Port petition was not specific, says CPR

| 08/07/2020 | 30 Comments
Cayman News Service
The Cruise Port Referendum petition

(CNS): Activists from the Cruise Port Referendum campaign have said that their successful petition asking for a people’s referendum on the proposal to construct cruise berthing facilities in George Town was never specific to any project. Responding to the premier’s comments that his administration will not hold a referendum this term, the CPR said the petition started before government settled on the partnership with Verdant Isle Port Partners.

Following Premier Alden McLaughlin’s to a question by CNS at the COVID-19 briefing on Friday that there was no longer a requirement to hold a referendum on the cruise berthing project because it was a “dead-duck”, the activists pointed out that the petition itself did not specify a particular project or even a particular government.

In a statement issued Wednesday the activists said that the people-initiated petition “triggered the need for a referendum on whether a cruise ship berthing port should be constructed in George Town Harbour” and this was “not specific to a particular project design or a particular government”.

The CPR is still pressing for the referendum to be held in line with their petition and have requested that is should take place on General Election Day to save public money.

But McLaughlin made it clear Friday that there will be no national ballot on the topic on Election Day or any other day during this administration, as he believes the petition was specifically tied to the project that his government selected and was going forward with before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

But as noted by CPR, the petition was launched in the summer of 2018, long before anyone had ever heard of Verdant Isle.

“The specific VIPP deal and design was not known to us or the public when the petition was started in August 2018,” the activists stated. “It was only unveiled in July 2019. The petition is not and could not have been specific to that particular project. The petition applies to any variation on a cruise berthing facility.”

The CPR also questioned government’s position that the project has been formally dropped.

“Given that there has been no press statement or confirmation from the cruise lines consortium that makes up VIPP, the Premier’s comment that the proposed project is a ‘dead duck’, appears to be premature and misleading considering all the facts,” the activists added.

While it is apparent that little movement would be made on the project between now and the general election on 26 May, if a PPM-led administration was re-elected next year, there are no guarantees at this point that the same, or a very similar, project could not be resurrected.

The original cruise line partners, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have suffered serious setbacks in the face of the pandemic, both financially and, given the role cruise ships played in spreading the virus, reputationally, they are doing everything they can to get their ships back in the ocean and sailing to Caribbean ports.

The premier has also stated that unless the Cayman Islands makes a national decision to end cruise tourism here, he believed it would still need to provide cruise berthing facilities.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “the activists pointed out that the petition itself did not specify a particular project or even a particular government.”

    Lol..semantics has no limits evidently.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What would help is a (link to) publication of the actual question petitioned (that people signed up to and which was submitted to the Govt). This is a question of specific semantics, and the constitutional requirement that once a people’s initiated referendum is triggered the petition HAS to be held.

    Lets look at the reverse scenario: the public present a validated petition to have a referendum that Govt. should do X. Govt previously opposed X but changes its mind and says ‘OK we will do X’. That wouldn’t remove the need to have the referendum. Since the referendum, and Govt. policy, are two separate (though linked) things.

    CNS: The petition is in the CNS Library. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks CNS! – The OP.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks CNS.
      So, the petition was that “The proposed cruise berthing facility, a matter of national importance, be decided solely by referendum pursuant to the Constitution.”

      Seems pretty tied to “the” proposal on the table at the time. That point goes to the CIG.

      Though the question would imply that the CIG can’t decide not to do the project (just as they couldn’t decide to do the project) without the referendum. Since “the” proposal must “be decided solely by referendum”. Any other decision-making process is in the wrong. Point to CPR.

      So it would seem that as long as “the” proposed port project is in abeyance the petition stands valid but the referendum is ‘on hold’. If the project is abandoned, e.g., the cruise lines won’t put up the money gain, the issue dies. (Unless someone were to sue the Govt to force a referendum on a project that could not be built even if approved.) But if “the” proposal comes back next year after cruising resumes, the referendum will be required. – A ‘new’ and completely different plan, in five years time, would not be bound by this petition since it is not “the” proposal.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “The purpose of the Petition is….to bring about a people-initiated referendum in which registered voters can vote through ballot ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on whether the country should proceed with the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility.” 

    Sorry CPR, your petition was specific as you wrote “proceed with the proposed”. Case closed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Case not closed at all! You clearly are not a lawyer.

      Since we have and had no cruise berthing facility, and very little information about what Government was working on at the time was available, a reference to “the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility” means ‘the proposal to build a Cruise Berthing Facility’, it being understood that the only cruise berthing facility being pursued was in George Town, and would cause roughly so much damage, and bring roughly so many benefits, etc. Read “the Cruise Berthing Facility” to mean ‘the project by that name within government that has the aim of building berths for cruise ships in George Town Harbour’. The proposal to build THE specific Cruise Berthing Facility the Government wanted to build came after the petition started, so just because the Government dropped what they settled on, does not deprive the petition of a proposal to bite on. The target of the petition was “the” proposal because it was known the Government was working on one. Using ‘a proposal’ would have been bizarre because everyone knew the Government was neck-deep in its secret plans. The fact remains that what was petitioned for was the right to say NO to the sort of cruise berthing facility the Government wanted – not the specifics it settled on. Some things were known, like that it would be in GTH and kill a lot of coral – that’s what people wanted to be able to vote against, whichever company got the contract and whatever the actual plans were. Most things were not known.

      Now if a future government, say, said they were looking at something in Red Bay, and CPR said ‘our petition covers that too’, I would say no it doesn’t, because that was not proposed at the time of the petition. But a CBF in GTH was proposed – specifics a combination of somewhat known, mostly secret, and undetermined by design.

      For your argument to work my good sir, the Government would need to have released its specific proposal, and the petition would need to have been started with reference to that specific proposal. The petition was started when there was part of a proposal, enough to use the word “the” instead of “a”, but not enough that it can be said the petition attaches to whatever details Government settled on.

      Bottom line: the petition was not specific – how could it have been when the Government hadn’t released hardly any specifics? That was the whole problem/point – a petition had to be initiated just for us to find out what we would be voting on, and to get the Government to admit that it had tied the whole thing up in a confidential procurement process anyway, so there was little information they could share without breaking (their own) law! They stressed repeatedly, the bids are to DESIGN, build, finance and maintain – ‘we have no proposal to show you because we are picking the company that will design it’. If a petition is initiated to vote on something that has not been designed yet, how does the petition fall away when the chosen design is abandoned? It doesn’t. The policy choice to build one or not is still there, and the 25% earned the right to vote on it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What dont you understand? They are burying this under the rug so they can bring it up later and try to get away with it next time. If this affected you now, it will affect you later, if resurrected, in addition to dealing wity the covid repercussions. You are falling for govts tactic of going silent on something just so they can sneak it in again later by being non chalant on seeing this through and getting closure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Give it up already, why beat a dead horse! The island has a lot of challenges post COVID, if you truly care, focus your energy on helping your fellow Caymanians survive.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Another attempt by the CIG to hold or not hold a vote when and only when it is convenient to them

    If CPR challenges this in court they will win, the petition made no mention of The Verdant port project, and the referendum question was written by the Government so that has no bearing on anything

    • Anonymous says:

      The cruise piers are dead and gone, so let’s just leave it alone and move on to the Dump, Beach access , and all the other scabs that need picking.

      • Anonymous says:

        What dont you understand? They are burying this under the rug so they can bring it up later and try to get away with it next time. If this affected you now, it will affect you later, if resurrected, in addition to dealing wity the covid repercussions. You are falling for govts tactic of going silent on something just so they can sneak it in again later by being non chalant on seeing this through and getting closure.

    • Give Peace a chance says:

      Enough of this grand standing on both sides. People are losing jobs daily , people are out of work, plans are being made to restructure many aspects of these islands and what Bloody referendum!

      The priority now is to get our economy back on track and the Government needs to focus on more than a referendum people. Is it that we cannot live without the CPR’s baby until after we elect a new Government. Does CPR nave so much funding to go to court again?.

      Jeeezum, give it a “break” ( note I didn’t say drop it forever), we need to focus on the reality that we are going through. Those CPR minds should now be directed on providing their ideas as to how the country moves forward and suuush with the Port for now, I.e, if they love Cayman as they have claimed to do.

      All hands on deck in our recovery process yeah.

      • Anonymous says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more. Government needs to concentrate on getting our people back to work not being sidetracked on a referendum. Hmmm maybe that’s important to CPR if some of them are running… SMH

      • Anonymous says:

        If the referendum is held at the same time as the general election it will save the public purse tens of thousands of dollars. I am all for cutting costs right now and the referendum has to happen eventually so why not do it at the most cost effective time when people are already going to the polls and the staff are already in place.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would you hold a referendum on the port now when Alden has said that project is dead in the water – literally. What if the next idea – with a new government is for the port to be moved to another part of the island – doesn’t that deserve a referendum? Do the people of Breakers/Bodden Town not deserve to be asked if they want it in their backyard cos we all know good ole Master Dart would like it moved.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Alden, just hold the vote and be done with it. It will not bind future governments, any new government can always legislate for a new referendum to seek to overturn the existing result (assuming it needs to be overturned). If you don’t everyone will know that you are as yellow as a ripe banana.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Premier is acting in breach of the Constitution by refusing to hold a referendum. We have one half of the leadership of the unity government in court for an alleged criminal act, are we going to have to see the other half of the leadership of the unity government in court for an alleged breach of the constitution? Leadership is about being a role model, about acting with integrity, about doing what is right both morally and legally. I’m sure when you went into politics you had the best of intentions, but look what you have become.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We asked for a referendum. We expect one!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Shirley and her CPR team are heroes!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the clarification cpr

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well done CPR Cayman

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why is it so hard for Alden and his government to tell the truth? Praise the lord that Cayman has a group like CPR to keep them honest.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CPR for continuing your efforts to make sure we get to properly have our say on any proposed cruise port.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Premier Alden is exposed again telling more lies to suit his delusions and style of leadership.
    Cayman needs to understand Alden McLaughlin Moses Kirkconnell McKeeva Bush Joey Hew Tara Rivers Juliana O’Connor-Connolly Roy McTaggart Dwayne Seymour Barbara Connolly David Wight Eugene Ebanks and Austin Harris cannot be trusted. One year out from the next elections and all the lies are being exposed weekly. None of them deserve to lead the country going forward. The combination of ppm and udp has been a mess. They work for big business not the ordinary Caymanian and will lie and do anything for power.

    • Anonymous says:

      The auditor general needs to investigate this entire cruise berthing project and get to the bottom of how much was spent and what process and international best practices they were following. The project and misleading information the government merits a full forensic audit and we deserve to know what terms was signed with VIPP.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Poor things really need to find something to do.

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