Cruise petition nears referendum target

| 06/11/2018 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service

Campaigners collect signatures for a referendum on the cruise port

(CNS): Organisers of the campaign for a people-initiated referendum on the proposal for a cruise berthing facility in George Town have confirmed that the target of 5,282 voters is now well within sight, but the goal is to press on for an additional 1,500 names over and above the magic number to trigger the referendum. Campaigners are keen to ensure the petition has a buffer to cover changed names and addresses, registered voters who have been unknowingly removed, and any other anomalies that could lead Cabinet to reject the petition on a technicality. With a self-imposed target of almost 7,000 voters, campaigners are making sure there is no chance the PIR could be scuppered.

Speaking to CNS on Tuesday, Mario Rankin, one of those spearheading the campaign, said that almost 5,000 signatures have now been collected and counted from people who are registered voters. But he said there are still more than three dozen outstanding petition books that have not been included in that number which have yet to come into the central campaign, so they are possibly already at the referendum target.

Rankin said his concern now was that government might not play fair even when campaigners meet the requirements of the Constitution.

“We are concerned as government gets to pick the date and the wording of the question that it could attempt to manipulate the referendum. I just hope that they are fair about this process,” he said.

It is no secret that government opposes the idea of putting the project to the people and has invested an as yet undisclosed sum of public cash campaigning not just in support of the principle of the cruise port project but actually against the referendum petition itself.

Rankin explained that government also gets to control how and when the vote happens and it will not necessarily have the interests of voters at heart when it is forced to concede to the referendum and compose the question.

Rankin is keen to ensure that the government does not try to call a snap vote, thereby preventing those opposing the port to properly campaign, especially as it has already misled the wider public by calling the referendum a no vote for the port. 

“A lot of those who support the port, including government, have said signing the people-initiated referendum petition a ‘no’ to the port project, but it is not,” he said. “But not signing the petition because of pressure from government is a ‘no’ to democracy.”

Although they are now very close to gathering the necessary number of signatures required to trigger the vote, the volunteers who have worked tirelessly on the campaign are still not giving up, and before the petition goes to the Elections Office for verification, they will be making sure it doesn’t fall short by a few names or other technicalities. The 1,500 additional names will create an insurance policy against any eventuality that could undermine the petition’s success.

When she appeared on Rooster’s call-in radio show Tuesday morning, Michelle Lockwood explained that, despite efforts to ensure that only registered voters signed the petition during the campaign, there could still be issues with some names.

She pointed to various unintended consequences of collecting so many signatures and the problems for civil servants. For example, while the deputy governor has given permission for most civil servants to sign, there may still be come-back on some names for some civil servants who have signed.

Even though many registered voters from the private sector have signed the petition, Rankin and Lockwood spoke about the challenges they have had persuading people who work for government to sign the petition. Rankin said many public sector workers believe that will be victimised if they sign it. 

“It’s been very difficult to persuade civil servants to sign as many of them are too nervous,” Lockwood said. 

The civil service makes up a significant part of the electorate and so if, as campaigners believe, a significant proportion of them are fearful of signing the petition, this amplifies the importance of a national vote on the matter so that they can vote on the cruise port proposal, for or against, with the protection of the secret ballot.

Rankin is still concerned that even when the campaign secures the petition numbers required under the Constitution, government could still do much to undermine the referendum process.

Once the campaign files its full and verified petition to the Elections Office and then on to Cabinet, they hope that the number of signatures on the petition will be enough for government to immediately pause the project until the referendum can be organised. Rankin believes the referendum should take place at the same time as the next general election in 2021.

“It will give people time to mount a real campaign on both sides and allow the public to see what actually happens to cruise numbers over that period,” he said. However, once government is compelled to hold a national vote, it is far less likely to allow a lengthy campaign and could call a quick vote, stifling debate and ensuring it uses the power of office to its advantage.

A people-initiated referendum requires 50% of the entire electorate plus one for it to pass rather than a simple majority. Because government sets the question, this also presents considerable opportunities to compose a question that would make it hard to stop the project.

Anyone wanting to sign the referendum petition can call 327-5411 or email, or visit the Cruise Port Referendum’s Facebook page for more information.

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Category: Business, Local News, Tourism

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s official!!! ALDEN and the PPM are FAKE NEWS!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    With so many votes against the port and just overall the number of people who do not support the plan, i’d love to see government pull a Kim Jong Un and stomp all over our human rights and go against it’s own people who they reperesent so that we can kick off a revolution their face.

  3. Anonymous says:


    Let the Referendum happen. For your own sakes and that of the people. Protect yourselves if nothing else. This project could be disastrous.

    Unna try so listen na man!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I would be interested to know what the organisers would like the referendum question to say, given that they have indicated that it is not a yes/no vote on the building of the piers & cargo dock.

  5. Anonymous says:

    …yet they called me crazy when the first calls for a port referendum were expressed here on CNS.

    – Who

    #signthepetition #haveyoursay #pir #section70 #alldayeveryday

    • Anonymous says:

      CHEC & Decco/Dart are going to build this no matter what the people say. They control the big picture and our government. Such a shame

      • Anonymous says:

        CHEC is a red herring / distraction in order to slide in the real b.s..

        If Decco takes it over he won’t stick to the duty free business model currently in place.

        Like myself he is wise enough to realize that is an outdated endeavour (wearable tech is quickly dominating and replacing) and should be diversified.

        For the above reasons, many are convinced the claims re an offer to buy / bailout the cash-strapped owners contingent on a port being attached thereto are factual.

        Personally, I couldn’t care less.
        I simply believe the proposed port will be such a game-changer for the island it warrants a national vote.

        – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      I support this project just to piss you off.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t worry Who we will still call you crazy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A revised EIA must be done by a credible third party (not papered-over in hindsight by a winning bidder), after a design has been formulated and approved by marine engineers, with input from geologic teams. This isn’t a dead 40 foot protected Harbour quarrying into a granite bottom. An order book that matches Cabinet’s misrepresentation might also help. Certain realistic dichotomies need to enter the discussion, even before an EIA can begin.

  7. Weapons Grade Bollocks says:

    Dear Government

    The time has come to accept that it’s no longer only the “vocal minority” described by the government that have serious concerns and are demanding answers about this project. The government PR campaign and radio adverts has been an expensive failure and there are now even more questions than answers from multiple stakeholders. This has been a huge mess from day one shrouded in darkness due to a lack of transparency which could have been avoided. Worse we now know the government and pro-port lobby are willing to mislead the public in order to advance their own self interests using public funds.

  8. Capt. Planet says:

    Amazing how a Dwayne Seymour Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housing can get on the radio and defend building a cruise pier after just 1 talk with the Minister of Tourism, yet cannot use the same radio outlet to defend the environment that he is currently responsible for. If he does not believe in the merits of a safe and clean environment he should be removed from that portfolio.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This dock is probably going to be the biggest mistake Cayman will ever make (and that’s saying something considering the daily bad decisions this government makes). This port will cause massive environmental damage as well as cost the people at well over CI$300 million (no plan or figures that show we will ever make the money back).

    I’m just sickened, disheartened and angry that Alden could even say he has a mandate to build this port. I’m whole heartedly against this port but I still feel this should go up for a vote. If the Caymanian people really want this port, they will voice their support for it in a referendum.

    I will still think it’s a terrible and stupid idea, but at least the people made the choice and not Kirkconnel and Alden.

    • Anonymous says:

      To:10 :02 . Don’t you all realise that Mr McLaughlin is having very little say , don’t want any fingers pointing at when shit hits the fan ,same he’s doing with the gay issues ….never mind sir , all fingers will still point to you ,this is what happens when you want to be boss .em huh .

  10. Anonymous says:

    The government is engaged in a campaign to tell people falsely that voting for a referendum will stop the port. They are telling people NOT to exercise their democratic right when if the referendum was held and the people voted yes then it would be a done deal. They know people don’t want it and don’t want to chance being told so. The petition will get the signatures it needs, give it time the people are using their voices loud and clear.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If and when the referendum hits it’s mark and the vote is cast, if the vote is no, this deal should be struck forever down and a vote of no confidence should be brought forward against Moses, Alden and Mac.

    • Anonymous says:

      Petitioning the Governor to dissolve the LA, and call early elections is another idea. Unfortunately, we haven’t broadened the eligibility or education requirements to allow a competitive pre-election campaign from newer, smarter (and possibly ineligible-by-design) democracy-loving Caymanians. We’ll need to do that before the next election. Other things that don’t go away on their own: the refusal to enact the Standards in Public Life Law (required pursuant to Cayman Constitution Order 2009); ongoing double-dipping pension and salary perks; irrevocable Honorable-for-life monickers, unchecked protocol expenses, and other 3rd world kleptocrat comforts.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I call for a vote of no confidence to be brought to the MLA or an immediate General Election and I call for a policy of 1 and done and immediate bar of anyone who has served. Once you have been elected and then left your post for whatever reason you can no longer be considered for re-election again period. We have no professional politicians, all we have are bunch of business men and women who politic on the side.

    The CIG has been a laughing stock and has made the Cayman Islands one along with it, it is filled with greed and corruption and it is time we the people took our government back from those who only care to line their pockets with OUR money and the pockets of their select friends, family and cronies.

    I saw it’s time we get the wall ready and start lining people up against it.

    • Anonymous says:

      We need to broaden the Caymanian-eligibility requirements to deepen the pool of candidates to get beyond the predictable “club reshuffle”, and then raise the education threshold and let the best candidates win through mandatory debates. If there is only one or two people eligible and willing in a certain district (as we’ve seen in the past), both of them morons, then we have much bigger problems. I spoiled my ballot in last two elections because I had NOBODY I could vote for in good conscience. That’s a problem. Engrained party politics do-nothing “yes-men” are still a problem as well. Our machine is geared to produce only one of two results – current regime being a glitched blend of both losing camps!

  13. #FACTS says:

    The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009

    People-initiated referendums

    70.—(1) Without prejudice to section 69, a law enacted by the Legislature shall make provision to hold a referendum amongst persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90 on a matter or matters of national importance that do not contravene any part of the Bill of Rights or
    any other part of this Constitution.

    (2) Before a referendum under this section may be held—
    (a) there shall be presented to the Cabinet a petition signed by not less than 25 per cent of persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90;
    (b) the Cabinet shall settle the wording of a referendum question or questions within a reasonable time period as prescribed by law; and
    (c) the Cabinet shall make a determination on the date the referendum shall be held in a manner prescribed by law.

    (3) Subject to this Constitution, a referendum under this section shall be binding on the Government and the Legislature if assented to by more than 50 per cent of persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90.

    #Petition #Referendum #Cayman #Constitution

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope the new Governor will step in to ensure proper governance and a fair vote.

      • Anonymous says:

        But remember what Keevie told him during his “welcoming” speech? Even so, I believe the Governor will keep his eyes wide open and discern ignorance – and rampant greed for money and power – when it gets spewed out.. Just hope he doesn’t get spirited away in the middle of the night by the FCO before he can ensure compliance with our laws and transparent governance.

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