I wrote yesterday that the new Cabinet and PLP Senators would be announced today – and so it was.
In my earlier post I noted that there would be at least one Ministerial change, as at least one Minister must sit in the Senate, and the entire PLP Senate team was elected to the House of Assembly last week. As it turned out, there were actually three new Ministers appointed:
- Lawrence Scott as Minister of Transport
- Tinee Furbert as Minister of Social Development & Seniors
- Rolfe Commissiong as Minister of Community & Sports
Now, that last appointment is an interesting one, for reasons of which I’ll touch on below.
With regards the Senate, I had speculated that most of the new Senators will be chosen from the 6 unsuccessful candidates, with at least one of the new Senators being an ‘old-hand’ (an experienced former Senator or MP) who would lead the team and likely double as the Minister in the Senate.
As it turns out, four of the six unsuccessful candidates were chosen as Senators, and an old-hand was, indeed, chosen as the Senate Leader and Minister. The four of the six former candidates were:
- Owen Darrell
- Curtis Richardson
- Lindsay Simmons
- Ariana Hodgson
The old-hand was none other than former MP Rolfe Commissiong.
Without offering too much in the way of opinion, I think it is fair to say that this appointment is being seen by many as rather controversial.
For context, shortly before the election (and during the election campaign period) it was revealed that Mr. Commissiong was involved in a bit of a scandal concerning his alleged sexual harrassment of a female civil servant. Without going into all of the details, he publicly announced he would not be seeking re-election at this time (allowing Mr. Curtis Dickinson to run in his constituency instead). Similarly, the Premier quite forcefully condemned the alleged incident and sexual harassment generally.
As such, the appointment of Mr. Commissiong to the Senate is causing some dismay as it is being seen (based on social media chatter) as hypocritical; a reward (he now has a better position, as a Minister and Senate Leader than he did as an MP); and as part of a quid pro quo.
In other political news, the Independent Senator James Jardine announced his retirement today. As a result, the expectation is that the two other incumbent Independent Senators (Joan Dillas-Wright and Michelle Simmons) will be re-appointed and a new Independent Senator will also be reappointed.
The OBA have yet to announce their new Senate team.