Last Wednesday’s profanity-laced tirade, directed at the ministry’s Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, and clearly heard by dozens of civil servants, has demonstrated unequivocally Minister Bodden’s unfitness to hold his leadership position.
Premier Alden McLaughlin missed his first opportunity to manage the situation, choosing to deflect and protect rather than taking swift, decisive action. For any responsible leader — especially for the leader of a country — this should not even be a tough call.
There is no need for any further investigation. There exists a prima facie, (and undisputed), case of gross mistreatment of a professional colleague, characterized by undertones of prejudice in regard to gender, race and nationality.
We understand Premier McLaughlin’s dilemma — both personally and politically. He and Minister Bodden are friends as well as political allies. One could argue that Mr. McLaughlin would not even be Premier if Mr. Bodden hadn’t joined his coalition (along with the other three Bodden Town members) following Mr. McLaughlin’s support of the “No Dump in Bodden Town” pledge.
Under that interpretation of history, Premier McLaughlin may well owe his job to Minister Bodden, and his loyalty to his friend and political enabler in other circumstances might be understandable, even commendable.
However, once Mr. McLaughlin ascended to the premiership of this country, he accepted a higher loyalty — to all the people of the Cayman Islands.
Immediately after satisfying himself as to the accuracy of what had taken place, Mr. McLaughlin had an obligation and a duty to meet with Mr. Bodden and relieve him of his ministerial duties. He didn’t do that.
To review, the facts, which were gathered and sent in writing to the Deputy Governor on Dec. 12, are these:
At about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, Ms. Ahearn entered Minister Bodden’s office to discuss a matter she had emailed him about earlier in the day. The door was closed behind her.
Shortly afterward, about 20 to 30 people on the fifth floor clearly heard “extremely voluminous bellowing” coming from within Minister Bodden’s office. The shouting grew so intense that a security guard was called and, with two ministry staff members, ventured to the office door to assess the situation.
The statements that Minister Bodden shouted at Ms. Ahearn, according to the report of staff members present, included, “You aren’t even Caymanian, you are like a piece of f&%king driftwood”; “You know that I can make your life a living hell”; “Get out of my face. Get out of my f&%king office. Get out of my f&%king office now.”
Astonishingly, the Compass has learned that a plan is being contemplated to remove … not Mr. Bodden but the innocent victim in this entire matter, Jennifer Ahearn.
Any such “re-victimization” of Ms. Ahearn should not be tolerated by the civil service, the Governor, the Deputy Governor or the electorate.
Governor Helen Kilpatrick clearly has the authority to remove Mr. Bodden as minister.
Rarely, we would concede, in a locally controlled democracy, should a Governor exercise this drastic authority. Given the present circumstances, however, if the Premier refuses to act — for personal, political or any other reason — the Governor must intervene.
After all, as the Queen’s representative, she is ultimately responsible for the “good governance” of these Cayman Islands.