“The youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and looking around this room I see hope for the future of the Cayman Islands and that is good.”
Premier Wayne Panton
(CMR) The Fourteenth Youth Parliament of the Cayman Islands was held Saturday morning at the Legislative Assembly by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Notably, only two members of the Official Opposition showed up in support of Cayman's youth.
The Leader of the Opposition Roy McTaggart and Barbara Connolly were in attendance supporting the seven young people who were sitting on the opposition side. Other than that, no other opposition member was in attendance.
Despite that the young people put forward an admiral performance and debated several motions with professionalism, decorum and vigor. In fact, many argued that they were so impressive that one may have easily thought they were existing MPs.
McTaggart only tendered apologies for MP David Wight who he shared was in Miami with a family member recovering from surgery. The annual youth parliament was postponed from March after the general election was moved forward.
Premier Wayne Panton tendered apologies for two members of PACT who said were in Cayman Brac attending to ministerial duties.
The Speaker of Parliament, The Honourable McKeeva Bush stressed the importance of the event sharing that “young people are of great importance to the future of this world”. The CPA is keen to have the participation of Caymans youth as the commonwealth represents a large portion of the world's population with over 1 billion people coming from the Commonwealth alone.
He went on to share that this important program is excellent for promoting and engaging with future leaders for these islands.
Leader of the Opposition and Joint Vice President of the CPA Cayman Islands, The Honourable Roy McTaggart then spoke about the importance of the event for our young people.
He focused on the enviable position the youth parliament was in without the need to wear masks or social distance as COVID continues to be a concern for many around the world. His message centered on the need for Cayman to continue connecting, innovating and transforming as we move towards re-opening our borders. He said he looked forward to the spirited debate as the remainder of the morning's activities got underway.
Premier Wayne Panton then spoke to the importance of the participation of young people in the democratic process. He noted that it was necessary for them to be empowered and have their voices heard. Noting that “they will be taken seriously”.
He then noted that in the words of the former president of the United States, Ronald Regan:
“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we've ever known.”
The young people spiritedly debated two motions. The first motion one was the development of a website and app to display the amenities and services offered by the government. The mover, the Youth MP from Newlands, Sarah Sato Bodden, noted that the management of these websites has not been consistent. She shared that they dispersed across various platforms that are not user-friendly.
She noted that it would be named “CI online” and argued that it could focus a section on the Youth. It was argued that the lack of promotion of an effective and proactive platform.
Ciara Chong, Youth MP for George Town North seconded the motion and several other youth members spoke both in favor and against the private member motion No. 1 of 2021.
The second private member motion No. 2 of 2021 debated a moratorium on the importation of vehicles that use diesel or gasoline imported into the Cayman Islands by 80% by the year 2020. They also considered the significance of more energy-efficient options and the impact on the environment with a view to improving Cayman's National Energy Policy.
CMR spoke with several youth participants for their early afternoon break: