North Side MLA Ezzard Miller has thrown his support behind the Opposition’s decision to walk out of the Legislative Assembly in protest Wednesday, saying they were right to do so.
He has renewed his call for legislators to establish a clear timetable for meetings of the House rather than have ad hoc sessions.
“I support what the Opposition is doing. This has become a trend with this government. There has not been a single meeting under this government, and this [House] Speaker where the private members’ business that is on the [House] business and approved for that meeting is completed and dealt with,” Miller said during an interview with the Cayman Compass on Thursday.
He said while he wanted to walk out with the Opposition Wednesday, legislators were going to pay tribute to his aunt, Olive Miller, who passed away Tuesday, and he had “a duty” to remain for that.
On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Arden McLean led a walkout of the assembly after the omission of Opposition business from the meeting of the House.
He said Opposition members had motions and questions that had to be aired in the Legislative Assembly and those were not on the Order Paper.
He also objected to House Speaker McKeeva Bush approving legislative business when he was on leave, especially when Deputy Speaker Barbara Conolly was the presiding officer for the meeting. He said she had the responsibility to approve business.
McLean said, in the past, Speakers have waived the 10-day requirement for questions and five-day requirement for motions, but that was not done last week nor was there an indication that there would be private members’ business.
He argued that this was unfair to the Opposition. George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan agreed with the Opposition leader’s complaint, and said his constituents were also being “disenfranchised”.
Premier Alden McLaughlin apologised for the short notice of the meeting, saying that the government needed to get important pieces of legislation passed related to the financial services industry, but he objected to the actions taken by the Opposition, calling it “unforgivable” and “childish”.
He said the only motion the Opposition was pushing to have dealt with was a motion of no confidence in House Speaker Bush, but it could not proceed as the matters complained of in the motion are sub judice.
“They are before the court,” McLaughlin said.
However, Miller disagreed, saying that Bush was expected in court last week and they had anticipated that the matter would have been dealt with and there would be no issue of sub judice when the House met Wednesday.
Bush is facing assault charges relating to an incident at Coral Beach Bar in February involving the female manager there. That case was adjourned until 12 June.
Miller said McLean “was very legitimate and within his realm of responsibility of raising the matters that he did and I think their walking out demonstrated their commitment to the cause”.
The North Side MLA said he had motions and questions he would have liked addressed in the assembly, but he could not because there was no notice waiving the timelines.
Miller renewed his call for scheduled Legislative Assembly meetings.
“We have a responsibility. We have an obligation. We have a duty for the people that we represent. Constitution requires a minimum of four meetings per year. We should be able, as 19 men and women, to sit down in December, January, and decide we’re going to meet in February, June, September, and November. We don’t need a specific date, but you can plan your life,” Miller argued.
He said that, upon adjournment of the House, a set date for the next meeting should be given rather that sine die (without a day fixed).
By doing that, he said, lawmakers know what their timelines are, and the general public who want to listen will know when the meetings are being held.
“Many people in my constituency were not aware we were having a meeting [Wednesday], so they didn’t listen. They didn’t watch the TV or somebody happened to be watching it and called them up. But that’s unfair to the people and it’s against my mantra of participatory democracy,” Miller argued.