Port petition ‘dead’ along with project

| 13/07/2020 | 64 Comments
Premier Alden McLaughlin

(CNS): The petition requesting a people’s referendum on the construction of the cruise berthing facilities in George Town harbour is “dead” along with the project itself, Premier Alden McLaughlin has told CNS. Despite calls from the Cruise Port Referendum campaign that they want the vote to go ahead on Election Day, McLaughlin does not believe it can because the project the petition is related to is no longer on the table.

Although there has been no official declaration that the deal government struck with Verdant Isle Port Partners, which includes two cruise lines, is officially dead, the premier has stated on several occasions that his government will not pursue this project during the remainder of this administration.

McLaughlin believes that the petition securing a people’s referendum under section 70 of the Constitution is no longer valid. Pointing to promotional material on the CPR website, the premier has said that the petition itself refers to the specific project that the government had been working on.

“The project is dead, so is the petition,” McLaughlin told CNS. “Isn’t it ironic that CPR, having fought to prevent the referendum from being held and even now claiming to have won by effectively scuttling the project, are now campaigning for a referendum to be held on a dead project?”

Expecting a legal fight in the court over holding the referendum, the premier said that this time the campaigners would be spending “their own money” and be liable for costs when they lose.

Whether or not the CPR will seek legal redress remains to be seen but the campaigners have been clear that they believe the petition should go ahead, since it started long before Verdant Isle was selected as government’s preferred bidder and the designs for this specific project were ever released.

While the legal battle remains in question, it is evident that the political one will certainly continue. The premier continues to see the movement as political because two, possibly three, people from the CPR group are considering political office.

The vast majority of the founders and those who pursued the campaign, however, did not do so to advance any political career but to protect the environment. And McLaughlin accepted that many people who “opposed the cruise port project truly did so because they felt strongly about the environment” and other issues the project raised.

“But without question the hard core of CPR’s leadership were or are politicos. And that’s entirely fine. This is a free country. But you can only mislead people for so long before being found out,” he said.

“What the privileged leadership of CPR should be focusing on now, if they really care about Cayman, is how to employ the thousands of Caymanians whose businesses are now shut down or are now without a job because there is, and will not be for the foreseeable future, any cruise business at all,” he said adding that was where the government’s attention was now focused.

“My duty and that of my government now is to try to do everything we can to keep businesses alive, people in jobs and food on tables in everyone’s house. There is a long hard time ahead and those who believe that the people of this country think a referendum on a dead project ought to be among the country’s priorities at this time ought to test it,” the premier added.

Once again the premier pointed to the results of the last two elections as support for the idea of a cruise port facility. He also said that a national vote on the subject would not necessarily settle the issue at all.

Democracy here requires the electorate to decide every four years who they want to represent them and what policies they wish them to implement, the premier said.

“That is what elections are about. There is no such thing as deciding anything ‘once and for all’ in a democratic system. No referendum conducted in one term can bind another administration a fortiori if the next administration has campaigned and won on a platform which includes, in this instance, building a cruise port,” he claimed.

However, McLaughlin would not be drawn on whether or not the PPM will include a cruise berthing facility project in George Town Harbour on its 2021 election platform. While McLaughlin will no longer be able to lead the party in the 2021 campaign, it is understood that he will still run for office.

It is not yet known if Moses Kirkconnell, the current tourism minister and a major supporter of the cruise project, will also be running again to retain his seat in Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman and a possible Cabinet position.

Regardless of who is on the ticket, the cruise project will be a major issue on the agenda of many candidates, but McLaughlin pointed out that this next election will involve many “big decisions” about the post-Covid world and he rejected the idea, as many now believe, that the environment would be the main issue.

“When people are struggling to get by, their survival is their principal concern and all else pales in comparison. Those who govern or wish to do so cannot be a one-trick pony. Environmental concerns alone won’t cut it,” he added.


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Category: development, Local News, Policy, Politics

Comments (64)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What the country needs is a referendum for a “National Vote”…cant you see that this “divisional voting system” is benefiting the present government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      OMOV actually hurt the PPM quite a bit in the last election

      They lost 3 sitting ministers in one election
      (because their vote was split up in Bodden town and George Town)

      They are very limited in terms of where they can win, the eastern districts are reluctant to elect just any old PPM member as we saw in 2017 when they tried parachuting in a random candidate in Bodden Town West

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would like to vote for whomever can bring down the cost of living. I believe we need to stop tourism so that we can get rid of the large number of work permit holders. Rent would come down and everything else would follow. The minimum wage needs to go to a proper living wage. It’s a reasonable thought that supply and demand will force the greedy to drop these ridiculous prices.
    As business continues I don’t see Banking and tax sheltering needing to come to places like the Caribbean. After the pandemic Large countries will change to digital currency run by Governments around the world to have more control of the population.
    What we are seeing around the world is how peaceful and safe it has become for the planet. Wild animals are walking around like tourists through towns and cities. The air is cleaner sea creatures like turtles are coming in larger populations to nest on quiet beaches. We should block people from touching the turtles unless there is 2 people maximum. The 7 mile Beach has gotten more sand on the beach. Maybe our problem is too many people for this island. Maybe we should keep the distancing in place after the virus is finally put under control.
    A new industry like technology would be better for the future. Stay home and work and go online when we need something.

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  3. Missing part of a Rib says:

    Haha, that picture is perfectly captured to fit the smugness of His Lordship, Alden.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Anyone that stands up and pledges their willingness to preserve the environment and put a hold on the rampant destruction and development gets my vote.

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    • Anonymous says:

      5.05pm I am interested in the environment too but I won’t be supporting someone simply because they are
      interested in the environment.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Developments out of Key West- holding a vote on whether to allow or ban large cruise ships.
    https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/key-west-cruise-ships-maine-bar-harbor

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Alden must know at this point that PPM didn’t win the last general election but he keeps on with the same rhetoric. It’s a shame.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    is there anyone new to the scene that will run for election next year? Alden can’t be the leader, so he’s just going to support whomever he thinks he can manipulate for 5 more years and rule from behind.
    they say a country gets the leaders it deserves, and if we dont see a bunch of new generation options to elect, we’re going to get the same lot back, and that’s not really great is it?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Covid-19 saved Alden’s butt.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the reason why the Premier said what he did is because perhaps the cruise line has no interest in investing in more ships at the present and near future? Could that be the reason? If so the Government saves face and the Cayman Islands won’t have to worry about this I’ll- conceived dock. Fix up the port to accommodate the cargo requirements and focus on air travel. However right now everything depends on how and when this pandemic is over! I think not having started the piers is a good thing, focus on that and not who won or lost. All is well that ends well!

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    • Anonymous says:

      11.01am Haven’t you heard CPR wants the cargo port moved from it’s present location in Town.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I certainly hope so! It doesn’t belong in town. Never did.
        But it ain’t moving anywhere. I mean look at the dump. Been talked about for the entire 30 years I’ve been driftwooding here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You do realize that moving the cargo port means.
          1. We will have to pay the capital cost of building the new facility.
          2. Cost of living will increase due to higher transportation costs.
          3. New roads and infrastructure costs will be an additional cost/
          4. Long delays expenses and court battles will ensue with NImbys and born again environmentalists.
          Be careful what you wish for.

        • Anonymous says:

          “It doesn’t belong in town”…?….10.22 Town built up around the port. It’s not as if there was George Town and suddenly somebody decided to build an after the fact port there.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Alden only worried about getting go to the Office speak fluent Spanish to the bartenders and growing more dry up peppers. I think Cayman needs a national survey to get answers to questions facing the community. Maybe a referendum for Cannabis

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Unna wanted the project to die.

    The man said it died.

    Nobody I know with sense will ever cruise again.

    CPR: “YEA BUT WE STILL WAN TELL YOU NO YOU CAN’T DO IT ALDEN MCKIRK”

    I really don’t get it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “I really don’t get it”

      It is simple if you know where to look and what to expect from Caymanian politicians

      Let me set the stage and clarify for everyone who claims there is no issue in not holding a definitive vote on this issue regardless of whether or not the Verdant Isle Project is dead

      Come 2021 the PPM will pick a new leader almost certainly someone connected to businesses in the islands that will provide funding for their ridiculously inflated party so It will likely be either Kirkonnell or Hew. Regardless of who the new leader is they will run come 2021 focusing on their coronavirus response (because it is one of the few things the PPM have as of yet not bungled in the last 8 years) saying things like “now is not the time to shift leadership in the aftermath of a crisis” and that “Cayman will need steady, tested hands at the helm for a smooth recovery” , they will probably pick up Kenneth Bryan’s seat in GTC and one or two seats in Newlands / Bodden town and have an slim majority in the house. I would expect a few of the nominally independent sitting members of the LA will run officially with the PPM come 2021 (Tara, Jon Jon, Austin as they have smoothly and uncritically integrated with the PPM insofar as to be indistinguishable by any reasonable standard. Running with the PPM will allow them to get funding and guaranteed PPM loyalist votes along with the biggest reward of all not having to go against a PPM candidate with $30,000 in party provided funding.
      The new PPM leader will run in 2021 as the victorious Governing party that avoided catastrophe and made the hard choices when push came to shove, and like it or not, some portion of the voting populous will respond to that messaging, as things stand the PPM in my mind will win the next election, ditch the CDP and attempt to push their own manifesto plans that they were unable to get through in the last 4 years.

      But that is just setting the stage the real focus needs to be on the PPM’s habits and this is the key bit, in 2017 the PPM never really focused too heavily on the port project, sure it was mentioned in passing but almost always in the context of the port being a part of George Town revitalisation rather than a standalone infrastructure project despite the fact that we can see that was all in essence lies because the full revitalisation plans are still absent while the PPM were ready to sign the port contract this year regardless of that. So in reality they slipped a few sentences (74 words total to be exact) onto the 16th page of their 20 page manifesto that precisely 0 people read ) and declared that was a mandate to do whatever they wanted regarding the port without consultation and without giving the people almost any say on the matter

      That is exactly what they will do again come 2021, the PPM will slip two or three obscure sentences into a 20 page document instead of running explicitly on their plans because they know that the port was controversial and very unpopular and if as I predict they win the next election, we will be right back where we started in 2017 with the PPM pushing an unpopular plan that they want to hide as much as possible
      They want to scrap this vote (for which there are no provisions in the constitution) it will simply allow them to dodge the up or down vote that they were dreading and giving them time to distract the populous with something else while they get back to shadowy backroom deals and secret contracts that they so love (just look at how the Smith Cove project was being pushed behind closed doors without proper documentation or transparency). The PPM has always relied upon Caymanian complacency and political apathy rather than convincing people to support their proposals on their merits, they simply wait until you forget or until you are distracted and then push their policies. Alden Mclaughlin and the cronies in his Cabinet were never as comfortable in power as they have been over the past few months when they in essence ruled by edicts rubber stamped by Cabinet with no oversight and transparency in the House.

      and that all goes without even mentioning the greater consequences of this if we let the PPM push this vote off we will be fighting the same fight in a few years, and any future government will have the precedent to simply temporarily shelve a project or policy to dodge a people’s initiated referendum making them entirely useless, the entire purpose of people’s initiated referendums is that the people demand a vote, regardless of convenience to the government, regardless of whether the government postures as if they are backing down or easing up. Make no mistake, that is what the last few months have been, political posturing and triangulation in anticipation of the upcoming general election. At the first opportunity the PPM will close the meeting room doors and get back to work trying to do what is best for the waterfront business interests who fund their party.

      If the vote is held, the Government will lose that is almost certain, any assertions to the contrary are easily rebutted by the desperate million dollar media blitz we witnessed last year in the lead-up to the original November vote date, and this new push by the Premier to scrap the vote altogether he claimed that the project had popular support by the people, if he held the vote he would be able to prove that and the PPM would be able to run boldly on a pro port platform in 2021 following their referendum win (Alden knows as well as I do his party has no intention of running with the port as a prominent fixture)
      The only man who wants to cancel a vote that he claimed he would win, is a man who knows deep down whether he admits it or not that he was going to lose

      Nothing terrified Alden more than this people’s initiated referendum, it was the dawn of the Caymanian people finally having a real say on important policies, the CIG at the order of this Cabinet, spent the people’s money running ads telling people they should unsign the petition and pushed lies like CPR was storming into businesses and demanding signatures, lying to voters etc
      Alden Mclaughlin, Moses Kirkonnell and Joey Hew are hoping to lull the Caymanian people back into an apathetic slumber so that they can go back to doing what they do best, screwing us over behind closed doors.
      Letting them push off this vote is the first step toward getting back to the Cayman they love, where voters are kept dumb, and under their thumbs.

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      • alaw says:

        1:25 I thought the House would be SWEPT CLEAN, and a NEW CREW take over, what HAPPEN?
        Such a lengthy letter DESERVE a NAME!

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      • Anonymous says:

        The big flaw in your reasoning is that the referendum would be specific to “this project”. Not any other future port plan. SO the Govt, by your logic, is actually best served having the referendum now, low turnout because its a dead issue, not enough people vote No to make it a win (that would require 50% of registered voters +1). Then the next Govt can resume new, or even old, cruise ship dock planning without fear of the current referendum proposal resurfacing.

        If the referendum is not held now it remains a valid petition and should this plan ever come back to life the referendum requirement likewise re-emerges.

        Should there be a future, different, cruise dock proposal what needs to be petitioned for is a referendum before ‘any’ ‘port’ (or even any major infrastructure) project is decided.

        Because lets say that your argument for this referendum carries through, the referendum is held on election day (maximum turnout) and, for the sake of argument, 50%+1 of registered voters vote no. Then the next month the plan for the cruise & fuel port in high rock is put forward as the new Govt Policy. Your old ‘no’ vote from the month before is no longer applicable.

        So, while I agree with a lot of what you said, I still say that there is no practical issue with not having this referendum on this ‘dead’ issue.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Ergo, they want to bury it all, the players, payments, agreements, all of it. The game is up for this administration and the noose is tightening. We are under ongoing CFATF and OECD reviews, repeatedly citing corruption, in particular: political tolerance of drug trafficking, and enabling of money laundering. “Time longer than rope” as the saying goes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where were you when the UDP were playing their games with theChinese on their port project. That cost us millions and nobody accountable.

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      • Anonymous says:

        There is a reason Governor Duncan Taylor and the FCO stopped the project. Ask McKeeva Bush

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      • Anonymous says:

        And your point is what? That because the UDP did it the PPM should be allowed to as well? Because when I read a sentence like “that cost us millions and nobody accountable” I can’t really tell the difference.

  13. Anonymous says:

    These are the utterences of our leaders? Some basic civic classes are badly needed here for MLAs.

    A referendum (passed by the requisite marginI on a given topic) trumps a “general” election each and every and any day of the week. That is of course, in any mature and developed democracy…….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Every time Emperor Alden gloats about the foolishness he utters it makes me know voting against anything he says or wants to do is best for the long term interest of Cayman. He is a rubbish attorney that is irresponsible with the facts every time he speaks. CPR exposed him and his government. His credibility is shot. For an educated man he makes himself look petty and embarrasses all of us that know better. He should retire to his farm because he has become a proper turnip.

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  14. Anonymously says:

    Alden McLaughlin: “Isn’t it ironic that CPR, having fought to prevent the referendum from being held and even now claiming to have won by effectively scuttling the project, are now campaigning for a referendum to be held on a dead project?” 🤣 lol … Classic !

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    • Anonymous says:

      The recurring non-start cruise pier idea, ongoing for 20+ years now, is now deferred once again by sly design. The next regime’s presumptive incumbents, are already tabulating and rubbing their hands with expectant glee at the idea of another chance at a redacted deal with yet another inferred personal incentive. Witnessing several successive four year greed-driven agendas, the voters need to change the Elections Law, reduce the number of districts, abolish the party system, introduce zero cost budgeting practices – terminating non-essential dead weight in the public service and introducing transparency and proper accounting practices. If we wait another 4 years we’ll be suck into the mud of unfunded pension/healthcare, non-performing state owned enterprises, and whatever other secrets are concealed from a proper statement of financial position, plus rolled debt, and however far this regimes gets into mismanaging the open Covid19 KYD$500mln line of credit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It was not only about the piers..our environment. but about our rights and the constitution.. and the unfairness of the government on how they tried to prevent VOTERS FROM VOTING ..

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    • Anonymous says:

      They just want recognition…..they are being and making very arrogant statements right now, finally showing their true colors. I would have voted against it, but for Cayman’s best interest and nothing to do with CPR.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    “No referendum conducted in one term can bind another administration a fortiori if the next administration has campaigned and won on a platform which includes,” doing the thing the referendum was about. – Is, a priori, wrong, Mr. Premier.

    Let us say that there is a referendum to approve something, like a new constitution. And one party runs for the approval and the other against, among the many other issues being discussed at the polls. When the votes are counted the constitution passes, but the ‘for’ party is voted out in favour of the ‘against’ party. (By a couple of seats, and some independents, for the sake of example.) Would the ‘against’ party, and its new Premier (the Country’s first) be able to immediately invalidate the referendum result simply because they ran against the new constitution?

    The problem the Premier – and many on both sides – are having is conflating Government Policy with a Referendum Petition. The two exist unum separatim ab aliis (the one separate from the other). Whether the Port Referendum Petition should now be in abeyance or not is a separate question, but it cannot be argued that a national referendum can be ‘out waited’ simply by not doing anything about it until after there is an election.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t get it do you. He doesn’t need to be right as a matter of law, because he can simply refuse to do it and unless the CPR can find the funding to challenge that decision in court de facto he will get what he wants. You would need pretty big pockets to take that on when he has the government cheque book to string the litigation out well beyond the next election, at which point as he says it won’t be his responsibility. He can look at the constitution clearly requiring a referendum and just laugh. Like everything else in Cayman, there’s the law, and there’s enforcement and as you out it, the two exist separate from each other.

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      • Anonymous says:

        There is already a case. The appeals court will send it back down to Grand Court. All CPR needs to do is ask the judge to order that a vote be scheduled on the referendum (not the government version.) Deep pockets only get you so far when the facts are so clear.

        • Anonymous says:

          Did you read the judgment? It wasn’t sent back down to the Grand Court at all, nor is there any suggestion of any further order from the Court of Appeal on the matter. The Grand Court judges orders were set aside. The action is defeated, pure and simple.

          There is another issue – or issues – in that

          a) the Constitution requires a referendum, and yet the Premier is saying that he doesn’t think its necessary or appropriate to hold one with no obvious authority for failing to do so and

          b) as the Grand Court’s order quashing the Port Referendum Law has been set aside, that law – and its provisions for a referendum – are still in place – and yet the Premier is now proposing to ignore the very law he had the LA pass (whilst claiming that the judicary shouldn’t interfere on the LA’s ability to pass and enact laws!).

          He is basically claiming that circumstances mean there is no point in holding a referendum, but without any legal authority for doing so.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Wrong.

          • Anonymous says:

            That is all correct.
            Not reasons to ‘force’ this referendum now.
            But points that the voting public should note and that the country should address.
            (Like through a good general referendum law that will keep the Govt. from tying its own hands with poorly constructed rushed single-topic referendum laws.)

      • Anonymous says:

        If you think this is just about holding the referendum you are mistaken. What is important here is the political/philosophical question: does a referendum in one term bind the next/future government?

        Lets put it another way. If the country accepts the Premier’s presumption that “No referendum conducted in one term can bind another administration a fortiori if the next administration has campaigned and won on a platform which includes, in this instance, building a cruise port,” then all he would have to do is (a) hold the referendum now (or at the upcoming election) and then (b) the next government (either 2021 or 2025) use his argument that the referendum was not binding on them.

        And before you say ‘but you need to force the referendum before you can worry if it binds the Government’ the problem is that CPR’s question is specific to ‘the port project’. So, if ‘the port project’ is dead then the referendum itself is meaningless since ‘the port project’ no longer exists to decide upon. And the referendum result would not be binding on ‘some other future cruise ship dock plan’.

        If your objection is to the Port not to the lack of an actual referendum regardless of outcome, then you should actually support the Premier not having the referendum now. Since, by his argument, all he would have to do is have the referendum now (maybe instead of Pirates Week we can have Referendum Week this year) and then the next Government could ignore it. If you follow his logic.

        If your argument is that, by the bare wording of the Constitution, a duly submitted referendum petition MUST result in a referendum, well, technically you are correct but it is a pyrrhic stance to take to force a referendum on a dead issue. It would be like having a referendum to flog the horse, after the horse is dead.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The cruise lines are struggling to figure out what lies in the future for their existing operations. They’re not going to put any money into capital projects like this dock. Based on some experience in the business, I’d say we’re looking at smaller fleets spending more time at sea when this mess starts to sort itself out. If you’re in the group of people who were dependent on this project for your future income you need to start considering your options now.

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  17. ppm Distress Signal says:

    Voters in Red Bay need to do Cayman a favor and get rid of this jackass. He has destroyed the PPM. There is no difference between the PPM in 2020 and McKeeva Bush’s UDP in 2012.

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    • Anonymous says:

      We first need to force electoral reform.

      Bush’s 2012 UDP was the catalyst for the misguided OMOV/Winner Take All/First past the post/Westminster style elections…which has resulted in hermetically sealed, single seat constituencies, with little or no choice and lowered the bar for elections success.

      We need multi-seat constituencies – with a braod choice of candidated from with to choose with any of the many forms of Proportional Representation voting.
      A number of 3 or 4 seat constituencies and one
      all 3 islands wide “super” constituency with say 3 seats and with the opportuinity to vote, in order of your preference 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 (or just “1”)in your local constiteuncy and/or on the 3 islands constituency.

      Then at least at teh local and/or the 3 islands constituency we’d have some level of choice….

      But these single “member” winner take all constituencies have been an unmitigated disaster for these islands…..

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve been saying this for years. OMOV was bound to lead to this. Everybody was warned, but blinding hatred of McKeeva made people ignore the warnings.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not sure you can rightly call a used-once voting system that got the ‘desired’ outcome (more independents in the LA, a desired goal of some of the OMOV proponents) and “unmitigated disaster”. Many other countries with more ‘representative’ voting systems still don’t like the candidates, much less then parliamentarians, they end up with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll bet you two condos on the beach that there really is a huge difference.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    The man cannot help himself he sounds like a bitter fool angry at a citizens group that has exposed him and band of merry men. Retire so Cayman does not have to vote you out in 2021

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    • Anonymous says:

      3:02 If you are one that can understand what you read
      You would know there are Men and Women Trembling with anxiety not knowing ALDEN Future!

  19. MI6 in paradise says:

    In Alden McLaughlin’s delusional mind he is always right about everything. Thankfully, he and his reckless government can be challenged in the courts. His record shows he has been misleading Caymanians for his entire political career and 2 terms as Premier wasting millions of dollars in the process as an ode to his ego.

    What an arrogant knob he reminds me of Mr. Bush as they both have the same attitude lust for power at all costs.

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    • Anonymous says:

      But at least Alden can speak AND is actually educated.

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      • Anonymous says:

        A waste of a brain is a terrible thing. To become exactly like Mac after telling Cayman for 20 years you are the better choice is even worse.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Alden is worse than Big Mac because we all thought better of him. He is a disgrace and his legacy is an expensive failure

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      • Anonymous says:

        If you could add integrity and common sense to that least, he’d be all right. Mac is the bottom of the totem pole. Alden the next carving up, but still in the bottom section. If only we could find someone in the top section of the totem pole.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Time’s up on releasing defective regimes into peaceful retirement. There needs to be a deep, uncomfortable, and invasive audit of all of them, plus willing enablers like the Attorney General. Cayman needs full top down reform, including big changes to the Elections law. We will never get off the Blacklists until we do the work and demonstrate a will for a wholesale change in governance standards.

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