Retired banker Phillip Butterfield warned today that it’s for a real adult “Come to Jesus Conversation” on Bermuda’s Immigration policy. Failure to do so he said will lead to “social chaos” in Bermuda.

The former CEO of HSBC Bermuda was one of three panelists to address an estimated 100 executives and community figures who came in for a powerful, poignant discussion on the Pathways to Status Bill, and how it “would impact Bermuda socially, economically and politically”.

Moderated by Bermuda Chamber of Commerce President John Wight, Mr Butterfield joined Bermuda College lecturer and economist Craig Simmons, and Lynne Winfield of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB), at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess for an early morning ‘eye opening’ discussion on Immigration.

During the question and answer period that followed three 15-minute speeches, Mr Butterfield spoke candidly when asked what qualifies as a real Bermudian?

He received a resounding round of applause when he said: “If you represent Somerset and go to Cup Match and county games then you’re a Bermudian”.

Then he told the audience that when it comes to this very question – it’s time to just “stop it”.

“It’s not productive,” said Mr Butterfield. “Disquiet always causes discomfort!” But at the same time he said there’s “nowhere on the planet” where the people don’t protest against social injustice.

Referring to the recent protest on Parliament Hill he said: “You have to respect the reasons behind it. The human condition is pretty clear. If you push me in the wrong direction I am going to respond”.

As a former Black Bermudian banker he said: “I was successful because I learned how to navigate it. But I am more concerned about the inability to do the same on the part of our leaders.

“There’s very few who are capable of true leadership,” said Mr Butterfield. “And it’s time for a real adult ‘Come to Jesus’ conversation on the issue of immigration.”

During his speech he told the audience: “Race and politics in this country are inextricably linked. It’s time to remedy the biased behaviour of the past – equity requires engagement.

“If we ignore the prerequisites it will result in social chaos so we need to take it on,” said Mr Butterfield.

Ms Winfield, in response to another question recalled how she came to Bermuda as a white foreigner, who was pushed to the head of the employment line and hired instantly as a secretary because of the benefits of her “whiteness”. Bermuda Real will have a separate report on that in due course.

Mr Simmons, in his address agreed that the country must focus on immigration. But he said: “There are bigger barriers to deal with.

Meanwhile, the Chamber’s Executive Director Kendaree Burgess said: “The conversation was a very meaningful one and of the type that I believe, is conducive to moving the island forward.

“Whilst the objective wasn’t to promote a particular outcome or view, it was surely to make clear the impact of the past, of economics and of politics on our island home.

“The packed room of approximately 100 attendees from all segments of the business and political sectors, was fully engaged in the dialogue and went away appreciative of the exchange.

We, at the Chamber, are determined to host more of such discussions and invite the rest of Bermuda to participate.”

Bermuda Real will have more on today’s speeches in subsequent reports.

By Ceola Wilson