Monday evening drew the curtain on the current session of Legislative Assembly and opened the official start of the political campaign season.
Governor Stuart Jack issued proclamations dissolving the Legislative Assembly at midnight and officially setting the next general elections for Wednesday, 20 May.
Lawmakers stayed almost until the very end, giving a prelude to some of the issues that may become important in the race for office.
Elected members often use the ending hours of a Legislative Assembly to thank members of their election class and to give swan song speeches. There was some of that Monday evening, but politics came to the fore in many of the members’ comments.
The afternoon began with an argument between Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush about the state of the country’s economy.
Mr. Bush accused the government of ignoring his party’s repeated warnings about what they deemed excessive spending, while Mr. Tibbetts responded that the opposition party offered no plan for an economic turnaround, only criticism of the ruling party’s plans.
Tourism Minister and Bodden Town MLA Charles Clifford ran through a list of almost every single public works project completed or started in his district by the People’s Progressive Movement government. He then defended his decision in 2004 to remove files from the Ministry of Tourism upon his resignation from office, a matter that became the subject of a UK-led Commission of Enquiry last year.
Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin, the subject of a semi-serious offer from Education Minister Alden McLaughlin to join the ruling PPM earlier in the LA meeting, chastised the press for making much of the story.
‘I…am going to give it everything I have to ensure there is a change in the government of this country,’ Mr. Anglin said referring to the upcoming elections. ‘A colleague said he has his finger on the pulse of this country. The pulse is weak. There are long breaks in between. This country is in desperate straits.’
Members of the government’s backbench also were at pains during Monday’s speech-making to call for unity between what George Town MLA Lucille Seymour referred to as ‘frontier’ Caymanians…those who were born here…and new Caymanians…those who had been granted status by government.
‘We need to get over this view of ‘I am Caymanian, but you have Caymanian status,” Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden said.
‘We have neglected in ‘skilling’ our people,’ Mrs. Seymour said. ‘And perhaps that is why there is a perception of difference between the frontier Caymanians and the new Caymanians.’
George Town MLA Alfonso Wright spoke of the importance of maintaining political parties within the country, an oft-debated subject in the last several years. It’s also likely to be a key issue with a slew of independent candidates running in the upcoming elections.
‘An independent can win an election…but what do they have to do after they are elected?’ Mr. Wright asked. ‘They have to go look for someone. The country benefits when those who are elected work together towards a common goal.’
Almost every speaker also took time out during their debate to congratulate Speaker of the House Edna Moyle on her retirement from politics. Mrs. Moyle will not to seek re-election in North Side district, giving way rather to People’s Progressive Movement candidate Joey Ebanks.
‘(She) reminds me sometimes of my mother; tough but loving,’ said Mr. Bodden.
‘You have served your country well for many years and for that, we applaud you,’ said Opposition MLA Capt. Eugene Ebanks, addressing Mrs. Moyle.
‘You’re one of those very special people that no matter who you ask in this country about Edna Moyle, they feel as though they have a special relationship with you,’ Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell said, also addressing Mrs. Moyle.
Although Mrs. Moyle is not standing for election, it is possible she could be nominated as Speaker of the House again if the assembly decides to choose a non-elected member to oversee Parliament.