By Gerald V. Paul
Ontario Superior Court has ruled against Toronto Mas Bands Association (TMBA) in its bid for an injunction to stop Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival funder Festival Management Committee (FMC) from bypassing it to pay bands directly.
In its ruling Monday, the court disagreed that FMC’s arrangement would cause “irreparable harm” to the parade.
“Nobody wanted to go in that route. At the end of the day, it’s about building our community in a win-win,” FMC CAO Chris Alexander told The Camera on Tuesday at the Ontario Science Centre where details of this year’s Carnival, including the Grand Parade, were released.
“Look around you – the Mas people are here as well as the Pan and Calypso. So the 2015 Scotiabank Carnival is a go,” he added.
TMBA, annually representing more than 7,000 of the costumed Mas players, took FMC to court over disputes involving parade insurance coverage and foreign ownership in the parade and related activities.
Alexander noted the TMBA still has the same role as always. The only difference is, instead of paying the bands through the association, “we are paying them directly.”
According to submissions to the court, the yearly contractual arrangement between FMC and TMBA was usually confirmed via a written memorandum in the spring. However, the latter claimed FMC withdrew the memorandum this April “without warning.”
The TMBA claim argued the funding administrator had breached its terms and failed to obtain insurance coverage for the Carnival, exposing the organizers to litigation and financial damages.
“By withdrawing the memorandum of agreement, the FMC has stripped the TMBA of all its responsibilities. The TMBA is in the process of being destroyed by FMC,” the claim stated.
The two parties also had disputes over the “foreign affiliation clause” of their agreement which says all participating bands in the festival must be registered with TMBA and owned and controlled by a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, to promote local talent.
The injunction request accused FMC of condoning a partnership for the July event between Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club and megastar Machel Montano.
Another concern of the TMBA was “a lack of collective representation will deprive TMBA’s membership of significant bargaining power in negotiations with the FMC over funding and the manner in which the Caribana is administered and in that the TMBA will be forced to bear the litigation costs.”
Alexander stressed, “The key is for us to take this festival to another level. It’s like a family; we have our challenges not problems. Let’s continue to build bridges.”