Politics

Flag at half-mast for Brown

  • The flag at the Cabinet Office is lowered to half-mast in honour of Walton Brown today (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Walton Brown (File photograph)

Jonathan Bell

Tributes were paid yesterday to Walton Brown, a Progressive Labour Party MP who died at 59, with former premier Ewart Brown saying he had lost “a cousin and a political comrade”.

Dr Brown added: “Bermuda has lost a visionary who wanted political maturity for his fellow countrymen. May his mother and his siblings find peace during this difficult time.”

The flag at the Cabinet Office was lowered to half-mast out of respect for the Pembroke Central MP, who was found dead at his home on Tuesday.

A joint session of the legislature is set for tomorrow, so that members of the Senate can join MPs in paying tribute.

Starting today, a book of condolence will be available for people to sign at the Cabinet Office every weekday until Mr Brown’s funeral, from noon to 4pm.

David Burt, the Premier, who directed that the flag be lowered, said: “We continue to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Government business has been suspended in the wake of Mr Brown’s passing, which shocked the community.

MPs will not debate legislation tomorrow in the House of Assembly, but dedicate the sitting to tributes to Mr Brown.

Stephen Todd, chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, commended the late former Minister of Home Affairs for his positive relationship with the industry.

Mr Todd said the organisation had enjoyed “a very positive and amenable working relationship” with Mr Brown, in his home affairs capacity as well as his tenure as Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office.

Mr Brown was appointed Minister of Home Affairs after the PLP’s victory in the General Election of July 2017.

He held the portfolio until November 2018, when he was switched to the Cabinet role. Mr Todd said yesterday: “The former minister had always welcomed and sought input from the association on matters specific to labour relations and immigration, prior to implementing any changes which directly impacted the hospitality and hotel industry.”

Mr Todd said the relationship had fostered “co-operation and understanding”.

Karl Outerbridge, a former international cyclist for Bermuda and activist for persons with mental illness, said the island had lost “a big advocate in the area of mental health and learning disabilities”.

He added: “In 2014, Mr Brown started working with me to help me gain a voice and open doors where he could as it related to these issues.”

Even in disagreement, “one of us always found some common ground to put our minds together to find a solution”, Mr Outerbridge said. “Mr Brown kept pushing me to be the face and voice of those with mental health and learning disabilities.”

Mr Outerbridge said: “Everything I do moving forward will be to make sure I do not waste the time he invested in me and the vulnerable people of Bermuda.”