Cannonier’s 12-member cabinet, which includes two women, was sworn in on Thursday night by Governor George Fergusson. But there was no place for a member of the opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP), whose 14-year reign ended in a dramatic 19-17 defeat on Monday.
After being sworn in on Tuesday as Premier, Cannonier kept a pre-election promise by offering a place in his cabinet to a member of the PLP, but it declined the offer, citing party policy.
“I am proud to be standing here today with the first cabinet of Bermuda’s first OBA government. A team of working men and women, fresh faces, experienced hands, all dedicated to making this island work better for the people of this country,” said Cannonier.
“A team that has come together from all backgrounds, all walks of life, to be a public service government, getting things done, putting people first.
“I have spent the past two and a half days talking with each new minister and I can say that they are fired up and ready to get down to the people’s business.
Outgoing premier Paula Cox and one of her predecessors, Dame Jennifer Smith were among the PLP’s major election casualties. The PLP will hold a special delegates’ meeting on Friday to select a new leader.
As expected Bob Richards, the son of former premier Sir Edward Richards, is the new Finance Minister, while the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) deputy leader, Michael Dunkley, has been handed the key ministerial post of Public Safety.
Lawyer Mark Pettingill, who thrashed close friend and former PLP cabinet minister Dale Butler, is the island’s new Attorney General.
Two members of the cabinet – Minister for Home Affairs Michael Fahy and Education Minister Nalton Brangman — will sit as Snators in the Upper House, leaving Cannonier still to appoint three other members of his Senate team.
Cannonier said the primary focus of his new government “is to get our economy growing again, creating the conditions for new jobs and opportunity … creating conditions to help people meet their daily needs; to ease the pressures they face.
“The work ahead will not be easy, but we will get the job done. One of my government’s goals is to change the way we conduct politics, to bring forward a new emphasis on co-operation and collaboration.
“In keeping with this plan, I extended an invitation to a PLP MP to join the cabinet but they declined, citing a party position to not accept such an offer at this time. We will continue to push forward with plans to grow co-operation and collaboration amongst the elected leaders of the country.”
He said another important goal for the government is to close the gap that has grown between government and the people.
“In keeping with this plan, our cabinet ministers will take a 10 per cent pay cut effective immediately.
“The people of this country are going through very tough times, and it is essential they know that their elected representatives are with them. We cannot expect Bermudians to tighten their belts without their leaders doing the same. Sacrifice must be shared,” he said.
The Bermuda Employers Council has congratulated the new OBA government.
“We support the new government’s intention to form a Tripartite Economic Advisory Council. Involving the union and employer representatives to come to grips with our prolonged economic problems, declining real income while carving a road to recovery can only benefit the island,” the private sector groups aid.