By RAPHAEL FRANCIS
The fraudulent acquisition of control of CARIBANA by the city of Toronto under the disguise of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) was nothing short of a well orchestrated hostile corporate “take-over” that was executed, aided and abetted by members of our own community. With very, very few exceptions, the silence coming from the Caribbean community in general and our local media in particular (save Share’s publisher, Arnold Auguste) is deafening. Have we been collectively muzzled or are we simply too tired of fighting all our lives? Perhaps there is a lack of awareness that has manifested itself as apathy.
Politics is the only game I know of where you can bribe people with their very own money and still attempt to convince them that they are “getting something for nothing”. Remember the introduction of the GST by former Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney? His government handed out rebate cheques in December just before the GST went into effect the following January. If you think that CARIBANATM was immune from the ravages of politics, then think again.
When it was learned that members of the Toronto Mas Band Association (TMBA) were working for the re-election of Councillor Joe Mihevc (the city’s liaison to Caribana and the one responsible for taking it away from the community and setting up the FMC to run it) the question that begged an answer was “what’s in it for them?” Though we may never get an answer to that question anyone can be excused for speculating.
According to its application filed on June 23, 2006 for the incorporation of a Corporation Without Share Capital with the Ontario Ministry of Corporate and Business Services, the Festival Management Committee (FMC) stated its three objectives as follows:-
(a) To promote and oversee cultural activities and festivals within the City of Toronto
(b) To seek funding on behalf of various cultural organizations and festivities
(c) To provide counsel and advice to organizations
Does anyone know of any organization on whose behalf the FMC has applied for and or received funding? Is there an organization out there that has received the benefit of FMC counsel? Those questions may turn out to be rhetorical because the FMC does not seem to be accountable to anyone (the least of which is our community).
Since “oversee” is not synonymous with “manage” how did the FMC come to manage CARIBANATM? Does the FMC have any other “cultural organizations and festivities” within its management portfolio? Or is CARIBANATM just the fortunate beneficiary of the FMC’s good intentions? These are just some of the things we ought to be asking ourselves.
On June 6, 2006 Mihevc wrote to the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), predecessor of the CARIBANATM Arts Group (CAG) formally acknowledging “that the annual Caribbean Festival (Caribana) was conceived and developed by the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), and is a valuable intellectual and artistic property and its ownership is vested in the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC)”. Seriously, did we really need an outsider who probably knew nothing about the genesis of CARIBANATM to legitimize its ownership by the Caribbean community through his formal acknowledgement of same?
In the same letter the councillor stated that he was “confident that this statement will inspire the renewal of a constructive and cooperative relationship between the CCC and the Festival Management Committee (FMC), which includes representation from the Toronto Mas Band Association (TMBA), the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) and the Organization of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA)”. By what means and by whose authority was Mihevc ascended to the lofty position of “man-in-control” so that he became the spokesperson to whom our community must listen?
It is high time that we show this interloper who really is in control. There is no best before date usage of the carnival costumes. They can be warehoused for a year and still be of use later. I truly believe that if collectively we, the members of the Caribbean community, wish to demand the respect that we have been denied there can be no better way to demonstrate this than by staying away in droves from what the city, the FMC and Scotiabank would have others believe is CARIBANATM. And it is not too late to let your friends and relatives here and abroad, especially those in the U. S., know about your intention to stay away from taking part in this year’s event.