For the second year in a row, the Progressive Labor Party’s annual Delegates’ Conference is being held completely virtually. The theme of this year’s conference is “ get involved,” and it opened on Wednesday October 27.
Before speaking about how he himself got involved in the PLP and politics 17 years ago, the Honorable Premier and party leader David Burt addressed some harsh realities that Bermuda currently faces, beginning with expressing his extreme disgust and condemnation of Tuesday night’s shooting at Robin Hood pub. He sent out his sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased.
“ As a community we have been through so much and this tragic event is a harsh reminder that outside of the pandemic, there are still issues within the community which we must address together,” he said. “ That horrific incident only compounded the immense pressure at our hospital and island as a whole are under as we continue to battle against the Coronavirus.”
Premier Burt then touched upon the Coronavirus and its effects on every aspect of Bermudian life, from education to business to people’s mental health.
“ Most notably, this pandemic has been a catalyst for sickness, ongoing health challenges and has snatched many precious lives,” he said.
“ Like many of you, I have lost friends to this virus and my thoughts and prayers remain with all families who are mourning the loss of a loved one.”
Premier Burt then addressed the rising inflation rates in the U.S., which has a ripple effect here in Bermuda.
“ Global supply chain challenges mean that prices will increase at the supermarket and in local shops,” he said. “ In order to overcome the economic pain and anxiety brought on by this pandemic and to bring about positive and transformational change in this country, it will require difficult choices . . . and it will require everyone to get involved in making these changes a reality.”
Premier Burt then explained that he first got involved with the PLP back in 2004, six months after graduating from university. He was encouraged to do so by his then next-door neighbor.
“ I joined the PLP to play a role in bringing about the change I wished to see in my island home,” he said. “ I still remember my first PLP meeting, where I used my voice to put forward my ideas for how immigration policies could work better for young Bermudians, given my experience when I first returned home.”
“Today, many of the changes that I stood up to share 17 years ago have been implemented,” he continued. “ But, they happened because I chose to get involved. I did not sit on the sidelines
hoping that someone else would use their voice to press for the changes that I felt in my heart were needed for my country’s future.”
The Premier then proceeded to ask the delegates present what plans they have that will improve the lives of everyday Bermudians and will bring about transformational change in their community.
“ Whatever the idea is, if you are also willing to fight for it and if it represents the objectives and principles that we as a Progressive Labor Party stand for as a party of working to promote the political, social, economic, environmental, and cultural progress of the people of Bermuda, we want to hear it and help you make it a reality for your country,” he said.
Premier Burt then elaborated on what the party ran on during their first election in 1963; universal health insurance, quality tax-funded public education, unemployment insurance and more affordable housing.
“ Recently, there are some who may question our commitment to this party’s founding principles, but it is clear that we remain true to why the PLP was founded in 1963,” he said. “ Our economic recovery plan will see the successful execution of two key pillars of that 1963 platform, universal health insurance and unemployment insurance. Some of the approaches in 2021 may be different then those formulated 58 years ago, but, rest assured, this party is firmly rooted in its founding principles of economic and social justice.”
According to Premier Burt, from 2017 up until the pandemic in March of last year, the PLP nearly eliminated the island’s large national deficit while investing in various programs aimed at building up Bermudians and have provided “ unprecedented levels of social support” to help Bermudians affected by the pandemic make ends meet.
“ We also stepped in to provide $11 million in redundancy payments to the former workers of Southampton Princess to ensure they were made whole,” he said. “ That is what standing up for the little guy looks like and that is what the PLP is all about.”
The next part of his speech talked about what the PLP has already done since getting back into power in 2017.
Examples that he used to illustrate this were delivering on long-needed educational reform through signature schools (the first of which will be introduced in 2022 with a Trades Signature Program at CedarBridge Academy), delivering on healthcare reform by ensuring that health premiums go to the hospital instead of to insurance company profits and passing laws which regulate the high cost of prescription drugs.
The PLP is also attracting new banks to the island’s shores, helping the island become a global leader in Fintech and modernising Bermuda’s immigration system while simultaneously protecting the rights of Bermudians.
According to Premier Burt, the PLP is working on making a shoreside facility for fishermen, which has been discussed and debated for over 15 years, a reality and bringing in electric buses, installing solar panels to power Government buildings and installing electric car charging stations throughout the island.
The PLP has also cut workers’ payroll taxes to the lowest level in history while also ensuring that business owners paid some of their dividends to support the necessary investments in health and education, among other things.
“ The successful execution of our economic recovery plan is not just about ticking the boxes and patting ourselves on the back,” Premier Burt assured delegates. “ It is about preparing our country for the future and ensuring that we give our children a Bermuda that is more equitable, more affordable and provides them with resources they need to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at heart was not and is not an election slogan. It represents the values that we bring to the execution of our economic recovery plan.”
In order for their recovery plan to be successfully executed, Premier Burt urged all delegates to get involved in any way that they can.
“ If we choose to act collectively, to get involved, to take ownership and fight for the future of our country through actions and not just words, we will see a better Bermuda and a brighter future on the horizon,” Premier Burt said. “ I encourage everyone listening to me tonight to get involved with the work of making this country better for all Bermudians.
It is my firm belief that if we are united in that purpose and resolute in our collective effort to see our plans through, we will create a better Bermuda for ourselves today and an even greater one for our children tomorrow.”
“ Thank you and I wish this conference much success over the next few days as we discuss the future of this country,” Premier Burt concluded.
————————————————————————————————-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.