Premier McLaughlin stands up against populist pandering

“I could not sit quietly and let people believe that I subscribe to that anti-expat, anti-business sentiment espoused by some members of this House, because I do not. I will not allow the government, which I have the honor and privilege to lead, to be branded with that. … The last thing we want is to send the signal that foreign business and foreigners and anyone who was not born here to Cayman parents are unwelcome.”

So said Premier Alden McLaughlin on the floor of the House, and we applaud him for his words. He was speaking in response to intemperate, irresponsible and divisive remarks made by his elected colleagues.

Mr. McLaughlin concluded: “We understand that unless business is successful, there are no opportunities for anybody. Those who come from somewhere else can easily move somewhere else. For the rest of us, the options are severely limited.”

Well put, Mr. Premier.

Much of the ill-conceived bombast to which the premier reacted emanated from the “usual suspects” — namely, MLAs Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean, the two independent members from Grand Cayman’s eastern half, who exert little, if any, influence in shaping policy.

However, prior to this week we would not have expected the same sorry song from the author of the member’s motion which inspired the incendiary debate, George Town MLA Winston Connolly.

The substance of the motion, in its revised neutered language, would offend virtually no one. It simply suggested that government consider measures to aid the hiring, training and promotion of Caymanian workers. It was passed unanimously.

However, Mr. Connolly’s words, in the introduction of his motion, were meant to divide and offend (if not incite) — and they did. He began by differentiating between “real” Caymanians and legitimate Caymanian status holders.

Astonishingly, Mr. Connolly’s words were uttered, not by some downtrodden jobless or homeless Caymanian but by a man of great professional standing and success. He is, after all, a prominent attorney with directorships and multiple business interests — and we applaud him for that. But make no mistake. Mr. Connolly is a beneficiary — not a victim — of Cayman’s largess.

After drawing distinctions based on origin, Mr. Connolly moved on to social status, saying the remittances that blue-collar work permit holders send home are nothing compared to what people “in the upper echelon” of Cayman society spend overseas. “Those people aren’t buying vineyards and racehorses and chateaus and Ferraris and Lamborghinis and this, that and the other. That’s where what we should really be concentrating on … Imagine if some of that money that’s going to prop up other countries’ economies got spent and circulated in this economy. We wouldn’t have to be up at night trying to figure out how to put people to work on the roads so they could get a little bit of Christmas money,” he said.

Really Mr. Connolly, you’re better than this.

Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton, also an attorney, thankfully was present to provide a “grown-up” perspective.

“The last thing we should be wanting is to have people who are promoted because they are Caymanian — and not because they can stand beside anyone else on the world stage and put their hand up and be recognized as being equally capable,” he said.

“We have to have a balanced perspective, in which businesses are also enabled to operate successfully and to have the staff that they need because … if businesses cannot succeed in this country, in this economy, then the country fails.”

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  1. Mr McLaughlin will need to stop trying to please everyone and do what he know is right. There are too many mixed emotions coming from the LA, that it make one wonder where does any of them stand. Its a divided house.
    Many or most, are climbing and bouncing off the wall of the LA with slim thoughts, knowing full well the paper trail will not get any further than the chair they are sitting in.

    If they are working together, then my thoughts are that they would make firm decisions stand by them and saw that they were carried out. Obviously this is not happening, so we are getting a House that is divided just because some are so afraid to do the right they are doing everything wrong.
    We have a handful of good men in there now, but one fault the majority have forgotten is who put them there and Caymanians are watching and listening. If those in the LA are not careful about decisions they make, and standing by them; they are going to cause one Hell of a change in 2017 election whereby we may get worse of the worse.

  2. @J Bodde
    Why is it a lonely position? Please be more specific.

    @Bob William
    Education is not enough for successful leadership. Strategic foresight skills (abilities) can’t be learned. Bo Miller (Derrington ”Bo” Miller) has such skills and abilities.

  3. Well said Premier McLaughlin.

    I have commented many times in this fine publication of the need for the best possible education for all Caymanians. From a good education will come good opportunities.

    My great concern however is that outside forces are conspiring to destroy our financial service industry.

    The greatest problem being the attempts by the UK government to destroy our corporate confidentially laws.

    I am 100% against the use of our corporate secrecy laws to shelter crooks and fraudsters. Everything in our power should be done to prevent them using our jurisdiction as a base for their crooked schemes.

    But we must not allow the type of open registry the UK is pressing for. If it happens then there will be few jobs for attorneys, Caymanian born or otherwise.