Referendum, what is a referendum?

| 14/12/2020 | 22 Comments

Mario Rankin writes: As we are all aware, the people of the Cayman Islands were first ignored when they raised obvious concerns about the consequences a cruise berthing facility would have on the environment and quality of our overall tourism industry. The back and forth between the political agenda of the government of the day and some stakeholders in the tourism industry made it seem, at the time, that there was really no hope for the small voices who were speaking out against that proposal, simply because it was them.

It was those with all the resources that were driving the project forward, very recklessly without many studies and no real answers about who would be directly benefiting or, more importantly, who would be paying long term for it.

Luckily, this wasn’t a deterrent for some. So I took to the Constitution of the Cayman Islands — and yes, I was aware of the section that gave the people a forced voice within the walls of “parliament”. Sadly, that very same section was without a functional law to guide a fair process.

Once the absolutely ridiculous requirement to get 50+1 of the entire electorate to sign a petition before the referendum could be triggered had been achieved (which many people, including Premier Alden McLaughlin, promised would never happen), we were then faced with another challenge. Before we were taken seriously by our own government and before Cabinet would accept it, the signatures collected had to be verified by the Elections Office. All because, again, there were no laws in place to govern this process.

I guess when Alden McLaughlin and the PPM government implemented that section of the Constitution, which is a “people-initiated referendum”, they never expected anyone to actually use it, hence why there was no law written to guide it.

I highlighted all of the above only to make the point of how important and significant this referendum is, not only to the people of the Cayman Islands but also to all the overseas territories and the entire Commonwealth. It was the first-time ever, in history, that a people-initiated referendum was successful. Now, after all was done by the books, as they made it up, and as we went along, the PPM and CDP (formerly UDP), which is now the so-called “Unity” government, has taken the position that they will not hold the referendum.

But it is, in fact, now required by constitutional rights and law, having been fairly triggered by the majority of the electorate, that they have their opportunity to vote on this proposal, which is a matter of national importance. It is unconstitutional to now decide not to have the referendum simply because the now government has pulled their support for the project, leaving no clear understanding about a future administration’s decision to revive the project in the very short term.

We have a general election coming up in 2021, on May 26th, and it is absolutely paramount that we have a vote on that same day to determine whether or not the people of the Cayman Islands want this port. It would eliminate any doubts and prevent any government in the future from going against the wishes of the people.

One of the main roles of the appointed governor is to ensure good governance by the sitting government. I remember the very first meeting with the current governor at his office when we, the members of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, were asked by Mathew Forbes, the governor’s aide at the time, “What would you guys do if you were successful with the petition and the government didn’t have a referendum?” — his exact words.

I then said, “Well, that’s why we have the governor who is responsible for carrying out the task of good governance.” So I ask the question now, where is the governor? And why hasn’t he made any efforts to step in and protect the integrity of the Constitution of the Cayman Islands, because he was very quick and forceful to protect the laws of the European Union and Convention with the same-sex marriage issue?

We must not allow this, or any other, government to trample the rights of us, as a people, our environment, and more importantly our ability to survive. We must strengthen our standards for better representation from both the local government and the appointed governor, to hold them accountable for their actions, or the lack thereof, which becomes our responsibility to fight to keep sustainable.

I vote for a referendum on Election Day.

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Category: Politics, Viewpoint

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well put, Mario. It seems that this PPM-lead (Unity) government is only concerned about the special interests, but not the people of our Islands.

    This administration has been an embarrassment and the biggest let down to the Caymanian people. It seems that we (the People) are not respected nor is the Constitution.

    This must be a record term for the government racking up big, big bills trying to fight off legal claims, which were of their own making, that should not have arisen in the first place. So, there is a strand that runs through it at its core, but let’s recap:

    (1) CPR case (port referendum);
    (2) Caymanian lawyers case (unlawful regulator);
    (3) Concerned Citizens case (beach access);
    (4) Day Bodden Bush case; and
    (4) there’s more on the horizon.

    If this Government were to show respect for the rule of law and the Constitution, then none of these cases would need (or needed) to be before the courts. The message sent to the public (voting public especially) is that our elected officials do not care about the Caymanian people (and residents), except when we want our vote to be elected.

    How much money is it costing these Islands, while the Government gets itself into these issues, because, as it appears, of lack of respect and not caring? If you are wrong, your wrong. But don’t bleed the country’s coffers in order to save embarrassment. Is is still a democracy, is it not?

    I am proud to one that supported the referendum and now I want my democratic right to vote “NO”. Plain and simple. Let’s see if the Government respect our Constitution.

    The Governor and the Premier would not stop taking about not upholding the rule of law, when the Domestic Partnership Bill was not passed. There was so much concern for the rule of law that, as we saw, the Governor (using reserved powers) passed it for Parliament.

    There is a massive shortfall in integrity, respect for the rule of law, the Constitution and Caymanians. This election we need to vote responsibly and (just as important in a democracy) we need to be able to vote on this Referendum!!’

    There are, as usual, many good old boys and women, who are wonderful people, but they are just taking up space in Parliament. It’s high time we (the voting public) ensure that our elected officials are no longer (for the most part) nice ornaments to decorate the House and eat turtle stew.

    If the Cayman Islands are going main and be prosperous, there needs to be an environment where democratic values are not ignored, where Caymanians are protected (which we are not) and respect for all people (including Caymanians.

    Unfortunately, we are a long way from this. I am grateful to the CPR group for taking a stand (especially the bravery and tenacity of Ms. Roulstone). This is not just about money, time and effort, but it’s really about accountability of Government.

    And, most of all, it’s about the respecting the Constitution and prosperity he rule of law. So, we need to do our best to keep this Government honest, until we can vote them out in May next year.

    Thank you for trying to keep this Government honest, Mario. It’s important that they are reminded that this is not going away.

    And, hopefully, we get get our opportunity to vote “no” on the referendum and “yes” to replacements for this current Government.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They changed the “Constitution” without a referendum…do you think for one minute they care about the port. And there is the great “Opposition leader” signing off on the changes. They were advised by the FCO to hold a referendum on the changes to the Constitution. Keep messing with the same old dogs…you end up with wore out bones.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So no dock at all? What about the Cargo dock? So really, what is the plan for the young people who have mortgages, school children, etc?
    Gov’t will have to offer more assistance to the over 1500+ individuals who worked in Tourism? If you add a spouse and two children as an average you are talking about impacting 6000 people. When a job becomes available it goes to the cheaper foreigner. Tell me, Mr. Rankin, what new industry are we looking for to solve the working class people’s income? We have development, finance, tourism has collapsed.
    What should we do? Make more laws so that more poor people can come and lived the way Grandfather lived? Poor people come and live on 7-mile beach condos. All they do is stack and pack them. Seven years time they build beautiful homes in their country. Do you want more development? Are you in the trucking business still? We are losing the middle class. We need solutions. Every time a new project is planned to bring down the prices of rent someone squeals and yells save the environment. Solutions talk about solutions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I truly hope more concerned citizens move to prevent our country’s selling out to developers. Do we want the congestion of Bermuda? Do we want wall-to-wall high rises usurping all of the waterfront? Do we want the revenue from the high dollar rich with the social costs of higher crime they bring?

  5. Ky Parrot says:

    Like … helloooo… it is obvious. We have no say on this island. Not even on gay issues. People-democracy is immaterial.

  6. Anonymous says:

    um, if there is no longer a project, then what would the question ask?

  7. Anonymous says:

    We have a general election coming up in 2021, on May 26th, and it is absolutely paramount that we have a vote on that same day to determine whether or not the people of the Cayman Islands want this port. It would eliminate any doubts and prevent any government in the future from going against the wishes of the people.

    Should we also do the same for independence, legalization of drugs etc? I didn’t agree with the cruiseship pier, but the issue is over and done for now. People who voted against it in January 2020 may well be in favour of it in January 2021 or 2022. There is no reason to ask people to vote on issues that are not relevant at the time of the vote.

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    Here we go… again

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why not hold the referendum on this question at the same time as the upcoming general election? It saves money for government and the private sector.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well said Mario what you and cpr did gave us a chance for our voices to be heard

  12. Anonymous says:

    I don’t always agree with Mario but the view point makes sense based on the facts. His views on the cruise berthing referendum I support 100%. The people earned the right by following the process to have the voices heard through a people’s initiated referendum.

  13. Anonymous says:

    He is right about the facts here:

    1. The referendum was triggered and a vote must happen.

    2. The government cannot ignore the referendum even though they have pulled their support for the proposed cruise berthing facility. This still does not answer whether the Caymanian voters want a future government to build it.

    3. Caymanian voters will be going to the polls anyways. It will be the perfect time to find out if this is something the people would want.

    Government is quite happy to sweep this under the rug with all of the other bad decisions they have made since they were elected. They hope that the pandemic would make us forget. But, we will not forget their incompetence and their greed. Time for the voters to have their say on these important matters that affect these islands.

  14. jeff says:

    Mario while I agree a referendum is needed, I think we need to consider a suite of options. To do that government should have setup a display of the various options to vote on not just this one.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yawn. And I vote to never let a conspiracist and anti-vaxxer (such as yourself) anywhere near the title of Minister (of Health).

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