Leaders’ forum: Bean champions future generations
Bermuda faces a “thunderstorm”, according to Marc Bean, the leader of the Free Democratic Movement, who called 2020 a “perilous time” needing steady leadership.
The new party came about when David Burt, the Premier, opted to “subject Bermuda to the electoral process right in the middle of a pandemic”, Mr Bean said.
He said the rationale for the decision had been based on “selfishness”, prompting Mr Bean to bring the FDM an “alternate to the current status quo”.
Mr Bean added: “I know that people are not pleased with either party, and so it was an opportune time.”
He said the FDM’s platform was posted on its website at about 5.30pm, and that education was “the centrepiece of our direction”, with an emphasis on “human capital development” and power taken from the Government and placed in school boards, teachers and parents.
Mr Bean said his role as a former leader of the Progressive Labour Party had swept away the chance for the established parties to use “racial and identity politics” as a divider in the coming election.
The FDM’s immigration proposals would protect local talent, he said, charging that the island had failed to promote its own culture to draw tourism.
A key component of strengthening tourism would come with supporting artists and musicians to work with hotels and hone their skills.
Mr Bean said he was hearing from the community that “our people are suffering”.
He said: “What we are hearing is a desire for leadership that could bring some relief, or at least allow people to help themselves.”
He said the only positive thing he was hearing was that the pandemic had put an emphasis on people spending more time with their families.
Asked what should be prioritised, Mr Bean said, education aside, “pro-growth strategies” with a more efficient government and less taxation would be needed.
He listed the “digital economy as No 1, the blue economy, the green economy” as top drivers for growth.
Mr Bean said the FDM would lead by example by cutting salaries at the top, with the Premier and ministers getting a 40 per cent pay cut, while civil servants took a 5 per cent cut, to control the cost of government.
Outsourcing, for departments such as parks or works and engineering, could transform government workers into “owners”.
Mr Bean said the FDM would “trim the fat” by removing the bureaucracy of the island’s government before cutting the wages of public officers.
The FDM’s target demographic in the coming General Election was said to be young people.
Mr Bean added: “We have no choice because if someone asks us on the doorstep, why should we vote for the FDM, I would tell you unequivocally, without apology, a vote for the FDM is a vote for your children and your grandchildren.”
Mr Bean said the party offered a “civics training ground” to build leadership in the island’s youth.
“Now is the greatest time to have them involved,” he said.
While the FDM may not become the government on Thursday, Mr Bean said the new party would be well-positioned to take the helm the next time around.
Asked about the LGBTQ community, Mr Bean addressed same-sex marriage, saying the community should “forget” his personal position on the subject.
Same-sex marriage had been an “agenda item for the leadership” of parties, not the base, and “dishonesty” had framed the discussion.
He said the island “might as well be honest and withdraw from the Privy Council case” on same-sex marriage and go back to a referendum on the issue if necessary.
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