Bermuda’s newest Member of Parliament Diallo Rabain predicts the One Bermuda Alliance administration will soon become the only one-term government in Bermuda’s history.
In his maiden speech in the House of Assembly Friday night, Mr Rabain vowed to represent “all of the constituents” in C13, “including those who did not vote” for him with “integrity, honesty and intelligently” – pledging to “spend the time necessary to listen to the needs” of his constituents” and “bring them to the fore always”.
Recounting his recent victory, he thanked his predecessor Glen Blakeney, and the voters in Devonshire North Central who “entrusted” him to “be their voice” on Parliament Hill. He told MPs many constituents had urged him to be “humble and respectful but firm and honest” in his new role as their representative.
“They had a choice of what I consider two quality candidates and by a margin of some 110 votes, decided that I am worthy of their representation. To the constituents of C13, I promise to be the kind of representative you expect when you placed your vote last week,” said Mr Rabain.
“This campaign was fought on the ground and I cannot be more straightforward than this. There is empowering feeling when knocking on doors and being warmly received as people welcome you into their homes… and discuss their issues, and what direction they wish to see Bermuda move toward.
“The overwhelming response shared was a general dissatisfaction with the performance of this current government.” And he was “amazed” by the amount of people he encountered while canvassing who either “didn’t vote” or “admitted they voted for the OBA in the last general election”.
They were all “eager and looking forward” to “atone” for “their mistake in December 2012”.
“These are their words, not mine,” said Mr Rabain.
In one case he told MPs a family of four “felt they had thrown away their vote in C2” by voting for the OBA, after the PLP candidate lost by four votes in the last general election. That family now lives in Devonshire North Central.
“If you could see the relief and excitement on their faces knowing that they had a chance to rectify that temporary lapse in judgement, you would understand the wide grins they had when they greeted me at the polling station,” Mr Rabain said.
“Outside of this, the amount of people voting for the first time and younger voters that admitted they voted for the OBA last time but will not be doing so this time was simply amazing to listen to.
“I am under no illusion that the OBA, within their minds, are doing what they believe needs to be done to move Bermuda along…Unfortunately, as the days of this OBA administration tick on, more and more, the people of Bermuda believe less and less that the current Government has their best interests in mind.
“The trust deficit is very real and growing daily between the electorate and this government… This government has shown itself to be very long on promises and very short of delivery since December 2012.”
Citing the PLPs two bye-election victories, one in C33 won by Jamahl Simmons and his win, he noted that he “saw more people come out to vote than in the last general election” in C13. And he urged the OBA to read the writing on the wall.
“Combine this with the current Premier leading his party to a general election loss in 2007, we can say the Premier currently is sitting on a hat-trick of losses while being the leader and now facing a fourth loss in 2017.
“Some may be deliberately blind to facts while others may see the writing on the wall. On January 15th, some two days after an Age Concern forum in C13 was held that highlighted some feelings seniors had about this Government, the Finance Minister announced a ‘Legislative Error, in the Land Tax Adjustment that ironically affected seniors. I think that member sees the writing on the wall.
“The day after the election, the Minister of Home Affairs, who sits in another place, announces a controversial Immigration Policy that regardless of the OBA protests, will have a knock on effect on the next general election, and has reawakened the memories of immigration discrimination policies of the OBAs predecessor – the UBP. The Attorney General was on the radio the following Sunday trumpeting this policy as well. I think those members see the writing on the wall as well.
“The writing on the wall is that what this government is doing isn’t resonating with the public. No matter how many announcements of hotel developments, no matter how many boat races they put on, no matter how many times the Premier posts a feel good picture on Instagram and no matter how many times the obvious is being spun via ghostwritten opeds… once you lose the trust of the people you are supposed to represent, it is very difficult to get that back. The irony that the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General, and the Minister of Home Affairs get it while the Premier seems not to; will not be lost on anyone who keenly follows Bermuda politics and the OBA proper,” Mr Rabain said.
“Despite a damning SCORE Report on our schools that highlighted the tremendous amount of work and resources needed to bring our primary schools up to an acceptable standard, most of which are older than the current airport, the government continues to stand up, with a straight face and declare that we are correct to give away 30 years of potential revenue for an airport that we don’t necessarily need at this time. I am still awaiting anyone from that side (of the House) to explain how a new airport will stop the year-over-year slide of arrival numbers via the airways that has continued under this government to record low levels.
“When the immigration amendment to allow PRCs to purchase any property in Bermuda was debated in the other place last summer, I pointed out the historical hiring and salary inequalities between PRCs and Bermudians, and how such a move places an already advantaged segment of Bermuda in an even more advantaged position. I also talked about the need to look at ways to help Bermudians who already own homes and were in trouble, to keep them. As per usual, the OBA dismissed those claims. Fast forward to January 2016, and we have the real estate industry gleefully claiming house sales are up, and 37% of them are cash sales. Now ask yourselves, what segment of Bermuda has that kind of disposable income to buy properties using cash.
“While finding funding for the America’s Cup, this government continues to cut the budget for education and deny seniors pension increases.
Despite the many photo-ops we see from the Premier, our people are still living in fear from violent gun crime. It was only today (Feb.12.16) the Premier finally admitted that crime has risen in 2015 compared to the previous year of 2014. However, he curiously tried to spin it by saying that the 2014 statistics were historically low as if that should make any of the families who have lost loved ones to gun crime feel any better. What he failed to mention is that the 2015 statistics are closer to the 2012 levels than the 2014 figures. Can anyone honestly say they feel safer today? Why not say we are almost at 2011 vs trying to compare only to 2014 levels.
“This government has failed to deliver on education, this government has failed our seniors, this government has failed to address our emigration and immigration problems, this government has failed to address our gang and violent crime issues, this government has failed to address the racial and income inequalities the previous Premier so eloquently alluded to in his Opposition Throne Speech reply in 2012. This government has failed period and the writing is on the wall no matter how much the Premier tries to spin it and say: “…Don’t judge us now, judge us when a General Election is called…”
Mr Rabain concluded: “The people of C33 spoke in 2014. The people of C13 have spoken louder in 2016, and the people of Bermuda will speak even louder in 2017 as they did in 2007. “The hallmark of this government seems to be one of selective hearing when it comes to listening to the pleas of our people. To that I say continue on your current path at your own risk. Continue to barrel down that pathway of being the only one-term government in Bermuda’s history. Continue to think you can fool the people a second time.
“The people in C33 and C13 see it and told you so with their vote. Well, OBA continue to ignore that message at your own risk and you will have to see that the people of Bermuda will tell you so in 2017, and help the Premier maintain his current losing streak.”
By Ceola Wilson