Unhappy: Kim Swan said Minister Dunkley’s comments ‘undermined his integrity’. *File photo
Unhappy: Kim Swan said Minister Dunkley’s comments ‘undermined his integrity’. *File photo

They are comments the Deputy Premier surely did not want the whole country to hear.

Michael Dunkley was recorded disparaging Kim Swan, former United Bermuda Party leader, along with his wife Cindy Swan and activist Jonathan Starling.

The trio had appeared on ZBM to bolster support for the petition that calls for a casino referendum. Mr Dunkley’s OBA party announced in December they were abandoning plans for such a referendum.

During Friday’s House of Assembly session, Mr Dunkley was recorded saying to a colleague of the trio’s ZBM appearance: “Hey… Starling, Kim Swan and Cindy Swan were talking to ZBM on camera for about 10 mins and I thought to myself what a f***ing  waste of time.”

Kim Swan, who is among the activists spearheading the petition campaign for a casino referendum, is not happy.

He told us yesterday: “Minister Dunkley’s comments undermined his integrity and that of his party — creating another debacle connected with the casino gambling issue.

“Minister Michael Dunkley’s dismissive attitude displayed is of no assurance to me as it insults the thousands of Bermudians who have already signed the petition directed for the consideration of the premier and his cabinet.”

He added, “Parliamentary precedent has examples of Cabinet Ministers resigning and/or being fired for egregious breaches. 

“The Deputy Premier of Bermuda was out of order and judging from laughter in the background — the concerns of people of Bermuda are nothing but a joke to Michael Dunkley and his Cabinet colleagues caught by the microphone.”

Mr Swan concluded: “Deputy Premier Michael Dunkley has confirmed the disdain that the OBA hold for those who have a real issue with the government denying Bermudians the right to vote in a Referendum promised to the people.”

Jonathan Starling, another petition activist that featured in the recording, said he was not so much disappointed by the minister’s intemperate language, but rather “the sentiments he conveys, which would appear to be holding democracy and activists in contempt.”

Mr Dunkley said Tuesday he reached out to apologize to both Mr Swan and Mr Starling.

“That said, I have apologized already for what I termed my use of ‘intemperate language in the course of a private exchange’ before the House of Assembly re-started.

He said: “I respect democratic processes as an elected member of the Legislature and I take seriously my oath to uphold them.

“Like any citizen I am entitled to private views but when those views are inappropriately expressed I am man enough to apologize. 

“Former Speaker Stanley Lowe used to regularly quote: ‘To err is human, to forgive, divine’. 

“I am sure Mr. Swan remembers this from his time in the House as well.” 

Mr Starling said he accepted the apology and hoped “that this can be a learning moment for all of us… We need to stop engaging in personal attacks against people and instead engage in more critical thought and respectful discourse,” he said.