CPR lawyers defend judge’s ruling

| 08/05/2020 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service
Lawyer Kate McClymont with her client, Shirley Roulstone

(CNS): The judge presiding over the successful legal challenge by Shirley Roulstone, a member of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, to the bill government passed last year paving the way for a people’s vote did not get it wrong when he found it was unconstitutional, lawyer Chris Butler said Thursday.

Outlining a catalogue of problems with the legislation, he defended the decision by Justice Tim Owen, who quashed the law earlier this year.

Although there will not be a referendum this year on the subject, as government has said the cruise port project is no longer on its agenda for the remainder of this administration, Premier Alden McLaughlin said recently that the government had pursued the appeal against the court’s findings to defend a principle.

But the case was argued over the last two days, via Zoom, in detail and Butler, in his defence of the Grand Court’s decision, once again raised the catalogue of problems that the Port Referendum Law, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly last October, had presented, from campaign financing to voter registration.

Instructed by the local firm Broadhursts and attorney Kate McClymont to help the campaigners, Butler pressed the point that it was clear government needed a general, or framework law, to guide all people-initiated referendums to ensure the process was fair. He argued that a basic law would govern the process from the launch of a petition to the information supplied by government, all of which was absent in this case.

Butler argued that the judge in the judicial review had rightly concluded that a general law was required to provide the structural safeguard for a more neutral approach and address the massive flaws present in the legislation that was enacted. He warned that setting the ground rules vote-by-vote, which is what the government did in this case, undermines the constitutional provision for a people’s vote.

Butler pointed out that legislators will already have an inherent bias against such direct democracy, which takes major policy decisions out of their hands and into those of the people. Therefore, a government campaigning against a petition and then a people-led vote would have every reason to tip the rules in their favour.

The omission of campaign finance rules in the Port Referendum Law was a deliberate choice, Butler told the appeal court, which resulted in the government outspending the referendum campaigners in the case by six times. They also got access to some 4,000 free adverts on state-run media, in this case Radio Cayman, illustrating the significant bias this law created in relation to the proposed people’s vote.

Butler also argued that the government directly mislead the people because there was no rule to prevent them from doing so in the absence of a general law. For example, the government had claimed that it would relocate or grow ten times the amount of coral lost through dredging, which was simply not possible. He also pointed to the incorrect claims government had made in its brochures over the economic losses, which were way off from reality.

While Butler completed his response to the government appeal, the public streaming was lost during the time Alan Maclean QC made his rebuttal on behalf of government. From what we were able to view, however, the government attorney argued that the government had a right to bias because it was its policy decision and it had campaigned to build a cruise port during previous elections.

Although the case ended Thursday, the appeal court did not state when the judges on the panel would deliver their decision.

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Category: development, Local News, Policy, Politics

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    God has spoken in a loud voice. Listen to Him.

  2. Rigjt but make no sense says:

    They don’t stand a chance even against a first year law student. The judicial has made several decisions that has encroached on Parliament supremacy recently. The Government is right.
    Ps we still don’t need the dock. Cruise will never be the same again. Everyone will have to wear a mask among other extreme measures by last year standards which will same strange a first.
    Cruise liners condiucted a survey recently and only 1 out of every ten people say they will cruise within the next year. Cruising is dead for now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Gratitude extended to the CPR group is immeasurable. It was beyond uplifting to see Chris Buttler demonstrating a genuine conviction with the submissions against the appeal, ‘right really does matter’. I sensed appointed Govt Counsel was there to submit more for process and probably knew he was wasting his time as much as Aldart would have done beforehand. Why oh why Alden, you’re such a dipstick, – my money is on time will only fortify it.

    Thank you Extended CPR & Ms Roulstone, thank you very much indeed.

    • Anonymous says:

      To 5.30pm Addressing your comment to some fictitious character makes you the Govt dipstick.

    • Johann Moxam says:

      The Premier Alden McLaughlin and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell should publicly acknowledge and thank everyone that signed the petition for Cayman’s historic People’s initiated referendum under Sec. 70 of the Constitution 2009. The actions of ordinary citizens helped to prevent certain doom and is the best example of what is possible when the public engage and embrace principles of participatory democracy.

      The Premier, Deputy Premier & Minister of Tourism Kirkconnell and Cabinet members that supported the CBF project should also thank every member of CPR and all “Rascals” that make up the group. We are a diverse group of concerned citizens and long term residents that worked together to save this country and our delusional MLA’s from certain financial ruin by exercising our rights enshrined in the Constitution. I think it is fair to conclude that ordinary citizens prevented the PPM led UNITY government from another expensive mistake given its track record whilst demonstrating the power does rest in the people.

      Caymanian citizens organized themselves into a grass roots initiative based primarily on the long term concerns and lack of transparency by the government regarding the negative environmental, financial and socio-economic impacts the project could potentially have on the country. We sought to prevent our country and governments from becoming beholden to unscrupulous cruise lines that have been exposed for what they truly represent.

      Cayman dodged a bullet because of citizens standing up and exposing a government that was more inclined to represent the cruise lines and Verdant Isles Port Partners (“VIPP”) and other special interests groups than their own constituents. Our elected government consistently misrepresented the truth and lied to citizens as they sought to mortgage our future for a cruise berthing facility Cayman does not need given the other priorities the country has including a substandard public education system, high costs of living, high costs of doing business, excessive bureaucracy, lack of training and development of human capital, rising crime and safety concerns and systemic corruption.

      I hope all citizens will see the value in working together, getting organized and understand that the team is more important than any individual. It is important that the public become more comfortable in expressing themselves by addressing their concerns and offering solutions that will help make Cayman a better place for all not just a select few or those deemed worthy or special by any elected government(s). We must continue to work together to protect OUR COUNTRY for this and future generations.

      In closing, it is imperative that there is one standard of accountability, transparency , good governance and justice applied in every situation regarding expenditure of public funds and potential mismanagement by elected officials and public officers to give the public confidence in the system. Therefore, it is important to publicly ask…where is the investigation by the Auditor General’s office and potentially by the Anti-Corruption commission? The public deserve to know the truth and hold all parties accountable for their roles as this entire charade of transparency and KYD 9million spent from the public purse as confirmed by the Premier is also a matter of national importance.

      Best regards

      Johann Moxam

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