Categorized | Local, Politics, Regional

Minister offers apology over handling of immigration bill

By Ivan Clifford

TMR Editor: The PDM Government and Government of Montserrat in general, should pay close attention to the lessons that may be gleaned from this story!

HAMILTON, Bermuda, CMC – Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has issued an apology over the Bermuda government’s handling of the controversial Pathways to Status bill, saying: “the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been.”

Speaking in the Senate as it began debate on the annual budget delivered by Finance Minister Bob Richards last month, Fahy admitted he had misunderstood the level of concerns of many struggling Bermudians.

Fahy
Michael Fahy

He maintained that the controversial Pathways legislation, which the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) administration has said it will withdraw following five days or protests, would be for the good of Bermuda and that it could bring economic benefits for all. But he expressed regret at his government’s failure to communicate its plans more effectively.

Fahy’s apology came after a newspaper opinion poll showed the OBA’s lead over the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) had shrunk from 12 points in December to a single point.

The OBA suffered a setback last week when Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell resigned while the demonstrations continued after launching a stinging attack on Premier Michael Dunkley, saying he had lost confidence in the OBA under Dunkley’s leadership.

But Crockwell said he would stay with the OBA — which beat the PLP by 19 seats to 17 in the last election in December 2012 — as a backbencher.

Meanwhile, the PLP’s leader in the Senate, Marc Daniels, said his party would boycott the budget debate and called for Fahy’s resignation over the Pathways to Status affair.

Daniels said there was no point in discussing the budget when Bermuda was facing a crisis the OBA is failing to address.

“What are we really achieving right now when the real work that needs to be done, as we have seen, is here in this country, is taking steps to work towards what is best for each and every Bermudian?” he asked senators.

“Where is the focus and effort to make sure our Bermudians who seek opportunity overseas have a place in their country, can play a part in their country and contribute to their success?

“All I have seen is silence and contempt and disrespect from this government.

“How can we come to this table and actually pretend as if we are going to accomplish anything?

“This Budget and debating the Budget over the next week is not going to alleviate the pain, anger and hurt.

“There’s nothing that’s been stated that makes me feel that as a result of this Budget that I’m on a pathway to recovery or financial independence.”

But as he reflected on the demonstrations outside the House of Assembly last week, Fahy told the Upper House on Monday “there are obviously people in this community that continue to hurt. That has been shown to be the case in the last couple of weeks.

“There are many here in Bermuda that feel that they have been excluded, not just from the way the bill was to be proceeded, but I believe it’s a wider issue than just immigration.

“I hear a raft of issues: lack of opportunity in entry level international business, a feeling that children of Bermudians will not be given opportunity in the future. We have people in Bermuda who are long-term unemployed.”

He said the government is charged with tackling that issue and “it remains my view that this government can do better communicating its plan for success.

“Despite what some may say that the government doesn’t listen, and this ministry doesn’t understand the community, I beg to differ. Where this government has fallen down is not communicating why some of the decisions have been made.”

Fahy said that when the government came into office it was dealing with something that was very badly broken.

“I make no apology for doing everything we can to address that. What I do apologise for is that the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been.

“It’s hurtful when people make accusations that we are not interested in Bermudians, and I say that as a father of three Bermudian children. I take it very personally for them not to have the opportunity for success in this country.

“I want people to understand in Bermuda that, as far as I’m able, no matter where I am, we will continue and I will push to make sure we move in a direction to help everyone. We will try to do our very best to bring along these individuals who feel they have not had an opportunity.”

Under the Pathways to Status proposal government wanted to change immigration rules and allow those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency and those who have held permanent residency for 20 years to seek Bermudian status (citizenship).

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Ivan Clifford

TMR Editor: The PDM Government and Government of Montserrat in general, should pay close attention to the lessons that may be gleaned from this story!

HAMILTON, Bermuda, CMC – Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has issued an apology over the Bermuda government’s handling of the controversial Pathways to Status bill, saying: “the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been.”

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Speaking in the Senate as it began debate on the annual budget delivered by Finance Minister Bob Richards last month, Fahy admitted he had misunderstood the level of concerns of many struggling Bermudians.

Fahy
Michael Fahy

He maintained that the controversial Pathways legislation, which the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) administration has said it will withdraw following five days or protests, would be for the good of Bermuda and that it could bring economic benefits for all. But he expressed regret at his government’s failure to communicate its plans more effectively.

Fahy’s apology came after a newspaper opinion poll showed the OBA’s lead over the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) had shrunk from 12 points in December to a single point.

The OBA suffered a setback last week when Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell resigned while the demonstrations continued after launching a stinging attack on Premier Michael Dunkley, saying he had lost confidence in the OBA under Dunkley’s leadership.

But Crockwell said he would stay with the OBA — which beat the PLP by 19 seats to 17 in the last election in December 2012 — as a backbencher.

Meanwhile, the PLP’s leader in the Senate, Marc Daniels, said his party would boycott the budget debate and called for Fahy’s resignation over the Pathways to Status affair.

Daniels said there was no point in discussing the budget when Bermuda was facing a crisis the OBA is failing to address.

“What are we really achieving right now when the real work that needs to be done, as we have seen, is here in this country, is taking steps to work towards what is best for each and every Bermudian?” he asked senators.

“Where is the focus and effort to make sure our Bermudians who seek opportunity overseas have a place in their country, can play a part in their country and contribute to their success?

“All I have seen is silence and contempt and disrespect from this government.

“How can we come to this table and actually pretend as if we are going to accomplish anything?

“This Budget and debating the Budget over the next week is not going to alleviate the pain, anger and hurt.

“There’s nothing that’s been stated that makes me feel that as a result of this Budget that I’m on a pathway to recovery or financial independence.”

But as he reflected on the demonstrations outside the House of Assembly last week, Fahy told the Upper House on Monday “there are obviously people in this community that continue to hurt. That has been shown to be the case in the last couple of weeks.

“There are many here in Bermuda that feel that they have been excluded, not just from the way the bill was to be proceeded, but I believe it’s a wider issue than just immigration.

“I hear a raft of issues: lack of opportunity in entry level international business, a feeling that children of Bermudians will not be given opportunity in the future. We have people in Bermuda who are long-term unemployed.”

He said the government is charged with tackling that issue and “it remains my view that this government can do better communicating its plan for success.

“Despite what some may say that the government doesn’t listen, and this ministry doesn’t understand the community, I beg to differ. Where this government has fallen down is not communicating why some of the decisions have been made.”

Fahy said that when the government came into office it was dealing with something that was very badly broken.

“I make no apology for doing everything we can to address that. What I do apologise for is that the way we go about things has not been as good as it could have been.

“It’s hurtful when people make accusations that we are not interested in Bermudians, and I say that as a father of three Bermudian children. I take it very personally for them not to have the opportunity for success in this country.

“I want people to understand in Bermuda that, as far as I’m able, no matter where I am, we will continue and I will push to make sure we move in a direction to help everyone. We will try to do our very best to bring along these individuals who feel they have not had an opportunity.”

Under the Pathways to Status proposal government wanted to change immigration rules and allow those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency and those who have held permanent residency for 20 years to seek Bermudian status (citizenship).