Politics

Cannonier worried OBA heading the wrong way

  • Craig Cannonier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The One Bermuda Alliance’s battering at the polls proved it had gone down the wrong path, former leader and party founder Craig Cannonier said yesterday.

Despite suggestions that the OBA is doomed, Mr Cannonier said the party “will be fine”.

Mr Cannonier said, however: “We are not heading in the direction I would like to see the party heading.”

The former premier and current shadow works minister echoed new party leader Jeanne Atherden’s view that new blood was needed.

He explained: “I think that people are very much concerned that the OBA began to look very old school. When people voted for something new, that’s what they were looking for.

“We need to have new faces in the room and people who have not been involved in politics before.”

Mr Cannonier said voters were no longer looking for the “old school argument” from politicians in either party.

He added: “Those of us who are politicians, if we continue, whether we are young or old, in that format of tit-for-tat, are going to very quickly find ourselves being labelled as old school.

“People want to hear solutions. People want to hear about the future.”

Mr Cannonier said the departure of former senator and party chairman Nick Kempe was “ironic”.

Mr Kempe quit as party chairman after only five days in the post.

It came only two days after he was replaced in the Upper House by Justin Mathias.

Ms Atherden said last week she saw the job of party chairman as a “very major role”, and that there was “a lot to be done”.

Mr Cannonier said that Ms Atherden’s reasoning for the change “holds no weight at all”.

He explained that the same situation existed with Mr Kempe’s predecessor, Lynne Woolridge, who served as party chairman while also a senator.

He added: “We’re just coming from that.

“I don’t know what Ms Atherden was thinking, quite frankly.

“At a time when you say you’re looking for young people to be involved, you p****d off a young person.”

Mr Cannonier said Mr Kempe was a “very capable politician” whose short Senate stint showed that he could “stick to issues” and “look to ways forward”.

He added that he “kind of chuckled” over Mr Kempe’s departure.

Mr Cannonier explained: “This is someone who is coming from a United Bermuda Party heritage.

“And the irony of it is that he is looking for change.”

Mr Cannonier said that although the OBA had problems, the writing was not on the wall for the party.

He added the party’s downward spiral stopped on election day in July.

Mr Cannonier explained: “We were spiralling before, which is what led to July 18.”

He said that everything had come to a “standstill” after the General Election result.

Mr Cannonier added: “That’s a good thing. People are now stopping and can think clearly and can say ‘what’s going on? What happened?’

“In order for democracy to continue, we need a healthy and strong Opposition. And that won’t happen unless you see the teething pains that we are going through right now.

“We have got to get ourselves together in order for there to be true democracy on the island. And that’s what you see happening right now, people getting their act together.”

Mr Cannonier quit as premier in the wake of the Jetgate row, where he, two other ministers and a friend travelled on the private jet of American businessman Nathan Landow to discuss potential hotel development on the island.

Mr Landow later said that he and associates made a donation of around $300,000 to the Bermuda Political Action Group, which was not part of the OBA, to help the party’s 2012 election campaign.

Mr Cannonier said that the immediate focus for the party was to improve discussion and debate in the political arena.

He admitted: “Externally it may not always look healthy.

“But I believe that there are very strong individuals who are still there for a reason, and that is because they still believe change can happen.

“If and when you begin to see some of those strong individuals walk away, then that’s another discussion.”