Archive for April 18th, 2009

Dignity prevails in debate

Dignity prevails in debate

| 18/04/2009 | 62 Comments

(CNS): In what will probably come to be remembered as one of the most dignified of the Chamber of Commerce’s candidate district forums, Sandra Catron and Anthony Eden had a mature and sophisticated debate on Thursday evening comprehensively covering a number of important local and national issues. As the insults flew down the road on the hustings of the PPM’s Bodden Town rally, in the Savannah United Church voters heard intelligent discussion.  

Despite being one of the youngest candidates in the election going head-to-head one of the oldest and most experienced, Catron ably held her own as Eden demonstrated why he is one of Cayman’s most respected politicians and Catron one of the most promising. Discussing issues from the civil service to communication in government, the two Bodden Town candidates articulated their agreement and disagreement rationally.

One area of clear disagreement between the two was the issue of Cayman’s constitution. Eden stated that he absolutely supported and encouraged everyone to vote yes. While admitting it was not perfect he used the behaviour of the current governor and the mistakes made in the investigations regarding the police and the judiciary as an example of why there was a desperate need for a new constitutional arrangement to reduce the power of the office.

“We must do something about the constitution as we can’t let one person have all this power,” Eden said. “I am happy that London agreed that the leader of government business will sit on the National Security Council and in future we would avoid having that one person committing million’s of dollars without consulting the elected officials.”

Catron, however, pointed out that the constant mantra that the constitution was not perfect was what concerned her and she wanted to know why the people should be expected to vote for something considered imperfect.

“I am voting no and the reason is because I have heard people say it is far from perfect and how can we as a people accept something that is far from perfect. What standards are we setting ourselves?” she asked. “I refuse to settle for something that is far from perfect when it is going to govern the people.” She said that the constitution did not treat everyone equally because of the involvement of the church, and she said she believed in the separation of the two. “We should all be treated equally under the constitution.”

Asked what the most pressing environmental issue was, Anthony Eden said litter was a major problem and that tipping and dumping laws need to be enforced. He also described the George Town dump as unbearable for people but he believed his colleague Arden McLean was working diligently on resolving that, which he said he was supporting.

Catron noted that probably the biggest problem when it came to the environment in Cayman was the collective attitude. The fact that we have not established a definitive environmental plan, that we haven’t addressed the dump, that we are not looking at the water shortage which concerns the wider world, that Cayman does not seem concerned about recycling and we are not asking people to approach their consumption from a different perspective were all problematic. She explained that something as simple as 2% of households switching to doing household bills on line would save some 200,000 trees and people were not aware of how much impact little changes can have.

“We need to start educating the population in general in terms of how they at an individual and community level can make a real contribution. We have very few natural resources here in the Cayman Islands and it should be a primary concern to protect it,” she said adding that it was time to start somewhere even if it was just recycling plastics or bottles.

The candidates agreed on rollover, future plans to have civil servants contribute towards their health care, a need for better communication in Cabinet between the governor and the elected officials, and the quality of the Cayman Islands law school. They disagreed about how to tackle serious crime. While Eden said it was time to stop pussyfooting around with the hardened criminals, lamented the loss of the death penalty and called for a need for tougher punishment, Catron noted the long term failure to address the causes of crime. She also said the increase in violence in Cayman was gang related and instead of pretending this was not a problem here, we need to recruit international experts, particularly from LA, who knew how to address this kind of societal issue. She said it was time to take it seriously before it became too big to tackle.

“We don’t have anyone trained to deal with gang violence here,” she said “However, there are those in the US from LA, themselves former gang members, that have devised effective programmes  that help grab these young people from the clutches of gangs and address the problems that lead to them joining.”

The two politicians answered questions on local district issues and both made it clear they were running for office to serve and not for any personal gain. In their closing statements Eden said he was committed to helping the young and old of Bodden Town, and had demonstrated that over the last sixteen years. Whichever future government he served in, he said he would continue to do that. Catron said on May 20 it was between God and the voter who they chose, but she was sitting there because she was asking for one of the Xs. She said when she takes on an issue, as a doer, they would know she would follow through. Catron said she was committed to giving up her business interests and she guaranteed the people of Bodden Town that she would be the hardest working representative in the Legislative Assembly.

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