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JAM | May 15, 2023

A place must be found for Juliet Holness in the Cabinet

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Member of Parliament for East Rural St Andrew, Juliet Holness speaking August 2020 event. (Photo: JIS)

The word is that Prime Minister Andrew Holness is expected to announce a Cabinet reshuffle very soon.

Many expect the young lions including Matthew Samuda and Floyd Green to get a promotion and an elevation in stature.

Then there are those who say that the old bulls must be put to pasture.

Andrew Holness’ move will be intriguing and will lead to heated debate as he considers a general election within the next 24 months.

As he shuffles the pack he will be scratching his head as to creating a position for his wife, Juliet Holness.

Simply put, this should be an easy decision, but the political ramifications may cause the prime minister to stay his hand.

As a performing MP and parliamentarian, she warrants a place in the Cabinet.

But can the prime minister turn a deaf ear to the howls of nepotism and favouritism?

He should.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness warmly greeting his wife and fellow parliamentarian Juliet Holness in Gordon House in 2016. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

As leader of the party, he should be picking the best performing members and forming an able Cabinet.

Juliet Holness has the bona fides and has demonstrated a work ethic that is admirable.

Why should she be held back and forever sit on the back benches simply because she is the spouse of the prime minister?

Some say it will not be a good look to have a husband and wife combination in Cabinet but surely we should be past all that seeing we are well into a new century.

It sends a signal that meritocracy prevails and that is what is needed in an egalitarian progressive country.

President Bill Clinton had an accomplished and capable wife and did not hesitate to announce her abilities would be utilised for the betterment of the country. In fact he quipped that the United States would be getting “two for the price of one” and he leaned on her acumen.

Hillary Clinton whispers to Bill Clinton during ceremonies honoring the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. at Howard University on January 18, 1993. (Photo: REUTERS/Ira Schwarz)

In 1993, Clinton set up a Task Force on National Health Care Reform headed by First Lady Hilary Clinton to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans.

Sure, there was opprobrium but he pushed past all of that.

Andrew Holness, likewise, must be bold and see the bigger picture. Reward those who have performed and can bring proven ability to his Cabinet. There is little doubt that Juliet Holness can do so.

Speaking of Hilary’s attributes just before the 2016 Presidential Elections, Bill Clinton said of her: “You can drop her into any trouble spot- pick one- come back in a month and somehow someway, she will have made it better. That is just who she is.”

Juliet Holness is the MP for St Andrew East Rural. She is also an accountant and real estate developer and currently the Deputy Speaker of the House. She is credited with doing a good job with her constituency since she was elected in 2016.

Where does she go from there but up?

In 2021, at the height of the COVID pandemic, it was mooted that she should replace Floyd Green as Minister of Agriculture but that did not transpire. Colin Campbell of the People’s National Party (PNP) has said that if she is competent, there should be little problem in elevating her to the Cabinet and that it in fact would add to the gender balance.

She shouldn’t be promoted simply because she happens to be a woman but rather because of the work she has done for the last seven years.


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