United Democratic Party leader and election candidate McKeeva Bush pledged better pay for teachers and increased training for them at a political rally in West Bay last Thursday.
‘We need to ensure our teachers stay in the post of teaching. We need to prioritise. We need to pay our teachers and stop treating them like dirt,’ said Mr. Bush to the hundreds of people turned out to a packed meeting at Ms Beulah’s yard on North West Point Road.
Mr. Bush, along with the other UDP West Bay candidates Rolston Anglin, Cline Glidden and Captain Eugene Ebanks spoke during the meeting, but UDP candidates from George Town, Bodden Town and the Sister Islands were also on the large stage.
‘The teacher must be properly equipped and retrained if necessary,’ said Mr. Bush and in reference to the People’s Progressive Movement government’s plans to build three new schools, he said, ‘They [the children] don’t need a castle to be educated.’
He said that what the PPM is spending on three schools, they could use to build five.
Mr. Bush said the emphasis must be placed on the problem child in school and they will ensure specialised care is made available at home and in school to eliminate these children’s dysfunctions.
‘We’ve got to do something for the long term and a building won’t make a better educated child.’
Mr. Bush then made an appeal to the youth of the islands. ‘I want to encourage every child to study and work hard and listen to teachers and parents and to do their homework. I beg of you for the future success of the country, this is what you must do,’ he said.
He said this is the only way to ensure the children get a good education for a bright future.
Mr. Bush said he himself had wanted to be a lawyer or a teacher. ‘But I couldn’t get it because the forces then didn’t spend on education.’
Mr. Bush also laid out some of the district needs that the UDP would be addressing in West Bay if elected, including the Beulah Smith High School and a new primary school, police station and the purchase of cemetery space.
They would also work with the churches and sports clubs to provide community programmes.
Candidate Cline Glidden spoke about some of the challenges ahead, including the financial services industry being under attack, rising public debt, and families struggling from paycheque to paycheque.
‘We’re here to take the country back,’ he said. ‘It’s time for real and decisive leadership.’
Mr. Glidden spoke about the need for technical and vocational training to ensure that Caymanians get good jobs to share in the prosperity of the country.
‘We have a hardworking society,’ he said. ‘Let’s give them that opportunity by voting for the UDP. Let’s be the generation that gets rid of poverty in Cayman.’
Crime, health care, health insurance and tourism are other areas he said the UDP will fix.
Candidate Rolston Anglin slammed the PPM for their handling of the country’s finances.
‘They’ve run the country into deficit,’ he said. ‘This Monday past they voted on the Supplementary Appropriations Bill that showed the Government will be $30 million in the hole.’
He said that growth has gone from 4.6 per cent in 2006 to 1.9 per cent in 2007 to 1.2 per cent in 2008 and will be negative in 2009.
He added that just recently they got un-audited financial accounts with the surplus down 318 per cent.
‘That’s frightening, ladies and gentlemen,’ he said, adding that the UDP would restore fiscal prudence.
‘We’ll say to the people, ‘you can’t have everything at once’.’
Mr. Anglin said the UDP would introduce measures to stimulate the economy.
‘We need a government that’s going to re-invigorate the economy,’ he said. ‘The UDP has proven that when times are tough, we provide stable, effective leadership in this country.’
He used an example of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
‘We were prepared when Hurricane Ivan struck and in five short months we had the economy back, tourism back and the financial services industry as strong as it needed to be.’
Candidate Captain Eugene Ebanks also spoke about the kinds of changes the UDP government would bring.
‘Under the UDP, life will be good again – life will get back to normal for the financial services and tourism industry.’
Mr. Ebanks said the UDP would help those living in poverty and ensure that there is job training to assist the poor to get better jobs and income security. He said the UDP would also ensure the most vulnerable in society get adequate counselling and that children in poor households get adequate nutrition and healthcare.
Captain Eugene urged voters to vote straight for the UDP. ‘A vote for an independent is a vote for the PPM – don’t waste your vote. May 20 vote straight – 1 – 3 – 6 and 8 and don’t be late.’
Sister Islands’ UDP candidate and incumbent legislator Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was also on the stage.
She said it takes eight elected members to form a government.
‘We believe the five of us will be put back. We have every faith the people of the Cayman Islands will return the candidates because you love the Cayman Islands.’