Black Immigrant Daily News
MP Katherine Ebanks-Wilks was elected Speaker of Parliament today, November 25, 2022.
Reacting to her election, the Speaker said that she was “filled with gratitude to have been appointed to the Office of Speaker” and remarked that it “is a role that holds an enormous responsibility and authority.”
Publicly acknowledging those who came before her and who acted in the Speaker role, she said she feels “a great sense of pride to have been given the privilege to follow in the footsteps of 5 previous esteemed, strong female leaders of our country: the Hon. Sybil Ione McLaughlin, the Hon. Edna M. Moyle, the Hon. Mary J. Lawrence; and last but not least, my fellow elected member for Cayman Brac East – the Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly who has always displayed leading with a graceful force.”
Ebanks-Wilks also gave members of Parliament a sneak peek into how she intends to execute the Speaker role.
It is the duty of the Speaker to ensure that there is fairness, decorum and decency in the Legislative Assembly and that democracy flourishes. Democracy is not just about majority rule, it is also about minority rights. Certainly, it is the duty of the Speaker to facilitate the work of the Government and to ensure that the business of the House gets done in an efficient manner. But, importantly, it is also the duty of the Speaker to protect the rights of the minority and to insist that the voice of the Opposition in and to insist that the voice of the Opposition in the House is not stifled. Adequate opportunity must be given to Members of the Opposition to make their points as forcefully as they deem fit within the bounds of common decency and parliamentary decorum.
Regarding her constituency and her communication going forward with them, she said that the approach she intends to take is similar to that shared in an interview where Speaker Sir Lindsey Hoyle was asked the question by a reporter.
The reporter asked Sir Lindsey if he finds it hard to advocate for his constituents as Speaker and he replied by a simple no. He stated that if he needs to advocate for his constituents he might not be able to say it on the floor of the house but he has frequent meetings with the Prime Minister which means that he is able to express the issues of his constituency directly to the head of the government. He also stated that he had more access for his people that he didn’t have before.
Ebanks-Wilks intimated that she therefore plans to follow the lead of Speaker Sir Lindsey Hoyle, adding that she had “comfort in knowing that” she “can still advocate” for her constituents of West Bay Central.
Ebanks-Wilks also encouraged members of the public to increase their involvement in the happenings of the country.
Expanding on this, she said:
To the Public, use your voice. I encourage all of you to participate in the development of your country – express your opinions on the world and how it is governed; try and take part in and shape decisions that affect you.
Read the Legislative website/gazettes, to keep up to date with bills that are being passed. As I mentioned, once the new website is launched this information will be easier to access and understand.
By encouraging the people to get involved in the process, Ebanks-Wilks was indirectly asking members of the public to keep Parliament accountable to the people.
Regarding her own accountability, she said:
I also give a commitment to go further than to aspire to lead with integrity and competence as it is our obligation as leaders certainly my obligation as Speaker, to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct to continue to serve our people with dignity. Our people expect that we maintain the integrity and competence of the parliamentary profession.
Ebanks-Wilks then concluded her vote of thanks and re-emphasized her accountability in a quote she shared about our National Hero.
I vow to unconditionally serve the people of the Cayman Islands in the House of Parliament and to honour the words of our National Hero the Hon Sybil McLaughlin, ‘Whatever you do, do your best’