Referendum Q must be based on petition

| 04/06/2019 | 35 Comments

Ezzard Miller on the panel at the Cruise Port Referendum meeting

(CNS): How the question for the people-initiated referendum on the cruise berthing project will be phrased is becoming a significant issue now that activists have reached the required number of signatures to trigger a national poll. With the official verification of the 5,500 voter signatures due to start soon, campaigners are turning their attention towards how they can ensure that the question is not manipulated to create an unfair referendum. Former opposition leader Ezzard Miller, who has supported the campaign from the beginning, said it must be based on the petition itself.

During a public meeting about the cruise project in George Town last week, when the issue was raised by audience members and campaigners, Miller said that the petition prayer has to form the basis of the question.

Speaking with CNS this week, he said it was important that the activists make clear what they want the referendum question to be, even though the question is government’s to set.

“The prayer at the beginning of the petition is what the people signed up for and the government should not be allowed to wander away from that,” he said. “Government is obligated to stay within the parameters of the petition and organisers should draft a simple question based on that prayer that would require a yes or no answer, then publicise that question to put pressure on government.”

The North Side representative, who has been a loud and vocal opponent of this project from the start, said it should be made clear that the request for a people-initiated referendum was based on the public support, or not, of the current proposed port project, not government’s wider tourism policies.

Cayman News Service

Ezzard Miller, Linda Clark and Kenneth Bryan sit on the panel at the Cruise Port Referendum meeting

Miller believes government does not have much wiggle room on this but it is important for the campaign to keep this in the public domain and force government to be transparent.

He noted that there are going to be many other questions surrounding the Cayman Islands’ first-ever people’s referendum, which is largely due to the failure of successive governments to pass the necessary legislation to support referendums.

“The problem is the apparent unwillingness over the last ten years of government to write the law needed to support referendums,” he added.

MLA Kenneth Bryan (George Town Central), in whose constituency this project would be built, also said the question must come from the petition.

“There is a genuine fear of the question being framed in such a way as to favour the government’s support of the project. We need to be mindful of the potential manipulation of the referendum,” he said, noting that it will have to go to the Legislative Assembly to be passed, ensuring there will be publicity surrounding the question.

“The foundation of the petition has to be the source of the question, otherwise what is the point of having the constitutional provision for people-initiated referendums if they can’t initiate the subject?” he asked rhetorically.

The idea of people power being the buffer against the government, which is very likely to want to use its power to control the timing and question for the vote, is the only tool the activists have.

During the meeting local photographer and longtime opponent of the port project, Courtney Platt, was the first to suggest that the campaign needed to make it clear what question the petitioners want to be asked and then make it public as soon as possible.

He pointed out that if government then attempts to stray towards a much more generic question to help them keep the port project on track, they will be doing it in the face of a well-publicised and clearly defined question.

Activists may end up in court over the referendum for a variety of reasons; for example, there is speculation that government may challenge the referendum by questioning whether it is an issue of national importance, and activists may challenge the question government wants to pose.

Therefore, having a clearly defined question based directly on the petition would improve the activists’ chances of winning any court battles.

There is no argument from either side of this issue that the question will be critical to the results of the national vote. But with everything already stacked against them, the campaigners need a clear and unambiguous question if they are to have any chance of securing the 50% plus one of voters on their side when the referendum goes ahead.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why not make a referendum on how many times one can visit the bath room per day while you at it. L O L

  2. Patricia Bryan says:

    My view is that this entire cruise berth was already at the door to getting the green light, and one major contributory factor to the adapted one-man, one-vote constituency for the last election. The anticipated winning candidate of the district where the dock would go would likely almost sail along with the project. I don’t believe anyone aside for non-supporters anticipated any other candidate would have been elected other than who wasn’t, and caused upheaval in the project.
    While I do not support any one candidate of any electoral district but offer support of issues in districts, the berth really is a serious project that cannot be ridden like a horse. This is a “shark infested-waters” project for Grand Cayman.

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  3. Ron Ebanks says:

    @10:24am I know more than you and John Snow and Kirk bots put together , but you don’t want to acknowledge it , that is how bullies do it .

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      @10 :24am to be really honest with you , you should be ashamed of yourself for taking sides with a political party and defaming the Citizens just to please your cronies..

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  4. Anonymous says:

    The bottom line is that a lot of voters were taken advantage of.
    They were con or harassed into signing the petition by telling people,
    “we just want information”.
    As I got closer to thinking about signing so that I can get “more information”, I start to also ask questions, like “what information do I not know”?
    Turns out, I ask question about the signing of this trigger, then all of a sudden I was being ridiculed and being insulted and such.

    So in all fairness the referendum question should read.
    “do you want more details of the proposed port and what details would you want”?

    I’m not sure if its not as obvious, but it is very clear of what is the agenda of being against the port.
    The Government agenda is simple. To have an upgraded port.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    When registering as an Elector on Form 4, Section 11, why does the applicant have to specify whether they are male or female sex? What possible reason does that extra data field serve? What if that Caymanian adult identifies with neither sex, an UN Human Right, do they not get to vote? Why do they have to specify whether they are physically (and not mentally) incapacitated? Why does occupation matter?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because the checking of the role is based upon public scrutiny and the ability to differentiate ‘Pat Ebanks, the woman who works at the Esso station down the road & votes in my district’ from ‘Pat Ebanks, the guy who does plumbing and lives & votes in another district’. Old fashioned, yes, but it was an early form of crowd-sourcing. By deputizing everyone to review the register, including the politically motivated, there were a lot of people motivated to check the list to make sure it was right. (‘Pat Ebanks, the barber / hair dresser, why aren’t you on the list?’) This was before privacy was as much of a concern because ‘everyone’ knew who you were and it was too expensive/difficult for ‘anyone else’ (who didn’t already know the electoral information) to get copy and try to scam you with it.

      Whether the system is still fit for purpose, needs refining, or replacing, in this day and age is a different question than the one answered above.

  6. Anonymous says:

    While I do not agree with many things Ezzard says, he adds a very important voice of non-conformity, often representing the people.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When the will of the people becomes non-conformist, what does that tell you about the health of our democracy and our leadership?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    This is just typical rich caymanians not wanting to listen to the lower class. It’s all about the enhancement of their own personal wealth

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  8. Ron Ebanks says:

    The voters should stand behind the petition and demand that Government listen to us to avoid expenses and grief .

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  9. Ron Ebanks says:

    I think that the Government has every intentions of derailing the whole petition. Do we see the decision Mr Howell has come up with , No members from the CPR , and from CPCF will be present during the verification process . Now if one person from each group was present and can verify that the verification was done honestly and fair , how can either side dispute the outcome.
    But there will be a all kinds of disbelief when you don’t see it be done , and here comes other problems after .. .

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ron, with all due respect, you know as much as Jon Snow.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Or Donald Trump

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        • Anonymous says:

          4:31 pm, ir you knew as much as Donald Trump, you would be the billionaire .

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          • Anonymous says:

            1. Trump received the equivalent of over US$400 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate activities – having earned US$200,000 a year in today’s dollars by age three. Most of us with that sort of head start would be able to earn a bit.

            2. We don’t know if he is actually a billionaire. He says he is but he lies a lot.

            3. Most of his businesses failed.

            4. None of the banks would lend him money except for Deutsche Bank for rather murky reasons.

            5. He got money from Russian banks for murky reasons.

            6. He’s an idiot. The proof of this is every time he opens his mouth.

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            • Anonymous says:

              9:04 am, its funny, he is the President of the most powerful country and you is not even primer of tiny Cayman

    • Anonymous says:

      Who will verify the verifiers?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not derail but throw it away in the trash as that is where it belongs. All these trouble makers are gonna get ot.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    How many more new voters are we expecting to be added to the Register, this month? It’s as if this regime is trying to stall out the formal count until the new voters are added in an effort to dilute the petition below the 25%. Nothing would surprise me at this stage. CPR should keep earnestly gathering those signatures…

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    • Anonymous says:

      My friend it was the CPR group telling people to sign up to vote and to sign the petition. It was not the Government. You should not now play both sides – saying please sign the petition and then sign up to vote – then when the electors list grows you become concerned that the number to trigger a referendum has also grown. Its you own fault.

      A seldom understood rule of political electioneering is ‘do not sign up a new voter unless you know how he/she will vote’. You may be disappointed. Another is that at all times you must know the number of votes you need to win and – get that number plus one. Growing the electors list makes your job harder.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Logic would dictate that the “as of” Petition Submission date and “registered voter count” for triggering a Referendum wouldn’t be different dates and quantities, set by an obscuring regime – especially when the guy in charge of being “impartial” works directly for the Premier’s office and there is no Referendum law. This is Banana Republic stuff, not modern democracy, if that’s indeed the Unity self-preservation strategy.

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        • Anonymous says:

          OK, play that logic out. Petition gets filed on Day 0. I register on the electoral roles (turn 18, whatever) on Day 3. Referendum happens on day 115. But the elections office has had to keep track that on referendum day although I’m a legal voter I can’t vote in the referendum?

          Lets be honest. The number of extra people who get added to the role each period is so small that its not going to make a difference.

          • Anonymous says:

            You joking? At the rate people are being granted status? The entire demographic of electiors will very soon be unrecognizable.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    There can be no referendum question without a referendum being triggered.

    There can be no referendum triggered without names on a petition being confirmed.

    There can be no names on a petition confirmed unless a petition was given to the elections office.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    When it’s >25% of the electoral roll, can that still be dismissed as “activism”? This effort isn’t a hobby, or something anyone really wants to have to be doing.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    None of this matters if they still have not handed in the signatures. Howell told the crowd of us there at that meeting that the petition does not exist until the signatures have been verified.

    The goal of CPR is not to win a referendum. CPR wants to delay the project.

    This is why they waited until now to even ask the elections office what the process is for verification.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They knew all along that the elections office had to verify the names themselves. Its no surprise. They have not even presented a list as yet – and they claim Government wants to hold things up.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Thought that Kenny wanted their to be referendi. Can he not make up his mind?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear. CNS is going to get you on “referendi” – didn’t you see the posting last time someone got the Latin wrong? And it’s “there” not “their”. Spello’s in two languages in a single post 😉

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      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps CNS could comment on the below:

        ref·er·en·dum.

        [ˌrefəˈrendəm]

        NOUN

        referenda (plural noun)

        a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.

        CNS: I can only repeat what I’ve written before, with the addendum that online dictionaries are sometimes wrong. ‘Referendum’ is not a Latin noun; it is an English noun derived from the gerund of the Latin verb ‘referre’. The plural is therefore ‘referendums’, following the usual English plural. It is sometimes (wrongly in most considered opinion) treated as a Latin noun ending in -um (2nd declension neuter), which means the plural would be -a. ‘Referendi’ is not a word.

        It is also true that language changes and one of the ways that happens is that grammatical errors become so commonplace that they are absorbed to the extent that, sadly, they are no longer considered errors. Still, ‘referendums’ is correct by any measure and has the added benefit of not being pretentious.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks CNS. So I guess the crux of your argument is whether the word “referendum” is considered a Latin or English origin word. Other sources disagree with you that the word origin is not Latin. If it is considered Latin the plural form is referenda and if it is considered English the plural form is referendums.

          Somehow referenda rings better to the ear.

          CNS: No, that’s not what I said. There’s no doubt that it was derived from a Latin word, but it was not a noun. ‘Referenda’ is in fairly common use because people have assumed it is a Latin noun, so you would be far from alone if you use it and it may be one of those occasions where the error is so common that it is considered correct. So feel free.

  15. Anonymous says:

    They still think there will be a referendum? LOL

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    • Anonymous says:

      If Cabinet does not tee the referendum up, it will be taken to court. If Cabinet tries to sign something with a court case active, the judge can be asked for an injunction to stop it. If Cabinet tries to sign something even without a court case active, a judge can be asked for an injunction to stop them even signing. Then you bring in appeals causing further delays. It won’t go well for CIG. Their best shot is still to organise the referendum but set it up to fail and it’s probably what they will do. That is, if Wesley Howell doesn’t conveniently find his boss enough technical objections to signatures to bring the total verified below the required number…

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      • Al Catraz says:

        “If Cabinet does not tee the referendum up, it will be taken to court.”

        Ha. Court. As if.

        Did Chantelle and Vickie win their case in court? Yes.

        Are they married? No.

        Court. Lol. Hoo boy, that’s funny.

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