Although the time for public consultation on constitutional modernisation has not yet begun, it will soon. And the public should get prepared.
This is no time for Caymanians to be apathetic on the subject of the constitution, thinking nothing they say matters in the grand scope of things. Other Caymanians might think there is no sense in getting involved in the modernisation process because the constitution will not affect their lives anyway.
Both ways of thinking are wrong.
An expert on constitutional reform in non-self governing territories, Carlyle Corbin, is here this week and he came with two very important messages for all Caymanians.
Firstly, the constitution can affect your daily life. Even if you do not have a strong opinion on human rights concerns like gay marriage, the death penalty and equality for everyone in the society, you might be surprised to know that the constitution could even contain provisions that affect the cost of living, either positively or negatively.
What’s more, these provisions, once included in the constitution, would not only affect things now, but for generations to come.
As for nothing an individual says mattering, the government has repeatedly stressed that it wants to hear from the public and will take into consideration everyone’s views in order to draft a constitution that the majority of Caymanians wants. The government is so adamant on this point that it is not even saying what its positions are with regard to the constitution for fear it would skew public opinion along political lines.
Mr. Corbin warned this week that if Caymanians don’t speak up about the constitution, they may end up not having the issues that really matter to them addressed.
When the time to speak up comes – and we’ll be learning more about that in the coming weeks – Caymanians first need to be prepared. Individuals and stakeholder groups should attend meetings such as those organised by the Constitutional Working Group, or by learning more about the constitutional reform process from the government’s Constitutional Reform Secretariat located at Elizabethan Square.
That way, once the consultation process begins in earnest, people can participate from an informed perspective and know exactly what to expect.