“JetGate” Forces Resignation of Bermuda's Premier

Bermuda is in the midst of a political shake-up: last night, Premier Craig Cannonier resigned, presumably under pressure surrounding the Jetgate controversy, which has sullied the image of the country's ruling party, the One Bermuda Alliance.

The coalition government was the result of a 2011 partnership between the United Bermuda Party and another opposition party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance; they won a decisive majority in the country's 2012 general elections, on an election platform based on promises of transparency and god governance.

Craig Cannonier, then-Premier of Bermuda at the UK and Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London, November 2013. Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office, used under a CC license.

Craig Cannonier, then-Premier of Bermuda at the UK and Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London, November 2013. Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office, used under a CC license.

Then came Jetgate – a scandal that initially grew out of the use of Nathan Landow’s private jet to take the Premier and some of his staff for talks with the US real estate developer and Democratic party financier last year. The tide of public opinion began to turn strongly against Cannonier and his party after Landow confirmed that he was involved in donating US$300,000 to fund the One Bermuda Alliance's winning 2012 election campaign. While Landow insists that no favours were promised in exchange for the campaign contribution, it is well known that the businessman was interested in bringing casinos to the island. Gambling is currently illegal in Bermuda, but there have been referendums reconsidering the matter. At the end of last year, Cannonier had taken the stance that the matter would be decided by parliamentary vote, a move which made the controversy even murkier.

BeachLime Bermuda anticipated further political upheaval:

After two meetings on Saturday and Sunday among the OBA MPs, it looked like things may have simmered politically for the time being.

But nope, instead we have the Premier of Bermuda resigning tonight, lending another chapter to the so-called ‘Jetgate’ event that's clouded Bermuda to some degree over recent months.

The storm isn't over by any means, however.

The Bajan Reporter blog took great interest in the story, starting its post by quoting a statement by Cannonier:

‘Nothing illegal was done, but I accept there was a failure over time to be completely transparent. This is a fundamental component of good governance and a core principle upon which the One Bermuda Alliance was founded.’

The full resignation speech is here.

Today, a new premier was sworn in, temporarily taking the reins of government:

Governor George Fergusson said: ‘The Premier, the Hon. L. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, called on me this evening and tendered his resignation as Premier, which I have accepted. I have asked the Deputy Premier, the Hon. Michael H. Dunkley, JP, MP, to carry out the role of Acting Premier on an interim basis.’

Bajan Reporter was careful to make the point that the campaign contribution from Mr. Landow “was not wired directly to the OBA [One Bermuda Alliance] campaign”:

It was wired to a group called the Bermuda Political Action Club. It’s unclear who is behind that organization or how the money was spent.

The post added:

Last Monday, OBA Chairman Thad Hollis announced his party never received any political contributions from Mr Landow. He said the party would launch an internal investigation into the matter.

It was subsequently revealed that the Bermuda Political Action Club had an account at Butterfield Bank with two signatories: one was reportedly a campaign consultant for the ruling party and the other a business associate of Cannonier.

The reaction on social media was as expected, with some users calling for the nation to move forward and others viewing the whole affair as just another political manoeuvre:

One Twitter user, however, was firm in his belief that the people of Bermuda were getting the short end of the stick:

Another wanted answers:

This Twitter user saw the Bermudian media as the silver lining on the dark cloud:

Clifton Webb summed up the whole affair this way:

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