Governor Martyn Roper, in his speech after swearing in members of Cayman’s new government on Wednesday, said he welcomed its plans to introduce a code of conduct for parliamentarians.
“I believe one of the messages the public clearly sent in these elections is about the great importance attached to the integrity and behaviour of elected parliamentarians, ministers and senior officials. I therefore welcome the incoming government’s announcement it will agree a code of conduct for parliamentarians. I hope we can also agree a code of conduct for government ministers,” he said.
Much of the conversation about the behaviour of government members throughout the election campaign, and beforehand, centred on the actions of Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, who was convicted last year for assaulting a female bar manager. The election was called a month early after opposition members called for a meeting of the House so that a vote could be taken on removing Bush from his position.
As part of his arrangement with Wayne Panton’s government to continue as Speaker, Bush has pledged to sign the code of conduct once it is implemented.
In his speech, the governor referenced the “hard-fought” election and the machinations and negotiations of the past week that led to the formation of this government, which is made up of independents as well as Progressives member Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who announced just hours before the swearing-in ceremony that she would be joining Panton’s team.
Roper described the last week as being a “tense and, at times, challenging one for everyone”, but he said he hoped Cayman’s people could put this behind them. He called for unity and for the community to support the new government, as he urged people to treat each other with “courtesy, dignity, respect and fairness at all times”.
The governor also called on the new administration to look into the issue of election financing, so as to enhance good governance. “It is my hope that the incoming government will make this a priority in the early part of its term,” he said.
The Commission for Standards in Public Life has previously noted that Cayman’s existing legislation “does not require the disclosure of an actual amount or extent of any financial benefit, contribution or interests by anyone”, and that the law is not directed at campaign financing.
Roper said the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association had carried out a remote audit of Cayman’s election process, based on the work of a team of local observers. He said he looked forward to a report from both the local observers and the CPA.
He said during the election campaign, many candidates and members of the public had highlighted climate change and the environment as being of major concern. “The UK is open to assisting the new government in analysing the risks of climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity and any other areas that might be helpful,” the governor said.
In his comments, he also commended Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell and the Elections Office staff and volunteers for running a smooth election, despite a truncated lead-in time. He also congratulated them on enabling voters in quarantine to vote. Cayman had a 73% turnout of voters.
The governor paid tribute to Alden McLaughlin and his Progressives-led coalition government for their work over the past eight years, especially in relation to the decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged the new government to have the best interests of the people of the islands at heart, adding that there were likely to be “many challenges facing the Cayman Islands ahead, particularly with the reopening of borders and building back better in the midst of this global pandemic. I am confident you will face these challenges ahead and do your upmost to lead these islands to a brighter future.”