Editorial for 17 June: Rivers case easy to resolve

It seems to us that the conundrum over
Education Minister Tara Rivers’s eligibility for elected office in the Cayman
Islands could be resolved quite quickly and without the bother of bringing the
matter to the Grand Court.

First, we must state that – at this point –
our newspaper has no evidence that Ms Rivers is not absolutely qualified to
stand for office in the Cayman Islands. We will, and should, leave it to the
courts of this jurisdiction to sort that out since the matter has already been
filed. 

However, if the upcoming court action
reveals something is indeed amiss, there are two likely possibilities in our
view.

1.            Elections
officials didn’t do a proper job in vetting the candidacy.

2.            Ms
Rivers and/or her staff did not make proper disclosures.

Again, we don’t know that anyone has done
anything wrong, but it seems that either the officials or Ms Rivers could come
forward with more information in the public domain than they have at this
stage.

Frankly, we are unimpressed by the
minister’s self-serving four-paragraph statement about the elections challenge.
We are equally unimpressed by the local elections officials’ responses to our
questions about the matter, which have been straightforward, but not
particularly informative.

So, instead of real answers, everyone
involved seems to be playing the time-honoured game of responsibility avoidance
and leaving it up to the courts – not the voters – to decide who gets to be an
elected official when, in reality, this should already have been determined
well before nomination day.

The last thing our country needs right now
is more divisiveness. We’re sorry to have to see this challenge go to court at
all when the answers are, very likely, right at someone’s fingertips.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Editor – I am afraid some of your comments on this matter are misconceived. It is not the responsibility of the Elections Office to vet candidates. Instead, its role is a purely administrative one to ensure that the nomination papers are in order and that the candidate is therefore duly nominated. It is not its duty to investigate and determine whether a candidate is disqualified unless that disqualification appears on the face of the matter. Where there is an issue that requires legal interpretation that is a matter that is left for the Grand Court to determine should a challenge arise. If this matter hangs on a difference in interpretation of the constitution or in the assessment of evidence, and it may, then obviously that is not a matter which can be determined outside of the court. It may not be as simple and straightforward as you might think.

    The truth of the matter is that the voluntary declaration which the Elections Office sought to use is unsatisfactory in so far as it is not legal requirement for candidates and there are therefore no consequences for declining to give such a voluntary declaration. The Elections Law and Rules requires amendment to make this mandatory and for responses to be subject to penalties for perjury including disqualification as an MLA for a certain period.

    However, since Ms. Rivers was endorsed by C4C which claimed to have vetted its candidates, the Compass might appropriately call on C4C to say whether it was satisfied on these issues.

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