Premier Paula Cox's new Cabinet was sworn in at Government House this morning. *Photo by Simon Jones
Premier Paula Cox's new Cabinet was sworn in at Government House this morning. *Photo by Simon Jones
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MONDAY, NOV. 1: New Premier Paula Cox rang in the changes this morning as she unveiled the “dynamic and able” team that will lead Bermuda.

Ms Cox created a raft of new ministries — completely reshuffling the responsibilities of several Government departments — and bringing in a host of new faces.

Former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith returns to Cabinet after accepting a plea to fill the pivotal education role in the new administration.

Patrice Minors is the new Minister of Tourism and Business Development and Terry Lister will be the Minister of Transport — a sign that there are no hard feelings between Ms Cox and her leadership rival.

There was no position though, for Dale Butler — the other challenger in Thursday’s leadership contest.

Construction boss Zane DeSilva was given the health ministry and Glenn Blakeney took on a new role covering ‘youth affairs and families’. Neleatha Butterfield also takes on a new role, that of Minister of Public Information Services.

Michael Weeks, one of the MPs for Pembroke and a rising star in the party, was appointed Minister without Portfolio and is likely to have a significant role to play in the Government’s anti-gang initiatives.

In the Senate, former PLP chairman David Burt, who will double as the Premier’s Chief of Staff, was one of three newcomers.

Bermuda Industrial Union stalwart LaVerne Furbert and community activist Cromwell Shakhir were also appointed to the Senate.

Politico Walton Brown and radio host Thaao Dill were not re-appointed to the Senate. Neither was former Senator Marc Bean — he is running for election in Dr. Ewart Brown’s old constituency in Warwick.

Colonel David Burch and Senator Kim Wilson kept their roles in the Upper House, taking on new ministerial responsibilities.

Ms Cox will not appoint a personal press secretary, relying instead on the Department of Communications and Information (DCI). She said she had no plans to renew the consultancy roles filled by Mr. Bean (on CARICOM) and Rolfe Commissiong (consultant to the Premier with a specific remit on race relations). But she did say there was likely to be a role for Mr. Commissiong in implementing the findings of the Mincy Report on young black males.

Ms. Cox repeated her promise, “it won’t be business as usual” as she unveiled her team.

And while many of the names remain the same, the roles have changed and the ministries have been significantly restructured.

Ms Cox said she had altered the shape of the ministries to suit the needs of the country.

There is no Ministry of Immigration and responsibility for work permits will fall to Senator Kim Wilson as Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry. Colonel Burch will still have responsibility for passport applications and border control issues in his new portfolio — Minister for National Security.

Responsibility for Corrections will now fall under the widened remit of the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General — Michael Scott.

There is no official Minister of Sport though this responsibility will stay with Mr. Blakeney in his ‘youth and family’ role.

Ms Cox said she was delighted that she had been able to persuade Dame Jennifer Smith to come back into Cabinet.

She said she was “humbled” that Dame Jennifer — whose appointment was greeted with huge cheers at Government House this morning — had put her personal ambitions aside for the good of the country.

“She was on the Speaker-track. She could have made history again as our first woman Speaker. She has taken herself out of that mix because she is prepared to do service.

“I am humbled and gratified that she was persuaded to take this role. She has been someone who always put education and development of young people as a priority.”

Of her Senate appointments she paid tribute to David Burt, who will also become her Chief of Staff and work closely with Ms Cox on reviving the economy and boosting business development.

“He has a big future,” she added.

The appointment of LaVerne Furbert to the Senate was the least expected move of the morning.

Ms. Cox said: “Senator Furbert has been forthright. She feels a commitment to the country and she is prepared to be an advocate on behalf of the people. Ms Cox said she wanted to “harness her energy and deepen her public service”.

She said Senator Shakhir, who hosts a Bermuda Broadcasting Company radio show, had been a community activist for many years and would help forge connections with the people.