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.”