Just more than 100 days ago, Premier Alden McLaughlin took on the new responsibilities of his high office with dignity, decorum and a deftness of touch that befits all successful leaders, including politicians. We are pleased to report that on his 52nd birthday last Friday, he appeared remarkably fit, well-presented, and well-spoken, comfortable in his new role as the leader of the country.
Indeed, in his first few days in office, he was able to cobble together an inclusive Cabinet that impressed many with its businesslike manner, its focus on fiscal and budgetary issues, and, frankly, a welcome absence of attention to political partisanship.
In his quest for comity and harmony, however, the premier’s extended hand of goodwill to independent members Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean was rebuffed in the inaugural Legislative Assembly session that quickly deteriorated into the rancor that too often has characterized that hallowed chamber.
We hope Mr. McLaughlin, going forward, will continue to resist any temptation to engage in petty, parochial and sometimes personal pique and keep his energy focused on carrying out his vision for the country.
A far greater concern, and frankly danger, for Mr. McLaughlin than the tranquility of the House, however, is how he reacts to the antics of his Cabinet minister from West Bay, Tara Rivers.
Since the outset of her brief political career, Ms Rivers has been enmeshed in controversy, beginning with questions about her eligibility to run for office, a lawsuit affirming her eligibility, an ongoing appeal to that lawsuit, and now, famously, her jaunt to Johannesburg, South Africa, which resulted in her missing the first substantive meeting of the Legislative Assembly, the welcoming of Cayman’s new governor, and the official opening of the school year, which should have been of particular interest since Ms Rivers serves as minister of education.
Like a good soldier, Mr. McLaughlin has stood by his fellow minister during her self-inflicted difficulties and travails.
However, Mr. McLaughlin must now come to realize he is not a mere soldier. He is, in fact, the general.
History’s archives are replete with tales of failed leaders who offered loyalty to colleagues, who didn’t deserve it, over their countries, which did. Upon her return from Johannesburg, Ms Rivers released a self-serving and disingenuous statement, claiming the media and her critics were animated by the fact that she was a woman.
This claim is so shameless and scurrilous that it should raise a serious issue in the mind of our new premier whether he wishes to keep Ms Rivers in her current position as minister of gender affairs. Her remarks are insulting to any thinking person but especially to women in this country who, in fact, do face actual gender discrimination.
From what we have seen of Ms Rivers’s brief tenure in office, we are of the opinion that she does not deserve Mr. McLaughlin’s support – or ours.