Opposition motion complicates speaker’s removal

| 28/09/2022 | 136 Comments
Cayman News Service
Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush

(CNS): With Hurricane Ian distracting the government and the country from the current political controversies, the deadline issued by Premier Wayne Panton to Speaker McKeeva Bush came and went Friday without any sign of the speaker’s formal resignation. As of Wednesday evening, Bush still hadn’t stepped down. But with an opposition no-confidence vote in the government on the order paper for next week’s parliamentary meeting, the challenge of ousting Bush from office has been complicated, Panton has implied, as the opposition seeks to take political advantage of the situation.

Although Bush had told the premier in messages earlier this month that he would step aside, since then he appears to have re-thought his voluntary departure. Bush has also denied in social media postings that he has done anything wrong in the face of sexual harassment allegations that triggered the latest scandal surrounding the veteran West Bay MP.

Responding to CNS questions about the failure of Bush to resign in line with his request and the next steps he would take, Premier Wayne Panton indicated that the opposition motion had created new difficulties.

“As you know, I issued the speaker with a letter strongly suggesting that he resign the Office of Speaker on or before September 23rd,” Panton told CNS. “After dealing with the threat of Hurricane Ian, unfortunately, we now have other matters to deal with. After I called for the speaker’s resignation, the PPM filed a motion of no-confidence in my leadership and in the entire PACT government.

“It is interesting to note that in respect of issues surrounding the speaker in early 2021, the PPM’s response was to seek the dissolution of Parliament, and now on this occasion, they are seeking to dissolve the government. Against that backdrop, one is left to question their priorities,” he added.

While it’s not clear what either Panton or Bush plan to do now, the speaker’s position clearly remains untenable. But the reality is that he currently retains the seat and control of the parliamentary order paper, though not issues that directly impact him.

Former North Side MP Ezzard Miller, who is well known for his keen understanding and accurate interpretation of local Standing Orders as well as Erskine May, the UK’s parliamentary guide book that is known as the Bible of parliamentary procedure, said Bush cannot preside over his own demise. Miller said it must be dealt with by the deputy speaker. But he also said that the opposition’s motion for a vote of no-confidence, which Bush has reportedly accepted, would not remove Bush from office.

“Even if the motion were to succeed in removing the premier, it won’t bring the speaker down,” he told CNS, noting that Bush was voted into post by a majority of MPs and it would take 13 of them to vote to bring him down. Miller said that whether the government wins or loses, Bush would remain in office until there is a vote of no confidence in him or an election is called.

At this point, the opposition motion looks likely to fail as it will need 13 votes to succeed. But the question has been raised over why the PPM opted to file a no-confidence vote in government rather than in Bush. Miller also pointed out that there are problems with the opposition’s motion as they are calling for a no-confidence vote in the whole government but the rules call for a no-confidence vote in the premier.

In any event, to win a no-confidence vote the opposition needs 13 votes and have only six members, so they would need ministers as well as government back-benchers to vote in favour of it. Such a vote would be tantamount to an admission of failure on their part and a poor start for the Progressives if they plan to poach any of Panton’s front-bench team to form a new government.

CNS understands that the opposition had been planning a no-confidence vote in the government for several weeks. The PPM leader recently said they were aware of concerns raised by some PACT members which had led them to believe that the government was vulnerable. However, we have asked the opposition leader why he chose to file that motion now rather than filing a no-confidence motion against the speaker, since the PPM have publicly stated that they also believe the speaker should resign, and we are awaiting a response.

In the meantime, Miller said the opposition may have overplayed their hand. He said Panton has a number of options, such as calling for a special meeting or an early election, which may not go very well for the opposition, he said.

The former PPM-led government chose to call an early election last year because then premier Alden McLaughlin was reluctant to deal with the speaker directly. Since Governor Martyn Roper allowed that early election to happen, Miller said, the political precedent has been set because of the reluctance of those in power to deal with Bush.

Miller said none of this was good for the country or the legislators. “At some point the dignity and reputation of the parliament has to take priority over political machinations,” Miller told CNS.

At the moment, unless things change in the coming week, Bush remains in office and could still preside over the next session of parliament, when government hopes to steer through a busy legislative agenda. Some of the bills the government is hoping to pass include a historic overhaul of the Poor Relief Law, an amendment to the Traffic Act to reduce the amount of alcohol that drivers can consume before getting behind the wheel, and a change to the Education Act to mandate anti-bullying policies in schools.

But it is now expected to deal with the PPM motion. Despite the differing opinions among the PACT members, the coalition of independents is expected to hold in the face of the no-confidence vote. It will, of course, give 18 of the 19 elected members the opportunity to either condemn or praise the current government, but it is likely that the government will need to call a separate session of parliament for a no-confidence vote on the speaker if Bush continues to force the issue and cling on to the speaker’s chair.

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Category: Politics

Comments (136)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think Wayne Panton and Big Mac but needs resign or get removed from office. Both them have absolutely no integrity. Get them both out caymanians. Let’s do action !!!

  2. Anon says:

    Are we saying that we have an authoritarian style Govt where rogue politicians can self-determine whether they stay or go?

  3. Darlene Mckenzie says:

    what must be done before our MP’s take our bills too our parliament for too pass they must have publics meetings in all of our constituencies too get pur constituents feedback on what they expect they must get. Not just a few sitting around a table doing what they want. pass the bill too remove the urine test from our laws that were used against our generations of locals especially our males sent them too prison destroyed them in every wwy you can think about from an early age.

  4. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva is a power-mad, undereducated holder of questionable “honorary” degrees which mean shit; a gardener who enriched himself in politics at our expense; a person with no ethics nor shame – who has a strangle-hold on the moron voters of WBW for life.

    Anyone think he’s going anywhere voluntarily?

    Governor is a p***y by stepping back and leaving it to the politicians, knowing full well that Mac has a hold on most of them and a no-confidence motion will fail.

    OT Office in UK needs to step in!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You should have a radio talk show – would be entertaining!

    • Anonymous says:

      Leave the Governor out of this please, it’s a Parliamentary issue and must be dealt with by the elected Government. Are we not yet that mature ? We must keep running to mother for help? Wayne simply needs to show he is a leader and stop being such a bloody wimp. He’s hidden behind his money for years and let that do his talking but in politics character morals and integrity mean something and in those areas he is severely lacking

    • Samuel says:

      I think that the governor is quite right to give us a chance to sort this out ourselves.
      Although we are a young democracy, these inflection points give us a chance to to prove our ability to handle our own affairs and learn how to handle difficult situations. I truly hope that there is enough courage and integrity in our elected officials to put country first when dealing with a rotten apple in their midst.
      If that can’t be shown then I agree that the UK should consider taking some action. However, it’s a sad reflection on us if we need mother country to lead the way here.

  5. anonymous says:

    Stop with the smoke screen and blaming the PPM. Panton doesn’t have the votes on his PACT side and he knows it that is why he isn’t filing a motion to remove him. Plain and simple. Why is the media not asking the Marl Road Premier that question? For anyone who listened to his well rehearsed rubbish yesterday with SH yesterday. There is your answer.

    • Sick'ning says:

      Mackeeva should have a modicum of common decency and resign. Someone who has had a vote of no confidence against him three times? Have some %&*# shame, man!


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