Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting the facts straight

This is the original statement written as a Personal Explanation for delivery 13 June 2014 in Parliament.

At the June 6 2014 Parliamentary session during the debate on the Elections Committee report, the Finance Minister, the Hon Bob Richards made a number of comments regarding contracts I have held with the Bermuda government. In light of his significant misrepresentations in this respect I am compelled to respond to bring clarity where darkness has clearly descended.

The Hon member commented that my company had received a contract from the Bermuda government for $770,000. This does not have one scintilla of truth behind it. When challenged on this, the Hon member Bob Richards retorted, and I quote, “I have access to civil servants…this information is authoritative…I’m not making this stuff up.” Mr Speaker, this clearly was made up since the member later indicated the figure he cited was a sum of a number of contracts over a period of years. I await a formal retraction of his earlier comments as directed by you Mr Speaker to help ensure members do not deliberately or otherwise mislead this honourable chamber.

The Hon member Bob Richards cited my contracts with the Bermuda government as part of his argument about “insiders” during the debate on disclosure of interest by candidates. In describing me as an “insider” during the PLP’s tenure in office the member is inferring unfair if not improper access to government contracts. Mr Speaker, my contractual relationship with the Bermuda government began in 1989, when I was hired as a consultant by the National Alcohol and Drug Agency to re-write an indecipherable report by an American consultant.  You will note, Mr Speaker, this was some nine years before the PLP became the government. My work with the Bermuda government continued under the years of the United Bermuda Party in the 1990s. Not one of these contracts was put out to tender. The Hon member Bob Richards will have this information at his disposal because he has, in his words  “access to civil servants.”  The honourable member will also know that I was clearly not an insider during the UBP years. My relationship with the Bermuda government continued, intermittently, under the PLP government, and even extended to the OBA term of office when I undertook a survey for the Tourism Board. Again, the honourable member will know this.

Mr Speaker, robust debate is the hallmark of the parliamentary system. We have wide latitude, under your guidance, to expound on our arguments and to articulate our positions. What must not be allowed is for members to present false information without consequence and to manipulate such information to denigrate one of our fellow members.