The following statement was released on Tuesday (Sept 6) by One Bermuda Alliance MP Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs & Legal Affairs…
In April, the Opposition was asked to comment on the likelihood of Premier Burt’s flagship Cannabis Bill becoming law. At that time, we said this: ‘Given the UK’s international convention obligations, there must be a high likelihood that the Governor will not grant Royal Assent – so this Bill will not likely become law.’ With the UK’s clear and existing obligations, we also asked at that time: was it Premier Burt’s intention to have this Bill fail from the start?
Today (Sept 6), the Governor has indeed confirmed that the PLP Bill has been rejected. I would also respectfully remind the Public that although this Bill was one of Premier Burt’s flagship initiatives, almost half of his PLP MPs did not vote for the Bill. The Bill was also twice defeated in the Senate.
The Opposition has consistently described this as a bad bill. It was deeply flawed – no matter what position you hold on the cannabis debate, this particular Bill was not for you. The Premier has been well aware of the UK’s Treaty Obligations throughout. His own Attorney-General pointed out the UK’s treaty obligations in Parliament when the Bill was debated the first time in February 2021. The Premier then stated publicly in November 2021 that he had no intention of tailoring his Bill to satisfy the UK’s conventions obligations.
So, it was David Burt’s choice to steam ahead as he did, rather than seek consensus and compromise. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Royal Assent has not been granted on this Bill. And it should certainly not surprise Premier Burt.