People’s Progressive Movement Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin asked the attendees of the constitutional review public meeting at the Family Life Centre on Monday not to allow politics to derail the constitutional modernisation process.
‘A whole lot of things are being said that really have very little basis in fact,’ he said, mentioning specifically comments by members of the Opposition and former executive council members Truman Bodden and John McLean.
‘They’ve said words to the effect that if our proposed constitutional changes go through, independence is only a referendum away.
‘All of that is absolute nonsense.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the PPM’s proposed changes to the constitution were not moving the Cayman Islands toward independence.
‘This is a fear I hope you can put to rest,’ he said. ‘It is a ploy, I believe, which is being used to derail this process.
‘If the process isn’t able to run its course, it will prevent probably the greatest display of democracy this country has ever seen in the form of the referendum.’
Mr. McLaughlin urged the meeting attendees not to allow others to dissuade them. In the end, he said the people had the final say.
‘This government is committed to a process that leaves the decision in the hands of the electorate.’
Mr. McLaughlin said that most of the changes proposed by the PPM government had already been made in other UK Overseas Territories.
‘We’re proposing nothing radical,’ he said.
Former UDP cabinet member and Speaker of the House Linford Pierson agreed with Mr. McLaughlin.
‘I hear you say there are those who wish to derail this process,’ he said. ‘I don’t feel you should allow that to happen. It would be a travesty to this country.’
Mr. Pierson said it had taken seven years to get to this point in the constitutional modernisation process.
‘If [the process] is allowed to be derailed, it could take another seven years before we have a new constitution.’
When it comes to the constitution, Mr. Pierson said Cayman was the most backwards of all the U.K. Overseas Territories, and yet it was the most successful. He believes Cayman needs a new constitution now.
‘We should move ahead,’ he said. ‘We should move ahead with caution, but nevertheless, we should move ahead.’
Leader of Government Business also urged the public to stay focused on the constitutional review process.
‘It is important not to get crossed up between this exercise and the politics of it,’ he said. ‘This is not about us as politicians. It is certainly not about me; I’m sort of over the hill now.
‘It is about a framework for a constitution for our children and our grandchildren and all future generations.’