Craig Cannonier was all smiles following his swearing-in on Tuesday morning. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Craig Cannonier was all smiles following his swearing-in on Tuesday morning. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

TUESDAY, DEC. 18: New Premier Craig Cannonier vowed to start announcing his new Cabinet team tomorrow (Wednesday).

And he promised “big changes” from the first new Government in 14 years.

After he was formally sworn in as Premier at Government House, he said: “You will be hearing about appointments very swiftly – within the next day.

“We need to move as swiftly as possible.”

And he said he would keep pre-election promises to ask a member of the PLP to join the Government in some role.

Mr Cannonier said that PLP members had “already extended their arms to him” and he had responded.

He added: “I will be making these calls to ensure we all move forward together, everyone with one voice.

“Our first priority is to look at the financial state of our country and set realistic goals as to what we can and cannot do.

“I will live up to these promises – but I haven’t chosen that person.”

Mr Cannonier said: “It’s a bit historic what has taken place and the One Bermuda Alliance has always said, from the beginning, that this is about not leaving anyone behind.”

Mr Cannonier added that he would call for Parliament to reconvene early in the New Year.

After the ceremony, OBA heavyweight and former shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards, a racing certainty for Finance in the new administration, said: “The first thing we have got to do is look under the hood and see what’s under there.

“We don’t know yet. Once we do that, then we can have something meaningful to say. I know what you know, what’s in the public domain – and that’s not all there is.”

Asked if a pledge to create 2000 jobs in five years was achievable, Mr Richards said: “I wouldn’t have made that promise if it wasn’t.”

OBA rising star Jeff Baron, who slashed the PLP majority in the tough Pembroke South East seat but failed to win against the PLP’s Rolfe Commissiong, is likely to be appointed to the Senate.

Businessman Glen Smith, who got a hero’s welcome at the post-election party at Hamilton’s Vasco De Gama Club after he unseated Premier Paula Cox in Devonshire North West, confirmed he was prepared to serve in Cabinet.

Mr Smith said: “If the Premier wishes me to be in his Cabinet, I would gladly accept.

“I guess I would be interested in business development. I’ve started several businesses in Bermuda, local and ones reliant on the service industry with international business.”

“I believe I have a reputation in the local and international business community which would help Bermuda.”

Mr Cannonier’s wife, Antoinette, said after the ceremony she was “very proud” of her husband’s achievement.

She added: “He has worked hard, he believes in what he is doing and he wants to make a difference.”

Mr Cannonier told the crowd of more than 100 assembled in Government House: “We are going to use this election to bring about two big changes to Bermuda.

“First, we are going to get this economy working again for people. There is no more important task now than to grow jobs to end the hardships felt by thousands of families.

“And second, we are going to bring people together. We’re going to reach out to everyone, building cooperation and support.”

Mr Cannonier said the party would end “all forms of discrimination” – a clear signal that gays would finally get equal protection under the law.

He added that students abroad would also be eligible for absentee ballots “making this the last election where they are denied a voice in the decisions of this country.”

He added: “And to the many Bermudians living abroad, who left for a job or who fled intolerance, I want to send a simple message. Come back to us.

“Come back to build the better Bermuda we all know we can build. Your country needs you. Your country needs all your skills and all your dreams, right here at home where they can flower best.”