By Staff Writer
The process of healing after a very fractious election campaign took a positive turn during a meeting of the Parliament on Friday with speeches by new and re-elected MPs.
Many parliamentarians lamented the negative tone of the campaigning with personal attacks they endured especially via social media.
Already the Governor has instructed the police to investigate these cases.
The 12 MPs of the governing PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) coalition, and five of the seven opposition Progressives and Independents Alliance present, nevertheless pledged to lead the country through a healing process.
A SNAPSHOT OF KEY COMMENTS
HON. SABRINA TURNER, Prospect, PACT (Government)
“It has been an experience like none other but one for which I am grateful to be part of a dynamic team who genuinely has people and country first, not self.”
The first-time MP was subjected to severe criticism and protests for switching between the two competing factions during the negotiations, eventually returning to the PACT group.
“I am absolutely certain that I did the right thing...but most importantly, recognising that democracy works when you the people become more educated of the election process, get involved in the community, and go out and vote.”
HON. JOHANNY ‘JAY’ EBANKS, North Side, PACT (Government)
“The lessons coming out of this election is that our islands were ready for a change. Collectively we answered the call...We will be the government that all Caymanians can trust. A government that will provide the service that our people want and need, a government that will restore the faith and confidence in its leadership and on rebuilding the economy.”
MP Ebanks was later singled out by Hon. Deputy Premier and MP for Bodden Town West, Chris Saunders, for his role in holding the PACT coalition together.
HON. DWAYNE SEYMOUR, Bodden Town East, Independents Alliance (Opposition)
“Whatever I can do, especially with the experience and protecting our people from COVID community spread, I'm willing to give whatever advice and whatever help that I can do on any committee you create. The people have spoken and whatever is good for the country and I can support, I will do so.
“It’s also my first time in the opposition. It does feel a little bit weird, but I'm sure it will be a great source of experience.”
Mr Seymour also recognised the women who were elected, saying, “I applaud the historic election in choosing five women as MPs.
HON. JOEY HEW, George Town North, Progressives, Deputy Opposition Leader (Opposition)
Mr Hew did not mince words in denouncing aspects of the campaign, especially via what he called "the unregulated world of social media”.
“The past few months have been one of the most arduous experiences in my political career. The influence of the unregulated world of social media caused confusion amongst our people. The final days of the campaign and the six days following the results, explores the ugly side of politics and our people. The hatred and aggression towards each other in front of the world to watch left a stain on our country.”
Saying that he “endured relentless attacks on my character, attacks on my family life, and my integrity”, Mr Hew thanked his constituents for re-electing him and recounted his accomplishments in office.
HON. ROY MCTAGGART, George Town East, Progressives, Leader of the Opposition
“Mr Speaker, the past six weeks have been quite stressful and challenging for every one of us in what has been a very keenly contested election. We're now at the end of this election cycle. With the election on Wednesday, of the Hon. Wayne Panton as Premier of this country.”
Giving his first official speech since the election, Mr McTaggart said he has an experienced group of MPs with him on the Opposition benches and that they will hold the government to account - but will do so respectfully.
“I promise also that I will be respectful of every Member of Parliament and will never respond to resort to personal attacks. I also recognise this morning that any new government will need time to become acquainted with, knowledgeable of, and comfortable in their new roles. I've been there, so I know first hand. The opposition will give them a period of time to do just that.”
HON. BARBARA CONOLLY, George Town South, Progressives (Opposition)
“It has been an extremely difficult six weeks for me. And as the member for Georgetown said, it's been almost unbearable what the social media has actually alleged about me and my family, and it's just really been very difficult for me...It was the most difficult six weeks of my life. I can honestly say that my campaign was a clean and dignified one.”
HON. CHRIS SAUNDERS, Bodden Town West, PACT, Deputy Premier
“I am very happy with the events of last week. I'm very happy with the way things turned out because, one; it is a process, and two; it gave the Caymanian people and the world a first-hand view of the metal that now sits on this side of the parliament...and the world got a chance to see firsthand the power of the special interest group in this country.”
In a barnstorming address in the wake of a fierce election campaign and coalition negotiations, Mr Saunders who is strongly tipped to be the finance minister, also gave an indication of policy approaches which he said will prioritise Caymanians.
“We're not here about blaming the previous government. Every single one of us inside this chamber is now 1/19th the owner of the problems of this country. And we have to fix it....What happened has happened, is where we are today, and where we will move on from there," he added.
HON. JULIANA O'CONNOR-CONNOLLY, Cayman Brac East, PACT (Government)
“And so I view that as the election having been passed, the midnight hour fast approaching, the Governor issuing the proclamation, and I stand weighing the balance. Will I go down in history as destroying the engine of the good ship Cayman because I could not be the captain, or will I get on board to plug in holes that I possibly could plug, small though they may be? I took the decision, cost it what it may but I will stand on the side of keeping the good ship Cayman afloat.”
It was her dramatic decision to depart from the Progressives camp and join the PACT coalition which cemented the new government’s majority. She said the remit from her constituents was to be in government.
The Cayman Brac East MP credited her former Progressives Unit government colleagues for guiding Cayman through the pandemic and ensuring the jurisdiction’s finances are intact.
She also condemned the tone of the campaign, particularly abuse directed at her and her family, but said she was inspired by former American First-lady Michelle Obama.
“As my mentor from a distance, Michelle Obama has said, when anyone goes low, it is my distinct choice to go high and I will take that choice today.”
HON. BERNIE BUSH, West Bay North, PACT (Government)
“I know we have a team that cares. We have a team that I do hope continues to operate the fact that nothing is behind a wall, everything is transparent, because I do know this, our Caymanians must be put first.”
Recounting some of the more vicious aspects of the campaign, Mr Bush said, “I had so many people call on me to do exactly what the member from Cayman Brac East said; ‘just take the high road’. And take the high road I did.”
HON. WAYNE PANTON, Newlands, PACT leader, Premier
“I am equally confident, Mr Speaker in this government. They have shown immense courage, strength of character because what they have been through over the past week, is how you forge steel...in particular, those who were newly elected.”
Mr Panton distanced himself from the negative tone which clouded the election campaign.
“The approach to our campaign was based on running an issues-based campaign, not going after anyone, not getting down into anything which was negative other than confronting the issues. And and I'm very proud of that.”
He also addressed the opposition benches and extended his respect to Opposition Leader, Roy McTaggart.
“I want to acknowledge a man that I know to be a very decent man, a very capable man as a Leader of the Opposition...And I know that your job and the job of your teammates is to hold the government accountable. I don't think any of us have any doubt that you will be a formidable opposition.”
In closing, Hon. Premier Panton summed up the dual responsibilities of both Government and Opposition saying:
“At the end of the day, this is about all of us working together in the best interests of our country, in the best interests of our children, so that our futures and their futures are protected.”
Also speaking were other MPs present along with the Hon. Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and Hon. Attorney General, Samuel Bulgin.
Absent were former Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin (Progressives - MP, Red Bay, Opposition) and former Deputy Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell (MP - Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman, Opposition).
27 Jan, 2020
15 Sep, 2021
15 Sep, 2021
15 Sep, 2021