Good governance is based on quality leadership – leaders who have a vision and drive to lead their country successfully into the future.

Governor Martyn Roper, for instance, showed that type of leadership when he took the decision to push through the Domestic Partnership Bill, knowing backlash would be coming.

As we reflect on the events that unfolded last week inside the Legislative Assembly – where the bill was shot down 9-8 by Cayman’s lawmakers – the Compass Editorial Board wonders whether some members of the assembly have that vision or are content serving as marionettes, allowing their constituents to act as puppeteers every time a difficult decision must be made.

“Leadership often requires taking hugely unpopular decisions. Leadership often requires weighing up hugely complex situations and having to make decisions that, at times like this, may be at odds with our own personal beliefs.” 

Several times during the debate we heard how some members went through painstaking efforts to consult their constituents on the controversial bill, which sought to provide a framework for same-sex couples to enjoy a legally recognised partnership providing the same benefits as marriage. We appreciate the members’ eagerness for input. We’re certainly not saying lawmakers should ignore their constituents.

Good leaders listen, but they also have the ability to form their own opinions and stand by their convictions.

Lawmakers are elected and the voters are their bosses. But bosses don’t expect their staff to consult them at every turn. The voters hired their representatives to do what’s in the best interests of this country.

When considering topics like segregation or women’s suffrage, we contemplate what the world might look like had legislators of the past simply voted based on the wishes of a majority of their constituents. 

West Bay South legislator Tara Rivers used part of her contribution to talk about the deeper meaning of representation.

“We are expected to lead in the good times and the bad times, in the difficult times and in the easy times,” she said. “Leadership often requires taking hugely unpopular decisions. Leadership often requires weighing up hugely complex situations and having to make decisions that, at times like this, may be at odds with our own personal beliefs.

“Representation in this case is more than just voting based on a poll or a canvassing of constituents that you’ve heard from on this matter.”

She’s right. Leadership in this case is about adhering to the law. It’s about moving the country in the right direction.

We can’t help but wonder what role the upcoming elections played in certain members’ minds. If MLAs weren’t less than a year away from potentially losing their seats, would they have acted differently? Only they know that.

We hope, going forward, that true leadership emerges. Leadership that doesn’t worry about getting back in the House to collect a paycheque. Leadership with conviction and a vision. Cayman needs leadership that’s concerned with improving Cayman – leadership with a spine.

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