Premier Dr. Ewart Brown has warned that Bermuda will become a “welfare state” unless people stop relying on the government to do everything for them.

Dr. Brown urged people to come up with their own ideas for change rather than pointing the finger at government.

He believes the island will be held back unless people change their “no can do attitude” and “speak up without fear of resistance”.

The Premier spoke candidly about “what’s wrong with Bermudians” at his final brown bag lunch at Camden yesterday, which had a lower than expected turnout.

Dr. Brown, who is stepping down next month after four years, said Bermudians wanted it easy; he said they “want change without having to put in the work… We have to be careful of Bermuda turning into a welfare state.

“The government can’t do everything, it can’t wake you up in the morning.

“It is entrepreneurs that make things happen. The people have to come up with the ideas themselves.”

Dr. Brown said he had become Premier expecting to face resistance from people, calling it “the nature of the beast”.

He said he hoped people would follow his example of “standing up straight, not apologizing, speaking forcefully and not dropping your head.”

Dr. Brown said: “I had a good idea of Bermudians and their no can do attitude. I knew I would be considered arrogant. I was expecting resistance so everyday was like preparing for a battle.

“I don’t fit the box people want to put me in. I’m fighting to get out the box as I don’t want to be in a box, I have always been like that.”

Race card

Dr. Brown also hit back at critics who have accused him of playing the race card, saying: “It’s never been out of play, it’s in play all the time.”

About 20 tables were laid out under the marquee on the lawn of Camden for yesterday’s lunch.

The event was due to start at midday but there was no sign of Dr. Brown for about an hour. The decision was then made to move the event into a smaller reception room inside Camden.

The first thing Dr. Brown said was that he had received more than 100 RSVP’s, hinting that people “must have had trouble getting here” because of the lack of parking at Camden.

But the 15 people who were there sat in a circle facing Dr. Brown and listened intently to his every word.

One-by-one they put their hands up to ask the Premier questions then enthusiastically applauded many of his answers.

Dr. Brown sat on a two-seater couch and looked totally at ease as if he was chatting to old friends in his living room.

Cannabis

He answered about 20 questions, ranging from the new Morgan’s Point development to the decriminalization of cannabis.

As he was talking his chief of staff laid out his lunch on a wooden table in front of him. Dr. Brown instructed “don’t make it too fussy” and joked that he could already see the ‘Premier demands silver service’ headline in the newspapers.

Dr. Brown spent about an hour chatting to the guests while eating his hamburger with tomato, lettuce and plenty of mayonnaise, washed down with a glass of chilled water.

Brown bag lunches have been regularly hosted throughout Dr. Brown’s tenure in a bid to make him “open and accessible to regular Bermudians”.

People took along their own lunch while soft drinks were provided, with Dr. Brown saying he wanted to “do it one last time before leaving the job”.

Dr. Brown said young boys grew up saying they wanted to be the leader of the country and he was thankful he’d had “the opportunity.”

He said he had done what he could to help the country “move on”, adding that he had been “plugging away at a big task”.

He said: “A year for me means a year flat out. I only have two speeds; on and off.”

Dr. Brown called the Mirrors programme “one of his favourite and most important” projects. He also patted himself on the back for setting up the ferry system and “slightly improving” labour relations.

He added that going to the World Cup in South Africa was “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had”.

Dr. Brown said he would have liked to see the legislation of gambling and independence but “the opposition and brainwashing is out there”.

Dr. Brown admitted his biggest disappointment was the education system as you “can’t change a big thing with a mild approach… I feel in four years we should have been able to move things on faster.

“The trouble is too many Bermudians want to go to heaven but they don’t want to die. This means they want the change but they don’t want the work.

 “The minute Bermudians come up against resistance, they back off.”

Changed the mood

Dr. Brown said he was glad he had helped to “change the mood” of Bermuda, but agreed there was more work to do to make the island “stronger and better”.

He said: “Bermuda has made a tremendous stride in politics. We used to be afraid to talk about politics.

“There’s been a great change in our young people who don’t have any of that fear anymore, they feel free to express themselves.

“People think quiet and peace are the same thing, but quiet is just people saying nothing. You can’t get to harmony before ploughing up some ground.

“We’ve already had our nice phase. Bermuda used to be nice and quiet. We are now seeking change.”

Dr. Brown said he was now looking forward to relaxing and he had no plans to return to medicine. He said he would simply have a “supervisory role” at his stem cell clinic.

Dr. Brown, who will shortly be going to India for the Commonwealth Games at his own expense, said: “Politics anywhere in the world is a toxic business.

“Just the matter of politics is gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.

“I don’t want to do anything that looks like real work for at least a year.”

Dr. Brown said he had lots of “very humbling” offers and he had agreed to work in the prisons of Bermuda and as a visiting lecturer at Howard University.

Dr. Brown said he would continue his work until the end of October as “that’s what you are paying me for”.

He remained tight-lipped about his successor but said he or she would be welcome to pick up the phone and call him “but it wasn’t going to happen the other way away”.

But he vowed to “continue to work for Bermuda”.

Dr. Brown ended his final brown bag lunch by saying: “Thanks for coming to your home” as his supporters shook his hands and kissed him on the cheek.