Cannonier: we must stop cannibalising each other

  • One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Scott Pearman, of the One Bermuda Alliance  (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Susan Jackson, of the One Bermuda Alliance  (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Scott Pearman, left, with Susan Jackson and One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Leader of the Opposition showed support yesterday for a Progressive Labour Party backbencher who quit as a General Election candidate after a harassment incident from two years ago was publicised.

Craig Cannonier appealed to politicians to work together and stop “cannibalising” one another after Rolfe Commissiong was “brutally asked to step down” by the Premier, David Burt.

Mr Cannonier said: “It concerns me that we’ve seen so much bad happen to people who get involved in politics.

“I think you just need to read the tea leaves here.”

He added: “Now I can say that I have not always been a great fan of Rolfe, but he can attest to the many speeches that he made in the House of Assembly where I actually got up and I said ‘Rolfe, I agree with you — you’ve got it and you’re hitting it right on the head’.

“We have got to move away from these attacks that are going on and cannibalising one another. We all have families.”

Mr Cannonier was speaking as he announced Susan Jackson, who was MP for Pembroke South West, and Scott Pearman, who was the representative for Paget East, would defend the seats for the OBA.

He added that the removal of Mr Commissiong, who represented Pembroke South East for almost eight years, should have been handled better.

Mr Cannonier said: “This was not done by him — this was done by the Premier.

“He could have simply asked Rolfe ‘don’t run this election’ — why did we have to go through the charade of exposing all kinds of things that Rolfe said himself had been settled?

“You need to be asking that question, Bermuda.”

Mr Cannonier added: “There is a track record there — ask the Premier about that track record.

“Ask him about Tawanna Wedderburn. Ask him about Marc Bean. Ask him about Neletha Butterfield, a social activist. Ask him about Paula Cox.”

Ms Jackson, who was Opposition Whip and shadow government reform minister in the last Parliament, defeated the PLP’s Graham Maule in 2017 by 650 votes to 176.

She claimed victory over Marcus Jones, then of the PLP, five years earlier by 654 votes to 127.

The PLP still has to announce its candidate for Pembroke South West.

Ms Jackson said that her priorities would be environmental sustainability and the creation of “fair and inclusive” laws.

She added that guidance given to her by Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and Jeanne Atherden, former MPs who have stood down as candidates, as well as from her late mother, Louise Jackson, a former United Bermuda Party and OBA MP, had given her confidence.

Ms Jackson said: “I have spent the past three years or so as the Government Whip and then Opposition Whip, which has really given me a ground-up understanding of the parliamentary process.

“I feel much more confident in how the parliamentary procedures are taken forward and progressed.”

She added: “We have a road to travel and it’s going to take every one of us to put our best foot forward every day.

“It takes a strong moral compass to commit to Parliament and it’s for this reason that I ask the constituents of Pembroke South West to continue to support the One Bermuda Alliance.”

Mr Pearman stepped in to contest the Paget East seat in a by-election after Grant Gibbons retired from politics in 2018.

Mr Pearman defeated the PLP’s Curtis Richardson by 461 votes to 300 and will face the same opponent this time around.

Dr Gibbons held the seat for the OBA when he defeated Mr Richardson in the 2017 election by 704 votes to 397.

He defeated Dawn Simmons, of the PLP, five years earlier by 699 votes to 243.

Mr Pearman admitted he was “still a relative newbie”.

Mr Pearman said that he would also campaign for an independent investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect of children made against the Department of Child and Family Services.

He added: “The OBA’s three years in Opposition has bonded us into a team and taught us that we must do better.

“But even more importantly, this new OBA team is a team that wants to win — not for ourselves, but for Bermuda as a whole. For one Bermuda.”

To read the remarks from the two candidates and the Opposition leader, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”