Every time you think Premier Dr. Ewart Brown can’t put his foot in his mouth any further, he goes and inserts it even further.
His latest example is to again call for the Governor to force Auditor General Larry Dennis to resign. Mr. Dennis’s “crime” has been to have had the temerity to hold Government to account, so to speak, over their lack of accounts. The Premier’s latest criticism came after Dennis, for the first time in eight years, gave a qualified audit on Government’s Consolidate Fund, saying that controls were too lax over Government spending – not least the $6.5 million unaccounted for on the Police/court project in Hamilton – for him to give a clean audit.
You don’t need to be an accountant to know how bad this looks when an independent auditor basically refuses to sign off. For a country that depends on its reputation as a well-regulated and above board financial services centre for its bread and butter, it is little short of disastrous. And for an apparently media-savvy politician, the Premier doesn’t seem to grasp how bad, how crass and how downright suspicious, his comments make him appear.
Of course, none of this is the Government’s fault. “We think that he has politicised his post and he is decidedly anti-Government,” declared the Premier. This would be the same Government that arrested its Auditor General on frankly spurious grounds and has continually harrassed and insulted him for simply doing his job. The problem for this Government, which abhors any sort of criticism or dissent, no matter how deserved or constructive, is that Mr. Dennis is a thorn in their side and one of the few Bermudians with the courage to stand up to the political bullies and ask the awkward questions we should all want answered.
Mr. Dennis is, as the UBP’s Bob Richards pointed out, an independent watchdog. And watchdogs are only effective if they bark and bite once in a while. “The whole object of the remarks … appear to be an attempt to discredit a constitutionally enshrined watchdog of this country. I think that’s wrong and it reflects very badly on Bermuda,” he said.
No, Mr. Brown, the Governor should not ask Mr Dennis to resign. He should instead recommend that upon his well-deserved retirement in August he is rewarded with a knighthood for services the ripped off Bermuda public.