Patricia Deveaux is quickly becoming parliament’s most controversial House Speaker, outpacing the past Speaker Halson Moultrie, whom many opined lacked decorum when he served in the position.
Deveaux’s recent tirade has thrust her back into the spotlight during the 2022-2023 Budget Debate when she attacked NEMA’s Captain Stephen Russell from her seat, saying that since he was absent from the Bamboo Town constituency in the aftermath of tornadic activity, he must have been “home, busy watching the game (NBA) last night.”
She then suggested that Russell find a day job. “These people, if they want desk job from 9-5, give them their desk job…You tell Mr Russell for me, if he is listening, you need a 9 to 5 job,” she said.
Opposition Leader Michael Pintard later cautioned that comments against Russell should be carefully considered since he was a private citizen and was not in the House to give a response.
Her anger accompanied by neck twirls, finger-pointing, chest-thumping, and a condescending tone, was on full display when she later addressed St Anne’s MP Adrian White after he suggested she read the House’s rule book.
“Don’t do that to me. Don’t insult the intelligence of this Chair…Let me remind you, that I am an adult, one that is older than you. And I have a 25-year-old daughter…So you don’t tell me about being an adult and having children. I fully know how to be that. I know my job, you learn yours,” before jerking her neck and twirling in her seat.
Deveaux, like Moultrie, lacks decorum, and though it is her duty to take charge of debates and keep order in the House, her actions are overbearing and without demureness, the dignity of the Chair which she represents.
Serving as the 55th Speaker of the House of Assembly, she is the second woman to sit as Speaker, following Italia Johnson who served from 1997 to 2002. Johnson was remembered for her gracious and stately approach to the high office.
Deveaux is a bully, using the Speaker’s chair to display unwanted and aggressive behavior and seeking to denigrate the Opposition while throwing her weight around, taking advantage of the power imbalance in the House.
And, the manner in which Deveaux delivers her commentary is troubling. She is ill-tempered, harsh in her language, and possesses a bad attitude.
In 2020 while serving as the PLP’s National Vice-Chair and as a senior executive secretary in the Ministry of National Security, she made headlines after making an ethnic slur at a PLP rally when she said her party has only “nice-looking people” and not a “bunch of darkies all over the place, heating up the place”. She later apologized.
Deveaux simply does not have the temperament required to be a good Speaker.