Opposition hits back at criticism over assent of Civil Partnership Law

Cayman’s official Opposition has described the assenting of the Civil Partnership Law Friday as a “sad day” for the country as its leader Arden McLean called on Premier Alden McLaughlin to end what he called “the blame game”.

The Opposition, in a statement issued Monday night, said that Friday’s assent of the law by Governor Martyn Roper was “the culmination of the Governor’s and the Premier’s ill-conceived plan to impose the Domestic Partnership Bill into law using colonial heavy handedness”.

They claimed that it was “now obvious” that the scenario was planned well in advance of the proposed legislation being introduced by the premier to the legislature.

“The Premier’s attempt to blame the opposition and other members has not gone unnoticed. We remind the Premier of the fundamental tenet of democracy that ‘majority rules’. He has leadership of the majority in the Legislature; hence he is the Premier and accordingly the Legislature is subject to his direction,” McLean said in the statement.

In July, nine lawmakers voted down the Domestic Partnership Bill piloted by McLaughlin. Those who voted against the bill were the five official Opposition members, independent opposition MLA Kenneth Bryan, government ministers Dwayne Seymour and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, and government back-bencher Captain Eugene Ebanks.

Following that defeat of the bill, which the premier said was necessary to abide by the Court of Appeal ruling in the Chantelle Day/Vickie Bodden Bush case, Roper re-introduced the bill for public comment, indicating his intention to assent to it using his reserved powers.

On Friday, the governor assented to an amended bill, as well as amendments to 11 pieces of related legislation.

Following that action, McLaughlin, in a statement, said he was “utterly humiliated that because of our failure to do our duty as a Legislature, the UK Government has been forced to legislate for us”.

The Opposition, in its return jab to the premier, said in its statement that, “like a great many Caymanians, we too are humiliated by his lack of leadership and petulant behaviour which has now resulted in this unfortunate set of circumstances”.

The Opposition also took aim at the governor over his “total lack of respect” for the will of the members of the legislature “who voted against a bill that was flawed and rushed”.

“That lack of respect was further exacerbated by him having received a letter addressed to the Leader of the Opposition and making the letter public without consulting the Leader of the Opposition,” the statement said.

The Opposition also released McLean’s three-page letter responding UK Overseas Territories Minister Baroness Sugg 28 Aug. letter which addressed concerns he had about the use of Section 81 of the Constitution to push through the Civil Partnership Bill.

McLean, in his latest letter, outlined what he termed disrespect from the governor who did not respond to his letter requesting a copy of the UK instructions on the Domestic Partnership Bill, but instead released it to the public.

In his letter to Sugg, McLean said he agreed that the rule of law must be upheld, but “where we are clearly differing is appreciating that the Rule of Law is a democratic principle and ‘Democracy’ means government by the people, either directly or through representation. Democracy recognizes that there will be differences, disagreements, discord, and discontent but it also requires us to have discussion, debate, and dialogue to arrive at a consensus.”

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