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Progressives Launch Alliance

Election Center 15 Mar, 2021 Follow News

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin addresses the audience at the launch of the Progressives’ Alliance on Saturday, 13th March

Cayman Islands Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell delivers his remarks at the Progressives’ Alliance launch at AL Thompson’s in George Town on Saturday, 13th March

The Progressives formerly know as the People’s Progressive Movement, along with several Independent Candidates, now collectively known as the Alliance, hosted the formal public launch of their 2021 bid for Parliament in the AL Thompson’s parking lot on Saturday, 13th March.

A sea of red shirts listened to the candidates outline their accomplishments and aspirations for the future of the Cayman Islands.

One of the highlights of Saturday’s event, was the introduction of the Islands’ Premier, the Honourable Alden McLaughlin, who received a resounding welcome from the audience on hand for his efforts to keep the Cayman Islands safe during the pandemic, which resulted in no loss of life and the creation of a ‘bubble’ that has seen the Islands become the envy of the world, with virtually no restrictions such as face masks and lockdown being necessary after a protracted period of defence.

Mr. McLaughlin spoke about his time in Government and his delight at seeing his successor as Party Leader and possibly the next Premier of the Cayman Islands, the Honourable Roy McTaggart taking the reigns.

“The Opposition has its place, but to get anything done you have to be a part of the Government,” he noted.

“I cannot go any higher ladies and gentlemen. I have been to the mountain top but it is important for me to use my experience and time in the Government to guid the new Premier and the Government,” he said.

He added that, “What I am doing now is out of love and concern for my country and people.”

Mr. McLaughlin also spoke about his concerns regarding an alternative Government led by either Ezzard Miller of Northside or Arden McLean of East End.

“I am scared to thing what would happen if the wrong people come in on the backs of what we have done. All we need are a few silly decisions to ruin what we have been able to achieve in the fight against COVID.

“They can’t criticise me on my record when it comes to our response to this pandemic”, noted Mr. McLaughlin.

Recounting his experience during the darker days of the pandemic, the Premier asked, “Do you know what it is to shut down a country and lock people in their house”?

He explained that he and Health Ministry Dwayne Seymour held 65 press conferences, along with the Governor, His Excellency Martyn Roper, whom he said he got on with well and noted that though he had a great relationship with the Governor, he was not prepared to allow him to declare a state of emergency, thereby stripping the Government of its power.

“This is the land of my birth and this was a responsibility that I was not prepared to pass on to anyone else,” noted the Premier to resounding applause from the audience.

Mr. McLaughlin then introduced his successor, the Honourable Roy McTaggart, who is the incumbent in George Town East, the new Progressive Party Leader and the Party’s choice for the Islands’ next Premier.

Mr. McTaggart danced on to the podium amid a throng of cheers and makeshift flags, made of red shirts.

“This election is about the future; Independents and Progressives are ready to form the new Government,” he said.

He added that nearly 3,000 new jobs had been created in Cayman before the pandemic and hundreds have stared and grown their businesses in the time since the Islands’ successes in the fight against the global crisis.

However, he said more needs to be done.

“When we are returned to office the goal is for everyone to have affordable homes. better education, better opportunities. We are investing in improved classrooms and sports facilities., as well as governing bodies for the public schools that will give parents a direct say in policy.”

The new Progressive Party Leader also revealed that the landfill would be capped and garbage will be used as a renewable energy source going forward.

He said the planned expansion of Marine Zones done in his Government’s tenure had been the largest upgrade in 35 years.

Sound stewardship of the Nation’s finances were also a strong point for Mr. McTaggart, whose surplus meant that the Cayman Islands Government could operate for three months without any revenue.

“The starting point is keeping people safe and rapid testing is crucial,” he said adding that in Cayman we can enjoy everyday life and that in many other countries and event of Saturday night’s magnitude would have been illegal.

“No one should be left behind and the Alliance Government is the only one that can ensure strength of country.”

New members to the Progressives’ Alliance such as Vincent Frederick, who will be running in the Constituency of Bodden Town West, told the audience that it was important for the Country to act in, “one accord” to continue to be successful in the years ahead, noting that the legacy of this Government would be hard to reproduce.

“If something is working, leave it alone,” declared the former Human Resources Manager, who has ran in previous elections but has not yet had the privilege of serving in parliament.

Another Independent Member of the Alliance, Mr. Frank Cornwall, who is running against Mr. Kenneth Bryan for the Constituency of George Town Central, made his political debut on Saturday night.

Mr. Cornwall has served as a political advisor to the Premier for the past several years and said he spent most of that time building his community and assisting the people of George Town.

“My opponent is sitting alone and can’t sit with the Government or the Opposition and so nothing is getting done,” he remarked, opining that his ability to work with the public and private sector would bode well for the prospects of the Constituency to have a voice in Parliament.

“Now is not the time for ‘still can’. This is the time for ‘will do’, he noted.

He added that sports development and protection of the environment were issues that he hopes to focus on, if elected.

Deputy Speaker of the House and Candidate for George Town South, Barbara Connolly took to the stage among a great reception from the audience and thanked voters for the privilege of being able to serve them for the past four years.

She noted that other than family, this was one of the greatest pleasures of her life.

“From a new drainage system in Windsor Park; one of the most flood prone areas in the George Town, to clearing the underbrush along Smith Barcadere and a new pedestrian crossing at the same beach, as well as WIFI service at the South Sound Community Center,” she felt her passion for the community she served was evident.

Mrs. Connolly also worked to have a beach in South Sound named after beloved Caymanian artist, playwright and community activist Consuelo Ebanks.

Cayman’s Covid success story was a highlight of the evening and featured heavily in the theme of the night’s remarks.

Not the least of which were delivered by Tourism Minister and Deputy Premier, the Honourable Moses Kirkconnell.

He lauded the efforts of his colleagues and listed some of the major accomplishments for the Constituencies of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

These include, but are not limited to a new Government Pensions office, job creation, a new General Registry Office, and the introduction of over 6,000 square feet of new office space, which he said would be ready in the next three moths.

The Sister Islands also have a new fire truck and ambulance.

From a plethora of ribbon cuttings, to now being referred to as ‘the new Miami’, the Brac has benefited greatly from the inability of Caymanians in Grand Cayman not being able to travel overseas and instead rediscovering the wonder of the Sister Islands.

He said 2019 was a record year for the tourism industry in the Cayman Islands, with over 500,000 stay-over visitors; the best ever.

“1 billion dollars came into this country in 2019 from our stay-over tourism industry and in 2020, that all stopped. 25 percent of our economy stopped with COVID,” said Mr. KirKconnell. He went onto explain the the government then had a duty to protect the workers in that industry and others.

A massive reallocation of funds then had to be syphoned from the Ministry’s marketing budget, which contributed to the stipend that was given to those affected by the abrupt closing of the Islands’ borders.

“‘Joey’ (the Honourable Joseph Hew, Minister at Commerce Planning & Infrastructure) then orchestrated a small business grant and ‘Juliana’ (the Honourable Julianna O’ Connor Connolly, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture) then organised a front for those in the agricultural industry whom had been affected.

“‘Roy’ (the Honourable Roy McTaggart, Minister of Finance) then arranged for the grant of low interest business loans worth over 200 million dollars.

Representative for the District of Prospect and Master of Ceremonies for the night Austin Harris, along with the Cayman Islands’ Premier then committed to work with the Needs Assessment Unit to make sure Caymanians in need were taken care of, noted Mr. KirKconnell, who added that Cayman could not and would not stay locked down forever.

During his remarks, the Honourable Minister Joey Hew; incumbent in the District of George Town North, addressed the audience with a reminder that unemployment numbers in the Cayman Islands were at their lowest (3 percent) just before the pandemic, which shook the world in the first quarter of 2020.

Once the stark realities of closing the borders began to hit home, Mr. Hew noted that his Ministry waived some hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding trade and business licensing fees.

Throughout his remarks, Mr. Hew reminded those on hand that the theme of the last year for he and his government was to, “put lives before money”.

The Cayman Islands’ Government implemented new strategies to make up for the shortfall in revenue due to the pandemic, however.

These included over 14.5 million dollars in small business loans and grants, the development of a new Trades training centre at the Public Works Department, which was actually started in 2017 and now avails young Caymanians of the opportunity to achieve level 1,2, and 3 City and Guilds certifications.

There have also been over 635 capital projects approved in addition to other measures, for a total of 1 billion dollars of revenue into the Islands’ economy.

Other members of the Alliance on the podium included Health Minister and former United Democratic Party Member, Dwayne ‘John John’ Seymour, former United Democratic Party Member Julianna O’connor Connolly and David White.

The Party’s Manifesto is expected to be available later this month, according to members at Saturday evening’s event.

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