Speaker urges supporters not to sign port petition

| 05/09/2018 | 162 Comments
Cayman News Service

McKeeva Bush, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

(CNS): Speaker of the Legislative Assembly McKeeva Bush, the leader of the CDP, has circulated a message to his supporters urging them not to sign the petition currently circulating asking for a referendum that would enable voters to say whether or not they support the proposed cruise birthing facility. In a social media chat message to the CDP party faithful, Bush wrote, “There is a petition circulated by the opposition to stop the building of a cruise facility. My suggestion to all our supporters is not to sign nor to entertain any discussion from those persons.” However, the petition is calling for a vote on the project, not to stop it.

The speaker made it clear when he took the prestigious post and joined forces with his former political rival, Premier Alden McLaughlin, to create a coalition government that he was unlikely to stay out of the political fray, regardless of the traditionally neutral role of the speaker.

In this instance he took direct aim at the official opposition MLAs on the eve of the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly, which opens in Cayman Brac today (Wednesday 5 September).

Bush told his voters and supporters, “What is happening now is the opposition thinks it has some thing to beat the Government on and is prepared to do anything to destroy us where they can get the upper hand. Some of you heard them this morning (Monday morning on Crosstalk) suggesting to the government to get rid of  me, because they can’t outsmart me not out maneuver me in the chair. So they will stop at nothing.”

However, the opposition did not organise the PIR petition but have instead called on the government to directly instigate a ballot, for which a private member’s motion was filed to be heard during this session.

Although there had been concerns from the opposition that the speaker was not prepared to allow the motion onto the agenda for this week’s LA meeting, highlighting the potential conflict of his public declarations against the petition and his role in deciding what does and does not happen in parliament, CNS understands that the PMM has made the order paper and should be debated Thursday.

Bush indicated in his message that he and his longtime West Bay political ally, Capt. Eugene Ebanks, are sticking together on this issue, “as we have for the past 20 years”, but the speaker, who represents the people of West Bay West, made no mention of MLA Bernie Bush, who has departed company with his former CDP colleagues.

Throughout the years Bush has been a vocal supporter of a cruise facility, though he has often sought alternatives to the George Town Harbour idea, previously favouring the North Sound as the ideal location. He was embroiled in several controversies over the project when he was premier, culminating in a tentative deal with China Harbour Engineering Company outside of the usual tendering process, which was stopped by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

During his time as leader of the opposition between 2013 and the last election in May 2017, Bush remained a supporter in principle of the project but not the PPM proposal.

In June 2015, after the extent of the damage and disruption the project would cause to marine life in the George Town harbour and business in the capital was revealed, he said government should re-think the project, describing the findings of an environmental impact study as “disconcerting” with “serious consequences”. At the time he asked government to enhance the Spotts Dock and modernise the tender fleet to buy time with the cruise lines.

However, this week Bush dismissed the environmental concerns and said there had been several revisions to the plans over the past 40 years “to try to please naysayers”, and the design had been changed “so not to disturb some of the very scatters pieces of coral called a reef”. He added, “There is nothing out there like Barkers Reef.”

Although the new design model has never been made public, Bush told his supporters that the revised project is “on pillars and not a solid wall so that water and sand moves up and down in and out as free as it needs to. So if there is any threat to our beach it will be God’s doing and not by the Dock.”

Bush also told supporters that the new mega ships are what the “wealthy people travel on” and they “cannot tender the way the smaller ships can”.

However, the mega ships can, in fact, tender; they have simply stated that they do not want to tender these vessels. Some larger ships are already tendering regardless of size, and many opponents of the cruise dock point out that as one of the most popular cruise ports of call, the ships will continue to come to Cayman because of demand, with or without a dock.

Bush took aim at the local tender companies but also stated that they would still have business to tender ships when the piers are both in use. “The Cayman business that owns the tenders will still have business as they had for the past 40 yrs by themselves. Not one other Caymanian shared in it,” he added.

The petition continues to attract signatures from registered voters, and campaigners inch towards the number to trigger a people-initiated referendum. If they are successful, government will be obliged to arrange a national ballot.

The petitioners have stated clearly that this petition is not calling on government to stop the project but to put it to the vote, enabling supporters and opponents alike to express their voice. The government will be at an advantage with a PIR, as it still gets to set the question and requires 50% plus 1 of the voter register to pass, and not just a simple majority.

See the wording of section 70 of the Constitution here

See more about the Cayman Islands Constitution here

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (162)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I sure hope we’re somehow managing to keep mac out of China. And Las Vegas.

  2. anonymous says:

    CNS, where can the petition be signed? Thanks.

    CNS: We’ll let you know whenever we know.

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  3. Huh says:

    Hold up, hold up… I thought the speaker of the house had to be neutral in their position in government? Why is the speaker of the house influencing his supporters? Sounds like this goverment is sounding more like a dictatorship if you ask me!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I proudly signed this petition earlier today at Pure Art. I gather there are other books at Cathy Church and Hurleys (on Saturdays). The public want facts, and some semblance of due process, and to vote based on a complete set of info. We’re no longer willing to trust the self-interested political soundbites expelled by those drawn to opaque side-deals, with a history of uncounseled stewardship, or their self-annointed Coalition members who feel they can resume an ego-driven unsanctioned party mandate from a previous regime. All of whom refuse to enact the Standards in Public Life Law 2014.

    There should be more of these signature books stationed around the islands, or better yet, an online version that makes it easier for registered voters, unregistered Caymanians (future/underage voters), PR holders/Naturalised BOTC, Residents, and foreign condo stakeholders to weigh in.

    The Referendum target should be 50%+ of the registered electorate, otherwise this Cabinet may simply decide to overturn the result, or disregard it completely. Still quite a lot of feedback required, and not much time to register it (given recent misguided proclamations like the above).

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  5. Anonymous says:

    If the Cayman Islands green-lights a third party to build a Cruise Dock and Port, the best-case scenario is that CIG receives ZERO DOLLARS from these initiatives for the next 50 years. The only short-term winners would be the Kirkconnell family, a handful of qualifying watersports operators, and the Chinese who will be only too eager to strategically and gradually weaponize our harbour into their sovereign naval port facility in time for the global resource wars later this century.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    So the Cayman Compass reports that a mega ship stopped here to drop off a passenger with a medical emergency. Funny, didn’t see them at a dock. They must have used a tender but that can’t be.. mega ships can’t tender.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not that they can’t, they just won’t. Big difference. They choose not to give 6000 passengets a horrible experience. Taking one off for emergency is nothing.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Are you really so lost? We are talking about an emergency situation here; in an emergency you do whatever needs to be done in an effort to save life. Think about how long it took to disembark that one passenger and then ask yourself if that is really feasible for 6000 passengers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        With State of the art Tenders it would be easy. AC and Free WiFi onboard would be enticing. Passengers seek free WiFi more than ‘goods’ in Cayman, it is an expensive island as outlined by Cruise Shopping guidelines.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Umm yes it is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Norwegian Epic tenders and that ships carries 4,200 passengers. I used the tenders and they are not an issue! I did not hear one person talk about the tenders at all…it is a non-factor.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey Alden … what you say???

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Mac only XXXXX. Mac is the poor people biggest mistake especially the West Bay voters. Mac made (turned) West Bay into a welfare state and the poor hopeless West Bayers is still in that deep sleep still cannot wake up as yet. While Mac remain with that charming fooling pretty smile. Mac you can fool some people sometime but you will not fool all of the people all of the time. Time longer than rope what you need to do get a civic centre and a proper equipped Hurricane shelter in West Bay and also go back and visit the land where the cricket stadium is built and do the right thing on that property. Mac please tell the people who live in the cayman islands edpecially the natives the right reason the property were purchased where the cricket stadium is located behind Liberty’s Redtaurant in West Bay. Talking about you are the speaker of the legislative Assembly about you keeping people in order. Mac you favour order do you know what order really is?.or do you think order is ordering food from a fast food restaurant. LoL ????????????????

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  9. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva posted comments as a party leader and not as speaker of the house. Nothing at all wrong with that. Whether party faithful heed his advice or ignore it is always their choice to make.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Mac speaks it like it is. Johan is a political wannabe and Mario isn’t allowed to run for politics. Their two main supporters against dock. Case closed

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    • Anonymous says:

      The thousands of signatures being collected for referendum in order for the people to get the facts in order to decide says otherwise. The government’s attitude causes even more questions to be asked daily. Removing DOE preventing them from raising environmental concerns is a clear indiction that there is something they are desperate to hide.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We already know they never bothered to update the EIA, or the business case, or do the geological and technical studies. Something else has this un-elected “Coalition” Hell-bent on pushing ahead regardless of sense or process. With a career horizon of less than 3 years (if not sooner) for most of these has-beens, you can guess why enacting the Standards in Public Life Law (and criminalizing conflicts of interest) hasn’t been a high priority.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Boy the Tenderbots are out in full force.

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  11. Two Cents says:

    Totally out of order and out of hand.
    Alden knows it but his lips are sealed because his survival is at stake. Sad times

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    • Boris says:

      Alden showed his lack of respect for the house and the people of these Islands by appointing mckeeva as speaker. I once held a certain amount of respect for Alden, but now find myself extremely confused on his handling of certain matters.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    “Bush also told supporters that the new mega ships are what the “wealthy people travel on”. That line tells you all you need to know about what Bush thinks of those who cloak him and what they will believe – because he said it.
    If anyone believes that wealthy people will cram themselves onto a ship with over 5,000 people, they’re as stupid as McKeeva.

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    • Anonymous says:

      First off there is a very small number of the nice suites on those ship and the wealth don’t cruise in an interior cabin. Secondly, if they are that wealth they would have flown and stayed in a nice hotel.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m wealthy and I do not care for Mega Ships.
      The Oasis had 7,800 Passengers aboard on the journey I went on.
      It felt like being at Disney on school vacations.
      Chaos at all Ports of Calls, there were other ships at each besides us.
      It was stressful, especially in the heat, worse when it rained.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Save Cayman is using this a a delay tactic, they know whether they can get the votes or not the referendum would delay the project to the point of stopping it. It’s only to attack this government. Don’t be fooled. They don’t want everyone to have a say just them

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    • Anonymous says:

      Amen. Save Cayman Is really … Save Cayman for the ex-pats!

      I’m tired of them forcing their liberal, politically correct, anti-Christian agenda down our throat. I’m not fooled by their petition distraction

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      • Anonymous says:

        WOW the pro port block has come out swinging.
        There is a lot of fear in the pro cruise ship dock bunch yet they ignore the basic concerns which has prompted this call for a referendum. This deal has been kept in secret and the history of this government in managing large projects is abysmal so yes the people need to be concerned.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I take offence to this statement. The expats are doing what the Caymanians do not have – a backbone to do what they think is right!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        “Liberal, politically correct, anti-Christian”? So opposing the dock goes a against God? Oh yeah.. YOUR West Bay God Mckeeva.. If he is considered a God then I’m going to become an atheist.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You forgot the word ‘educated’.
        Those ‘expats’ are trying to save us from ourselves.
        There’s no fixing stupid.

        Paper Caymanian – landed on these shores in 1989 – with more passion in saving these islands than those born here

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      • Anonymous says:

        Poor you… ur clueless clearly of the depth of the issues at stake.

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      • Beverly Walton says:

        Mister 7:52 am: That is the worst comment I’ve seen in a long time. Shame on you.

      • SSM345 says:

        To sign the petition you have to be Caymanian i.e. a registered voter, you absolute moron. Expats have no say in a referendum.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Well, keep in mind there are thousands of expats who have qualified to remain and are now (finally) Caymanian, and also registered voters. By now, most are regrettably familiar with how things work in the political arena of the Cayman Islands. I welcome their participation in shining the light in on the pervasive insulated shadiness that reigns unchecked due to widespread apathy of so-called native sons and daughters. We should all want this transparency or we deserve what comes next.

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          • Anonymous says:

            4.11pm I hope you are just as eager to see expat corruption and collusion exposed.eg when they produce fake document to get a job, or when they claim that they can’t find a suitable Caymanian then turn around and take out a permit for a family member or friend.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Who polices this allegeded corruption? Oh, yes I remember, Caymanians. That’s a turn up. What about the corrupt politicians who do not want the bright light of day shone on this project or its details? You lot are all allegations and slander for your miserly few dollars of sales and contract kickbacks.

          • Anonymous says:

            @4:11 True and at that point they are no longer Expats.

        • Anonymous says:

          SS345 I believe expats are being encouraged to sign the petition even though they can’t vote on the referendum.

          CNS: Wrong. I personally went to the signup table at Grand Harbour last weekend. The volunteers collecting signatures had two sheets – one for voters and one for non-voters, clearly marked. Voters who signed had to have their voter number, which would be checked before it becomes part of the final count, so it would be a complete waste of everyone’s time to have non-voters’ signatures on that list.

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