North Side MLA Ezzard Miller has said even though he was unable to secure the numbers to trigger a special sitting of the Legislative Assembly, he is not giving up on his push for a no-confidence vote in House Speaker McKeeva Bush.
“I have lots of empathy for the Speaker as a person, but that does not negate my responsibility to protect the Speaker’s chair,” Miller told the Cayman Compass Tuesday in a telephone interview.
His comments follow George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan’s decision not to support Miller’s call for a special sitting of the House. Without Bryan’s support, the official Opposition members and Miller do not have the requisite seven signatures needed to prompt that meeting.
Opposition members have urged government members to join them to call the House into session.
In a statement Monday, Opposition members said, “Members of the Legislative Assembly have two choices in this matter. Either we rise to meet the demands of our office, or we pull our office down to a lower level. We cannot say we value fairness and accountability and be silent or passive when we were elected to be the voice of the voiceless.”
Miller said he was not surprised Bryan opted not to support his call, because the George Town Central MLA reacted similarly to Miller’s call for a no-confidence vote on Bush in 2017 after the Speaker was arrested in Florida. No charges were subsequently filed against Bush in that case.
Bryan on Monday said he felt a motion of no confidence in the Speaker was “premature” and the police should be allowed to carry out their investigation first.
Miller said he is contemplating the next steps, and has invited Opposition Leader Arden McLean to do a “number of things”, including tabling the motion of no confidence in Bush as Speaker “to show that it is not going away and the premier will have to deal with it”.
He said the task to keep the matter alive now falls to the public.
“The voting public needs to become more involved in this protest and the individual constituents need to call out their [representative] and ask them what their position on this is. … What you have to say to it?” he said.
The North Side MLA said the silence of his Legislative Assembly colleagues is “deafening”.
“We do not have the numbers to summon the meeting, so it is up to the government to decide whenever they want to have a meeting, basically,” he said.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that no date has been set for the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly.
Last week, Bush announced he was taking an immediate leave of absence from his role as Speaker, following allegations that he was involved in an assault on a female manager of a West Bay Road bar on 21 Feb. Bush earlier issued a statement apologising for an incident which he said he was told happened at the bar. He said he does not recall the incident but was told he fell down after he passed out and while being helped to his feet he “reacted badly”.
A police investigation is currently under way into the incident.
In his statement apologising for what happened at the bar, Bush said it had occurred near the anniversary of the death of his daughter, who passed away nine years ago. He said that, at the time of her death, he had not sought professional help to deal with his grief and had been dealing with feelings of “sorrow and depression”, adding that he intended now to seek long-term professional help and to cease using alcohol.
Following Bush’s announcement that he was taking a leave of absence as Speaker, the premier, in his statement, 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 said Tuesday that he would do anything he can and support anything that can be done to get Bush the help he needs.
But he said he does not think a person in the Speaker’s chair should be allowed to “self-diagnose, self-prescribe a treatment plan for his self-diagnosed [condition] and self-grant a leave of absence for that self-prescribed treatment”.
He added, “This is something that has to be [done] by the Legislative Assembly in totality.”