Independent Member of Parliament (MP) for North Side, Ezzard Miller, has set a Christmas Eve deadline for the government to set in motion the removal of Speaker of Parliament, McKeeva Bush.
In a statement, Mr Miller puts the onus initially on Premier Alden McLaughlin and the Unity government, “to please do the right thing for Caymanians and Cayman and to publicly ask the Speaker to resign by December 24, 2020.”
His demand follows the December 21st conviction and suspended sentence imposed on Speaker Bush on several assault charges.
“In the event that the Speaker does not comply, the Premier should exercise the option of convening a Special Meeting of Parliament to remove the Speaker and to have him replaced with a someone other than a currently serving Member of Parliament,” Mr Miller says.
“Considering all the circumstances,” he adds, “I urge that this meeting be convened on the first working day of the new year (January 4, 2021).”
Mr Miller cites the Cayman Islands Penal Code as the basis for his call for the Speaker’s removal while questioning what he sees as the leniency of the sentence.
Mr Bush was given a suspended sentence for two years on assault four charges with penalties of two months on each count plus a 60-day 6pm to 6am curfew along with a CI$700 court fine and CI$4,279 compensation to the female bar manager with whom he was involved in the February altercation.
“Given (i) the provisions of the Cayman Islands Penal Code, under which a person convicted for offences such as ‘common assault’ and ‘assault causing bodily harm’ is liable for imprisonment, respectively, for one year (section #215) and for five years (section #216), and (ii) the Speaker’s original plea of ‘not guilty’, with a guilty plea not forthcoming until all of six months later, the sentence handed down by the Magistrate is, to say the least, disappointing,” the North Side MP argues.
Mr Miller has also expressed disappointment with comments from Premier Alden McLaughlin on the issue.
The Premier had said: “The government will have to take time to consider the matter but what I will say about that is that there may or may not be another meeting of the House(Parliament) before the house is dissolved in March.
“I am not sure that the country will be well served now by my taking action now which precipitates the collapse of the government and the holding of early elections,” Mr McLaughlin reasoned.
In response, Mr Miller said he takes “strong issue with this position of the Premier from a number of points of view.”
“Further,” he added, “I do not think that his stated prediction on the end results necessarily obtains,”
By the North Side MP’s calculation, “Currently there are eleven members on the Government bench and seven members on the Opposition bench (five in the Official Opposition).
“If the Speaker is removed, even if fellow West Bay representative MP Capt. Eugene Ebanks does opt to ‘cross the aisle’ to join him, there will still be ten on the Government bench. Further, eight Members cannot bring down the Government.”
Mr Miller also says he would not participate in a vote to remove the Government, a decision which he says he has coveted to the Premier both privately and in his public statements.
“Nevertheless,” he insists, “I remain firmly committed to the view that we must as a matter of urgency set about repairing the breach created by the reprehensible actions and consequent conviction of the Speaker and that now further threatens to damage our Islands’ reputation locally and internationally,”
Mr Miller says he considers this “a matter of greatest priority and importance for maintaining the moral rectitude of one of our three branches of the Cayman Islands Government.
“We must maintain the values for civility, integrity and respect for our laws and rules for which our governing institutions and the Cayman Islands have always so proudly stood and exemplified,” he concludes.