24 September 2017


Khalid Wasi

Jason Hayward called for independence (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The recent call for independence by Senator Jason Hayward at the Labour Day rally should not be a cause for alarm or surprise — and it was to be expected. There has always been a sector of labour that has wanted independence. They are not alone because there is also a large sector of the independence pragmatist that crosses the racial divide who, under the proper environment, constitutional construct and circumstance would also support independence.

It is not a clean separation between those who favour and those who do not, but whenever there is a “unilateral” approach towards the subject, the overwhelming sentiments are typically against.

Paradoxically, Bermuda has a history of stepping out well ahead of its contemporaries whenever it comes down to its self-interest. However, the surge of independence of the former colonies in the early 1960s in Africa and the Caribbean were conflated with the issue of race and subjugation. Much of the thrust for independence in Bermuda was spurred by, if not related to, events in the Caribbean.

The topic of independence need not be a subject of racial liberation and could be discussed purely on its jurisdictional merit. The pragmatist of Bermuda, for the most part, if tabulated, may indeed cause the support base for independence to be a majority.

However, their idea of independence is not a simple “flag independence” but is based on certain key principles relating to the individual rights of the citizens, and separation of judiciary from legislature, not just in words but through a guaranteed structure.

The issue of internal and external security within the context of Nato and maintaining a sober relationship with the United States and Canada, with continued connectivity with Britain and Europe — all of which is necessary for future peace and prosperity — are the concerns of the pragmatist.

Canada, for example, was an example of a pragmatic move towards its independence. It was a mature step that involved repatriation of its constitution. It was not the equivalent of the American war of independence, rather it was a step of maturity because the population and its legislature had developed the means of a self-sustaining democracy where there are checks and balances.