The Minister of National Security apologised last night after he posted a video where he asked a young woman server in a London restaurant for “titty milk”.
Wayne Caines, in London on government business, told The Royal Gazette he was “deeply disappointed” in himself.
Mr Caines said: “This has been a learning exercise for me.
“The Premier has asked me to speak with him tomorrow and he and I will have a difficult discussion, but make no mistake that I am 100 per cent apologetic for my comments and this will never happen again.”
Mr Caines added he regretted that the controversy had threatened to overshadow the work at his London meetings and the Caines family’s Back to School Extravaganza held yesterday.
The recording, posted on Mr Caines’s Instagram account on Wednesday, was shot at a branch of Cereal Killer Café, a cereal bar business with two shops in London. Mr Caines asked a female staff member what milk is available and said he was lactose intolerant.
He asked: “Any titty milk?”
The employee did not respond and Mr Caines said he would have Cap’n Crunch. The video expired from Mr Caines’s Instagram Story yesterday afternoon, but it had already been shared on other social media and sparked a flurry of comments and memes.
Mr Caines apologised on Facebook yesterday afternoon for what he described as an “inappropriate joke”.
He said: “To be clear, I did not make the comment to the clerks, it was said jokingly into my phone. They did not hear the comment.
“Having said that, I apologise without reservation to everyone in Bermuda.
“I am an elected official who must always conduct himself appropriately. On this occasion I fell way below the mark.
“What was meant to be a funny is now anything but.”
He added: “I know better. This is an unnecessary own goal.
“I will stand and take my licks. On this occasion I deserve each lash.”
Both London branches of the Cereal Killer Café, one in Camden Market and the other on Brick Lane in the East End, were contacted yesterday, but neither responded to a request for comment.
The video was a major source of debate on social media.
Posters called the video “vile” and “unacceptable” in one Facebook thread.
Other posters claimed that Mr Caines had said “tin milk” or “tinned milk” and dismissed the video as a “political attack”.
Cheryl Packwood, the former director of the Bermuda Government’s Washington office and managing partner of a communications agency, wrote that she had verified that the post was on Mr Caines’s Instagram account.
She added: “It is there and it is unacceptable.”
Marc Daniels, a former Progressive Labour Party senator, said on a Facebook post of the video: “People have to be honest and stop making excuses. The words are clear as was the intent ... just be honest.
“As stated above, man is man, All are fallible and all fall short and there is no point putting any man or woman on a pedestal because they carry a title. It is their actions which prove whether the title holds weight.”
Bryant Trew, a political commentator, said: “If one of my sons did this, there would be severe repercussions. What makes a grown man think that this is appropriate conduct?
“Plus, this embarrasses Bermuda big time. How do you travel the globe trying to promote Bermuda when this kind of harassment, chauvinism and immaturity are being practised?”
Kristin White, a writer and blogger, added: “In the past I’ve done a backflip triple salchow trying my best to manoeuvre away from ‘bashing men’, acknowledging that we are all dealing with generational trauma, and how, in men, that often presents as an inability to communicate and connect with women in a real and genuine way.
“But not this time. The act of harassment towards this woman, who was just trying to serve this man some f***ing cereal, has to be called out.”
Susan Jackson, the Shadow Minister of Health and Seniors, said she hoped the Premier, would “publicly reprimand” Mr Caines.
She added she was pleased when Mr Caines apologised for his “appalling” comment.
Ms Jackson said: “There is no place for offensive comments like this, which can’t help but have a demeaning impact on young women, and young mothers in particular.
“The minister is out promoting Bermuda as a place of integrity to attract upstanding professionals.
“He’s promoting Bermuda to businesses that are working hard to increase diversity and equality within their workplaces.
“His comment shows remarkable disrespect and I am sure companies, including the fintech sector, will take note.”
Toni Daniels, a former One Bermuda Alliance senator, said the #MeToo movement had improved awareness about sexual harassment, but more progress was needed.
She added: “It’s extremely unfortunate that we have a leader of the country who has perpetuated this and seems to not understand that it was not only inappropriate, but felt that it should be passed along on social media and promulgated.”
Ms Daniels said: “There was a time when this kind of conduct was tolerated and I think there has been a growing awareness of what is acceptable and the Minister should really know better.
“Some people are saying this is just politics, but it really isn’t. The evidence is there. What he says is obvious. We cannot misinterpret that.”
The video also spawned several internet memes.
One featured a photograph of Mr Caines and the words: “I don’t always drink milk ... but when I do breast is best.”
Mr Caines was in Britain this week for a forum on the blockchain industry and a meeting with the UK National Crime Agency.