Another day, another dust-up in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the public on the controversial cruise berthing debate.
We start with government, who Monday (8 October) morning took its case for the cruise port to the airwaves of Radio Cayman, on For the Record with Orrett “OC” Connor.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, flanked by Deputy Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, told listeners while many who oppose the project have sincere environmental objections, others behind the referendum effort have a political or economic interest in seeing the project killed.
“They know full well that if we are forced down the road a referendum, that is the end of this project for this term, I can’t say it’s the end forever, because they may come and pick it up and run with it, whoever else takes over, because that’s what their game plan is, but it would certainly kill the project for this term,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
With that backdrop, the official Opposition resumed its island-wide slate of meetings Monday night in the district of West Bay, throwing its collective weight behind CPR Cayman’s petition for a people-initiated referendum, and downplaying accusations from the government bench of playing politics.
“There’s always going to be two sides, those who are for it and those who are against it,” said Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo.
With a stated goal of elevating the discussion between competing factions, he painted a picture of a nation at a crossroads.
“This is forever, once this is done and dusted, this is forever,” said Mr. Suckoo.
He and opposition colleagues, who have been critical of what’s been termed the lack of transparency from government, made the case that the only way to drive all the information into the public eye is through a referendum.
“That’s what we want to happen with the cruise berthing facility, so that every voter in the country can vote from an informed position,” said Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller.
“Let me read you some of the stuff your premier said then, then you tell me who is genuine from who is not,” said Mr. Miller.
In a rebuttal to the Premier’s categorization of his referendum support as insincere, East End MLA Arden McLean turned back the clock to the great port debate of 2012, quoting the then-opposition leader’s debate from the Hansard calling China Harbour’s reputation into question.
“You decide who has changed, because check now, check now, China Harbour is in the final three,” said Mr. McLean.
Through a night of strong rhetoric, Mr. Miller’s message rang loud and clear.
“Sign the petition so you can have your say,” said Mr. Miller.
Several commentors posed questions and elucidated personal reasons why they support of the referendum effort.
As the two-and a half hour meeting came to a close, CPR Cayman representatives collected signatures from those still in attendance.