The Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas has defended his decision to fire Environment Minister Joseph Gilbert, stating that it was in an attempt to maintain the island’s integrity.
In an eight-minute televised address to the nation the Grenadian leader said that the actions of former Works Minister Joseph Gilbert were ” indefensible and cannot be condoned by this Government and should not be condoned by any other Government”.
The Prime Minister was referring to a letter allegedly written by Gilbert during his tenure as Works Minister, promising a United States gaming company that he would get the island’s legislation regarding gaming changed so that they can begin operations on the island.
Thomas who has repeatedly and publicly said he is opposed to institutionalizing casino gambling in Grenada, said in his statement on Thursday night that Gilbert didn’t have cabinet’s permission to write a letter making such promise.
“These representations by the Minister were made in full knowledge that Cabinet had not taken any such decisions”, the Prime Minister said.
“In this respect, the Minister must have been aware that his conduct was wrongful or was otherwise unconcerned as to his responsibility to the Cabinet,” Prime Minister added.
He said the firing of Mr. Gilbert has nothing to do with saving the National Democratic Congress government but with preserving the country’s integrity.
“It must be clearly understood by all, that this matter is not about the survival and stability of the duly elected Government of Grenada but about preserving our core values and building of a sustainable country.”
Thomas said that being leader of the ruling party is for him “always about people, not power”.
“As Prime Minister, I have been careful to act with fairness and even-handedness in dealing with violations of the public trust, by members of my Government.”
Since the Tillman Thomas led National Democratic Congress (NDC) took office in 2008, Prime Minister Thomas has been known to take a number of disciplinary actions against members of the government for what he has perceived as acting against the grain of the party’s watch-words “transparency and accountability”.
Among the first to suffer was Attorney General Jimmy Bristol in July 2009, when he admitted to writing a personal appeal letter to an US prosecutor asking for leniency for his stepson Emmanuel Ganpot, who fled the United States, before he could face jail-time after being convicted for drug crimes. Prime Minister Thomas asked Bristol to resign.
Shortly thereafter Junior Culture Minister Senator Arley Gill was banned from a number of Cabinet meeting after allegedly making agreement with a Jamaica-based entertainment company, which was not approved by the Cabinet.
One year later former Environment Minister Michael Church was demoted when he allegedly attended an environment meeting in Europe, without the knowledge or consent of the cabinet.
The Prime Minister said every time he ‘disciplined’ one of the government members, he “acted accordingly and will consistently do so”.
Thomas said he has high personal values and ethics, which had in the past cost him his freedom, and would continue to govern the country guided by his values.
“My firm belief in high ethical standards, honesty, integrity and accountability, and living those values are my guiding principles. It is for those reasons that I spent years in jail, refusing to compromise those values…This I firmly believe was, and remains in the best interest of uniting Grenada”, Thomas said.©