Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush denied suggestions from the PPM Government and certain media houses that the former UDP government proposed very similar changes to Cayman’s Constitution as are being proposed now.
‘Our proposals were not the same thing,’ he said. ‘Even that which we proposed, we stopped the process because we weren’t finding any support for some of it. We had to listen to what the people were saying.’
The UDP government issued its policy statement in the Legislative Assembly on a new constitution for the Cayman Islands on 29 July 2004. The statement was delivered by Mr. Bush.
While conceding the UDP proposed a constitution that would have given the Cayman Islands more autonomy, Mr. Bush said it would not have put the country on the road to independence. He believes the PPM’s proposed constitutional changes would do so if they are adopted.
‘What we were asking for was not independence, but for protection for our commerce.’
Mr. Bush said the PPM was asking for some specific ‘massive powers’ the UDP government did not ask for, including the judicial review of governor’s decisions; the removal of some of the governor’s powers; having elected government involvement in internal security and the police; and having involvement in selection of the judiciary.
‘We didn’t ask for any of that,’ Mr. Bush said, adding that he believes asking for such things is ‘picking a fight’ with the United Kingdom and would put the country on the road to independence.
‘None of what we asked for could have taken us down the path to independence.’
Pointing to the PPM’s proposal to have the governor’s decisions subjected to judicial review, Mr. Bush asked what the point was in asking Caymanians to approve something the UK would never agree to.
‘If they go [to the UK] with this, it’s just picking a fight with them and it will do no good for us.’
Mr. Bush pointed to a statement made by Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts at a Cabinet press briefing in January in which he acknowledged the government had tried and failed to get the governor to intervene in the police investigations concerning the National Housing and Development Trust and the Boatswain’s Beach financing arrangement.
‘Where would the rule of law be if the Governor could interfere with the course of justice?’ Mr. Bush asked, adding that he believes it shows the PPM government is making a play for more power even before a new constitution is approved.
‘I believe they are trying to make a case to the people that they need more power,’ he said. ‘If they can prove to the public they have a case and they can get the public’s support, they can get the power. But the people do not want this government, or any government, having these kinds of powers.’
Speaking at a public meeting last Monday, Mr. Bush said Cayman was not ready for where the PPM was taking the country with its proposals for a new constitution.
‘I don’t think any one of us in the UDP – not me or any of us here or anyone going to go with us – or anyone in the PPM, is ready for the kind of power they are proposing.
‘I don’t want to tell the police what to do; I don’t want to appoint judges; I don’t want any of that,’ he said.
Mr. Bush also dismissed the PPM assertion that what it was proposing for the new constitution were only things that had been granted to other British Overseas Territories. He said the arrangements Britain had with Bermuda and Gibraltar were not possible for Cayman.
‘Gibraltar is part of the European Union,’ he said. ‘It’s a much more advanced country. The UK has already said we were not going to get all the same powers as places like Bermuda and Gibraltar.’