PPM leader baits premier on Bush’s link to PACT

| 08/03/2023
McKeeva Bush Wayne Panton Cayman Islands, Cayman News Service
McKeeva Bush (left) and Wayne Panton

(CNS: After McKeeva Bush was charged Wednesday in relation to allegations of indecent assault at a Caribbean Tourism Organization cocktail reception at the Ritz-Carlton hotel last September, Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart accused Premier Wayne Panton of attempting to disown the veteran MP. The PPM leader baited Panton after the premier referred to Bush as an “independent”, pointing out that Bush had been instrumental in the formation of PACT and well rewarded for that support.

“It was Mr Bush’s assault on a female in 2019 and his insistence to remain as speaker following his
conviction and sentencing for that offence in December 2020 that led former premier Sir Alden McLaughlin to call for early elections in 2021,” McTaggart said in a press statement following Bush’s appearance in court

“It was precisely because of our concerns regarding Mr Bush’s conviction that we refused to campaign with or form a government with him following those elections. Following the 2019 assault, now Premier Panton claimed he was resigning from the Progressives as a matter of principle because Mr Bush had been allowed to remain as speaker following his conviction,” the PPM leader stated.

McTaggart said that despite the supposed principled stance before the 2021 general election, Panton had agreed to Bush becoming speaker after the election in order to form the PACT Government, as he pushed the premier to take responsibility for the West Bay representative.

“It seems that the premier is now hoping that the public has forgotten this and is seeking to distance himself from Mr Bush by asserting that Mr Bush is an ‘independent member’ and not a part of his government. Premier Panton may also be hoping that the public has forgotten that Mr Bush, along with other members of the PACT Government, has signed a Parliamentary Code of Conduct, which they published this past New Year’s Eve. We wait with bated breath to hear how the premier will address the current situation under the Code of Conduct,” McTaggart added.

In his response to the charges against Bush for allegedly assaulting at least two women at the regional event, Panton had said that the charges laid against the long-serving independent MP were serious and concerning. But he said he believed in the justice system of justice and the principle of innocent until proven guilty. “I have faith in our courts to resolve this matter,” he said.

Panton stated that whatever the outcome, the incident raised wider social issues about the treatment of women in the workplace and in our society. “Almost every woman has had inappropriate experiences,” he said. “We, as a society, must do better.”

The premier pointed to his government’s introduction of the draft Sexual Harassment Bill, which is currently out for public consultation and “offers the country an opportunity to have the uncomfortable
but necessary conversations about how we do a better job of treating each other with the respect
that we all deserve, regardless of gender”.

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