Constitution in Modern Times
The Balance of Power - Part3
The 1972 constitution is largely a colonial document which vests primary constitutional responsibility in the hands of the Queen’s representative, His Excellency the Governor. This is hardly surprising since up to the1970’s the Cayman Islands were operating under a rudimentary system of government.
Today, some 30 years later, we have reached a maturation level whereby the disconnect between how our government should operate and how it is permitted to operate under the constitution is apparent.
A recent example of this disconnect may be referenced in the April 23rd; Cayman Net News article entitled “Cabinet Ministers Demand Say in Key Government Agencies”. The report concerned the frustration of Cabinet Ministers over the fact they were excluded from discussions regarding the police, an area which the Governor has special responsibility under the constitution.
What was being advocated at the time was not that the government wished to interfere with how the police execute their responsibilities, but rather, to be kept informed and be part of the discussions. The rational given was that because they are the elected representatives, they are required to approve funding for the police and the people hold them accountable irrespective of what the constitution says.
Under our present constitution, the Governor holds special responsibilities which cover the areas of defence, external affairs, internal security, police and the public service. With respect to the above, the constitution only requires the Governor to keep Cabinet informed in so far as they may involve the passage of laws and the economic or financial interests of the Cayman Islands.
Today’s society expects more from our respective governments. Whilst elected representatives remain the custodians of power, the people are equally capable of understanding the issues of government and have for the most part rendered obsolete, the patriarchal politician. Today we are keen to hold our representatives accountable. Therefore, in order for elected representatives to live up to their new found obligations, the government must be a party to any formal discussions that involve the Cayman Islands whether or not these discussions fall under the exclusive remit of the Governor.
The response of His Excellency the Governor Stuart Jack, CVO to the police issue was that “he understands the importance of keeping elected Ministers informed about developments pertaining to law and order” (see Caymanian Compass April 27-29, 2007, Cabinet to get police briefings).
Public statements such as the above, is an indicator that our constitution needs to be updated so that it reflects the mature relationship between the three major stakeholders, the Governor, the elected representatives and the people of the Cayman Islands.
To learn more about the responsibilities of the Governor and the Legislature and Cabinet, take a look at our constitution which may be found on our website www.constitution.gov.ky or visit the Constitutional Review Secretariat for a free copy. Let’s Start Shaping Our Future Together.