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Cablegate: Bermuda: Government Presents Legislative Agenda for Coming

VZCZCXRO5294
RR RUEHHT
DE RUEHHT #0132/01 3142001
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 102001Z NOV 09 ZFF4
FM AMCONSUL HAMILTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3919
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0899
RUEHHT/AMCONSUL HAMILTON 2096

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMILTON 000132

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE (JOHN MARBURG AND NIMA ABBASZADEH)
STATE FOR EUR/PPD (LEE MCMANIS AND ALISANDE PIPKIN)
LONDON FOR ROB HUBER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI CVIS BD
SUBJECT: BERMUDA: GOVERNMENT PRESENTS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR COMING
YEAR

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Summary

------------

1. (U) Governor Sir Richard Gozney reconvened Parliament
on November 6 and delivered the Throne Speech setting out the
Government of Bermuda's (GOB) legislative agenda for the coming
year. Speaking on behalf of the government, the Governor put
the spotlight on education and youth and the need to prepare
them to be successful members of society. He also proposed
finding a modern solution to address racial discrimination and
suggested unspecified amendments to the Human Rights Act that
would prevent discrimination of "any person." The speech noted
the GOB would create an office to assist Bermudians denied entry
into the United States to obtain waivers, as well as draft
amendments that would implement some of the recommendations of
the International Monetary Fund. The speech also touched on
examining gaming as a way to invigorate the declining tourism
industry. It was notable for its brevity and its "do-able"
focus on the socio-economic issues that most affect the
Bermudian public, but glossed over plans to revive the economy.
End summary.

Preparing All Youth for the Future

-------------------------------------------

2. (U) The government led off with initiatives to reform
public education, with an emphasis on at-risk students. Citing
a new study that revealed that more than 50 percent of black
male students leave the school system before graduation, the
speech proposed measures to strengthen the assessment of at-risk
students, implement specialized instruction for boys, and
improve school counseling. On the subject of education
generally, the speech noted that the adoption of the Cambridge
International Curriculum will provide international recognition
for Bermuda's diploma and will also require the certification of
teachers to meet its more rigorous standards.

Addressing Human Rights Issues

-----------------------------------------

3. (U) The speech called for a thorough review of the
Commission on Unity and Racial Equality to address racial
discrimination, noting that the lack of progress in this area
requires a new, modern vehicle to address historical racial
inequities. In addition, the speech noted that the GOB will
amend the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination of any
person. In the short time since the speech, the question of
whether the government will include discrimination based on
sexual orientation has again gained prominence.

Helping Bermudians with Criminal Records Travel to the US

--------------------------------------------- --------------
----------------

4. (U) The speech promised the creation of a "Visa Waiver
Assistance Program" to encourage Bermudians "to stay off the
list of prohibited persons and moreover provide assistance to
those requiring visas to enter our nearest neighbouring country,
the United States." On November 7, the daily Royal Gazette
quoted the Consul General as saying, "The U.S. Consulate
welcomes the Premier's announcement in today's Throne Speech
about opening an office to assist Bermudians to apply for
waivers of ineligibilities. The Consulate endorses his
initiative, which will pass the message, especially among
Bermuda's youth, that the consequences of illegal activity are
life-long. We look forward to working with this new office."

Settling the Gambling Issue Once and For All

--------------------------------------------- -----------

5. (U) The speech addressed the contentious proposal of
gambling as a way to bolster the faltering tourism industry.
Unlike the Premier's failed end run around his backbench to pass
a cruise ship gaming bill in July, the GOB will introduce a

HAMILTON 00000132 002.3 OF 002


formal discussion paper on gaming that will promote a thorough
debate based on "dispassionate research." The debate, if
positive, could lead to a new policy statement followed by the
introduction of enabling legislation. The legalization of
gambling is a very controversial subject in Bermuda, widely
opposed by the religious groups, but having the strong support
of Premier Brown - who is also Tourism Minister.

Implementing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Recommendations

--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------------------------

6. (U) Following up on recommendations made to Bermuda by
the IMF in 2008, the GOB will introduce amendments to the Banks
and Deposit Companies Act to strengthen the intervention powers
of the Bermuda Monetary Authority in the case of troubled banks.

Glossing Over the Economy?

------------------------------------

7. (U) In a November 9 editorial, the Royal Gazette
complained that the speech lacked boldness and was to some
extent misleading. It pointed out the speech's "astonishingly
upbeat assessment on the economy, especially given the almost
weekly news of job losses and the gloomy outlook." The critique
also noted that the speech lacks "almost any indication of how
Government plans to revive the economy."

Comment

------------

(SUB) The Premier had promised a "bold" speech; however, this
was anything but. Instead, the government hit the top issues of
the day: education and health, while skimming over potential
economic problems. Clocking in at less than twenty minutes, the
government mentioned a number of initiatives it plans for the
next year, without providing much detail. This could likely be
because the government is still debating these policy issues.SHELTON

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