Bush decries election change

| 11/12/2012

mac pointing 2.jpg(CNS): Although it was his government’s choice to amend the elections law by adding two seats to George Town and one to Bodden Town, in order to meet the constitutional requirement to increase the size of the Legislative Assembly, Premier, McKeeva Bush, has said he does not support giving the capital so many votes. Speaking in Monday's debate on the eleventh hour change to the elections law ahead of the May 2013 General Election, Mr. Bush said, “I don’t support the lop-sided position of giving George Town two more members, never mind that they have got 6,000 voters,” as he pointed to the possibility of the capital’s candidates forming the next government with the support of just one other district.

Although there were three options recommended in the Boundary Commission’s report, which was presented to the Legislative Assembly back in June 2010, Bush revealed during Monday’s last minute debate — just two days ahead of the scheduled issuing of the election writ on Wednesday by the governor — that he did not support any of them. He said the United Democratic Party had spent a considerable amount of time deciding what it should do about the increase in the parliament, but eventually decided that it had to follow the Boundary Commission’s recommendation.

He pointed to the decision to facilitate the referendum, noting that one man, one vote was a fundamental change for the Cayman Islands and he did not support putting that in the constitution at the time of the negotiations without putting it to the country first. Bush said he felt it needed to be addressed separately and the referendum result showed there was not full support. However, he acknowledged that the people did not like the idea of George Town’s voters getting such a large number of votes.

Bush railed against the opposition and said if they had wanted one man, one vote so badly they could have changed the law to facilitate it when they had a majority. The premier challenged the opposition leader’s vow to bring in single member constituencies, saying he did not believe he would ever pass one man, one vote. Bush said if the opposition was able to carry the block of six votes in George Town at the next general election, they would never want to give that up.

However, in his contribution to the debate regarding the changes to the elections procedure, the opposition leader made a clear and unequivocal promise that if the PPM was to form the next government, it would introduce one man, one vote in single member constituencies and address the numerous other identified problems with the elections law.

During the debate, North Side MLA, Ezzard Miller, again raised the potential legal problems government was setting up for itself because of the language of the constitution and the Bill of Rights, given government’s decision to allow the inequality in voting to increase.

He warned that the government could be exposed to a human rights challenge by voters who were knowingly being discriminated against, as well as other legal challenges because the elections law was unconstitutional. The constitution calls for electors to vote for “an” elected member and not several, and Miller said the premier had not taken advantage of the opportunity to address it and eliminate the risk of court room challenges.

As a result, Miller filed an amendment to change the law so that all voters just had one vote but the six candidates that received the most votes would be elected in George Town, the first four in West Bay and Bodden Town, and so on.

The attorney general told the members that ‘singular’ in drafting language could also mean ‘plural’ and vice versa, depending on the intent of the law. However, the government’s lawyer made no comment about the possibility of a human rights challenge as a result of the inequity and discrimination that the country’s voters will face across the different districts.

Miller also filed an amendment to address what he said was a growing problem in the law regarding campaign financing. He said that while candidates were allowed to spend $35,000 campaigning as an independent candidate and $30,000 per head for candidates in political parties, this only applied to the period between Nomination Day and the General Election. Potential candidates could however spend whatever they liked before Nomination Day and did not have to report it to the Elections Office. Miller said that television airtime was already getting booked and paid for, which would not be counted in the campaign finance reporting procedure and created the potential for serious imbalance in campaigns.

The independent member said the limit on spending should just apply to the entire election campaign, regardless of when it was spent.

The premier rejected both of Miller’s amendments but he said that the campaign financing allowance needed to be raised as it was not enough to cover an election.

“What we need to be doing is admitting that it costs money to finance an election and you have to spend,” he said. Bush said the law could not cover the period before Nomination Day as no one was an official candidate until then. He spoke out against the advertising rates and noted that it was very expensive to advertise on the television, radio and in the local newspaper during a campaign (although he failed to note how inexpensive advertising is on CNS).

Bush also complained about the cost of having to take down all of the signs, posters and billboards by midnight on the eve of the general election. He said this was extremely expensive because it had to be done so quickly, but thought it was a pointless exercise as it made no difference to the outcome by that time.

The amendment to the elections law was brought by Dax Basdeo in his capacity as acting deputy governor. The only amendment that was made was to allow for the two additional seats in George Town and one in Bodden Town. The government carried the vote, despite the emphatic lack of support for the amendments from both of the independent members.

Although the Elections Office has made a number of recommendations about the need for a number of other amendments to the law, no other changes were made.

Following the debate and the vote, the premier moved a motion to adjourn the House until January, when legislators will return after the Christmas and New Year holiday.

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Category: Politics

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He decries the additional MLAs in GT, what a joke when he had the chance to implement the democratic process of one man one vote and instead he obstructed democracy and manipulated its failure, so Mr Premier you are only receiving what is due to come to you which is absolute disgrace and shame. How the almighty bully has fallen in in the name of greed and self interest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It' sooo obvious that since it's NOT going HIS favor, he is now AGAINST the new seats. We didnt need then im the forst place. We have enough USELESS MLAs who are TAKING too much from the Public Purse… just in SALARY alone. Thank you very much.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He wants the extra seats in West Bay..I wonder why?

    Doesn't matter what he thinks currently…his ass in jail!! RCIPS, make it stick…please…

  4. Anonymous says:

    A majority of George Town said they wanted only one vote and you wouldn't take their other five away even when asked! 

  5. Frank says:

     

    "possibility of the capital’s candidates forming the next government with the support of just one other district"

     

    Umm excuse the question. but isnt this how Mckeeva has been getting in for the last God knows how many years? Hence why everybody in WB has brand new appliances.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mac really wants Georgetowners to be under represented according to their voter size and West Bayers to be over represented. Why on earth do we need so many MLA's , they should be reducing the number not increasing

  7. Anonymous says:

    We need to get rid of keke! that’s our problem!

    Braca

  8. Tickle My Pickle says:

    Im just getting tired of this crap. May couldn’t come any sooner

    • it says:

      it just did! Early elections are in order! 

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman's problem is political corruption by outsiders, this is what happens when you lose control of your country.  I am very disturbed by what has now transpired in these islands. My heart is very heavy in regards to what is happening .  The good name of this country is tainted and the only solution to this is for the UK to come in here and take direct control, get to the bottom of all this corruption and let the chips fall where they may.  Caymanians long for law and order again.  I pray for our Premier and the leaders of this country, enough damage has been done to our country because of non natives.

      • Anonymous says:

        Vladimir Putin said the same thing today in Russia, and look how democratic he is!! Parallels can be drawn- Putin does not like free press, opposition, criticism. Remind you of anyone here??

  9. Yep says:

    If only you had supported OMOV Mackster! All of this would be irelevant but you had to go on with your hard headed self and mess things up yet again. 

  10. peter milburn says:

    Little man crying foul??Live with it and stop complaining so much.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am drink with power. I am drunk with power. I am drunk with power and I feel no pain.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mac, you are so full of it. You should have supported the one man one vote initiative, then you would be playing a different tune. You sound like a baby crying! Getreal, quit whining!!
    Introduce one man one vote! Problem solved.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can't we just have OMOV with 18 independent members in their18 independent districts? That way each district would be properly represented and would have one independent member with responsibility and accountability for his own districts affairs.  

    Then (and this is a big BUT) if only these 18 independent members could get together in the LA like gentleman/gentleladies and discuss sensibly the issues for debate like mature ADULTS instead of continuing with the irresponsible, irrational behaviour, with politicians acting more like spoilt school kids ganging up on each other, having tantrums and fighting wars of words,  not to mention looking out for their own interests in the process (greed) to the detriment of the county and the standard of living for all who live and do business here.

    Cayman its broke beyiond fixing.  Lets wipe the slate clean and start again… no more of this party politics shit.

    • hmmm says:

      You lost me at independent. You C$C people still do not get it. Splitting up the vote with Independents will simply return the UDP to power.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Um, I am the original poster and while I see your point, I am absolutely NOT C4C, UDP or PPM.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what happens when the leaders of this country sit around and allow foreigners to interfere in our politics and try to muscle their way into taking control of our country.   I agree Cayman is broke but beyond fixing absolutely NOT!  The UK will come in here and clean the slate and return this country to law and order.   The problem is not entirely the leaders of this country it is also the people that encourage our leaders to abuse their powers. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    ONE MAN ONE VOTE

  15. Anon says:

    Amazing, what an embarrassment for our Island.

  16. BORN FREE says:

    He didn't want "one person one vote" & he doesn't want this. What does he want? Northward?

    • Anonymous says:

      He had what he wanted, a stranglehold with the 4 West Bay members, now the stranglers move to Georgetown and he is upset!

      What a stupid man, how do we let him get away whith it?

    • Anonymous says:

      "What does he want?"

       

      Power and money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Onward Christian solider, march him straight to Northward in bangles.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 20:16 – Will that's around the coner….11 hrs later it came closer. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Looks so, after this morning!