House Speaker McKeeva Bush has warned against misinformation and “emotive rhetoric” in the run-up to the 19 Dec. referendum on Cayman’s cruise berthing and cargo project.
His message came even as the vote remains in limbo, with the National Trust applying to the court for leave to seek judicial review of the referendum being held in the absence of an updated environmental impact assessment. A date for the hearing of that legal action has yet to be announced.
Over the weekend, Bush, in his written thanksgiving message at the close of the 2019 hurricane season, took aim at the those campaigning against the $200 million project.
He said the debate over the proposed facility enhancement has reminded him that controversy goes hand in hand with progress.
Bush suggested that his name was being impugned publicly, and while he was not as likely to be on the offensive as when he was a young political “stalwart”, he said, “Nevertheless, I will not stand silently.”
In his message, he said that “petty jabs are often made from misinformed positions”.
“While this Referendum is the biggest political football in our history, I caution that pumping it up with misinformation and emotive rhetoric can be to the detriment of those whose jobs and business[es] could fall by the wayside without a proper facility,” he said.
In recent weeks, Bush, the West Bay West MLA, has found himself involved in several public spats on social media with a number of individuals opposing the project. In some cases, he resorted to coarse language in his bid to get his point across.
In his thanksgiving message, Bush contended that in times of need, Cayman cannot look for “any port in a storm; we only know what we have now: a cruise berth and cargo-port facility that are in dire need of upgrades”.
He said the future of Cayman tourism is no numbers game.
“A seat at the table, and to succeed in the new world economy, needs a scientific, diplomatic and practical formula that is not easy to achieve … even for those embroiled in the competitive market’s forces,” he added.
Bush endorsed the government’s $1.5 billion budget, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly and is currently going through the Finance Committee stage.
He said citizens have much to be thankful for, especially as Cayman ended the hurricane season unscathed.
“I need not evoke the memories and the dire effects of names like Dorian, Irma, Matthew and Maria,” Bush said. “Suffice to say, in Cayman we still recall the devastation of Ivan and Paloma, and, as the saying goes, ‘Those who feel it, know it’. This passage of the storm season is one aspect of tropical existence common to our region, and we certainly empathise with those who felt the wrath of Mother Nature this year; in particular, our friends in the Bahamas.”