Crucial gathering: OBA figures arriving at Saturday’s crunch meeting at its Reid Street HQ. *Photos by Glenn Tucker


I
ntense pressure from within the OBA hierarchy helped persuade Craig Cannonier to resign, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.

Mr Cannonier was urged to put his country first by senior party figures despite steadfastly maintaining he had done nothing illegal during two days of intense talks at OBA headquarters.

Insiders told the Sun that the meetings on Saturday and Sunday were often heated and emotional, with party members growing increasingly frustrated and incredulous about revelations.

OBA members repeatedly quizzed the Premier, saying the country’s reputation was at stake, about his dealings with US businessman Nathan Landow and a $300,000 donation he made to the Bermuda Political Action Club.

And they spent hours trawling through Hansard in a bid to discover whether Mr Cannonier had misled the House of Assembly when giving details about who was on the trip to meet with Mr Landow.

One OBA source told the Sun: “The talks were hard because the group was split. There were six MPs who were adamant that if he was ousted they would walk. We had to come to an agreement.

“While he did not cry, Craig was very emotional but I think his wife was taking it harder than he did.”

The source said the key reason for members wanting Mr Cannonier to resign was because they felt he had misled the House about the reason his business associate Stephen DaCosta was on the trip to meet Mr Landow. Craig apologized... but felt that he was forced. He felt the PLP knew Steven DaCosta was on the plane and brought it up to cause a stir. He felt pressured.”

Referring to Mr Cannonier’s decision to resign, the source added: “Those who worked closely with him convinced him it would be in the best interest of the country for him to do so.

“They kept telling him to put the country first.

“Morale was very low over the weekend but I feel healing has begun with him resigning.

“Michael Dunkley was the only choice for leader. If the party feels differently we will know at the leadership conference in June.”

The Sun understands that the first OBA meeting on Saturday involved the former Premier providing party members with an overview of his dealings with Mr Landow and a timeline of events.

The revelations are understood to have shocked many party members who had no idea about details of the trip and the $300,000 donation.

The heated meeting then broke up late on Saturday evening to allow members to ‘cool down’ and return the next day.

Members were told that they would be able to see documentation relating to the donation the next day.

But when party members returned on the Sunday, the documentation was not available.

A source told us: “It was definitely a huge debate on what he should do.

“Three hundred thousand dollars was too much not to tell anyone about and we were not able to see proper allocation.

“The fact that he kept us in the dark was not good. How could anyone trust him after that?”

When Sunday’s meeting finished at around 12:30pm, many members returned home thinking there would be no further developments until the following Saturday when a vote of no confidence could be taken.

But the situation quickly spiralled and within 36 hours Mr Cannonier had tendered his resignation to the Governor and been replaced by Michael Dunkley.

The source said: “Craig made a mistake by not having experienced people working for him.

“That was not wise since he was inexperienced as well. He should have had a stronger team. Craig can bounce back from this. It may be hard in the beginning to restore his credibility but if he works hard he’ll be fine.

“It’s natural for people to say the OBA is really the UBP but I think everyone has the same agenda and that’s getting people back to work.” 


JetGate Special report

JetGate: How the axe fell

Will The Milkman deliver?

Bermuda loses face in DC

Swan: ‘Resurrect the referendum’

OBA probe still on

Who is Derrick Green and what’s his role?

OBA MPs rally around new leader

‘More naivete than corruption’

Premiers' short reigns

Viewpoint: What is your reaction to the Premier resigning?

Opinion

Cannonier saw a god in the mirror

Has the ‘surrogate’ been replaced by the real Papa Bear?

Cannonier was steering us to recovery

More heads must roll to restore faith in the OBA

Bermuda Blue: Are we witnessing return of the UBP?