Give constitution the nod

I have read the draft C.I. Constitution and the Explanatory Guide before making my comments.

I found the Explanatory Guide quite helpful. I do wish that more people would read these documents for themselves, before just going along with what one group or another may be advocating. Although I am no lawyer, I think I got the gist of what the constitution is saying even if I did not understand all of the language. I have also listened to some of what the Constitutional Secretariat staff and Mr. Steve McField have said on the radio talk programmes; and I think if anyone needs advice on understanding the Constitution, they should call or e-mail one of these persons.

I see nothing wrong with the revised Constitution. There are parts that I wish would have been omitted, such as the increased amount of Members in the Legislative Assembly, from 15 to 18, as I feel that 15 members were enough and it will cost the Government more in salaries and also more to now establish boundaries for the additional electoral districts.

I really do not see where it will make any difference what the Leader of Government Business in the LA is called, i.e. Premier or Leader of Government Business, but I suppose calling him/her Premier is progress. I do like the sharing of power between the Governor, the Premier and/or Cabinet, and in some instances some of the decision-making also includes the Leader of the Opposition, especially as regards Commissions, etc. I do notice that the Governor will still have reserve powers, as we are still a British Overseas Territory, and that is to be expected. I like the idea that the non-elected (ex officio) members of the Legislative Assembly will no longer be entitled to vote in the Legislative Assembly.

As for section 16 (i.e. Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities – Non-discrimination section), I don’t see anything too drastically wrong with that either. Since our ministers of religion have agreed that it is OK, then it also has my vote. We should always remember it can be changed later, if necessary.

Re. People-initiated referendums – pg. 56, sec. 70(3) – makes allowance for a referendum to be binding if assented to by more than 50 per cent of persons registered as electors. I think that the majority of those who vote (not those who register) should be the deciding factor. I think it should be those who vote because if the others didn’t vote, after registering, they really should not be taken into account at all.

Since the final draft has now been agreed, after many years of consideration, by the present Government, the opposition (and including some non-Governmental organisations) and the UK Government, I see no reason to delay the approval of this final draft Constitution. The UK Government will not agree to any changes now before the Referendum date.

A revision of the constitution was well-overdue; this one is definitely more Cayman-friendly, in other words our Caymanian representatives will have more say in our own Government. This is a little constitutional advancement, which I hope will eventually lead to more constitutional advancement, but I don’t think that our small Islands will ever be able to achieve independence; we will always need someone to help us with our external affairs.

Thanks very much to the Government for spending a lot of time on educating us, with documents, on radio and TV, so let us not waste that money, let’s vote ‘yes’ for the new Constitution. Vote ‘no’ for those candidates running for election who say they will vote ‘no’ for the Constitution – but candidates there is still time to change your minds so let us know your final decision.

Marilee Parsons

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