Premier Craig Cannonier at a press conference on Wednesday. *Photo by Danny McDonald
Premier Craig Cannonier at a press conference on Wednesday. *Photo by Danny McDonald

Premier Craig Cannonier, who is currently at the centre of a political firestorm, declined to take any questions about corruption allegations during a press conference today where he said he would be suing PLP politicians Marc Bean and David Burt for slander.

Flanked by his Cabinet ministers inside the Cabinet Building shortly after noon, Premier Cannonier said: "In view of the reckless allegations that have been made by the Opposition Leader and the Shadow Finance Minister which I view to be extremely dangerous and potentially damaging to the country, I see no other option, but to enforce my legal rights against both men and to seek full damages through the courts for slander."

Mr Bean, the Opposition Leader, said last week he met with Mr. Cannonier in September to discuss the casino referendum. During that meeting, Mr Bean alleges the Premier said his businesses were struggling financially, that he and other OBA officials had been offered payment from a developer in exchange for a casino licence, and he distrusted members of his own Cabinet.

Mr Burt, meanwhile, has alleged that during a December meeting with Mr. Cannonier, the Premier offered an IT contract to Mr Burt in exchange for political support for circumventing a referendum on casino gambling in Bermuda.

Today, Mr. Cannonier said the recent political attacks were tantamount to “profoundly distorted claims” that threatened to undermine the island’s economic recovery.

“This is not a game,” he said. “There is too much at stake.”

He added: “My number one priority as Premier of Bermuda is to grow confidence in the island – confidence that brings with it the investment necessary to create the jobs you deserve.”

He then turned his attention onto the island’s progress: a lower crime rate, a decreased unemployment rate, a recent deal with India that will train Bermudians in an array of work disciplines.

Much was left unsaid. There was no talk of Nathan Landow, an American businessman who has had an interest in casino developments in the past; yesterday the PLP issued a press statement demanding to know the Premier’s connection to Mr Landow. 

Mr Cannnonier did not shed any light on either of the alleged meetings with Mr Bean or Mr Burt. There was no talk of resignation.

The Premier concluded the press conference by saying: "As this is now a legal matter, I have no further comment."

He then walked out of the press conference without fielding a single question, followed by his ministers, who also declined to comment.



Press Release:

Statement by Premier, the Hon. L. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, concerning recent allegations:

Good afternoon everyone.

You’ve had much to keep you busy recently, with the number of allegations being hurled at my colleagues and me, allegations which I have already condemned unequivocally as completely untrue.

Over the past few days, the Island has witnessed a firestorm of headlines fueled by profoundly distorted claims and inflammatory comments .The impact of these attacks is undermining the national effort Bermuda needs to solve the big problems that confront all of us. 

While it has been troubling for us as individuals, what has been more alarming to me as your Premier is the potential damage to the Island’s reputation, which is something that must be preserved and strengthened. 

Bermuda, we are in a constant battle for survival with competing jurisdictions who are vying for the same investment that we need, but we are now being challenged to wage war amongst ourselves because of a series of orchestrated political attacks.

As your Premier, I will not allow the country to be dragged any further into the politics of division and destruction, because it threatens the Island’s integrity and our economic recovery. This is not a game. There is too much at stake. 

My number one priority as Premier of Bermuda is to grow confidence in the Island – confidence that brings with it the investment necessary to create the jobs you deserve.  I do this on behalf of all Bermudians…for those who voted for me and for those who did not.

Bermuda you know who I am.  You know my faith in the Lord.  You know my family.   You know Craig Cannonier.  I urge you to reason with yourself and do not let the headlines and allegations change what you know.

My colleagues have also been busy working on your behalf to get Bermuda working better in all areas.

As a result, I am pleased to say we are starting to move Bermuda in the right direction. We’ve seen the largest number of new company incorporations since 2008 and THAT’S something to put in the headlines.

The crime rate is down by 43%!     

The unemployment rate has dropped

We’ve recently brokered a deal with the Government of India to provide fully funded training for Bermudians in a number of disciplines.

And in the next few days you’ll hear from our Minister of Finance who will present a budget to bring forward necessary change for our financial recovery.

We are working hard and will not be distracted from our goals to grow jobs and opportunity, reduce crime and make Bermuda more affordable. 

I am anxious to get on with this important work, but we can’t do it without you.  You’ve heard it said – A house divided cannot stand.  So, we need everyone working together to move us in the right direction toward a Bermuda that works better for everyone.

Where we are right now is not good for any of us.  It can’t be good for the families of the Opposition Leader or that of his Shadow Finance Minister.  It certainly is not good for my family.

And now, concerning the recent accusations - I had hoped it would not come to this – but I will close by making the following statement:

In view of the reckless allegations that have been made by the Opposition Leader and the Shadow Finance Minister which I view to be extremely dangerous and potentially damaging to the country, I see no other option, but to enforce my legal rights against both men and to seek full damages through the Courts for Slander. 

As this is now a legal matter, I have no further comment.

Good Day.