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Way off mark, but safe for now

Attorney General Mark Pettingill has now apologised for statements in the House of Assembly when he criticised religiously motivated opponents of amendments to the Human Rights Act.

Although no doubt a chastening experience, it was the correct course of action and should be applauded. Realise your mistake, deal with it, move on — and hope the public (and the Opposition) forgives and forgets.

There is a puzzling aspect to this whole saga and one prompted by a statement from the Premier which said that Mr Pettingill was giving his own, personal, opinion when speaking.

In a statement, Craig Cannonier said: “I am convinced that the Attorney General was speaking on his own behalf — airing his own personal convictions. He was not, as alleged by Minister Weeks, speaking on behalf of the Government or the One Bermuda Alliance party. “

This was a Government Minister, speaking from the Government front benches, on a Government Bill, that the AG drafted, but we are led to believe he was not speaking for the Government or the party.

It is important to distinguish between what a Minister says and what he does. His responsibility as a Minister is to speak out in support of and vote for a Government measure.

Although Mr Pettingill did subsequently apologise, the Premier’s statement did not ask him to do so. Instead, it attempted to put distance between the Government and Party and the offending comments.

That is an indication that the Premier wants to keep Mr Pettingill and that he is still regarded as a valuable member of the Cabinet.

The PLP allege that the AG is error-prone. This newspaper will leave the politicians to fight on that issue. However, Mr Pettingill, whether speaking personally or for the Government, needs to stop speaking from the hip or it will cause a lot more embarrassment to himself and the Government. Ultimately the Premier might not be so supportive.

* What’s your opinion on this? Tell me in 140 characters or less — follow me at https://twitter.com/jeremydeacon1

Attorney General Mark Pettingill at a press conference where he apologised for remarks made in the House of Assembly.

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Published June 24, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm)

Way off mark, but safe for now

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