The method of debate

On behalf of Generation Now, I would like to use this medium to publicly thank the panellists for their participation and the public for their support for the recent Generation Now hosted debate on One Man, One Vote, Single Member Constituencies and in particular for the questions addressed to the panellists. We believe that this event has played a significant role in educating the public about the issues.

However, we have received feedback from a few that some persons perceived that the panel was imbalanced because, in response to the moderator’s question, four panellists indicated their support for one man one vote single member constituencies, while Mr. Cline Glidden alone supported the status quo. I did provide Generation Now’s response to this charge at the debate but it appears that it is worth repeating for those who may not have been either present at the event or listening to the live broadcast on Radio Cayman.

I think it may be helpful if I set out the way the selection of the panel is approached by Generation Now. First, Generation Now selects a topical issue of national importance then determines which persons have publicly articulated a position on that issue who either represent a significant body of persons or have relevant experience or expertise.

Finally, from among those persons, we seek to obtain as broad a range of perspectives as possible among the panellists. In respect of this debate, we considered that it was a foregone conclusion that the following persons would be invited as panellists: (1) Mr. Ezzard Miller as the sole Independent MLA and one of the two movers of the petition for one man one vote, single member constituencies, (2) the Premier as the Leader of the UDP who has publicly stated that he is fundamentally opposed to one man one vote and single member constituencies and (3) the Leader of the Opposition as the Leader of the PPM who had indicated his support for the issues except for the Sister Islands, but had previously questioned the urgency of the petition.

Generation Now considered that we needed, as an objective resource person, a member of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which had conducted significant research and considered the pros and cons of one man one vote and single member constituencies and multi-vote, multi-member constituencies. As Cayman’s first qualified female attorney (and the only woman on the panel) we considered EBC member Ms Adriannie Webb a good choice. We were not aware of and did not seek to know beforehand her personal views on the issues.

As a long-time general elections radio commentator, a member of the public who had given his own detailed submissions to the EBC (which differed in some respects from the views of any other panellist) as well as a prominent supporter of the UDP, we considered that Mr. Dick Arch’s perspective would be invaluable.

In order to ensure equal numbers of proponents and opponents we could, for example, simply have asked the Premier and Mr. Miller to supply two other persons to support their respective positions. However, the likelihood is that we would have had six panellists but only two perspectives in that scenario and this would have detracted from the richness of the debate.

We do not consider that artificially selecting an equal number of proponents for one man one vote single member constituencies on the one hand and multi-vote, multi-member constituencies on the other would necessarily have provided a balance of the perspectives in our community or a thorough discussion of the relevant issues which was our objective.

In closing, in our view the panel was balanced in that each panellist approached the discussion from a different perspective, had their own position independent from the other panellists and gave their own reasons for advocating for or against the issues and together they represented a broad cross-section of views in our community.

Olivaire Watler

On Behalf of 
Generation NOW