OBA Hypocrisy on Good Governance Clear To See
MP Lovitta Foggo, PLP Spokesperson for Government Reform and Opposition Whip
Last week the country witnessed Premier Michael Dunkley’s inability to take a strong position on a fundamental issue of good governance.
We know why Premier Dunkley can’t commit to the wholesale reform of the Parliamentary Register of Interests and campaign finance reform. Sitting alongside him in his Minority Government are two OBA colleagues, Deputy Premier Bob Richards and Jefferson Sousa MP, who failed to fully disclose their financial interests in advance of the 2012 election. As much as Premier Dunkley wants to rewrite history in the election season, he can’t. To the people of Bermuda, actions speak louder than words, and the reality is that the Premier has had nearly five years to address the Register of Interests and Campaign Finance reform and all the other promises made by the OBA in 2012 that they failed to keep.
Only now, on the eve of a No Confidence Vote and eve of an election, does the Premier make vague overtures to do something – but can’t say what. It has long been clear to the people that he will never bring real and meaningful campaign finance reform forward.
The hypocrisy is clear to see. We all remember how the OBA’s 2012 election campaign was funded by foreign casino operators to the tune of $350,000.00 – the Jetgate scandal. The OBA relies on substantial contributions from wealthy interests overseas and Bermuda to fill their election war chest. Why would they change that? The OBA has proven they don’t like questions about where their campaign money comes from. Initially, the OBA flat-out denied the financial contributions occurred and when the Jetgate scandal was exposed, the OBA promised to make the final investigative report public. When the OBA Chairman resigned in apparent disgust, OBA Leader Dunkley made sure the investigative report was never made public.
Opposition Leader David Burt and the PLP are on record supporting campaign finance reform. The next PLP government will introduce legislation to regulate political campaign finances to ensure a level playing field and reduce the risk of corruption at a political level. We believe that the best policy ideas should win — not the political party with the biggest war chest. We see the introduction of campaign finance laws as a long overdue safeguard for our democracy.
We will introduce Integrity in Public Office legislation to modernise our laws surrounding the buying of votes, voter fraud, conflicts of interest and other aspects of our electoral and political process subject to abuse by those who would seek to use wealth, influence or intimidation to obtain political or economic power. The PLP will also ensure that changes are made to the Register of Interests to facilitate more disclosure of the financial interests of MP’s and Senators.
On Good Governance, the PLP will go even further. We will implement that SAGE Commission recommendation, rejected by the OBA, to establish three permanent oversight committees to oversee the work of Parliament. Democracy is meant to represent the people, and the people's representatives should have the ability to provide the oversight that leads to better outcomes.
It's time for the blatant hypocrisy of the OBA to end. But that will only come through true change. A change in leadership to start to set our country on the right path, the PLP has committed bringing transparency to political party financing upon taking office and won’t waver in our commitment to do so. The people of Bermuda deserve to know that their elected leaders are working for them, not working to benefit themselves at the people’s expense.