The following Op-Ed was submitted for publication on July 17, 2020 by Vic Ball a former One Bermuda Alliance Senator from November 2014 to July 2017…
I listened on social media to the most recent speech in the House provided by Minister Burch on July 17, 2020. He offered a robust speech about a contract matter affecting us all, within the Ministry of Health, related to COVID-19. He admitted that this speech was personal for him because people in the Ministry of Health are perpetuating “disgraceful and malicious treatment” to his “adopted daughter”.
Before his outburst was over, he had attacked work permit holders, foreigners, a male member of parliament and an unnamed South African man. However, his ultimate rage was aimed at black women in the Ministry of Health who he accused of “plotting for her ultimate failure”, “treachery” and “jealousy and envy” toward other black women who are successful.
He then proceeded to threaten everyone at the Ministry that he will call their names if they do not stop this treatment of Dr. Weldon. He followed by threatening other actions to “force” them to cease and desist from their behaviour.
Bermuda, I am sounding the alarm bells again. The Government of our country is falling off the rails and are out of control. I fear that if the best of who we are as a people does not rise up and soon, our downward spiral will continue until we are a country in ruins. We must stop the divisive rhetoric and language that is moving our nation blatantly backward.
I would like to be the first to categorically say that no one should have to endure personal attacks for their work, race, opinions or their ideals. There should never be any room in this country for that behavior because it tears away at the core of who we are and arrests our development as a nation. We should be mature enough to not attack anyone personally and concentrate solely on the policies, issues or challenges involved.
I will not fall into the trap of making this commentary about Dr Weldon. I know her parents very well. They are a family that are a model for all of us to follow. I played football with her dad at Devonshire Colts and he is a strong character and I am positive that in Dr. Weldon’s case she is a branch off of particularly good roots.
Unfortunately, she has become a political tool in the all too familiar PLP drama of division and deflection. If we are to believe what Minister Burch has stated, she is being professionally derailed by rampant corruption within the Ministry of Health. Sadly, Minister Burch is unconsciously contributing to Dr Weldon’s predicament.
Some time ago, I provided commentary of the ongoing Judicial action of the former CEO of the Health Council Tawanna Wedderburn. At the time, there was intense suspicion regarding why she was fired in spite of how well she was doing in her job. Minister Burch is highlighting something quite similar and attempting to sound the alarm regarding Dr Weldon. However, he is undermining his own credibility by using the House of Parliament to assist the career of his “adopted daughter” while remaining dead silent in the case of Ms Wedderburn.
It apparently escapes Minister Burch that his implied allegations of corruption and his own conduct are profoundly serious concerns. He is accusing the civil administration in the Ministry of Health and by extension his Cabinet colleague the Minister of Health of being mean spirited and malicious public servants who discard the rules and are answerable to no one. Presumably, his response was designed to beat them at their own game.
Bermuda, how are we to take this when Minister Burch spouts racist rhetoric and offers a mean-spirited response outlined with threats and intimidation? In fairness to the public officers, the Minister has not provided the public with any information about what rules have been broken, discarded or not complied with. He has only told us that he is advocating for someone that he has adopted as his daughter, she is black and she is being denied. He also lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that he will get his way or else.
Has anyone considered why is the Minister of Public Works threatening the public servants of the Ministry of Health? Have we asked the question, why are we allowing a man to bully, intimidate, verbally attack and threaten black women? Could he not have taken his concerns to the Minister of Health or the Premier? Can we conclude that the Minister of Health is a part of the problem and Minister Burch needed to step in to assist Dr Weldon? Are the problems so bad that Minister Burch
needed to bring his concerns to the floor of the House and directly to the people of Bermuda? Is this not a Government out of control?
If this is not troubling enough, there is one more question that needs to be answered. Why is everything in our country reduced to racism even when, in this case, there is only one race involved? In this case Minister Burch threw in women on women for the additional flavor of sexism.
Minister Burch is assuring us that the decision makers in the Ministry of Health are envious black women that are determined to undermine one of their own. It appears remarkably similar to the CEO matter over a year ago. The question needs to be asked, if this is true, why is it racism or any other “ism”? Why isn’t it just flat out corruption? Further, why does Minister Burch want to leave the corruption in place and leave everyone and everything as it is as long as he gets what he wants because he has a personal interest?
If we continue to run our country like this in broad daylight, we will sooner rather than later run it into darkness of the ground. When we lose our perspective to the point where we can no longer see the wrong that we do when confronting wrong, we are lost and hopeless. I do not want to be a prophet of doom and gloom but rather to raise the alarm on our slumbering minds. We need to stop this before it is too late.
Bermuda, our COVID-19 testing regime is being dangerously questioned. Minister Burch is publicly accusing people in the Ministry of Health of having unprofessional ulterior motives. The integrity of our political and civil administration of one of our most important Ministries is severely damaged.
Minister Burch is admitting the Cabinet are at odds or are helpless in addressing the corruption they are up against. There is a petition going around to sure up support for Dr Weldon from a challenge the public knows nothing of.
Unfortunately Bermuda, what we are now left with is a major problem where our response to this pandemic is now totally politicized.