Premier plans appeal over port vote ruling

| 19/02/2020 | 127 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at a public meeting about the cruise port, Nov 2019

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin issued a very short statement in the wake of Justice Tim Owen’s ruling Wednesday, in which he confirmed that government would be taking advantage of the judge’s offer to grant leave to appeal in the case. Despite the damning findings of the judge about how government handled the case, McLaughlin showed no regret about his approach. Meanwhile, Shirley Roulstone and the Cruise Port Referendum group were celebrating a real victory for the people.

As the CPR were enjoying a major high point on a journey that has been at times exceptionally challenging, the premier was in a very different mood but still unrepentant.

He said, “Understandably, the ruling… handed down this morning is not the outcome that the Government had hoped for. While the Court determined that the Referendum Law was incompatible with section 70 of the Constitution, the question of the appropriate relief to be granted is still outstanding. We understand that it will take some time before an order on this issue is made.”

However, the judge made it perfectly clear that before anything else can happened regarding this specific people’s vote on the cruise project, government must first pass framework legislation to support the constitutional provision.

McLaughlin said that, pending the official order, government would appeal but it would also “take time to consider its next steps regarding the port project, and will issue another statement in due course”.

Justice Owen had said that, given that this was an unusual case with no precedence in law anywhere, it would be unfair not to allow government to appeal the decision.

While the premier was enduring another bad day in a difficult week for his administration, the CPR members were ecstatic.

“Today’s ruling is proof that citizens can and must monitor the actions of their government and be ready to challenge the government when its action or inaction is contrary to the standards of fairness, good governance and democracy,” said Shirley Roulstone of CPR, who brought the successful legal challenge.

Roulstone thanked her legal team, Kate McClymont and Richard Parrish of Broadhurst LLC and Chris Buttler and Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers, “for having the conviction to represent me despite political adversity and for providing clear, logical and legally sound advice throughout this process”.

She also thanked the National Trust for joining the judicial review and providing important evidence on the devastating environmental impact that the proposed cruise berthing facility will have and the way the government has mislead the public about that impact.

McClymont said the fairness of referendums, like elections, is one of the cornerstones of democracy.

“This is a landmark decision that is likely to result in the referendum on the proposed cruise ship berthing facility, and future people-initiated referenda, being conducted more fairly than would otherwise have been the case,” she said. “Provided the Legislature adopts the recommendations… it is also likely to result in the public being provided with more balanced information on which to make an informed decision when the time comes to vote in the referendum.”

CPR’s Johann Moxam thanked Roulstone for her “bravery, tenacity and dedication to her country. He said, “She stood up against an attempt at injustice at the highest level and won. We are proud to include her amongst our executive committee and to have her represent us and the people of the Cayman Islands in this important case.”

Government has acknowledged that it would be preferable to have a general law in place and plans to bring one to the LA in the second half of this year. But following this ruling, it will now have to do that before it goes ahead with the port vote. CPR is urging the government to get it right this time.

“We encourage our elected officials to engage with stakeholders and seek input on the drafting before passing the next Referendum Bill into law,” CPR urged. “The next referendum legislation should strive for the highest standards of good governance and to provide equality, fairness, transparency, objectivity on the part of government.”

The campaigners said they did not oppose holding the referendum on the same day as the next general election, in May 2021. “Campaigning, whether for a general election or a referendum, takes government focus and energy away from the many other pressing social and economic issues currently faced by the community,” the activists said. “There is therefore an economy achieved by consolidating those two campaigning periods into one.”

Meanwhile, the National Trust, which is understood to be working on a fully fledged law suit regarding the environmental implications of this project, released a statement welcoming the ruling but also raising concerns about government’s decision to appeal.

“Any appeal will inevitably proceed to the Privy Council with the resulting costs and delay,” the Trust stated. It called on government to undertake and release all of the environmental related information necessary for the people to make a decision in this vote and to stop posting misleading information on its port-promo social media pages and website.

The Trust also called on the governor “to convene a public, independently chaired enquiry to examine all of the economic, environmental and social issues which the proposal raises.”

See the full statements from the CPR and NT in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (127)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, wasting more government money to support his retailer friend? Really?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So I voted once during the general election WHEN THE PORT WAS ON THE BALLOT.

    Now CPR wants to force me to vote AGAIN because they didn’t like the way my vote turned out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, because its all about you and only you isn’t it? They way you write your comment and the righteous belligerence of it show that you do not have the brain to be able to analyse all information properly and vote on an informed basis. You probably also work at one of the port shops and therefore in your interest to be cantankerous. The law says a referendum must be held if enough people sign a petition for it. They did. So now you DONT WANT to vote again, denying their rights at law? OK, that’s fine, just don’t vote if its too difficult for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The port was never on the ballot. It was part of Alden’s manifest but remember, they didn’t win a majority so never had a clear mandate to carry it out – a coalition or a so called Unity government was set up. These are the facts.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My fellow Caymanians. Change MUST come NOW.

    Instead of bit***** , moaning, wishing, wanting change and saying wait ’til 2021, we MUST remember the power is in ourcourt.

    As a people, it’s time for a ‘PEOPLE FEDUP MARCH’. Call in the foreign media if we have to.

    As a people, we have been passive for too lobg. The only too people I see that have the balls to stand up for the injustice in our country are two brave souls who biologically went born with them.

    Enough is enough. My fellow Caymanians, we all are going to regret all the decisions that have been made, are being made and will be made by the politicians of our country if we do not stop being a passive people.

    It is very clear that it is only but one or two of the politicians who give a hoot about us, so our actions need to speak louder than our words. RISE UP CAYMAN (in a non-violent way) and let us take back our country before we all will have to leave these beloved shores.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Your country is deeply divided while your leaders pray and praise and dine.

    400 people breakfast, which was well attended, was paid for by government.

    “ “It is also vital that we maintain our Christian values of respecting others and not tolerating hatred, despite any differences we may have,” he [the Governor] told the ministers of faith, lawmakers and members of the public who attended the breakfast.”

    Do they live in a different reality? Are they blind and deaf?

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 9.07am You are a bigot . Stop discriminating and preaching hate against religion. Bigoi

  5. Anonymous says:

    Fear not Honorable Premier, suspend the constitution and take over the country as these rabble rousers are going to destroy all the great things you have done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Alden lost any credibility left in him being a good Leader for Cayman when he procrastinated about deadlines.
    Did he think all his wining and dining was enough? Blacklisted. It will forever be in Cayman’s history now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    so this becomes either an issue for the next election or a referendum alongside the people casting their ballots on the next election. That seems like a decent way to govern.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If the Premier wishes to appeal this decision it should not be from the public purse, obviously the people have spoken and the courts too. So let him use his own salary to appeal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well this is what people get for electing such arrogant self-serving politicians and the cronies they surround themselves with. We turn these people loose to learn on the job since they haven’t managed or lead anything of any success before. Neither have many of them lived or studied abroad for any significant period of time and have no management training much less leadership. Leaders are supposed to inspire their people but how can they when they are so envious and jealous of the very people they are supposed to serve.

    So let us not be surprised when they fail at everything they turn to.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Poor Alden. Your own people hate you and love Bush. Do you still want to represent them?

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