Going it alone should not be an option
The past few weeks have provided an invaluable insight into what some of the electorate are talking about and what their concerns really are.
Every time I stop and talk to the voters in Warwick North East, the same issues crop up: affordable healthcare and how seniors are finding it difficult to have money left over even for things such as food once their health needs are paid for; how working families are not seeing any benefits from the last Budget; and a continuing concern over education.
However, since the Premier’s speech about independence, made to the House of Assembly on the 50th anniversary of universal adult suffrage in Bermuda, another area of concern is dominating my doorstep conversations with constituents: independence and what the implications for Bermuda would be.
David Burt stated that we need to begin laying the groundwork for an independent Bermuda. However, I would ask this question: instead of independence, should Bermuda be looking at “interdependence”?
By any measure, Bermuda is a small island nation, so should we be building more and better partnerships, and engaging in constructive dialogue to put us in a position of strength?
Should we be creating opportunities through networking? Should we think about collaboration not isolationism? I believe the answers to both those questions is a resounding “yes”.
For those of us that are simply seeking to make a living, start a family and share in the Bermudian promise, we need opportunities. We need a commitment to people and strategies that empower opportunities.
Interdependence means that you can rely on others for your security and wellbeing. It means that you are trusted and welcomed internationally through shared values and beliefs. It means when you ask for help, you will be heard.
We are an island geographically isolated from the rest of the world. We have our island’s beauty, our people, a modern infrastructure and our reputation to generate jobs and opportunities. We require trade and incoming dollars through broad and solid relationships, and trust to succeed.
Trust is earned through experience and interaction; not by standing alone. People and nations are stronger by the strength of their relationships. By the power of interdependence.
Bermudians need the ability to travel freely. To educate internationally. To trade openly. To access specialist healthcare as needed. To have options when things go wrong.
Independence has been defined as “standing on your own”. Nations that today stand alone are the ones that are isolated from the needed opportunities that interdependent nations and people enjoy.
Here are just a few example opportunities created through successful “interdependence”:
• British citizen university tuition pricing
• A continued social welfare backstop in Britain for hundreds of Bermudians already there
• Visa waivers to access the United States
• The continuation of the highest regulatory certification post-Brexit with all key countries to protect jobs in international business and all related jobs, and accepted and respected transparency protocols with key countries to promote job creation
There are more, but as an interdependent country and people, we will not jeopardise the benefits that we enjoy at present in fact, there will be opportunities to build on those benefits. If we are isolated and adrift, will it be possible to do so?
I have seen what hard-working Bermudians are willing to sacrifice to put their children through college, to enable them to grow and succeed.
Interdependence with other countries opens doors to education and the best career-development opportunities to allow all Bermudians to succeed.
At this time, empowering opportunities through interdependence is what we should be discussing internationally and within our island home.
Justin Mathias is the deputy chairman of the One Bermuda Alliance
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