The arrival of a new governor is always an opportune time to reflect on the special relationship between the Cayman Islands and our “Mother Country,” the United Kingdom.
The relationship endures, in part, because of the “balance of responsibilities” that has been roughly evenly distributed: Cayman largely looks after its local affairs and, through the powers invested in our governors, the U.K. oversees our international matters and assures that as a British overseas territory, these islands conduct themselves within the broad parameters that define “good governance.”
For the most part, depending on the government in power and the chosen governor on our soil, Cayman’s relationship with the U.K. has been warm and embracing – far beyond merely cordial or diplomatically correct. Caymanians are pleased and proud to fly the Union Jack aside our own Caymanian flag, and we welcome our governors with genuine Caymanian hospitality.
We did exactly that last Friday from the moment Helen Kilpatrick arrived at Owen Roberts International Airport aboard our national airline, Cayman Airways. Suitable pomp was in place as she was greeted by our national leaders, presented a goodwill fruit basket by a young boy scout, and saluted by our “troops,” comprised of smartly dressed volunteers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
If first impressions are lasting, Governor-designate Kilpatrick (she didn’t officially become governor until her swearing-in later that day at the Legislative Assembly) made a very good impression indeed.
She arrived appropriately and smartly dressed, and appeared both confident and comfortable – easy-to-smile and, as her long day would demonstrate, easy to engage.
At an evening reception in her honor at Pedro St. James Castle, she conversed agreeably with the hundreds of dignitaries and well-wishers before taking to the podium where her more “official” remarks may well be less remembered by historians than her embrace (literally) of Premier Alden McLaughlin and her message of birthday greetings. She had the good grace to bring him a small gift, and good-naturedly joined the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to our premier, who, she noted, was also marking the first 100 days of his government in office.
Each governor who comes to these islands brings his (now her) own style to their role. Some (perhaps too obviously) enjoy Seven Mile Beach a bit more than their office at the government administration building, some are more interventionist in local affairs, and still others bring a businesslike approach to their duties.
We would hope that Governor Kilpatrick would make good use of her accountancy background because, in truth, most of Cayman’s public sector challenges are financial: balancing of budgets, borrowing for operations and capital projects, underfunded long-term liabilities (especially pensions and health care), and a civil service payroll that has grown so large that it is encroaching on the government’s ability to provide basic services.
But those are issues for another day. Today, we at the Caymanian Compass and its parent company Pinnacle Media Ltd. simply want to say “Welcome, Governor Kilpatrick.” We look forward to your being among us in the upcoming years.