AG: Gov’t has no plans for referendum law

| 31/08/2020 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has no plans to bring forward a general framework law to support section 70 of the Constitution and prevent future problems with people-initiated referendums (PIR). During the legal challenge mounted by the Cruise Port Referendum campaign the government told the court it would be passing this legislation, but now the government’s lawyers say this administration has no plans to steer this important law forward.

CNS contacted all members of Cabinet regarding this decision, which was set out in a letter, seen by CNS, from the Attorney General’s Chambers to CPR’s lawyers but no one has responded to our enquiries.

Regardless of what the government has previously said about drafting a law that would help outline the rules and regulations for a PIR on any topic of national importance, the letter states that it is not required to do so because it won the appeal.

The government lawyers claimed that because there is a general election in May, the current administration cannot bind a future one. The letter also said that the cruise port project will not be proceeding and the petition organised by CPR cannot apply to any future port projects. It described the general referendum law as “low priority” because government was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and other high profile issues.

Although they did not spell it out, the lawyers were referring to issues surrounding the Domestic Partnership Law and the ongoing legal fight government is engaged in over the Day, Bodden-Bush same-sex case, which is due to be heard at the Privy Council in London in February.

That case is a clear example of government spending public funds on legal fights because of its failure to address the unlawful root of these problems. When Chantelle Day, a lawyer with Walkers, was planning her return to her native country after working with the firm in London, she began exploring the possibility of how, as part of a same-sex couple with an adopted child, she could lawfully come home.

Her first step more than four years ago was to ask the government to implement a form of civil partnership to enable her to return with her family and have the relationship with her fiancée, Vickie Bodden-Bush, registered and their family legally recognised. However, the government ignored that request, which led to a legal battle that began formally in 2017.

But now government’s failure to address the need for a basic law to cover people-initiated referendums may be setting it up for more legal challenges. The framework law would include outlining the requirements for both the collection and verification of signatures as well as filling in other major gaps that emerged when CPR became the first activists to successfully gather the necessary number of signatures to trigger a people’s vote.

A petition is currently circulating in the community relating to the idea of a PIR on the Domestic Partnership Law. While this petition is doomed to failure, since the Constitution states that there cannot be a people’s vote on an issue dealt with in the Bill of Rights, it illustrates the public uncertainty and misconceptions about the provision that allows for a people’s vote, all of which could be addressed in the framework law.

However, the current government continues to dodge this legislative hole and to dismiss the fact that a legally successful petition requesting a referendum on the cruise port project remains on the table.

Some legal experts believe that government’s position that a referendum in one administration cannot bind another is wrong, and CPR still wants a people’s vote that is fair and equitable, which was clearly not the case with the CIG’s original plans for the port vote.

The activists believe that a national poll would send a clear signal to any future administration about the public’s position, not just on the specific Verdant Isle project but on the general plans for cruise berthing in George Town. They also believe that, according to the Constitution, it would be binding for any government

The CPR petition began long before government settled on the Verdant Isle Port Partners’ bid or spelt out the final design and was based on the concept of the current government’s wish to develop two piers in George Town harbour. This means that the result of a referendum would apply to future plans for any proposed project in the capital.

So far, the premier has refused to state whether a cruise project in George Town will remain part of the PPM’s platform during the 2021 campaign when it begins next year. But he has said that the people of Cayman must decide whether or not they want to remain in the cruise business post-COVID, and if they do, he still believes that will require the development of berthing facilities.

CPR has not yet confirmed its position on the administration’s decision not to pursue the framework law or to protect the existing petition but the activists stated in their original correspondence to Governor Martyn Roper that they were seeking assurances from the government on this to avoid further legal action.

Given that government has offered no assurances and has effectively offered the opposite of this, it is likely that the legal battle will continue in the UK.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can we please get rid of the Attorney General by the next General Election as well? Please?!

  2. Anonymous says:

    When enough people sign to get a referendum, they should get one. It doesn’t matter what the government’s plans are or whether Alden thinks it won’t bind future governments. It’s not really his decision.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Voters need to remember this when they go to vote next year. I personally will not be voting for anyone associated with the PPM or this so-called unity government.

  4. Giglioli overated says:

    We did not have any tourist until Giglioli killed out the mosquitoes. Giglioli has been give lots of credit for eradicating mosquitoes, but when he arrived the Government already had put in place measures to reduce mosquitoes. He found very little mosquitoes compared to what there was in the early 1960’s.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does CPR still have the option to appeal to the PC? Or has that been timed out?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Alden and this lot are truly a disgrace.
    They are prepared to lie at all times fight the people and waste public funds at every turn. They go against positions they have previously promised. How can we trust any of the them?

  7. MRCU Distress Signal says:

    Until Cayman addresses the mosquito disaster, there is no point planning for the future.

    There was no tourism until Dr Giglioli arrived and commenced his mosquito control program.

    60 years later we are back to square one.

  8. Anonymous says:

    We need to include a referendum on same sex marriage

    • Anonymous says:

      Cool. Lets also remove womens right to vote and ban interracial marriages. We were so much better off in the 1900s.

  9. TIME 4 CHANGE says:

    Alden McLaughlin and his collection of yes men in Cabinet and the unity government cannot be trusted.

    Time to vote them all out in 2021

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone keeps saying that. Replace them with who exactly? Young, educated and switched on Caymanians wouldn’t touch the politics here with a barge pole and with good reason. The old guard would go out of their way to do their legs.

      These bigoted old fossils won’t give up power easily.

      • Anonymous says:

        At least they would see that we prefer other than liars and thieves.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wayne Panton, Marco Archer, Winston Conolly, …. Caymanians with principles and ability.

        • Anonymous says:

          New blood not recycled blood..Wayne and Marco were too close with the PPM and Winston is too honest and trustworthy to run again..he saw the the underbelly and got out…Wayne and Marco have seen the underbelly and before I would vote for any of them they would have to renounce any and all association with both the PPM and CDP and I am not talking about just when they are running but also when they get elected..Once elected power seems to trump the people’s wishes..

      • Anonymous says:

        Who are these saviours riding big white horses?

        Let them set out their belief system.

        Starting with the Election Law – what changes would they propose?

        Yes, I am one of the “fossils” you dasparage, discriminate against because of age but in the many years of life I know “The more things change, the .ore they remain the same”

        The young MLAs will morph into old MLAs shells just like soldier crabs get into old shells.

        It is the system that makes the people, the people like the corrupt system as long as they get their share.

        The system will continue.

        The King is dead, long live the King!

        A so it go!

        Enjoy life.

  10. The Cat and the Fiddle says:

    The appeal that was won on this issue included the Appeals Court confirming that there was no absolute need for another law. The way that referendums have been done here in the past with a specific law being enacted for each referendum is quite fine as is having an overarching referendum law. That is the fact and CNS is skirting around it and bringing in all sorts of non-related issues.

    Keeping our economy going (including maintaining financial services), getting money in people’s pockets and keeping people healthy is what is important now.

    • Anonymous says:

      We actually expect governments purporting to operate at first wold standards, to be able to multi-task.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only real plan they have to keep the economy going is to let people drain their pensions to spend locally and keep businesses afloat and hope to God the private, non proft organizations keep feeding everyone.

    • pot kettle says:

      my $0 income doesn’t agree with you

  11. Anonymous says:

    You can’t make this stuff up.

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