By staff reporter
Former member of the Progressives-led government and Opposition, Dwayne Seymour, this week defected to the ruling PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) coalition.
Mr Seymour, who will remain an independent, became the second member of the Progressives team to switch sides coming out of the 2021 election. The other was Juliana O'Connor-Connolly who retains the education ministry in the PACT government.
His move marks the fourth switching of political allegiances, as two other members of the current PACT coalition had also briefly signed on with the Progressives in the heat of the government formation negotiations following the April polls.
When he declared: “the message is clear!” at the end of a hastily arranged meeting on Tuesday night to alert his constituents of the impending change - and seeking their blessing for the move - it was clear that the PACT coalition had secured another feather in their cap.
The move further solidifies Premier Wayne Panton’s PACT team’s hold on power now giving them 13 of the 19 seats in Parliament, leaving the Progressives on the opposition benches with six seats.
Speaking as Parliament resumed debate on the PACT administration’s first budget, Mr Seymour echoed sentiments he expressed during his Tuesday night meeting announcing his intentions.
“Mr. Speaker, as you know, over the past week, members of the government bench, in particular the Hon. Chris Saunders, Deputy Premier, and the Hon. Jay Ebanks used this forum to public call upon me to cross the floor and join the government bench. While this was crafty political manoeuvring, it was not a decision that I took lightly or one that I was willing to make without first going back to my constituents. As members on both sides of this honourable parliament know, this was not the first overture from the government, but it was the first one in public.”
The former health minister will take up the role of Parliamentary Secretary in the PACT government serving under Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour Chris Saunders on the Labour portfolio, assisting Minister Kenneth Bryan with delivering his transportation plan, and working on executing housing and agriculture policies for Minister Jay Ebanks.
Mr Seymour was formally welcomed to the PACT fold by Premier Wayne Panton at the start of Wednesday’s Parliament, sitting shortly after he was sworn-in by Governor Martyn Roper.
“This is a proud moment for the PACT government and indeed for the Cayman Islands,” Premier Panton declared in welcoming the news member to his coalition of independents.
“The Minister for Planning has called the member for Bodden Town East, our newest Parliamentary Secretary, the missing link to the PACT government. I see this is an example of placing the country and our people first as returning to government helps to make a difference in the lives of not only his constituents in Bodden Town East, but to the Caymanians and the rest of the country as a whole. We warmly welcome into the fold,” Mr Panton stated.
It’s the latest shift in a year of politics in Cayman that witnessed a series of twists and turns during the formation of the government following the April elections.
The move initially sent shockwaves through Mr Seymour’s Bodden Town constituency and the wider Cayman body politic and comes amidst speculation that all might not be well in some factions of the PACT independent coalition.
However, remarks by both Mr Seymour and members of the governing coalition, who showered him with support on Tuesday night, confirmed that this relationship has been on the agenda since the election and moves to get the Bodden Town East MP onside have been intensifying.
What is also clear is that the parting of ways came without acrimony, a point made by both Mr Seymour, the new PACT compatriots and a statement from his erstwhile political associates in the Progressives camp.
Mr Seymour, the independent MP and former minister of health in the previous Progressives-led coalition had also campaigned with the Progressives under the Alliance banner and sat with them on the Opposition benches.
Appealing to his constituents during Tuesday night’s meeting Mr Seymour made a number of observations about the path he was embarking on. Among them:
“Everyone is saying get something done for Bodden Town East. Go and get it. They're saying the government is inexperienced but what experience has shown me is that they're getting things done.”
“Please trust me on this, ladies and gentlemen. I've never led you down the wrong road and I have always delivered for my district of Bodden Town East.”
“Some may have a problem with that, I know. And I apologise if you don't like the decision that I'm making. You can call me and I'll come and speak to you once the situation matures in that area.”