Skip navigation


You are here: Homepage > Press Room > Previous Press Releases > CPA Regional Conference

Published 25th June 2007, 9:56am

Opening remarks by His Excellency, the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack, CVO

I too should like to extend a warm welcome to the Secretary General and all the participants in this conference.

I hope that you will have an enjoyable stay on this wonderful island as well as useful deliberations. I hope you will get a taste - I mean literally a taste - of the unique culture of the Cayman Islands. My wife and I look forward to seeing you all at the reception at Government House.

In the Cayman Islands we have a lively Parliamentary democracy. Although under our system of government I as Governor do not often venture into the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly I can tell you that - and I must choose my words carefully! - the constructive vitality of its proceedings can be heard well beyond the thick walls of its building.

Our legislature may be small in terms of the number of Members but it is very productive - something I can vouch for as I endeavour to read all of the considerable volume of new legislation which I am asked to sign into law. I am sure that the responsiveness and effectiveness of our legislature is one reason for the success of the Cayman Islands as an international financial centre.

  1. But every body of parliamentarians, however effective, must constantly seek to up its game. In many, maybe most, of the countries represented here today the electorate has at one and the same time rising expectations of government and of their political representatives and a degree of disappointment with the political process.

    Criticism of politicians is perhaps the natural dynamic of democracy. But it remains vitally important that we all do what we can to bolster confidence in our politics and system of government, and that we encourage participation through the ballot box, political parties and civil society.

    In my view, as someone charged to encourage good governance and as a member of the public, parliamentarians must respond to this challenge by displaying leadership, vision and integrity.

    That leadership can help us find direction as we tackle the sorts of issues mentioned by earlier speakers, such as ensuring opportunities for all our young people, or climate change or crime. Vision must underpin that leadership and must be embodied in wise legislation. And collective integrity must ensure, through parliamentary scrutiny, the accountability of government. For example an effective Public Accounts Committee or equivalent has a major role to play.

  2. To all these ends every body of parliamentarians can benefit from exchanges with colleagues from other Commonwealth countries which share the same values and often face similar challenges.

    I therefore consider it a pleasure and an honour to declare open this 32nd Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Opening remarks by the Leader of Government Business, the Hon. Kurt D. Tibbetts, JP

On behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands a warm welcome, and thank you for attending the 32nd Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

We are privileged this week to be the host country for this distinguished conference and our aim is to make this event exciting, informative and relevant to the work we do as Speakers, Presidents of Senates, Ministers, MPs and MLAs.

This conference is the first in the region to be attended by the CPA's newly appointed Secretary General, the Hon. Dr. William F Shija. Dr Shija is the CPA's first African Secretary-General and brings to his post a wealth of knowledge gleaned from many years as a member of the Tanzanian parliament and the Pan-African Parliament. He was nominated to this prestigious position by the CPA Executive Committee after they conducted a Commonwealth-wide selection process and he began his term in January of this year. It's indeed an honour and a priviledge to welcome you to the Cayman Islands, Dr Shija. Please join me in applauding Dr Shija.

To give you a little perspective on the breadth of Dr Shija's responsibilities, he has taken over a Secretariat which runs programmes and services for all of the Parliaments and Legislatures in the nations, states, provinces, and territories of the Commonwealth. This is a monumental task and one of great importance and I know we can all learn from him during his session this afternoon The Commonwealth, the CPA and Parliamentary Democracy: How to Improve Communications with the Public.

As hosts of this year's conference we were of course tasked with choosing an appropriate theme that would speak to the concerns of our counterparts in the region but would also be relevant to our own situation at home.

In choosing the theme: Embracing Change in the Way We Do Business: Efficient Government, we hope to describe our common goal of achieving modern and progressive governments. In the Cayman Islands, we are approaching several of our most important landmarks in the road to truly, modern government including undertaking constitutional reform and the implementation of freedom of information legislation.

Several representatives here today have experienced a similar process of constitutional reform and freedom of information reform in your home countries. Like you, we realize the importance of these movements and the need for them to evolve dynamically with the full participation of our people.

As representatives of the people we are conduits for change. By networking with each other this week and learning from each others experiences we will not only strengthen our ability to lead our own people but we'll become better informed about all of our efforts, challenges and triumphs across the region.

I'm pleased that several of my fellow parliamentarians will be making presentations to support our theme this week. Among the presenters are our Attorney General, the Hon. Samuel Bulgin, QC who'll speak on Law Enforcement and Interdiction: Regional Cooperation; Bodden Town MLA, Osbourne Bodden will speak on a topic with particular relevant as we enter the hurricane season: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery; Our Minister of Education, the Hon. Alden M McLaughlin will speak on a topic dear to his heart and which is a core concern of his Ministry: Tertiary Education Towards a New Approach while Member of the Opposition, MLA Rolston M Anglin will present on a topic of particular relevance to small island states: Environmental Protection: Landfill and Disposal of Refuse/Beautification.

I'm pleased to say that this week's agenda is diverse and educational and I encourage you to be introspective for the next few days and soak up these presentations and ideas for your own benefit. We all have the ability to cope with highly stressful lives but unfortunately this skill doesn't win us any medals so please sit back, relax and simply become a student again.

You'll all appreciate that we've not planned a conference that is all work and no play. We've made sure to include an island tour for those new to Grand Cayman. There is also a Caymanian Culture evening on Friday, hosted by Minister of Culture, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, MLA and the Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Charles Clifford, JP, MLA. Finally, there are several receptions including one, which I hope you'll not miss, hosted by HE the Governor, Stuart Jack and Mrs Mariko Jack at Government House.

We have a full schedule today so I'll conclude by saying I hope we'll fulfill our job as hosts with excellence and that you'll give us your honest feedback on how we've performed. Once again, it is an honour to host this conference and to be in the company of such a distinguished group of leaders. Best wishes and God bless us all as we step up to the challenge of embracing change in the way our governments do business.

Thank you.

Welcome address by the Hon Edna M Moyle, JP, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

It is indeed a great privilege for me to extend to you a gracious and warm Caymanian welcome to the Opening Ceremony of the 32nd Conference of The Caribbean, the Americas and The Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

To the Secretary-General of the CPA, the Hon Dr William Shija, we are indeed honoured to receive you, Sir, to this your inaugural CPA Conference of the Region. We look forward to your presentation at the first Conference session later today when you will present the topic: The Commonwealth, the CPA and Parliamentary Democracy: How to Improve Communications with the Public.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Association was founded in 1911 by a group of Parliamentarians of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africia, and has grown in membership to include 169 national, state, provincial and territorial Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth, with a total membership of approximately 16,000 Parliamentarians. Its mission is to promote the advancement of parliamentary democracy by enhancing knowledge and understanding of democratic governance ( The Cayman Islands Branch has been a member of this prestigious Association for 43 years.

During the course of the conference our distinguished Delegates will be discussing topical regional and international issues and I trust that they will challenge and enlighten us in moving forward to effect responsible change for all future generations.

The different sessions cover a range of topics that affect us all in the region. In one, you will be examining the role that democracy plays in the lives of the people who choose to be governed this way.

The vital role the citizen plays underpins the very existence of democracy which is still the best known form of government to foster human development. The more involved the citizenry get in the running of a democracy, the more vibrant becomes the government that rules them. Yes, a democratic government may not be able to wipe every tear from every eye or ensure that every child is protected but a well-run democracy is the next best thing to the unattainable notion of pleasing all.

By the same token, a democracy is only as vibrant as the involvement of its citizens in its functioning. Apathy, disenchantment with the system, or inaction on the part of those governed can undermine the efficacy of an entire system, even when non-involvement is a type of expression. Voter apathy, for instance, can be a type of expression and has the potential of undermining and skewering an election.

Another topic of discussion will throw much needed light on whether male youth in the region rise to their full potential and examine the reasons for their underachievement. While it gladdens my heart every time a woman or a girl proves her mettle, gender equality is a concept that I uphold dearly. Girls invariably score better on our national examinations or in gaining academic qualifications or in making great strides in the workforce and kudos to them for that. However, if society's achievements are not to sound hollow, we must ensure that we do not lose sizeable numbers of our male youth to the scourge of crime, thereby denying society of their essential strength. This is a prospect that each of us in the region faces and it demands our urgent attention.

Equally importantly, the majority of us who are island nations in the region have to start examining and planning for the potential effects of climatic changes. We already face the annual threats of hurricanes. We in Cayman have lived first-hand through the devastation visited by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, three days that are etched indelibly in the minds of many, including our younger generation. The destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 primarily on USA's Gulf Coast is still fresh in our minds.

Global warming and the rise of the sea levels predicted have direct consequences for all of us. Now is the time for us to be talking about this and taking stock, as a region as well as individual nations. Let us pool our knowledge and see how we can help one another by taking the first step of sharing what we learn.

Given the importance of tourism to the economy of each of us in the region, there is no doubt that the degradation of our environments will be a direct blow to our identity as tourist destinations. We all know this yet have to contend, among other things, with disposal of mounting piles of garbage. Our Minister of Environmental Health jocularly refers to Grand Cayman's landfill as "Mount Trashmore" but he knows first hand that garbage disposal is one of the challenges that we in the Cayman Islands face, like many a small nation, especially a small island nation. Again, this is another area we can learn from our collective experiences and expertise.

So it is no exaggeration to state that I keenly look forward to all the deliberations in the coming days of the conference.

As Parliamentarians we have a high duty to preserve the future of our Region and through this CPA Conference may the views we share assist us in further developing effective change.

I wish you well in your deliberations during the conference sessions and trust that throughout your stay, you will enjoy our Caymanian hospitality. We take pride in the warmth we extend to visitors to our shores and are especially pleased that such a distinguished gathering from our region and beyond will call our beloved land your place of stay for the next few days.

I extend to you all a hearty, cordial Caymanian welcome once again.

As Parliamentarians we have a high duty to preserve the future of our Region and through this CPA Conference may the views we share assist us in further developing effective change.