Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks hit back at criticism by his parliamentary counterpart Nandi Outerbridge, who said the Opposition’s call for a national lottery support local athletes is a “misguided” plan.

In a statement issued today, Mr Weeks said: “It is unfortunate that the OBA representative for Constituency 2, whose silence on the crucial issues of Bermudian jobs and opportunities has been deafening, would choose to speak now only to attack an initiative intended to benefit our youth. Criticising a proposal designed to support those athletes who serve our country on the international stage is more of a priority for MP Outerbridge than ensuring Bermudians come first in their country.”

He was responding to comments made by the Minister, who said: “The idea of a national lottery has been explored by the Government and the cons far outweigh the pros. A lottery is widely accepted as a tax on the poor in that people less able to afford tickets will buy them in the false hope that they will win against incredible odds.”

Mr Weeks countered by questioning the OBA MPs silence on what he termed the “real issues” affecting Bermuda and its people. “Where was MP Outerbridge when the OBA tried to shut down the Lamb-Foggo Urgent Care Centre? Where was MP Outerbridge when the OBA wanted to deprive our Bermudian children chances of summer employment opportunities, by trying to give expats’ children the right to work the same jobs? Where was MP Outerbridge when it became clear that the only jobs being grown in our economy are for non-Bermudians? Silent, hiding, doing nothing and saying nothing,” said Mr Weeks.

“Bermuda needs leadership that stands for Bermudians, that doesn’t view our youth as props for photo-ops and that brings forward ideas that can give hope to Bermudians.” But he said: “The PLPs position is that we must develop innovative ways to help our youth reach their potential and help them understand that every Bermudian who has a gift should be supported and have an opportunity to succeed.”

While praising Bermuda’s Carifta team medalists, Ms Outerbridge said: “With a population as small as Bermuda’s, the costs of establishing, regulating and running a lottery would leave a limited pool to be paid out in winnings. Any money dedicated to funding sports teams would be very limited. The Opposition’s statement is nothing more than political posturing – putting forward a carelessly conceived idea that will have a negative impact on the Bermudians who can least afford it.”

But Mr Weeks concluded: “Our lottery idea is not a panacea but is an innovative way for our people to invest in one of our most critical resources – our youth.”