Opposition and independent MLAs said the premier’s latest political stunt is putting our democracy at risk.
Today’s special session of the LA had to be adjourned, as most members of the government bench stayed away from the house, preventing a quorum from being reached.
It was a day like no other in parliament.
Opposition and independent members showed their outrage after Wednesday afternoon’s (13 April) special session was adjourned by House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly after a quorum could not be reached for the second time that day.
“I am fighting to maintain your democracy, they are fighting to take it away,” shouted East End MLA Arden McLean from the LA floor to the gallery, as police and the Sergeant-at-arms dispersed the dozens of onlookers who gathered to see how the unprecedented situation would play out in the people’s house.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” said Opposition Leader Hon. McKeeva Bush. “This is an indictment on the entire country, it’s certainly a slap in the face to our democracy such as we know it.”
“I think it puts a black eye on our whole democratic process that we are all so proud of,” said North Side MLA Ezzard Miller.
Wednesday morning, Minister Tara Rivers was the only member of the government bench in attendance. She pointed out the lack of quorum for the meeting, which forced its adjournment.
But evidently, confusion came into play in the ranks of government.
“She had come apparently to make up the quorum, but when the premier saw she was here he couldn’t come in because that would have made the quorum, therefore he could not object to a quorum not being there so he had to run out through the back door quick time,” said Mr. Miller.
When the session reconvened in the afternoon, Ms. Rivers was a no-show. This time around Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin took his seat on the government side.
“I wish to draw respectfully to your attention that there is not a quorum in the chamber in accordance with standing order 13-1,” said Mr. McLaughlin, prompting Ms. O’Connor Connolly to pull the plug on the special session, to be resumed at 9 AM on 25 April.
North Side MLA called the actions of the PPM led government childish.
“This is like when we were back in the day and you only had one ball, and if I owned it and my team wasn’t winning, I took the ball and went home,” said Mr. Miller. “He’s not coming down here and having meetings because he could lose the vote.”
“Our democracy is under threat by this government, setting unhealthy precedents in this country, where they will not turn up to the legislature,” said Mr. McLean, who admitted he doesn’t buy government’s excuse that it’s too busy with other matters to make time for the opposition and independent triggered special session.
“That’s the nature of the job, you have to multitask in the interest of the people. Why do you think people get grey hairs, because of multitasking. It’s a lot of pressure to be a legislator, and if you don’t want to be in the legislature, then leave,” said Mr. McLean.
Mr. Bush pointed out that unfinished business, in the form of two private members motions regarding the search for the missing five, and a lack of confidence in the RCIPS top brass, will have to be heard before the LA can take on the 14 bills government plans to present on the 25 April meeting.
“The fact is, the process of the Legislative Assembly needs to be followed,” said Mr. Bush. “This meeting is adjourned today, but it’s not completed.”
The Premier issued a statement on the matter, rebutting claims that his government’s actions are putting the country’s democracy at risk.
“The opposition is outraged because their disruptive tactics did not succeed,” Mr. Mclaughlin told Cayman 27. “Their motions will be dealt with when the House resumes on 25th. The real threat to democracy is when the minority seeks to impose its will on the majority. The opposition is selfishly seeking to distract the government from our important work. There is no urgency in their motions. The House will meet in a mere 12 days and their motions will be dealt with.”