Grand Cayman, 6 August 2021 – Members of the Cayman Islands House of Parliament, notably first-term MPs, this week benefited from insights from international peers on effectively representing the Cayman Islands people.
Members attended a three-day Post-Election Seminar, facilitated by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Secretariat headquartered in London, in conjunction with the Parliament office in the Cayman Islands.
The third consecutive post-election seminar since 2013, opened on Wednesday morning 4 August. The only difference was this time the programme included virtual presentations from guest speakers from 11 Commonwealth Parliaments and the CPA Secretariat,
Also, because the local participants meet in a small conference room within Parliament which enables virtual learning, the sessions were open only to the MPs this time. In past sessions, the media were invited to some sessions to cover and report. Only the official opening was held in the main Chamber.
Welcoming the gathering, the Speaker, Hon. McKeeva Bush outlined the importance of the seminar particularly for new MPs.
He elaborated that the seminar would enable them to get insights into the opportunities and challenges of being MPs, as well as the behaviour, ethics and standards now required of them.
Among a number of carefully chosen topics, they learned about the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure, the need and function of the Public Accounts Committee and the advantages of communicating properly to colleagues, constituents and others.
The stalwarts in parliamentary operations who were serving as the seminar’s resource persons, also provided pointers on how to deal with debates, proper communication, formulating parliamentary questions, motions and amendments, the Speaker noted.
Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton said more such training would be provided to first time Ministers. “We will all work together to establish benchmarks of good governance,” he said. MPs are stewards of the people’s money and should act accordingly at all times, he emphasised. He added he looked forward to participating in the seminar.
CPA Secretary General, Mr. Stephen Twigg expressed the CPA’s joy at being able to conduct such a seminar for the benefit of the 21 parliamentarians of the CI House of Parliament to see how to further strengthen democracy while learning from the seminar resource persons’ experiences.
CPA Programmes Manager Ms Lydia Buchanan welcomed the gathering on behalf of the CPA.
The seminar faculty comprised experienced members of 11 Commonwealth parliaments including Antigua and Barbuda; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Virgin Islands, the States of Jersey; the Maldives; the Isle of Man; Ontario, Canada; the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as representatives from the CPA, and from the CPA election expert mission to the Cayman Islands.
Commenting at the close of the seminar on Friday afternoon, the Speaker said: “This is the third consecutive time since the 2013 elections that we have the CPA organise these Post-Election seminars. As the Father of the House with over 36 years’ experience as a legislator and now a Parliamentarian, I see the merit of holding such a seminar. The seminar’s remit is to help Members hone their skills at becoming more effective parliamentarians, which is really a very invaluable service particularly to new representatives. My sincere thanks go to the CPA Secretariat for bringing this resource to the direct benefit of our MPs.”
First time MP and Minister for Health, Hon. Sabrina Turner commented: “The seminar was very informative and valuable in educating us in the legislative process and for providing us a clearer perspective on the resources and processes we have at our disposal as well as simplifying them.”
The resource persons’ clear and candid approach enabled the participants to understand “what is required of us. We are now in a better position to understand the obligations and operations of a democratic Parliament,” Minister Turner said. “It was a very learning and informative experience about how we are perceived by our constituents – more education of this process and what is expected of us is vitally needed.”
Echoing these sentiments, Parliamentary Secretary Ms Heather Bodden added, “It was truly beneficial and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One of the approaches they emphasised was to remain humble and not put ourselves at the front of the line, a sentiment that I always appreciate. I also found as useful the suggestion that we could stay in touch with the stakeholders, notably the CPA Secretariat, for our future needs.”
In conclusion, the Clerk of the Parliament, Ms Zena Merren-Chin stated that she was most appreciative of the CPA Secretariat for once again hosting the Post-Election Seminar for the MPs. “The topics that were selected for discussion were done in order to provide the Members with information that will guide them in maximizing their potential as parliamentarians. The seminar also gave the MPs the opportunity to get the perspective from dynamic parliamentarians from over the Commonwealth including Jersey, Canada, Maldives, UK, and the Caribbean,” Ms. Merren-Chin said.