In observance of Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hosted its ninth annual Youth Parliament at the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Students from nine schools took part in two motion debates – on the legalization of abortion and on improving the public transportation system – before an audience of schoolmates, legislators, teachers and parents.

The young parliamentarians pose with members and staff of the Legislative Assembly, including, seated from left, Premier Alden McLaughlin, Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush. See page 2 for more on this story.
The young parliamentarians pose with members and staff of the Legislative Assembly, including, seated from left, Premier Alden McLaughlin, Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush.

Youth Parliament offers students the freedom to discover and address relevant issues affecting Cayman, organizers said. It aims to educate students about the process of lawmaking and amending regulations while developing public-speaking skills.

Throughout the morning, “parliamentarians” weighed in with their views as “members of the opposition or government” about the revision of the Penal Code to allow abortion in specific cases.

The second debate addressed issues of safety, routes, customer service experience and the lack of Caymanians employed in the public transport sector.

Both motions were defeated.

To prepare for the motion debates, students met twice weekly to work on their scripts and to meet with Members of the Legislative Assembly and other professionals related to the motion topics.

Opening the ceremony with Queen Elizabeth II’s Commonwealth Day message was Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. Premier Alden McLaughlin, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush and Youth Parliament Committee Chairman Alva Suckoo also offered words of encouragement and congratulations to the youth parliamentarians.

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