In recent weeks, Attorney General and Senator Phil Perinchief has made inaccurate summations of the views our former Governor, racially motivated personal attacks justifying draft racial equity legislation and unfounded assumptions about the causes of perils of our society. As the primary legal advisor to our government, should we not expect more from him and has he jeopardized his ability to be taken seriously in the future?
“This is the draft Act that the outgoing Governor Verecker, a non-Bermudian and a non-lawyer, took what he thought was a constitutional parting shot, together with his other parting shot against independence.”
These were comments made by Attorney General Senator Phil Perinchief which are clearly incorrect when the headline quote of the former Governor’s comments was ‘I understand case for Independence’. Within the article, the former governor describes the arrangement of the UK’s power over Bermuda as awkward and outdated. Is this an example of a “parting shot against independence” made by the governor or instead a shot against the governor made by the Attorney General in a clear misquotation.
Further confounding statements made by Senator Perinchief described how there has been no change in the stature between blacks and whites since 1616.
“There’s been no significant or fundamental change in the social and economic divide between blacks and whites, rich and poor, from at least 1616.”
Yet, in the very least between 1616 and today we have seen the end of slavery, the end of segregation and the election of an all-black leadership for 2 terms. What is Senator Perinchief trying to say exactly when he suggests that there’s been no change since 1616? There’s been a lot of change.
All of this comes after his remarks against local lawyer Tim Marshall who exercised real concerns with regards to the efficacy of the draft racial equity law. Rather than addressing the concerns raised, Senator Perinchief threw equity out the window and took the low road by attempting to use racism to his advantage.
“Mr. Timothy Marshall, a recipient and beneficiary of this unequal status quo, and a lawyer, should know better [before criticizing the draft equity law].”
To which Mr. Marshall responded that his family was far from privileged and his own father had to fight against discrimination himself as a person or Portuguese descent.
“What the Attorney General doesn’t know is that my father, brought up by a single parent who absolutely believed in the power of education, couldn’t get a job in Bermuda after university because of his Portuguese heritage.
“Neither the black nor the white school systems would hire him. He left Bermuda and did not return until he was 42. “
Mr Marshall continued by attributing his own success to his parents commitment to the power of education. Something which leads us to the next question of Senator Perinchief; does appreciate the true importance of education in this whole racial equity situation?
Not long ago, Senator Perinchief suggested support for the inclusion of only black Bermudians in the draft racial equity law because of statistical evidence.
“Statistics show that black Bermudians as a group are underrepresented in certain occupational categories in the workplace,” he said.
Yet, fellow PLP MP Renee Webb has already suggested that such statistics alone are not an accurate measure when you fail to weight qualifications and experience equally.
“Until you address the education system you cannot turn around and say people should hire people who are underqualified” said Ms. Webb.
As much as we would all like to see equality amongst Bermudians, it is very difficult to advance under-privileged segments of society into positions for which they are not qualified without adverse affects. To do so risks tokenizing and demoralizing black Bermudians which could cause more harm than the intended good. As Ms. Webb suggests, without heavy focus on equipping all Bermudians with the correct tools for success, things won’t change for the better. Risking our local economy on short term solutions that won’t yield the desired results over the long term is simply not a good course of action.
It is very concerning to discover that an individual can be placed in the position of Attorney General, the main legal advisor to our government, while carrying such ill-formed perspectives. How can someone of such a position make grossly incorrect summations of the views of others? How can he play the race card through dubious and false assumptions while at the same time trying to champion legislative changes purported to create racial equity? How can he make unfounded assumptions about the prime causes of the perils of our society when his own colleagues are suggesting the correct course? As the primary legal advisor to our government, should we not expect more from him and has he jeopardized his ability to be taken seriously in the future?