirit of respect and dignity.
Most Bermudians will support both the Government and the Opposition in positive efforts to move Bermuda forward. However, at the same time, they want transparency and truth to be the guideposts for all of our political leaders in dealing with any issue — sensitive or not — that affects community life.