Opposition fights to be heard

| 01/11/2010

(CNS): The role of the Legislative Assembly as a place of democratic debate is being further undermined as a result of government ignoring parliamentary questions, the opposition has claimed. PPM member for George Town, Alden McLaughlin, says government has still not answered more than ten questions submitted by the opposition in the last session as they are required to do under Standing Orders. Aside from rushing through laws and suppressing debate on bills and amendments, he accused government of closing down the opposition’s only other options of querying the workings of government through parliamentary questions and members’ motions. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The former Cabinet member pointed out that the opposition cannot just raise issues at will in the Legislative Assembly, and in order for them to represent the people as an opposition they have to get the topical issues that people want addressed onto the business papers of each legislative session.

“The only time we are permitted wide debate is during the throne or budget speeches, otherwise we are limited in the matters we can raise,” McLaughlin said. “In order to bring matters before the House for debate the opposition must file private members motions or ask parliamentary questions, otherwise the legislature is limited to the government’s agenda.”

With just a few avenues open to them, McLaughlin said government was closing the opposition down by stonewalling, ignoring questions and not placing opposition motions on the business agenda.

“We have over ten questions outstanding from the last meeting which the government should now have answered in writing as they failed to answer them in the Legislative Assembly,” McLaughlin said. With still no written answers on the eve of the next meeting, the opposition had attempted to get the questions placed back on the order paper for this week but it has been turned down because of procedures.

Since government is expected to have followed the rules the Legislative Assembly, Standing Orders are silent on the issue of what the opposition can do when government simply ignores their questions. As a result, the Speaker is obliged to turn to Erskine May, which is the UK’s authoritative work on parliamentary procedures and is what the local legislatures turn to when the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly Standing Orders are silent on a particular issue. That states that, as a rule, a questioner must wait three months to re-submit a parliamentary question.

As the House last met just two month ago, the opposition must wait until the next meeting before the questions which government should already have answered can be resubmitted. The George Town representative said the questions covered a diverse range of important topics, from the current state of government finances, the environmental impact assessment at the port, government money given to churches for hurricane defences, and what has happened to the legal aid report, all of which government will be a liberty to continue to ignore, he noted.

The government was being rewarded for abusing the process, McLaughlin observed, and while the opposition members would bide their time, this was just another example of the government’s contempt for what should be the most important place for debate.

“Technically it is correct that the questions have to wait, but the overriding consideration must be about service to democracy,” he said. “The parliamentary questions are a time honoured method by which the opposition can question the workings of government, but if government doesn’t reply in the Legislative Assembly and then does not, as is expected, submit answers in writing after the sitting then the democratic process is fundamentally undermined.”

McLaughlin said it went further than government simply ignoring the questions; they did not want answer. “This goes to the growing irrelevance of the Legislative Assembly for national debate as the government adjourns to the talk shows,” the opposition member added.

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  1. MER says:

    Why are 3/4’s of our MLA’s about 200 lbs overweight and half the island is on grocery vouchers????


  2. Anonymous says:

    The problem with the opposition is that they are not strong enough to be an effective opposition. They need to take the fight outside the LA and their biggest mistake was pulling the rug from under Charles Clifford’s public march.

    I hope they realise now how scared McKeeva was of that march. The planned march stopped the sale of the new Government Administration Building and if they had held the march it would have stopped the damaging immigration policy changes too that has marginalised Caymanians and put thousands more on the path to Caymanian Status.

    Shame on the opposition.

  3. New Party says:


    As usual there is a lot of talk and no action, by now there should have been an initiative to trigger a referendum and a call for a vote of no confidence in the house. But all we are going to get is more of the same – speeches, talk show appearances etc etc no one has the spine to stand up to the dictator because he has secrets holding for all of them.
    I am going to make a request, from now on, I want every person posting on this site to use the title "New Party" as a sign of solidarity for the new party that IS being formed…..we need to make it clear that although we need to hide behind anonymity for the time being, we are united and our New Party will guide and protect us…..


  4. Devil's Advocate says:

    I pray that UDP and PPM supporters who were on the fringes and voted for these parties, now realise the intelligent, Independents who ran for election last year should be given a chance. Thank goodness some of them have displayed their true loyalty with the UDP or PPM, so at least they should not be considered next time, or once again we will be stuck with ‘yes’ men/women.

    In my opinion, both parties owe the big businesses and influential (not necessarily intelligent or concerned for the future of these islands) persons too much to demand fairness, accountability and responsible governance.

    PPM supporters, I do agree that many of our problems are due to the UDP’s majority government, but please let’s end thisKurt vs Bush saga and next election, forget the politicians who are looking out for themselves, or those who are there and simply too ‘nice’ to stand up for what they know will be in the best interest of citizens and residents. There are too many intelligent people supporting one party simply because they feel loyalty due to friend/family connections. Trust me, after they have gained their millions they will be able to take their families and run, leaving us and our kids with the mess.

    Think Straight…Vote Smart

    In the meantime, let’s hope that those who want to lead are letting us see and hear what they feel could be done now. When we are told ‘substance’ can be placed second to ‘process’, I think that signals we are in for even more challenging times.

    Vote Straight….Vote Smart, Strong Individuals!!!



  5. Anonymous says:

    It makes one wonder what planet Ezzard is living on as if we were an independent country we would be in a world of hurt.

    Independence Ezzard is misguided.

  6. Anonymous says:

    governor, where are you?

    • The watcher says:

      The Governor is waiting for the inevitable outcome of letting a fool lead a country into such a mess that the people of said country will cry to mother for help.  All he has to do is wait a little more.

      • The Original Anon says:

        Let us all pray that that is what the Governor is doing.  A couple of months ago somebody posted the Governor’s address and e-mail.  Please post it again.

  7. Anonymous says:


    Where is all the transparency that Bush and Glidden promised and talked about at election time. A bunch of lies as they have no intention of ever being transparent because being truly transparent would expose their self interests.

    Welcome to the suppression, oppression, secretiveness, influence, XXXX self interest and lack of all transparency and responsibility of the UDP government and their banana republic.

    Welcome the Cayman Islands run by a government without ethics or principles.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Aldin. The L.A. is irrelevant. Austin is now the acting speaker of the house. I never thought I would be glad to be a colony

  9. BORN FREE says:

    Any "good" dictator knows that the only way to stay in power is to silence the opposition (one way or another).

    • Fed Up Time To Get Up says:

      Come people enough is enough !!!! While the Opposition is fighting to be heard we the people need to be doing the same, We are being walked on and ignored by the "great" premier. Time to stand up and speak up strike, march, something must be done and the time is now ! We all sit here day in and day out typing, while we worry and stress about the future and the future of our children, time for change. Remember we put this people there, therefore we too can remove them. They were put there to serve the people not to take advantage and abuse power. They are robbing us the people everyday, they cut pay, while they live extravagantly, we struggle to buy food and gas, while they feast and fly all over the world and say they do it for the people ! The people are hungry, struggling our local businesses are dying ! Our lives and Islands as we once knew them are being sold and torn from right under us. Our way of life is under attack and I’m not being over dramatic, think about it how many people can afford to take there family on vacation right now, how many times have you had to say to your kids sorry we just cant afford to buy that now ? And the sad part is it will get worse.  I say its time to take a stand in a united and orderly fashion, in a educated and dignified way as we were raised and do it now before it is too late, the longer we wait the worse it will get and the more desprate we become for change, the less effective we will be as we become overwhelmed by our situation. One voice can easily be ignored, Our voices can make change ! I beg you to really think about where we have come from as a people, where we are now and where we will be if things don’t change ?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Who is going to stop this tyrant & when? Silencing the opposition & silencing everyone opposed to him has been the hallmark of Mckeeva Bush for decades. I think it is time that someone makes a stand (the spineless wimps in the UDP will never stand up to him) & put a stop to his dictatorial behaviour before we become another Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, or NorthKorea, if it’s not to late already.

  11. Bushwhacker by trade, realist by necessity says:

    Can you say "Welcome to the Republic of McKeeva" before long Chavez and Ole Fidel will be citing and referrencing McKeeva’s methods.