Cayman’s constitutional conventions

It seems like only yesterday that our government adopted the 2009 Cayman Islands Constitution, but already officials are considering 34 separate amendments to the 5-year-old document.

While Constitutional Commission chairman David Ritch says the changes are relatively minor, having 34 of them does seem like a lot.

(That’s more than the number of amendments to the United States Constitution that Congress has voted to adopt — 33, with 27 ratified by the states into law — in the 225-year history of that venerable parchment.)

Although it does not appear to be an entirely settled legal matter, it appears that Cayman officials are operating under the assumption that there are two ways to amend Cayman’s Constitution (or, rather, to convince the United Kingdom to amend the Constitution for us): Call voters to the polls to accept or reject the amendments; or demonstrate mutual consent on the changes from the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition.

In the case of so-called “uncontroversial” amendments, particularly when there are nearly three dozen of them to consider, we’re not sure which way is worse – the referendum or the handshake.

The former requires a significant monetary expenditure and involves following the sentiments of people on a subject that is, quite frankly, rather abstruse for day-to-day conversation. The latter conjures up visions of backroom deal-making between a pair of political powerbrokers.

In Cayman, though, the two men occupying those positions — Premier Alden McLaughlin and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush — are so diametrically configured on issues, ideas and opinions, independent of significance or substance, that even the most simple and benign amendment contrived by the Constitutional Commission would, when placed in front of those two, most likely lose all claim to uncontroversiality.

And so we are not surprised that Mr. Bush has said “no” to the 34 amendments, at least until he gets more information.

On his end, Premier McLaughlin has dismissed the notion of initiating a mid-term constitutional referendum as too expensive and time-consuming.

Which one’s right? In our opinion, Mr. Bush is … and so is Premier McLaughlin. It looks like, for now at least, those 34 changes will just have to wait. (We doubt most people will notice.)


  1. Very few of these politicians can be trusted to look out for the interest of people so, despite the expenditure, these things need to be decided by the people.

  2. I thought that document was cut in stone; so how come we are already seeking changes.
    Anyway my thoughts are, how urgent it is to make these changes, and if they are very urgent then I believe the people should have a say, not a nod and a hand shake by political parties. If it is not urgent, then I suggest we move on to better things.
    I cannot see money being an issue to hold a mid-term constitutional referendum here. We got lots of it, and once we know exactly what we are doing there would be no time wasted.

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