An otherwise sedate Legislative Assembly meeting boiled over into anger Thursday as Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush and Cabinet Minister Arden McLean clashed over the controversial Matrix International scrap metal contract.
A shouting match between the two broke out after Mr. McLean again avoided answering questions about the situation with Matrix International.
Mr. Bush had asked what due diligence the Government had done on the overseas person that owns the company. Matrix International is 60 per cent Caymanian owned, with the other 40 per cent owned by Canadian Bruce Young.
He asked whether government had a surety that could be used to assist Caymanian business people that Matrix has left out of pocket.
‘Can the government at least commit to meet with the owners of these Caymanian companies?’ he asked.
‘Has the government been paid? Has Matrix taken out the most expensive metal and left the rest? Just what is the position between the Government and Matrix?’ demanded Mr. Bush.
In response Mr. McLean said there is a question in the LA’s order paper on Matrix that he intends to answer during the house’s next sitting Wednesday.
Mr. McLean lashed out at recent Net News stories on the issue, which he described as propaganda, particularly allegations that out-of-pocket contractors have not been able to get meetings with him.
‘I don’t know where the Leader of the Opposition is getting all this propaganda from but he and the Net News seem to be in cahoots, trying to embarrass someone … assisted by (former MLA and Net News journalist) Lyndon Martin as well,’ he said.
‘I don’t know which one of the contractors tried to hold any meeting with me but that is a downright lie,’ said an emphatic Mr. McLean.
Speaker of the House Edna Moyle rebuked Mr. McLean for this, saying his language was unparliamentary.
‘Well it’s stretching the truth and whoever said it is not telling the truth,’ said Mr. McLean. ‘There has been no official request to me to hold any meeting with any contractor with regards to Matrix.’
Mr. Bush said Mr. McLean was again dodging questions on Matrix.
On Monday, Mr. McLean declined to answer a Finance Committee question about Matrix. He argued that the question fell outside of what could be asked because the time period of the financial year fell prior to the country entering into a contract with Matrix.
However government documents indicate the contract did commence within the relevant 06/07 financial year (Caymanian Compass 23 November).
Mr. McLean accused Mr. Bush of trying to bully and embarrass the Government by saying he was dodging questions over Matrix.
‘There was no substantive amount or question in Finance Committee concerning Matrix and I was not prepared to answer any questions then, for him or anyone else, because it was not on the order paper,’ he said.
‘You don’t want to talk about Matrix, that’s what’s wrong with you,’ interjected Mr. Bush. ‘You’re a disgrace.’
‘The disgrace is what you have done in this country, not me,’ Mr. McLean fired back.
As Ms Moyle appealed for order, Mr. Bush shouted back, ‘You’re a part of it.’ She then adjourned the house while Mr. Bush and Mr. McLean continued to remonstrate from across the benches.