Coalition gov’t faces possible coup

| 20/08/2020 | 190 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin presents the DP Bill to the House, 27 July 2020

(CNS): The possibility of four members of the Government of National Unity supporting a ‘no confidence’ bid in Premier Alden McLaughlin over the Domestic Partnership Bill could see the administration collapse just seven months before the Legislative Assembly is prorogued for the 2021 General Election. Since Governor Martyn Roper announced that he would implement the bill after the LA failed to pass it, the opposition has allegedly been seeking support for a no-confidence vote and might have secured two Cabinet members.

It is understood that the official opposition, led by Arden McLean, has been working behind the political scenes and has in theory already secured the support of the two CDP members of government, House Speaker McKeeva Bush (WBW) and Captain Eugene Ebanks (WBC), for the vote.

CNS has tried, unsuccessfully, to contact McLean, who has denied leading this effort in other forums, suggesting that it is a citizens’ initiative. However, a survey and petition currently in circulation indicates that it is the opposition leader who is leading the charge on this issue, as they call for the country to support his efforts.

Alongside these efforts to bring down the government, CNS has learned that Bush has suddenly ended the undefined leave of absence he took from parliament over the assault charges he faces and is back in his job. According to three direct sources, who wish to remain anonymous, the speaker is back at work. There is no formal process for forcing his continued absence and it would be up to the LA to vote him out.

The speaker is in charge of the Legislative Assembly’s agenda and has the power to ensure that a no-confidence vote comes to the floor. However, in order to vote in a no-confidence motion, he would need to formally resign because a speaker can only vote when the House is tied and must do so in favour of the status quo.

While Independent MLA Kenneth Bryan (GTC) has not confirmed his position to CNS, Ezzard Miller, the Independent member for North Side, made it very clear he will not support a no-confidence motion.

“I am having no part in this,” Miller told CNS, adding that he did not know the details of the attempt to bring down the government. But he said he would not support it and had been in favour of the DP bill and the need to uphold the rule of law without undermining the institution of marriage.

Meanwhile, CNS has learned that Health Minister Dwayne Seymour and Education Minister Julianna O’Connor-Connolly may also be in support of the no-confidence vote as it relates to the Domestic Partnership Bill. However, while the pair have publicly declared their opposition to the bill, CNS has not been able to confirm that they would support such a motion and effectively bring down their own government.

A no-confidence motion requires two thirds of the House to vote in favour to succeed, so even if those two ministers did support it, the best the opposition could hope for is ten MLAs. Nevertheless, the premier would be put in an impossible position if any of his ministers supported the motion. McLaughlin could hold the government together with the loss of the two CDP members but not the loss of two ministers.

Holding the coalition together for the last leg of the term, despite his recent increase in popularity over his handling of the COVID-19 health crisis, would be very difficult if the two Cabinet members make such a public declaration against him — even abstaining from the vote would send a clear message that the government was no longer unified.

Cabinet ministers are bound by collective responsibility, and while McLaughlin lifted that obligation for the vote for the DP bill, hoping his front bench would all see the need to support it without being forced to choose between it and their jobs, it would be impossible for him to do that in a no-confidence vote.

According to the survey and petition, which have been circulating online this week, clearing stating that the no-confidence vote is being organised by McLean, the constituencies have been rank based on the number of supporters for the motion so far, though the numbers remain low.

Savanna, held by the veteran opposition MLA and vehement opponent of rights for the LGBT community, Anthony Eden, tied with Prospect for the most support, though this seat is held by Austin Harris who supported the DP Bill.

This was followed by Bodden Town East, held by Seymour, who voted against the bill and has also used the LA as a platform for discrimination against, and derision of, the gay community during the debates on this issue, lending support to the notion that the health minister will back the vote.

“We only have 12 days left to sign this petition directing your politician to support the Opposition Leader in filing a no confidence motion against the Premier who brought the Domestic Partnership Bill into parliament which was defeated so now the Governor decreed that he will try to make homosexual unions law instead after 12 days,” the social media message accompanying the petition and survey stated.

By 8am Thursday, 402 people had signed the petition. According to the election office there are currently 21,824 registered voters.

McLaughlin was philosophical about the attempted coup, having already been through one in the past after a previous, much more short lived attempt by the opposition to form a government with Bush. In a short statement to CNS, he said the election season had clearly begun.

“Indeed, it seems the Leader of the Opposition is pushing for an early election, even as we continue to navigate a global pandemic. The lust for power knows no bounds. What is coming is coming, and we will meet it when it comes,” the premier added when asked about the coup.

Despite what could be a successful attempt to bring down the government, or at least one that will shake its solidarity, during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely to stop the governor giving assent to the bill.

While the opposition and church leaders are attempting to raise money for a legal action, any effort at a stay via a judicial review or Grand Court suit is unlikely to go beyond a short delay, given the court’s position on the issue, legal experts have told CNS.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie made his position on the law clear last March when he legalised same-sex marriage. The Court of Appeal was clear when it overturned that ruling but issued a directive about the need for some form of marriage equivalency, which is the main reason why the DP bill was eventually brought to the parliament.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (190)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Charge the whole lot of them for Sedition for their dam foolishness.

    By the way, were these MLAs out there supporting the march on Saturday??

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    Why did the Premier free his ministers from collective responsibility on a matter that has to do with us simply upholding our legal and international obligations? If the Premier is not going to insist that his ministers vote to uphold the rule of law them what exactly rises to the level that would make him require that they vote with the majority position of the government?

    This is nothing short of a failure of leadership.

  4. Anonymous says:

    if our representatives are idiots and clowns what are we for voting in all these people. smh

    • Anonymous says:

      because they are also deceivers for their own advancement

      • Anonymous says:

        The architecture of the Elections Law and party-affiliated donor mechanism is carefully designed so that nobody outside the preferred usual field of pawns, are allowed to run for office. None of us have to think very hard to name the roster of usual characters/DUI recidivists that we can already anticipate declaring themselves in the months ahead.

    • Anonymous says:

      We like somethin for nothin. We like those frigeraters and TVees and turkeys and hams we get that don’t cost nothin. Thank you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Will we see the same energy to protest things that affect us as we see in fighting for other countries’ problems? Like the george floyd riots, will caymanians spread the word and urge others to stand up? Will we be talking about this on the radio?

    Or will we sit back and let it happen to us while we hypocritically insult others? I swear we are all masochists.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians have doomed themselves. No trust, no friends,no honor, no sharing, no caring, and no future. You are endangered for all the right reasons. Good luck in your next try at life.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mac back? Disgraceful. We spend $4mil a year on these bloated politicians, a waste of funds for poor leadership, greed for developers, poor education, and no respect for our enviroment or sustainable future.
    We deserve better than McLean and Mac.
    Terrible that you keep voting these horrible men back in.
    Wake up sheep- no more politricks

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Leader of Opposition is on Radio Cayman. He called out CNS. Says they are liars.

    He backing up faster than a crab trying not to get caught…

  9. McKeeva = "Key Card" again! says:

    Key Card (by Ernie Smith)

  10. Anonymous says:

    If these idiots are our representatives, how can there be any decision made with underlying integrity on common human values, – is nobody slightly concerned McBeater can come and go as he pleases on our coin depending how he perceives an aura of outrage during any given month ? The debacle in the US for the past 3 1/2 years should be a guide of what course to deviate from, not one to model against and follow. Wake up Cayman, there is no option but to do better.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So now we really know who is running the country, MAC let the dust settle and now the arrogant baffoon just walks back in as speaker with no one willing to stand up to him.
    He has knifed the premier squarely in the back and cut the strings of his puppet.
    And for that diatribe from Ju Ju tonight in charge of education oh my Satan what an absolute embarrassment.

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