Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin delivered the One Bermuda Alliance’s 16-page Reply to the Throne Speech, amid repeated interruptions, at first will calls for Points of Order, by Deputy Speaker and PLP MP Derrick Burgess, and once by MP Michael Scott.
Both members objected to the tone of Ms Gord0n-Pamplin’s speech on several points on the floor of the House without evidence to back it.
The objections started virtually from the beginning, before the Opposition leader had even reached the bottom of page two of her speech, when she said: “We saw the misinformation machine in full view when the stories grew like fish tales to cause the airport project to be depicted as some kind of sinister arrangement.
“We heard the challenge to the Desarollos group and the untruth that they would take the beach away from St Georgians,” said Ms Gordon-Pamplin.
“We saw it yet again when the OBA government was accused of pepper spraying seniors, when it is known that constitutionally, the government neither gives direction nor order policing policies.”
But she said her party “wholeheartedly” supports “a committee to investigate the occurrences of that dark and unfortunate experience that they will surely highlight the substantive part played in the debacle by those now calling for an investigation”.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin continued: “We saw the cowardice when the leader of the PLP encouraged through robo-calls and blast emails for protesters to attend Parliament, then some of the attendees proceeded to push seniors into the line of fire when the police department determined that law-breakers should be challenged.”
But when she alleged that seniors were pushed “into the fire”, both Mr Burgess and Mr Scott rose to their feet calling for a Point of Order, which occurred at least three times during the course of the Opposition’s Throne Speech Reply.
Mr Scott noted that with more than one report on the December 2nd pepper spraying incident, not one report had stated any such claim that protesters pushed seniors “into the line of fire”.
House Speaker Dennis Lister said he was mindful of the fact that it was a written speech. “If not I might ask you to change your tone,” he said to Ms Gordon-Pamplin.
Once she finished, Mr Lister then rose to his feet to warn MPs that innuendo would not be tolerated in the Lower House. During the last parliamentary session under the previous administration, he said there had been lots of back and forth debates filled with innuendo on both sides of the House, without any evidence to back it up.
As the new Speaker of the House, he said: “We are not going to have this, it will not be tolerated,” said Mr Lister – not on his watch.
The Opposition leader in her Throne Speech Reply, also said the PLP’s “relentless pursuit of power” took Bermuda’s political process to an all-time low.
The new administration’s Throne Speech she said, fell “short on real solutions and long on studies”, adding that many of the PLP’s initiatives were already implemented under the OBA.
She told members of the House that the OBA administration restored confidence in Bermuda, and then cited a list of her party’s achievements while in office.
“The tenor of the speech suggests that Government has either purposely elected to disregard the country’s tenuous economic position or has chosen to continually misrepresent the achievements of the former OBA government,” she said.
Like her parliamentary colleague, Dr Grant Gibbons, she said the PLP used a “rather Trump-like” approach to undermine measures taken under the OBA government.
“In our view, a ground-zero approach to implementation is costly and time wasting…Many of the committees that have been proposed to examine topics can utilise the work already done to move to the implementation stage,” she said. But she conceded that Bermuda’s electorate made their disappointment in the OBA crystal clear on July 18th.
“We take full responsibility and apologise for those disappointments,” said Ms Gordon-Pamplin. “We note the new administration has decided to approach governance differently, and has determined that people will be better served by consultations and studies and rehashing of things that have already been completed”.
While noting that “politics make strange bedfellows”, Ms Gordon-Pamplin also said: “We will watch closely the developments of the questionable New York trip that was planned by an unlikely quartet with would-be gaming operators to determine the purpose of their meeting at the Four Seasons, and the benefit to Bermuda, if any.”
The bipartisan Boundaries Commission, absentee balloting and superyachts were also mentioned, when the Opposition leader questioned why legislative proposals on them were missing.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin did, however, pledge her party’s support for proposed new regulations for debt collection agencies. Ultimately, she said: “We are committed to a collaborative approach, and trust that the pettiness of politics takes a back seat to co-operative and constructive debate.”