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People’s Campaign still going strong

  • Senator Jason Hayward (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The People’s Campaign pressure group, largely quiet in recent months, is still in action according to Senator Jason Hayward, a prominent member of the organisation.

The group is now completing its social and economic empowerment blueprint for release to the public, Mr Hayward said.

Mr Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, has led the group since its inception, along with the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union.

Asked if he remained in the campaign’s leadership, Mr Hayward described himself as a community activist with the organisation.

The group, which was strongly critical of the One Bermuda Alliance administration, was launched in April 2014 as a coalition of concerned citizens to address “growing frustration and mistrust of political process in view of the continued rise in unemployment, growing gap between the haves and have-nots, and the unequal burden of sacrifice being placed on the lowest and least”.

Mr Hayward, whose portfolio as a junior minister covers education, workforce development, national security, social development and sports, said he would use his position within the Government to communicate the reasoning behind legislation.

Asked if his responsibilities might put him at odds with the People’s Campaign in the event of protests, Mr Hayward responded: “We are appointed and elected to serve the people of Bermuda.

“And so my role in the Senate will be to ensure that the laws are in the people’s best interest and clearly explain why the Government believes that they are.”

He added: “The best approach would be to have the required consultation with relevant stakeholders prior to legislation reaching the lower and upper houses.”

In particular, the campaign opposed the former administration’s deal for building a new terminal at LF Wade International Airport through a public-private partnership with Canadian Commercial Corporation.

Mr Hayward’s criticism of the proposal during a ZBM broadcast in May 2015 led to a defamation lawsuit by Bob Richards, then minister of finance, although the court case was ultimately resolved with an apology.

The agreement reached commercial and financial close in March, meaning the Progressive Labour Party, which also staunchly opposed the deal, has inherited a substantial infrastructure project that the People’s Campaign branded a tainted deal.

Yesterday, Mr Hayward said there had been concerns “prior to the election and there is still concern now”.

He said: “The best approach the Government can take moving forward is being transparent with the public on what is exactly contained in the contract.”