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PACT UNITED

Front Pages 08 Oct, 2022 Follow News

PACT UNITED

GIVES ITSELF A PARLIAMENTARY PAT ON THE BACK

By Staff Writer


 

An atmosphere of coalition congeniality prevailed over what seemed to be heading for a contentious meeting of Parliament on Friday.

With the opposition Progressives absent, the ruling PACT coalition of independents devoted the session to detailing their achievements and plans since they took office in May 2021.


 

The Progressives had boycotted the meeting, the first session for the new parliamentary year, over objections to a refusal by the Deputy Speaker, Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, to accept their motion of no-confidence in the substantive Speaker, McKeeva Bush.

That issue which revolves around serious allegations of misconduct against the Speaker was the topic of much debate in the days leading up to the meeting over the authority of the Deputy Speaker and interpretation of the constitution.


 

Mr Bush, who presided over Friday’s meeting, has also tendered his resignation in a letter dated October 3rd to take effect on November 30th in response to the wide publicity given to the allegations against him.

He had previously been set an ultimatum in a harshly-worded letter by Hon. Premier Wayne Panton to step down by September 23rd.

Mr Bush had also incurred the ire of HE Governor Martyn Roper who also called on him to resign over the serious allegations swirling around him.


 

During last Friday’s meeting of Parliament, the PACT coalition unanimously accepted the Speaker’s resignation. There was no debate or comment on that specific agenda point.


 

In one of several statements he had issued prior to Friday’s meeting, Mr Bush had said he would continue supporting the PACT coalition after he demits the Speaker’s chair.

He has not been charged with any offence related to the current allegations.

The RCIPS which is investigating the matter had said in a brief statement before Parliament resumed: “Following a number of media enquiries on the matter, the Commissioner of Police confirms that the investigation file on the incident involving a senior politician on Tuesday, 13 September, is nearing completion, and will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.”


 

During Friday’s meeting, Mr Bush outlined in great detail several key parliamentary matters that he has been overseeing with a view to having them implemented, including a Code of Conduct.


 

The Progressives had also filed a motion of no-confidence in the PACT coalition led by Hon. Premier Wayne Panton, but their boycott of Friday’s meeting resulted in the motion being struck from the Order Paper.


 

However, with the floor of Parliament to themselves, the PACT coalition government unanimously supported a counter 'motion-of-confidence' in the PACT government tabled by government Parliamentary Secretary Dwayne Seymour.

Mr Seymour, an independent and former Progressives Health Minister, had crossed the floor to join the PACT administration after briefly staying on the opposition benches following last year’s election.


 

“Mr Speaker, as a former member of the opposition party and minister under the former administration, I believe I am uniquely qualified to assure and reassure this honourable parliament that this PACT administration retains the confidence of the people of the Cayman Islands, and myself in a personal and collective capacity. This confidence is critical to the stability in the future of the Cayman Islands,” he stated in tabling the motion.


 

Speaking in favour of the motion, Panton loyalist and Parliamentary Secretary Heather Bodden, defended the PACT coalition of independents.

“PACT’s diversity makes us stronger,” she stated. “Our commitment to peace, prosperity and our people is unwavering. We're not beholders to paymasters. We're independent and free to act in the best interest of the people of the Cayman Islands. We are committed to making the Cayman Islands even better for this and future generations.”


 

Speaking in a personal capacity later in the meeting (after the Seymour pro-government motion was already passed), the Hon. Deputy Premier, Chris Saunders, lambasted the opposition for their absence.


 

“I'm speaking personally, at this point as I did not discuss this with my colleagues, but I really have a fundamental problem in accepting the absence of the opposition here today,” he declared.

“We have many Caymanian families Mr. Speaker, they get up every day and they go to work...Having a problem or an issue with somebody is no reason to not show up to work. And you cannot be in the business of representing hardworking decent people that get up every morning and go to work in the conditions that are not necessarily ideal for them.”


 

And he went on: “Mr Speaker the salaries that members in this honourable Parliament get paid is not a small amount compared to the salaries that many workers get and they don't have that luxury. When it's time to work, Mr Speaker, it's time to work.”


 

The opposition Progressives under the leadership of Roy McTaggart have six members of the 19-member Parliament. Two of their former ministers - Julianna O’Connor-Connolly and Dwayne Seymour - had defected to the PACT government.


 

The Progressives have insisted that they will maintain their boycott of Parliament until the Speaker’s resignation takes effect on November 30th.


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