2/22/09

And What of Democracy?

This week my husband and I attended one of several public 'townhall' forums being held to discuss the draft constitution and bill of rights for the Cayman Islands. This is the draft , after several years of starts and stops, that the British gov't has decided to sign off on. (The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory.)

The CI Human Rights Committee has some problems with the draft bill of rights, the major one being that there is not an open, unlimited non-discrimination provision. (This was presented by the HRC chair, as something 'taken away', when in fact the new constitution and bill of rights goes much farther than the 1972 edition to protect 'rights' of Caymanians from gov't abuse.)

The proposed non-discrimination provision reads:

"subject to subsections (3) (4) (5) and (6), government shall not treat any person in a discriminatory manner in respect of the rights under this Part of the Constitution."

The HRC objects to the 'bolded' phrase, and would like the provision to be unqualified. (Discriminatory is defined in the document as "affording different and unjustifiable treatment to different persons on any grounds such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, age, mental or physical disability, property, birth or other status.)

The forum was side-tracked by the usual (for Cayman) bogeyman of homophobia, in that the 'opposition' to the current draft, were concerned that the qualification included was in fact there solely for the purpose of protecting the Islands from being over-run by gay rights activists. For this they seemed to blame the churches, who had representaion equal to the HRC, on the negotiating team . (Something we'd never see in North America , I'm sure!) Although, the church representatives, and certainly many parishioners at the forum, have a fear and concern about this (who can blame them, considering the ridiculous things happening in Canada and Europe!), the greater concern is much more serious.

The HRC, in supporting their contention that the non-discriminatory provision should be unqualified, had several supporters
with moving personal stories of hardship that could have been alleviated by the gov't. One was a blind woman who had trouble renting because of her guide dog. Of course, since the CI proposed bill of rights is vertical, and applies only to the gov't treatment of its people, she was not a great example. Her case would only be relevant if she was denied an apartment in a gov't building. The gov't representative pointed this out, and suggested that local legislation was the answer to this kind of difficulty.

He was right. Local legislation is how a citizen has the ability to address needs in a democracy. The interesting thing was the HRC chair's response to that. She suggested that Caymanians would be better served by depending on unelected judges to sort out what the gov't owes them.

See the problem? Very few, of even the draft bill supporters, saw the problem.

The 'independent body' designated as a support for human (not just Caymanian) rights, the HRC, proposes to reduce the citizens input by handing over legislative responsibilities to the courts.

(How's that working out for you, CANADA??)

Is the HRC suggesting 'less power to the people' because the Caymanian people can't be trusted ?

And why does the Cayman media do nothing to 'enlighten' their readers? Do they also not trust the Caymanian voters?

Do the HRC, their supporters, and the media have a 'secret agenda'....?

...........................

Why is it that people who have never known any other life than that under a democratic system , have no idea when their democratic 'rights' are being siphoned off. Why don't they care?

I call it 'stealth socialism'.

I'm hoping that our haven of personal freedom, the Cayman Islands, doesn't have to suffer the degradation and repression of their society the way the once proud Canadian people have. And I say that as a Canadian.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

What you describe as "stealth socialism" is not as stealthy in Canada. And since they no longer teach people what the consequences of accepting a socialist government have been in the past, no one seems the slightest bit uncomfortable with it except for a select few. Those few are often criticized for being "ultraconservative" or selfish. Imagine that, having a thirst for freedom, and wanting the same freedom for everyone is selfish.

I miss Cayman.