N.H. Cole Simons Retires as leader of the OBA

My heart is filled with a whirlwind of emotions as I announce my retirement from the position of Leader of the Opposition, and as a member of parliament, after 25 years of dedicated parliamentary service to Bermuda. This decision weighs heavily on my soul, as it marks the end of an era that has shaped my life in ways words cannot fully express.


Throughout this remarkable journey, I have been privileged to represent the families of constituency No 8, Smiths South, and the old constituency 9 Smiths North. The unwavering support and trust bestowed upon me by the people of Bermuda have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. From the depths of my heart, I extend my deepest gratitude for believing in me and allowing me to serve you.


In contemplating my retirement, I find solace in the wise words of the Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops,whose surprising departure from coaching resonated with me deeply. “Everything has its time,” he said, and those words have echoed in my mind throughout my leadership journey. Leadership, no matter how impactful, is transient, and I believe in the importance of making way for fresh perspectives and ideas.


The decision to retire was not an easy one to make. Last summer, I embarked on a soul-searching journey to assess the impact of my service and the accomplishments achieved. With unwavering conviction, I believe that now is the right time to step back and make room for the next generation of leaders, while cherishing precious moments with my family that I have often sacrificed along the way.


As I reflect on the milestones achieved throughout my career, I cannot help but feel immense pride over the OBA’s achievements and my own personal accomplishments. Despite the crushing 2020 general election defeat, less than three years later, the One Bermuda Alliance dug deep, looked at ways to improve and today is rebuilt, and stands strong with a solid governance structure. We also have an ever-increasing group of fresh faces, who are all committed to putting their shoulders to the wheel and will continue to hold the feet of the PLP to the fire on behalf of the people of Bermuda.


Under the OBA government, Bermuda witnessed unprecedented economic growth and development through significant projects like the Loren Hotel, St. Regis Hotel, the Azura Hotel, and the Cambridge Beach Hotel redevelopment. We brought the prestigious America’s Cup to Bermuda in 2017 and secured a colossal investment from Aecon for the development of our award-winning L.F Wade International Airport. Our economy was undeniably on a growth trajectory and our people were beginning to experience its benefits.


On a personal level, my work as Minister of the Environment resulted in substantial progress on the Hamilton Declaration and the Sargasso Sea initiative, garnering international support for preserving our natural resources. Moreover, I laid the groundwork for Bermuda’s first Ocean Risk Summit, bringing together global leaders to address vital ocean health issues.


Beyond these accomplishments, I am also proud of my work as the Minister of Education. By collaborating with students, teachers, principals, parents, the staff at the Ministry Headquarters, and the Bermuda Union of Teachers, we made significant strides in laying a solid foundation for the educational system. It was inspiring and remarkable to see private and public-school leaders coming together to share ideas and solutions for the betterment of our students’ education.


Other exciting events which warm my heart, is witnessing the development of Bermuda’s youth who are today addressing our social challenges and reaching the upper echelons of influence in reputable hospitals, universities, and in the Arts locally and internationally.


In addition it was an honor and privilege to represent, and speak on behalf Bermuda and other small Commonwealth Parliamentary  Association countries, in Africa, the Maldives, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. It was also awesome to see democracy at work as an observer in a few overseas territories’ national elections.


However, amidst the triumphs, there are certain regrets that I still carry in my heart, such as the glaring failure to adequately address youth violence and the ongoing tragic loss of life through road rage and road traffic accidents, which all deeply saddens me.


Sadly, it appears as though we are beginning to accept these risks and deaths are a way of life, and no government has been able to conquer these challenges. Over the past twenty-five years, we have sent so many sincere prayers and messages of our condolences to hundreds of families. As a nation, we cannot become hardened to these tragic and often unnecessary losses. We all must work harder to protect our youth and ensure safer roads for all.


Equally disturbing and sad for me, is seeing the thousands of Bermudians and Bermudian families, emigrating to the United Kingdom for economic opportunities, healthcare access and for career opportunities.


Another deep regret is the erosion of respect and decorum within Parliament for the institution itself and for its members. When I first entered politics in 1998, there were ladies and gentlemen in the House and in the Senate, such as: Dame Pamela Gordon, the Hon. C.V. Jim Woolridge, The Hon. Kim Young, The Hon. Madeline Joell, The Hon. Grant Gibbons, the Hon. Erwin Adderley, the Hon. Eugene Cox, the Hon. Alex Scott, the Hon. Paula Cox, The Hon. Reginald Burrows, The Hon. Rev. Larry Lowe, Speaker The Hon. Stanley Lowe, Dame Lois Brown Evans, and Dame Jennifer Smith. Like all parliaments, we jostled with each other in lively debates in Chamber, but respect for one another was always present. We lead the country by example. Unfortunately, this is not the case today.


Allow me to also share one of the most bizarre incidentsin my political career, which caused both international and local turmoil and division. In 2009, unbeknownst to many of Bermuda’s Cabinet Ministers, and the people of Bermuda, the then Premier, the Hon. Ewart Brown stealthy brought four Chinese Muslim Uighur detainees to live in Bermuda after serving years as US detainees at Guantanamo Bay. This caused global headlines, and a real firestorm. The degree and scope of shock and unease was palpable. Emotions ran high as the people of Bermuda were shocked and upset. In Bermuda’s Parliament, a cabinet minister resigned over the decision. Notably, it was the first and only time that I witnessed members of parliament soothing their fellow colleagues, as they were at their wits end and were emotionally depleted. The shock waves then reverberated from Government House to the UK Government and onto China. After a 14-hourhostile debate in our Parliament over a vote of ‘no confidence, Dr. Brown survived.


This precedent setting decision became a defining moment in Bermuda’s Parliamentary history, carving a wedge of division and turmoil at all levels, which has yet to be repaired.


As a nation we faced the global pandemic of Covid-19, which brought us to a literal stand-still. I applaud the government, the One Bermuda Alliance, and leaders of businesses both local and international for working together through this unprecedented crisis. With legislative support we were able to make our way through the uncharted waters of the pandemic together. I also wholeheartedly applaud the people of Bermuda for their assistance and support, who despite the numerous restrictions that were imposed on them, remained calm and cooperative. That is the Bermudian spirit at its best.


Despite these highs and lows, I can with hand on heart state that serving the people of Bermuda and representing them as the Leader of the Opposition has been one of the highest honors of my life. I leave with a heart full of enduring gratitude for the trust your people placed in me. The future of our nation’s is bright and is in capable hands. Undoubtedly, there will be further challenges along the way – that’s life. Those barriers are there for us to dig deep, to climb over or go around and collectively refine our path. We must continue to strive for a fairer and more prosperous Bermuda.


Thank you, Bermuda, and to every one of you, for being part of this incredible journey with me. Your support has meant the world to me. I will continue to carry your love and encouragement in my heart as I move on to the next chapter of my life. With my utmost sincerity and gratitude, Again, thank you.

From Jarion: Thank you to the media and listening public for attending the announcement.

The One Bermuda Alliance would like to take this opportunity to thank The Honorable Cole Simons JP MP for his many years of diligent service to Bermuda.

Cole took on the mantle of leadership in difficult times for our Party. He withstood the easy opinions and criticisms that aroseafter the 2020 election. He then commissioned a bold reform agenda while simultaneously ensuring that Bermuda had an ongoing parliamentary Opposition.

Through his leadership and keen practical questioning, Government’s actions and inactions were revealed to the public. Through his leadership, the Party was held on a firm course of reform. And through his leadership, we are now able to turn the page on the politics of old in Bermuda.

As Acting Leader of the Party, I anticipate a summons to attend Government House to be sworn-in as the Opposition Leader, pursuant to the Constitution of Bermuda. At that time, we will provide a more fulsome statement and reply to your queries.

As for today, we say Happy Birthday to Cole Simons and wish him a brilliant, well-deserved retirement.

Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful, or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites, or repeats previous comments will be removed.

User comments posted on this website are solely the views and opinions of the comment writer and are not a representation of or reflection of the opinions of TNN or its staff.

TNN reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments.

TNN accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for the comments made by users.