Contrary to earlier announcements, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush will not be attending the Generation Now debate set for tonight to review the ‘one man, one vote’ issue.
The debate is scheduled to begin around 7pm Thursday at the Harquail Theatre.
Mr. Bush was initially set to attend the debate with Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller, Electoral Boundary Commission member Adrianne Webb and Richard Arch, described on the Generation Now flyer announcing the event as a “concerned citizen”.
West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr. will be attending Thursday’s event in Mr. Bush’s place, the premier’s office confirmed late Tuesday.
“The premier will not be at the Generation Now ‘one man, one vote’ round table discussion due to his scheduled commitments,” said Press Secretary Charles Glidden. “Cline Glidden [Jr] will be attending. The premier had told organisers he might not be able to attend and that Cline would attend if he didn’t, but apparently Gen Now never checked for a confirmation before putting the premier’s name on their flyer.”
Thursday’s roundtable will obtain panellists’ views on whether the country should stay with its current multi-member, multi-vote electoral system; or if Cayman should instead be divided up into 18 separate voting districts – each which would send one person to the Legislative Assembly every four years.
Right now, Cayman’s two largest districts – George Town and West Bay – send four candidates, and voters in those districts get to cast four separate ballots for the people they support. Bodden Town voters send three LA representatives, Sister Islands voters get two, and one MLA apiece go to East End and North Side.
That will change in 2013, the first general election held under the new Cayman Islands Constitution.
George Town will grow to six representatives and Bodden Town to four. All other districts are expected to remain the same.
Mr. Bush’s position on the matter, as well as Mr. McLaughlin’s and Mr. Miller’s, is well known. Mr. Bush doesn’t support single-member voting districts; Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Miller do. Mr. Miller and East End MLA Arden McLean are circulating a petition around the Cayman Islands asking for voters to sign up – hoping to force a referendum on the subject by November; prior to the country’s next general election in May 2013.
Mr. McLaughlin supports single-member voting districts, but doesn’t believe the territory should rush into a public vote on the matter.
Mr. Bush has said holding a referendum outside the general election in May 2013 could cost the Cayman Islands between $500,000 and $750,000.