QC stresses untruths over port marine damage

| 12/05/2020 | 52 Comments
Cayman News Service
Coral reef within George Town Harbour (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government engaged in what was “little short of a propaganda campaign”, misleading the public about the impact the proposed cruise port development would have on the marine environment, a lawyer representing the National Trust argued last week. Tom Lowe QC told the appeal court that the Trust “was shocked” by this because it was not just a few falsehoods but “a wholly imbalanced misleading campaign masquerading as objective”.

Lowe took part in an appeal last week brought by government to overturn the decision of Justice Tim Owen earlier this year. The judge had found that government’s referendum law, which was passed in the wake of a successful petition to vote on the port project, was unconstitutional.

Justice Owen, who heard the application for a judicial review by Shirley Roulstone, a member of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, had decided in her favour. He ordered government to quash the legislation and begin with a general law to guide all people-initiated referendums provided for in the Constitution, which he said should be done before it could go on to pass a specific referendum law to meet the request of this particular petition.

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands had joined that action as a supporting party but had focused on the arguments made by Roulstone’s legal team in the successful Grand Court case over the requirement that a referendum campaign be fair and objective.

Speaking on behalf of his client during the appeal last week, Lowe argued that once the petition was launched and government began campaigning against the idea of a people’s vote, it had made false claims about the George Town Harbour and the reefs within it.

The National Trust believes the use of public funds to flood the airwaves with misleading information and the enlistment of civil servants ought to have been regulated, and the publication of misleading material ought to have been prohibited. The Trusts says this is all the more important because the environmental issues remain at the heart of the matters surrounding the proposed development and the public opposition to it.

The lawyer spoke about the untruthful claims government had made that there was little coral in the harbour any more because it had been destroyed by cruise ship anchors. Lowe showed the appeal court judges pictures of the actual reefs, the quality of the marine habitat and the endangered species that were in the firing line from the project.

Lowe said government failed to accurately explain the significant level of coral destruction, exaggerated the proposed coral relocation programme and promoted the unproven regrowth technology.

He said the government’s action to remove the protected status of the George Town Harbour under the National Conservation Law demonstrated that the CIG knew very well that it was going to be assaulting the marine habitat, which he argued would run afoul of the NCL.

Lowe described government’s message that there was very little reef left to damage was a “constant barrage of imbalanced unobjective and misleading information”. He said that, coming at the issue from an old fashioned perspective and setting aside the technical arguments on why the referendum law was illegal, it was clear from this misleading campaign that there “ought to be a law against this”.

“This was little short of official propaganda,” Lowe told the appeal judges last week, compounded by the fact that it was coming from the civil service. Lowe argued that there was clearly “mischief” on the part of the government that needed to be addressed in the referendum law.

The appeal case concluded last Thursday but there has been no indication when the judges will deliver their decision.

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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Policy, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (52)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    QC Lowe both you and your client the National Trust have not done your homework, nor have you both carried out intense due diligence in any research in this case. What is alarming is that you have both not reviewed or read the enormous amount of documentation that has been shared publicly by the CIG. the original EIA for instance is 2400 pages physically representing two volumes each 6 inches thick. Then add all the additional reports, papers and studies available to the public from the CIG and you are probably close to double the size of the original EIA. Obviously both you and your client are not divers and have never dived in the harbour. The destruction of coral and the marine environment from cruise ships anchoring in the harbour over the past 40 years is absolutely enormous and the coral you refer two is coral further inshore and to the north of the proposed port cruise and cargo project. The entire design and configuration of this project was moved way further to the south away from the coral inshore to the north in order to protect and preserve as much coral as possible and to minimize all dredging in the harbour. The dredging volumes were reduced to 24% of the original proposals over the past 30 years and that alone is a reduction of 76% of required dredging. You and your client are oblivious to the real and truthful facts surrounding this project and your entire case together with the CPR is based on your own propaganda and untruthful fake facts and false arguments in this case. The port my friend if you do not know is the sole life line to this country with out it we would not exist and the CPR and the Trust know not what they have really done in obstructing this project and the damage and enormous costs they have now created in the country for every resident to bare. The fall out from all of this is that we will remain in the dark ages with the third worst port facilities in the entire region of the Caribbean, Central and South America with only Monserrat and Turks & Caicos behind us. Thank you CPR and the National Trust for your destructive obstruction to the country’s infrastructural nation building. Shame on all of you.

    • Morgan Williams says:

      Shame on us for wanting to preserve the beauty and wildlife of the Cayman Islands and the surrounding underwater paradise? What kind of fool are you? I say, “Shame on you” for your lies! And you don’t even have the guts to sign your name!

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow. those are some specific facts considering the updated EIA hasn’t been conducted. Care to share your source?

      Or are you just blowing smoke?

    • JTB says:

      I suggest you read Nadia Hardie’s affidavit in support of the Trust’s case before spouting such ignorant, ill-informed rubbish

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like that word “mischief” is so right on! We all know there was a lot of this behind the push for this port.

    • You never know says:

      What is do mischievous about the QCs argument on the viral distraction is that he showed pictures whose time like we’re not validated, I.e the court could not be shown the date these were taken which I’m beginning to suspect were a good 10-15 years ago. Judges if you read this please verify before you pass judgment!

      • Anonymous says:

        I can’t believe, that after not one but TWO government commissioned reports (the EIA, and the attempted counter-EIA) both showed pictures from their survey of live coral in the dredging footprint in GT habour that this baloney is still being pushed. – Stop trying to keep people ignorant.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This Coronavirus thing made me temporarily forget what a terrible government we have.

    The outrageous photo of McKeeva Bush in full ceremonial regalia despite the fact he has confessed to attacking women, despite being charged for it by police, and despite the fact we were told he is not currently acting as speaker, was bad enough.

    Now we have this proof that the government intentionally lied and misled us about a very, very important issue and clearly has no regard at all for the Islands’ natural beauty.

    We have an important job to do once we have beaten the virus, and that is to find honest leaders that are actually decent human beings and willing and able to do the job of representing the people.

    I firmly believe we will not find any of them among the current or former members of the legislative assembly, or from within the current political parties.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The 15 million that government wasted on this project would sure come in handy right about now.

  5. ADA says:

    I recently returned to visit the Cayman Islands after having been away for a number of years. On first impression the Cayman Islands felt very small and crowded. In part this can be explained by not having visited the Cayman Islands in a while, but in large part it is explained by the fact that government has tried to squeeze in as much cement as possible in every square inch of the island. The overall feeling was almost claustrophobic. Not good.

    The second thing that I came across is across some less than satisfactory service at a waterfront restaurant. I won’t name the establishment, but what I can say is that the service provided by two local staff members was poor – no smiles, no small talk, really nothing, nothing, nothing. Bland, unfriendly poor service…and on top of it all, they looked rather rough around the edges. I am all for local employment, but if you’re going to put someone forward as an ambassador for the islands, make sure it is the right person; and there are many locals Caymanians who could and would do an outstanding job.

    Lastly, adding piers or a port to the harbour is probably among the most foolish things that the CI government could have done. Not only would it have destroyed the marine environment, and potentially have had additional negative impacts on the sand of the five and a half mile beach, it is simply unnecessary. Dumping an additional few thousand of marauding tourists to the current numbers would benefit only a handful of people to the detriment of thousands. Solve the Dump issue first for the well-being of your population (it also doesn’t look all that pretty from the top of the ship), spend the money on the training of your citizens so that they’re more able to fully partake in the local economy, improve your health care, train your police force to be proactive versus reactive, and once you have done all that, burn all plans related to the port – it is a complete waste of your money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree with the restaurants statement.
      Perhaps this will show one arrogant and rude restaurant manager the importance of showing courtesy to local clients.

    • I think not. says:

      @1:26 am – Sorry, but I think you probably mistook an expat worker for a Caymanian. The reason I say this is because I’ve lived in Cayman for 40 years and I frequent just about every “waterfront restaurant” from South Sound to Northwest Point on a regular basis, and only the Westin has any Caymanian waitstaff. Also, if I recall correctly, they only have ONE, and not two. It is commonplace for tourists to believe that just about anyone here with a dark complexion is Caymanian. But you’re forgiven, a lot of expat residents here do it too. But we love!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I only saw parts of Tom Lowes’ submission, I hope it was made apparent the Govt was using the populations money to create and circulate the misleading information with no apparent ceiling on the amount of money to be used. It was kind of like Russia being directly on US turf with full license to influence a vote.

    Just struck me how useless scardey pants Governor was in overseeing this… smh

    • Anonymous says:

      Red bay dweller… I got a very expensive bag of port propaganda garbage on my door. That money would have helped supplement the NAU.

      • Anonymous says:

        China owns Jamaica port now…do we want the same in Cayman??

        • Anonymous says:

          Some people want the Chinese to own the port because they have a direct financial interest with the Chinese. China is moving into the Caribbean as American power is in decline.

        • Anonymous says:

          It was Mac that wanted the Chinese, and thank God the FCA stepped in, this govt rejected the Chinese.

          • Call 911 says:

            And some current cabinet members with heavy ties to Jamaican politics and political advisors. Ask McKkeva Joey and Moses

    • Just me. says:

      The same ones are now “leading” the way out of the corona virus problem and the economic disaster they are creating and Cayman Islands has no other alternative. Plan on leaving if you can for at least a year and if you can’t do the best you can under Caymans culturally driven plan. As for the cruise fiasco now you have a lawyer who is still getting paid the big bucks making sure everyone knows why. Just like Alden. Good luck Cayman. Look out for yourselves first. Just like CIG.

    • Anonymous says:

      What ridiculous rubbish!

  7. Anonymous says:

    There will NEVER be cruise berths on this island thankfully. This ‘government’ completely underestimated the strength of feeling against it and the public weren’t prepared to put up with their underhand dealings any longer. A wonderful victory for people power. Next stop, legalising gay marriage 🏳️‍🌈

    • Anonymous says:

      I was agreeing with you until the last sentence. I don’t mind them living together, but it is not a marriage.

      • XRP says:

        If you don’t mind them living together, what is the harm in allowing gay people to marry? Sorry, but don’t get the logic.

        • Anonymous says:

          I was the same until a viewpoint was explained to me about how many people view a ‘marriage’ as a specific sacred religious union and that only a man and woman can be ‘married’. That person fully supported legal gay unions and rights including parenting, all the way up to ‘marriage’. I don’t agree with it, but I did finally understand why some people view specifically the ‘marriage’ part as a problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good thing they don’t mind you living together. If they don’t have the same rights as you they might try and make your rights the same as theirs. Would you mind it then?

    • Anonymous says:

      Gay Marriage is already legal. All that remains is for government to accept that fact.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sorry but I do not agree with gay marriage. We are free to believe what we want, at least I think we are.
      Why? Because I believe it to be unnatural. That is my point of view. I am sure you have yours. I am not going to get violent because you disagree with me, neither will I censor you.
      I ask that you afford me the same right.

      • Anonymous says:

        Homosexuality is unnatural, but happens frequently in nature?

      • Anonymous says:

        So why should your belief affect their lives? It will not affect your way of life in the slightest.
        US Republicans believe and constantly drum on that Companies are like people, should they then legislate that liquidators are serial killers and jailed as such. The US president himself would be a serial killer if this was the case.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t get married to a gay person then. Be glad you have that right left.

      • Anonymous says:

        Weird how we can predict with 99.9 percent reliability that people who strongly oppose gay marriage are religious. Why is that? Why aren’t at least half of secular/rational people against gay marriage?

        Answer: Same reason you don’t see a lot of atheist suicide bombers. Religion, because of its basis in fantasy and delusion, easily makes many normal people abnormally mean and stupid.

      • JDempsey says:

        Replace “gay” with “inter-racial” in your first sentence and re-read it. Let me whether you still think it is a reasonable position.

        I don’t think anyone was talking about violence or censorship.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not much point in building it now anyway. Even if the cruise lines do survive who in their right mind will book a cruise after COVID-19?

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s in the Premier’s ethos!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CPR and National Trust for exposing the lies and the liars in this government and cruise lines that are modern day pirates of the Caribbean

  11. Unified and rotten says:

    Alden, Mac and the other Unity bunch need to be held accountable for hoodwinking the public. At the very least they need to be forced to pay back all the public monies used to fund this sham PR campaign.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone seriously believe that they will get the truth or justice from the government or any entities attached. That is about as likely as getting a none biased Labour Tribunal. They have the power to ignore the truth when it suits them!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Are they still wanting to build this stupid port??? What is wrong with them….

    • Anonymous says:

      They are frying bigger fish now – worried about the precedent of the people challenging their authority using the courts and the constitution.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Anyone surprised?

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      I have to admit to being a little surprised; when the Premier said that the port would not happen within his remaining administration (paraphrasing), I believed that to be his belief. Maybe it is.

      Simple questions: Are there any yet among us who are not completely grateful that the project was halted, especially within context of the viral pandemic?? Is there still anyone who believes that it is in the best financial interest of the Cayman Islands to build the damn thing, and to once again court the self-serving interests of the cruise industry??

      We dodged a major bullet. Imagine if construction would have started, and the project was partway through, awaiting continuance of construction, to put us on that horrible, horrible hook.

      I know there are Caymanians who have depended upon the cruise industry for their income. I hope we can help them move into other work. I personally hope we can find a way to do without the cruise industry. I don’t believe they are our friends, or anyone else’s.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t. But, for balance of opinion, recall that the cruise lines consortium said there was no direct CI payments, they had funding lined up and would recoup their money from the landing tax, and there were no numbers guarantees (on either side) so if the number of tourists dropped below projections the consortium would be the ones out of pocket, Cayman would not have to make up their losses through other (general) revenue sources. So, taking the above at face value we would have about a year of heavy construction during the upcoming economic downturn, using previously guaranteed loans (to the consortium), and if the tourists weren’t there when the docks were finished it wouldn’t cost the Cayman Islands anything (extra).

        (Do I think it would have worked out that way? No. But at face value it would not be illogical for there to be some people “yet among us who are not completely grateful that the project was halted, especially within context of the viral pandemic”. In fact, at face value, its those of us on this side of the fence being illogical.)

        • Anonymous says:

          You cannot trust the cruise lines or this government

        • Anonymous says:

          Or the cruise lines would have declared bankruptcy to escape the contract then would have sold the project in liquidation to the Chinese or Saudis and we would have a foreign controlled port.
          Now that would have been even worse. Wes dodged a major bullet and should be thankful.
          Cruise tourism on the scale promised and needed to support the dock is years, possibly decades, away.

          • Anonymous says:

            8:44 Light-years away. The old hulks that have been dropping cruise shippers off here for the past decade or so are now worth more as scrap than working vessels. The cruise industry will do what the airlines are doing and get rid off everything they don’t need before this is over.

          • Anonymous says:

            The cruise lines will sell the project to the Chinese next year.

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