Premier: ‘PPM handed us a snake’

While criticising the derisive and divisive politics in the Cayman Islands, Premier McKeeva Bush slammed members of the opposition party for “handing us a snake” in turning over the reins of government back in 2009 with an $81 million operating deficit.  

The premier’s comments came Thursday in his response to budget debate in the Legislative Assembly. Following the premier’s comments, the interim two-month budget was passed along party lines with eight government and back bench members approving the $85 million temporary operating budget; the five opposition and one independent LA members abstaining from the vote and one member being counted as absent.  

The government will have to come back to the House before September with a full budget plan for the fiscal year that started on Sunday and which will end on 30 June, 2013.  

“Every new government hopes to be handed a fish when they over,” Mr. Bush said. “What the PPM handed us was a snake. We asked for bread, and they gave us a stone – and not any ordinary stone – a millstone around our necks.”  

During his earlier debate, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin had called on the premier to stop carping about what occurred in government three years since Mr. Bush’s administration took office and produce a responsible budget.  

“I’ve never been more worried about the state of affairs in this country,” Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday. “I have never seen such recklessness, such inattention to duty. Almost three and a half years in charge, you can’t blame me for your inability to produce a budget; even if it has a deficit.”  

Mr. Bush said the former People’s Progressive Movement’s “excessive and wasteful spending” had left the United Kingdom in a position to approve or disapprove of any budget Mr. Bush’s government puts forth. Mr. Bush said earlier during the week that the UK had rejected his government’s budget plans twice in the month of June.  

“So no, we must not only find ways to repair our finances and protect our independence and the future of these Islands, we must also do this while being subject to the agenda of the UK,” Mr. Bush said.  

Mr. Bush said that agenda included the governor “hollering about good governance” and “his hit men” in the auditor general’s office carrying on their “partiality and rascality”.  

Officials with the auditor general’s office declined to comment on those statements.  

Mr. Bush said government had already placed a “freeze on all hiring” and would likely have to resort to other budget cutting measures in the weeks ahead to balance the 2012/13 spending plan. He did not specifically state what those measures might entail.  

The premier also opined that “opposition politics” seen in recent years “can’t continue if the country is to remain stable”.  

“They oppose everything, then moan and whine all day about why things aren’t improving, complain about the lack of jobs and growth, then go out and march against the very investments and projects that can create them,” Mr. Bush said. “They should be tarred and feathered for gross mismanagement in high office.”  

Premier Bush said Thursday that if he had the opportunity to lead another Cayman Islands government following the May 2013 elections, he said it would be a government where “every member of the House will sit around a table in the government administration building and have a hand in the policies and things that need to be done in these Islands. 

“This will be an attempted – while there will remain a Cabinet – to stop the dirt, underhandedness and outright sabotage going on against government. 

“If I win in the next general election, every MLA will then have to accept their share of accountability, no matter their party affiliation.” 

McKeeva Bush Cayman Islands

Mr. Bush
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41 COMMENTS

  1. Technically, Mr Bush is right.

    The last government 3 and a half years ago. Put the country so much in the red. That if DART hadn’t paid the civil service salaries for that 4 months. As well as other loaning institutions, loaning money. And finally the UK helping.

    The Cayman islands would have been officially bankrupted by the last government. No way to pay the civil servants for at least 4 to 6 months. Once the new government took over.

    Now look at the loans that had to be taken out. If you borrow 35 mil. You don’t just pay the 35 mil back. You pay the 35 mil back with ALOT of interest. That means, even today. I am sure we are still paying off loans that had to be gotten to keep the island from going bankrupt.

    Unfortunately, all this responsibility, fell on Mr Bush’s lap.

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  2. The PPM leader seems to forget that the country and
    the entire Caribbean region was worried sick of the financial state of our country, the Cayman Islands; when the UDP took over the reins in 2009.
    The Premier is to be commended for undertaking such a hopeless situation as other prudent professionals/economists would indeed disassociate themselves from a government inheritance of a bankrupt public purse for fear of being passed on the baton with a stigma odious with gross overspending, and abuse of the public purse and improper planning for building schools etc. It means putting at risk one’s reputation. The premier has put his reputation on the line to fix the economy of the Cayman Islands.
    Caymanians lets face it, most brilliant politicians would postpone running for office or even accepting the office of premier for fear of being stigmatized
    for the incompetence and reckless spending of the predecessors, i.e. PPM.
    Our eyes need to be opened taking a keen look at what is really happening to the people of the Cayman Islands.
    The PPM has destroyed the economy of the Cayman Islands.
    In addition they have put every stumbling block in the way of any and all plans for development in the Cayman Islands that will create an environment that will create jobs and put people back to work.
    Thus the government is forced to seek revenue from the work permit sources, while the opposition beat up their gums criticizing government for every proposal of development, very contentious and contemptuous.
    Let us not forget the state of the public purse when the UDP took office in 2009.
    We can not replace a government with an incompetent PPM government that was the problem that was replaced.

    For the PPM to urge people to again re-elect them to repeat the incompetence heralded in election 2009 is utter madness and they certainly are not playing with a full deck!
    The PPM must realist that they are fast losing support from Independents as well as their so called diehard voters. People are sick and tired of the divisiveness and pulling down structures without the ability to construct an edifice is futile and unworthy of respect.
    Most of us supported some of the criticism against government if we thought they were moving too fast or needed more public consultation, however, when we realized that the opposition HAD NO PLAN, we had to quickly shift our focus on helping the present government build the country instead of joining forces with those who can only contribute negativity and criticism, having no plan at all. To date the opposition has not presented a plan to the L.A. nor the public.

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  3. It’s not like when you took the job you didn’t know what you were getting into. Man-up and get it done and quit complaining. Cut all the fat and some of the meat in the government wasteland and maybe you can see your way back into the black. Your biggest allies are the folks at the AG’s office who can do the numbers.

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  4. I don’t know why McKeeva is going back into the past about what the PPM did. It has been three years now. He is the Minister of Finance!

    Hence, in this PRESENT TIME, he and he only is responsible for the state of this country. Three years is sufficient time to break free from any PPM curse on the country.

    I wish he would stop blaming everybody for his incompetence!

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  5. The heart of the problem is the two party system that encourages political pandering by both sides. Where are the statesmen of the past who put country first and politics second? Very sad now that the only person who is willing to save Cayman from certain financial ruin by saying No to big government spenders is a bureaucrat in London.

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  6. I think Bush should let PPM take over. Lets see what the PPM can do, no disrespect to the UDP camp. Lets see how far objecting to every thing and not having a plan gets Cayman. Let see what anti-development and anti-business gets us. Business and development is what will drive Cayman for the foreseeable future.

    PPM has been hollering all along, take a look at Ezzard and Arden, they are like a football referee at a UFC match, calling foul for every move, they either don’t realize we are fighting for our lives or don’t care. Bush knows this and thats why I support him.

    Yes Bush cuts the red tape and bureaucratic BS because he can as Premier and sure he skirts regulations sometimes at the risk of loss but time is a luxury we do not have right now. If PPM got elected in 2009, you can bet that we would handing the keys to the country over to the British right now just like TCI. The PPM might please the by the book crowd, but ultimately it would take them decades to get anything done.

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  7. Who will lead this country to sustainability is my question. Do We need an Environmentalist.

    Cutting Red tape and bypassing policies seems like someone in a hurry, and when you are in a hurry you make mistakes. And when we are about the business of our children’s island inheritance we need make no mistakes.

    Who said we need this or that for tourism..

    I remember the PPM drive for what they said the cruse ships operators wanted, was more island atmosphere, the tour guides wanted to take the tourist East to see the country.. Now the UDP say they want birthing.. The one constant is the cruse industry. Having an efficient way to unload and load, and having choices in island experience for their paying guest..

    So what are the cruise industry saying?. Is it, if we don’t build the birthing they will not come, or that we can gain more by doing so..

    With that understanding: A feasibility study is in order to show the flow of the cash. Gain more for whom. With use of public funds the benefits of such a project should be widely dispersed to the public and to replenish the public purse.

    We also would want to know in a way of an agreement that if we build it they will come..

    I hope the next leader is an environmentalist. I believe Cayman is at a time in it’s history where we need someone who can wear many hats comfortably.

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  8. Beenie…

    He doesn’t have to hand over anything…that’s going to happen in less than a year’s time anyway.

    And then the merry-go-round circus starts all over again on a new cycle..until the next time…and so on and so forth.

    Every 4 years one lot, the PPM eg says, ‘look at those lot of UDP idiots, they can’t run the country…look what they’ve done…vote us in, we can do better’

    Reverse the role for the UDP…same thing…and after 4 years of abject failure, each lot, both UDP and PPM, are pointing fingers…it ain’t our fault we ain’t fixed nuttin…its that other lot’s fault things were so bad we couldn’t do nuttin wid it..its dem fault, not ours.

    Well, this time’s been the worse so far…

    Has anyone considered just calling in the Brits to take ove the place and run it their way ?

    They certainly can’t do a worse job than these UDP and PPM morons.

    If they’re left up to it…there won’t be anything left to run, soon.

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  9. Well if you were handed a snake, you at 3 years ago told us you were a snake wrangler ! I guess not. So if you cant do the job, lets get a snake wrangler in here.

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  10. As usual, nothing is ever the Premiers fault. What a sad place these Islands have become, still its probably one the best places in world to live , despite the increase in crime, economic problems and political animosity!

    One thing is certain in my opinion, this Premier with the help of his cronies has destroyed these beautiful Islands.Anyway time and history will set the record straight even if a lot of us won’t be around to see it!

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  11. @big berd

    Now look at the loans that had to be taken out. If you borrow 35 mil. You don’t just pay the 35 mil back. You pay the 35 mil back with ALOT of interest.
    You should tell that to McKeeva who was planning to borrow another 80m even though we all know the state of the country’s finances while giving away millions of dollars. Stop making excuses for his incompetence.

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  12. Speaker. are you missing the point? That Bush HAD to take out loans, due to the PPM’s handling of the economy, where the government was so broke, that Dart had to pay the salaries of ALL civil servants for 4 months? After UDP took over!

    Did you miss that part?

    Bush took over a government that was around 125 million in the red. 125 million! When our annual budget is around 480 mill. That’s like you losing 1/5th of your mortgage payment, and you have no savings…where you going to get that money?

    This is obvious stuff people.

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  13. @ big berd
    I think YOU are missing the point. PPM’s handling of our finances has little to do with the current budget or I should say lack of one. How can you possibly justify giving away millions of dollars in ‘nation building’, solar panels and free house repairs, reversing the civil sevants pay cut of 3.2% and then borrowing 80m? He then had the nerve to claim there would be a small surplus.

    btw Bush claimed it was an 81m deficit in 2009 but now you are saying it was 125m. By election time you will say it was 200m. The bottom line is however much we inflate that figure it does not excuse Bush’s poor performance now. It is not a multiple-use ‘get out of jail free’ card.

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  14. Sounds like the PPM will be back in charge next year. I can’t wait to see what they do when it’s thier turn at bat.

    This is what I’m sure it will sound like. We’ve cleaned up the mess caused by the last administration and gotten projects off the ground such as the Shetty Hospital, CEZ and the For Cayman Investment Alliance which has put people back to work. We’ve brought life to the East End with projects such as Ironwood. Oh and by the way we have also balance the Countries Budget after the 800 Kazillion Dollars deficit left from the UDP.

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  15. Correction

    No, I stand by the 125 mil deficit in 09. Because that is what it was.

    And if you just think for a moment. We are still paying interest on any loans from the UK and abroad.

    High interest.

    That and the fact that the global economy is in a downswing. Is why we cannot bounce back.

    Bush has decreased the deficit since he took office. It’s now what…40ish mil? Even vs your 81 mil. That’s an accomplishment! REALLY think about this. PPM we were minus 125 million. Or 80 if you want to go by your figures…understand that? I will say it again… MINUS 125 or 80 mil at the end of their year. The government and the island was BANKRUPT. What do you not understand about this? If Dart had not bailed the civil service out. You would have had no government services for 4 months. Unless everyone in the government was willing to work for 4 months for free, without pay. Because the government had no money to pay their salaries. Are you understanding it yet?

    No police..No judges…no garbage removal, no road repair, no electricity subsidization, no NOTHING. Am I getting through yet?

    And if that had happened, it was due to PPM spending more money in their final year, than the island could sustain. With 5 or 7 building projects (I cannot remember) started all at once.

    Point the finger at bush for giving away money all you like. You think PPM didn’t do the same thing?

    Bush’s government is now only 40ish mil in the hole. Even if we use your figure of 81 mil. That is amazing he can accomplish this.

    I think one more term and she should be able to get it at least even.

    If we go with your 80 mil deficit. We only make 480 mil a year. To run an entire country. We can’t just pay off 80 mil like that. Because then we would need to take 80 million from something or somewhere else.

    I like my roads pot hole free, my garbage removed on time, my goods coming in, with little issues, thanks to customs. And everything else the government must pay, But does not tax us for.

    I don’t get why anyone would complain about Bush…compared to what the PPM did in office when they were in power. How the heck do you bankrupt a country!!!??? And whats more amazing is people can overlook that HUGE issue and say oh well, lets give em another try.

    BOOM as the sound of my head exploding.

    If you can’t understand that. Then your going to call an apple an orange all day, because you believe it’s an orange. No point even trying to reason this out.

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  16. @ big berd, you keep saying my figure of 81m. It’s not my figure. That is McKeeva Bush’s figure after first saying it was 74m (http://compasscayman.com/caycompass/2009/06/16/Gov-t-deficit-rises-to-74M/) and it is still not audited so we don’t know if it was exaggerated or not. It is quite possible that he inflated the figure so the public would give him a blank cheque to do as he liked and he would be credited with saving country from the brink of disaster – just like you are doing. He obviously wouldn’t understate it. You haven’t explained how you got 125m so I can only assume you made it up.
    None of the financial statements since have been audited either so we don’t know whether the claimed surpluses and reduced deficits are real. I suspect they are not. There is no way that you can go from 125m deficit (according to you) one year to a 25m surplus the next in the middle of a recession with an economy that contracted by 11%. Did he cut expenditure by 150m? These figures are all smoke and mirrors. Don’t be a party stooge. Think.

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  17. Big Berd, I do agree with your outlook on this whole thing, but as I recall the deficit left by the PPM was 81 Million. This is still a dreadful amount so Speaker should not try to downplay it. I hear a lot of people saying that Bush must have just made up that number. Tell me this if the 81 Million dollar deficit was not true, why has the PPM not attempted to prove that it wasn’t and why haven’t they put forth their own numbers if these were so wrong. With all the talking Alden and Miller has done against Bush, I find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t fight this number if it wasn’t the truth.

    Like I said before, I would not be surprised at all to see the PPM back in office next year, because the PPM have effectively turn quite a bit a people against him with deception, well placed rumors and a lot of scare tactics. So it doesn’t matter what he has or hasn’t accomplished, the damage to his character has already been done so people are going to doubt and question anything he says or does and the people of Cayman seem to be very easily swayed by politricks..

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  18. @big berd. Re-reading your post I can see why you are missing the point. You are confusing debt with deficit. The government is not paying off PPM’s deficit, it has created its own deficits by mismanagement of the public purse. Deficits only relate to that year’s revenue and expenditure.

    @NJ2Cay, you obviously haven’t been reading/listening to the news. MLA Arden McLean has tabled in the house a cabinet note from the FS saying that as at 31 March, 2009 the deficit was only 18m. He was also projecting a deficit of 29m. The issue isn’t downplaying 81m but asking whether that figure is real since it hasn’t been audited. The government is in charge of the audit so at the end of the day only they can prove what the real deficit was. But have chosen not to do so. Why?

    deception, well-placed rumours, and scare tactics. That is a perfect description of Bush’s tactics. Do the AG’s reports fall in that category? Are the three police investigations for ‘financial irregularities’ announced by the FCO, the Governor and the Police Chief rumours? You need to come off the Kool Aid. Any right thinking person knows that he is fast destroying what is left of this country and ought to be removed from office.

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  19. According to the Premier, we ended the 2010/2011 budget year with a 25 million surplus. Any deficit from the 2008/09 budget year is no more relevant now than whatever the deficit/surplus might have been in 1999. A budget year is a budget year.

    Here are some excerpts from what the Premier had to say in December last year:

    Premier McKeeva Bush, who is also the Cayman Islands’ Minister of Finance, said in late August that a modest pay raise for government workers was possible since Cayman ended the last budget year with a 25 million operating surplus. In his Strategic Policy Statement on 1 December, Mr. Bush announced the government was facing a 4.5 million operating deficit for the current financial year of 2011/12.

    http://compasscayman.com/caycompass/2011/12/14/Civil-servants-get-3-2-per-cent-pay-raise/

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  20. These previous comments just prove my point that it’s likely the PPM will be back in charge next year.

    Speaker, I have been following this whole story for a while and I did read about Ardens letter in the CNS regarding an estimated 18 M deficit, this letter I believe was dated 30 April. However the same article stated that in June 2009 the FS forecasted a deficit of 68 Million.

    I can understand why people would doubt rather any of these numbers are real or not, what I cannot understand is why people would put so much faith in either the PPM or the UDP, when they both seem to have their flaws and are clearly playing tag with who gets to run the country this time around.

    Deception, well-placed rumors, and scare tactics, to me that sounds like the tactics of anyone trying to get in the big seat. As far as the Financial irregularities. Yes these are well placed rumors and conspiracy theories, If there was any truth to these investigations why has there been no charges filed after such a long time? Because news of an investigation is all that’s needed to destroy someone’s character , it is really convenient that they were announced when they were. Your reaction to all of this just proves my point. These are all strategic moves made by people playing chess with Cayman as it’s game board.

    I’ve heard people say he is destroying the Country, I’d really like sometime to put this in perspective and detail exactly how he’s doing this. Just the facts. And if he is removed from office, who it is that would be better to be in that office?

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  21. NJ2Cay,

    Nothing in any of my posts placed any great faith in either of the parties. I am simply calling the matter as I see it. The PPM bungling is history.

    Clearly none of the numbers have credence since they vary so wildly and they are not audited.

    For anyone who understands that the first investigation was initiated by a Grand court judge (and not politicians), has read the publicly available evidence, considered the timeline of events and heard Mr. Bush’s ‘explanation’ of it realises this is a very serious matter and it is ridiculous to dismiss the investigations as rumours and conspiracy theories. Burying your head in the sand shows blind faith in Bush.

    You can go ahead and ignore the damage he is causing to our international reputation, the appearance that these Islands are now completely corrupt, the damage to our relationship with the UK, the risk of a TCI style UK takeover, the reckless actions which are costing taxpayers millions of dollars (Cohen, GLF and TJI), the great personal extravagances at public expense, the shockingly embarrassing words that come out of his mouth, the blatant incompetence in fiscal management, the disregard for the rule of law, the unwarranted and intemperate attacks on the Auditor General who provides the only measure of accountability we have, the efforts to curtail FOI and freedom of speech and the climate of fear and intimidation, but I as a Caymanian cannot. You can always pack up and leave but I cannot.

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  22. @NJ2Cay

    I had missed this gem from your post:

    I have been following this whole story for a while and I did read about Ardens letter in the CNS regarding an estimated 18 M deficit, this letter I believe was dated 30 April. However the same article stated that in June 2009 the FS forecasted a deficit of 68 Million.

    1. If you have been following this story for a while then you would know that the number was resisted by the PPM from the very start and was recently backed up by a copy of a Cabinet note from the FS. You should not therefore have pretended that they had never been any dispute.

    2. Since the PPM demitted office on 20 May, 2009 how would a revised forecast of 68m by the FS in June, 2009 (which apparently was still off by 13m) have assisted them?

    3. How can the forecasts increase so dramatically in such a short space of time – from 18m to 29m to 68m to 74m to 81m, all in the space of 3 months? And again from a deficit of 81m in 2009 to a surplus of 25m 2011? This suggests lack of proper modelling and a competence issue.

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  23. Well I guess you’ve explained it all Speaker. One question I have is with the Elections less then a year away, who will be the best people to run the government next year ? Bush, Arden or Ezzard ? Am I correct that these are the only choices?

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  24. @ NJ2Cay – I for one trust none of them. If the OMOV pulls through, I appeal to everyone to get off the party bandwagon. The more you listen to them, is the more likely you will support them. Avoid them and their gatherings like lice. Party members have nothing to say that is to your interest… most everything they will say is for their party’s interest and winning the elections.

    Both UDP and PPM have destroyed this country, and will continue to do so if we don’t vote for the OMOV and we vote them in again. More Independents in the house is the better it is for Cayman. Because when Independents come together, they are not following no one but themselves, and they will debate the issues and come with practical solutions as to how they will represent their district.

    Partisans do the opposite. They like to follow their leader, avoid debating the issues, and make laws to their own benefit so they can get reelected. Party is first and the People last! So I appeal to all to avoid party influence as much as possible.

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  25. Curious Bodden, how will OMOV effect or change Party affiliations and loyalties? Also outside of Miller are there any independent candidates that have a chance on winning over the UDP or PPM ? These are the only people I see striving for the big chair..

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  26. It won’t change affiliations and loyalties, but it would make the MLA more accountable to the people. The implimentation of the single member constituencies being 18 altogether, one MLA per constituency voted in by one vote per each person… for sure it will make the 2013 candidates work more at representing their electorate in order to get seats in the LA. And it is fair system. You’re not going to have one person having more than one vote than the other.

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  27. Bodden, How will that effect what goes on in the LA and how it function that’s different from now. Also will this make it easier for new blood and independents to get into the LA..

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  28. Yes, but you are drifting from other important factors. It is a FAIR system. Shouldn’t we not work towards a fairer democractic system where each person has one vote???

    You drifting off on the functioning of the LA. Under this system, the functioning of the LA will be determined by WHO gets in the LA. It is not a matter of making it EASY for new blood to get in the LA, but really it is about WHO THE PEOPLE WANT TO REPRESENT THEM whether they are new blood or not. And under the OMOV system with its 18 districts, dividing the majority of voters into more smaller parts, people will have MLAs better representing the country than it is now whether they are all party-liners or not.

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  29. Thanks Bodden, I am trying to get a better understanding of the current system, for the people that have the ability to enter multiple Votes does this mean they can vote more than once for the same person ? If so what is the rational that put this in place.

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  30. Whichever of the 18 electoral district you find yourself in, you will only be able to have 1 vote. Under this system, there will be no one having more than 1 vote.

    But what I really like about it, is that voters would think alot more about a candidate before throwing away their vote. If you only have 1, you will be so careful how you use it. Whereas currently if people have more than one vote, all like 4 and 6 voting preveleges, they will use all of them up with less thought.

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  31. OK, so let me get this right, during an election for an MLA some poeple have the option of voting for more than one person for the same job?

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