Disturbingly, we at the Compass are hearing that the Progressives-led government is planning this Wednesday not only to begin debate in the House on the bill, which is fine, but to suspend House rules so it can pass the bill the same day — that is to put an end to any further debate. They know this bill cannot survive even another week of public scrutiny. They know that delay is defeat.
In today’s newspaper, the organization Coalition for Cayman (C4C) presents a well-thought-out position paper that notes, “This bill may have been under discussion for 10 years, but it has been the wrong discussion. It should not have been about limiting development. It should be about permitting sustainable development whilst implementing green policies (recycling, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, taking emergency steps to stop the Dump leaching into the North Sound, etc.).”
The Coalition goes on to urge government to put the current bill on hold: “The worst option in our view would be to try to ram through a Conservation Law (or any law) which may result in unintended consequences that create more problems than solutions. This is one instance where getting it done right is more important than just getting it done.”
Also on this page (opposite), we present a guest column from North Side representative Ezzard Miller who takes serious issue with the proposed legislation. Last evening, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush presided over a rally in West Bay opposing the bill and another is planned tonight at the Town Hall in downtown George Town.
The last issue we can recall Mr. Miller and Mr. Bush agreeing on was that they didn’t particularly like each other. It must be an exceptionally bad bill to bring together these twin pillars of Cayman politics — one the most popular representative ever from West Bay, the other his political rival of similar stature from North Side.
The question must be asked why any elected representative would cast a vote that is so harmful to their voters — and to the economic well-being of these islands. Why are these members willing to vote against the best interests of small Caymanian landowners and march in lockstep with Environment Minister Wayne Panton who, in turn, is marching in lockstep with Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie?
Pied-Piperism in politics is always troubling but even more so when the minister tooting the flute is such a strong proselytizer for a bill he no doubt believes will be his legacy legislation. We understand the desire for loyalty among Cabinet members, but we would argue that comity must be put aside when it supersedes their greater responsibility to represent the best interests of their constituents.
Of one thing we are certain: Elected members who vote to shut off debate, through the invocation of Standing Orders in the House, and ultimately vote for this toxic bill will be counting on collective amnesia taking hold in the country before the 2017 elections.
We can assure them this newspaper is not going to let that happen.