WHETHER it be Fast Ferries, GPS, better relations with the U.S., or even electronic vehicle tracking at T.C.D…. the achievements of Ewart Brown are hard to ignore.
A Member of Parliament for the Progressive Labour Party since 1993, he was part of a new wave of candidates who helped the party attain power for the first time in 1998 – ending 30 years of white minority rule by the United Bermuda Party.
Come the end of this month, he is to retire from politics. Since his election as Premier in 2006, he has been steeped in controversy.
Fearful whites, who have clung on to the ‘old ways’ of colonialism, have loathed him ever since. And equally, many blacks, misguided and comfortable with the status quo, have jumped on their bandwagon.
Like it or not, history may very well view Ewart Brown as the greatest Premier of all time next to Sir John Swan.
A look at SOME of his accomplishments as Premier:
Bermuda Race Relations Initiative.
Race is a big deal in Bermuda. It divides us Bermudians every day. After decades of social and economic warfare, Premier Brown decided to do what his predecessors dared not to do: Started a national conversation.
Despite mostly politically-motivated criticism, driven by elements of the colonial media, most people feel that dialog between the races is the first step to bringing about harmony.
After years of complaints about the lack of proper taxi service in Bermuda, Ewart Brown can be credited for actually doing something about it: Modernizing the industry through a Global Positioning System.
And in 2002, residents appeared reluctant to embrace Fast Ferries as a modern form of commuting and leisure, but eventually did overwhelmingly. They could not get to work faster, and the vessels required less fuel.
Airlines. West Jet, from Canada now serves Bermuda. Over the last four years, there has been a marked increase in airlift between Bermuda and the United States, Canada and the UK. It’s the legacy of Ewart Brown that will continue.
No more advertising cash for The Royal Gazette.
In 2008, decades of Government subsidization of The Royal Gazette, the island’s only daily newspaper, finally came to an end.
The Premier’s Government cited the global economic downturn and a desire to optimize Government advertising as the reasons for cutting of the money tap to the paper, which had long been viewed by the populace as proponents of the island’s white minority and the Opposition.
While the publication cried foul and accused the Government of trying to stifle “free speech”, the public appeared to support the move, hence no outcry, no marches or rallies, and hardly any complaints.
Government responded to criticism by emphasizing it was purely a business decision and saw advertising with the colonial monopoly as no longer being cost effective.
Instead of being committed to reporting the facts and the truth, the organization has continued to serve as proponents of a particular view, much like Fox News in the United States
Dr. Brown’s legacy will no doubt be connected to the hugely unpopular decision by Government, in 2009, to accept four Chinese detainees from Guantanamo Bay, as a gesture of good will to the United States.
Britain has maintained he exceeded his authority by allegedly engaging in foreign relations – while the Premier maintains the decision came under Government’s responsibility for Immigration.
OUTDATED: Conscription into the Bermuda Regiment is controversial
Some will say that the Premier missed a huge opportunity to end Conscription into the Bermuda Regiment. The lobby group Bermudians Against the Draft (B.A.D.) has contended that Conscription should be immediately outlawed and it constitutes modern-day slavery
Cannabis is the main issue when it comes to the controversial U.S. 'stop-list'
Perhaps the driving force in getting young Bermudians placed on the U.S. Stop-list for travel to that country, is petty convictions in the courts for small amounts of cannabis. Pro-decriminalization advocates will no doubt say that Dr. Brown missed an opportunity to decriminalize possession offenses through legislation.
Although, the Premier has stated he does not believe the issue to be the most pressing in the face of other problems such as gun crime.
Overall, despite the criticism, both real and perceived, Ewart Brown has earned the right, in our view, to be called “Bermudian of the Decade”.
Runners-up for “Bermudian of the Decade”
2. Dame Lois Browne-Evans (1927 – 2007). An esteemed lawyer and political figure. Bermuda’s first female Opposition Leader and first female Attorney-General. Her death marked the end of an era.
3. Sir John Swan. Bermuda’s longest-serving Premier and the country’s foremost real estate developer. He will be forever known for development of housing projects and the modernization of the City of Hamilton.
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