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Environment Minister Exercises Poor Judgement

In the end, it is a leader’s judgment that matters more than just about any other quality. This is as true for a business executive as it is for a Cabinet minister. This week, the Minister of the Environment’s poor judgment was on full display in a number of areas.

This included Minister Earl Deveaux’s acceptance of hospitality from various developers. It also included his disclosure of a private conversation with the prime minister.

Cabinet ministers of both parties have accepted hospitality from private sector interests, including air transportation. Accepting hospitality is not in itself unethical, though at times appearances do make an enormous difference.

It depends on the nature and degree of the hospitality, and if there are accompanying quid pro quos.

As the opposition continues to discuss recent matters related to the minister, it may want to review its own record. The opposition generally needs to keep the government accountable.

But, those with their own questionable practices in dealing with private sector interests should spare us their hypocrisy and grand-standing.

The matter of allowing for development in the Exuma Land and Sea Park is a separate policy matter of which Bahamians should be rightly concerned. On this front the environment minister should be asked some pressing questions.

Still, there is no evidence that Minister Deveaux did anything unethical in terms of any quid pro quos with developers in exchange for favourable reviews of various outstanding applications on this or other matters.

But, the cavalier manner in which the minister shrugged off the hospitality of various developers in terms of helicopter and airplane rides is stunning. This is not just bad public relations. It suggests a mindset. It is a demonstration of very poor judgment.

This is especially so for someone who is supposed to be a seasoned Cabinet minister. In his sensitive portfolio as environment minister he must be beyond reproach, and must be seen to be beyond reproach.

His statement that he was inclined to approve a developer’s application before it was sent to the Bahamas National Trust for review is another example of spectacularly poor judgement.

He should not have commented prior to such a review.

The minister has also embarrassed a number of developers who must question his unrestrained public comments. Compounding that lack of restraint, the minister then went on radio later in the week to discuss a private conversation he had with the prime minister in terms of his future as a minister.

Private conversations between a Cabinet member and a president or prime minister must remain private for all sorts of reasons.

This includes the trust between that individual and their leader, as well as public trust regarding the conduct of confidential matters.

Minister Deveaux’s lack of judgement should be a lesson to both those in opposition and in the government who have or will serve as Cabinet ministers. Considered judgment, common sense and restraint are at the heart of what it means to be a good leader.

The Freeport News

Posted in Opinions

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