Miller maintains call for Bush to resign

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller

Opposition MLA Ezzard Miller has rejected House Speaker McKeeva Bush’s decision to take an immediate leave of absence saying there is no legal provision that allows for this under the Constitution.

Miller, in a statement Thursday morning, maintained his call for the Bush to resign as House Speaker.

“The only immediately available constitutional provisions that would allow him the time he needs is carried in section 65 (2) b.—that he resigns his position as Speaker. Otherwise, the only other provision [(2) f.] is removal by a two-thirds vote by the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to a vote of no confidence,” Miller said in his statement.

Section 65 (1) deals with who can be Speaker and how a Speaker is elected. Section 65 (2) deals with how the Speaker’s post can become vacant and how the Speaker can be removed from office and Section 65 (3) deals with how a vacancy in the office of Speaker can be filled.

“The only section of the constitution that deals with mental issues is section 62 that deals with disqualification for elected membership of the Legislature. Specifically, section 62 (1) d. states that disqualification applies to “a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in the Cayman Islands.” For clarification purposes, this is not to be taken that I am suggesting that this section be invoked in this matter with the Speaker,” Miller said.

On Wednesday night Bush, in a statement following a meeting with Premier Alden McLaughlin in London earlier in the day, said “after careful thought and advice I will take an immediate leave of absence from the duties of speakership.

“I will be doing the grief counseling and emotional stress management sessions that I spoke about and that I should have done a long time ago,” he added.

Premier McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass Wednesday night he welcomed Bush’s decision saying “this will enable him to deal with the personal issues he identified in his previous statement and also allow the investigation currently underway to be completed unhindered by perceptions.”

Miller claimed that while the Premier’s decision to grant the Speaker a leave of absence, “may be an acceptable political solution to some” questions still remain.

“Who has granted the Speaker a “leave of absence”—surely the Speaker cannot grant himself a leave of absence. What section of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order 2009 (the Constitution) authorizes or enables anyone to grant the Speaker a leave of absence?” he asked.

Miller said while the Premier’s decision to grant the Speaker a leave of absence, “may be an acceptable political solution to some” questions still remain.

Premier responds

However Premier McLaughlin, responding to Miller’s statement Thursday, told the Cayman Compass, “Mr. Bush has taken a temporary leave of absence for a yet undetermined period to deal with the personal issues he has mentioned in both his statements. He has not vacated the office of Speaker. There is nothing unconstitutional or unprecedented in the Speaker taking a leave of absence. This is exactly what would be done if he was physically ill and unable to carry out his duties as Speaker.”

He further stated that as Premier he has no authority to grant Bush leave, “indeed the Constitution does not make provision for anyone to grant the Speaker leave. But it does make provision for who presides in the Speaker’s absence.”

Section 72 of the Constitution 2009, he said, mandates that “a) [A] Speaker shall preside at Legislative Assembly sittings or b) in his absence the Deputy Speaker or c) in the absence of both Speaker and Deputy Speaker such one or other the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (other than a Minister) as may be elected by the elected MLAs.”

He added that under the Section 65 (2) of the Constitution a person shall vacate office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker if he or she informs the Assembly in writing and addressed to the Assembly that he or she has resigned.

Miller, in his statement, pointed out that there are many other undisclosed details on the leave of absence such as the terms and conditions, the period of this leave of absence and date of commencement, the kind of professional help being sought, and who acts in his absence.

West Bay North MLA Bernie Bush is the deputy House Speaker.

Miller added that no details was previously been disclosed on Bush’s visit to the UK to represent the Cayman Islands in his role as Speaker.

Constitutional options;

Section 65 (2) b) resignation as Speaker
(2) f.] Removal by a two-thirds vote by the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to a vote of no confidence.

How we got here
On Wednesday night Bush, in a statement following a meeting with Premier Alden McLaughlin in London earlier in the day, said “after careful thought and advice I will take an immediate leave of absence from the duties of speakership.

“I will be doing the grief counseling and emotional stress management sessions that I spoke about and that I should have done a long time ago, and of course I will continue to attend to the needs of my constituents,” he added.

Bush, who left Cayman on Tuesday for the UK, was in London for a previously arranged Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting as deputy chair of the CPA Small Branches Executive Council. Premier McLaughlin, who left for the UK last Friday, is on official business in London for the week.

Bush’s decision follows allegations of the assault of a female manager at that bar last Friday on West Bay Road.

Police have said they are investigating a report of an assault at the establishment, but they have not named the suspect only referring to him as a “public figure in the Cayman Islands.” A team of officers headed is investigating the case.

On Monday Bush issued a statement apologizing for an incident at the bar which he said he could not recall but was told about. He said he was told that when he was being helped to his feet he “reacted badly to the very persons who were surrounding me and assisting me.”

He said he has been dealing with grief due to the recent anniversary of the loss of his daughter, who died at the end of January in 2011, in addition to a number of work-related issues. He also pledged to get professional help and cease any use of alcohol.

Miller, in his statement Thursday said, “while I have some empathy for the Speaker regarding his admission of having some mental issues, I will not support any process not grounded in the Constitution to allow him to seek the help he needs.”

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