The new Toronto Caribbean Carnival is trying hard to get its plans in place for the August 5 event which may or may not be called Caribana but will definitely look and feel like the 38-year old event which annually puts Toronto at the head of the ethnic cultural calendar for summer North American festivals.

Joe Halstead, Toronto's former commissioner of economic development, culture and tourism, has been named to lead the city-endorsed Festival Management Committee (FMC), which also includes Glen Grunwald of the Toronto Board of Trade and Ed Peters of the Ontario Steelpan Association. Making it all possible is  Curtis Eustace of the Toronto Mas Bands Association — the costumed heart of the festival, which has publicly broken with Caribana's old guard and has no patience left for certain perennially disturbing patterns. This will be the second time the Toronto Mas Bands has publicly broken with the CCC and successfully produced the festival in 2003 as well.

"I don't think for one minute people are going to go, 'Oh, I'm not going to come because it's not called Caribana,' "
Commissioner Joe Halstead, Toronto Argos head coach Michael Pinball Clemons and Councillor Raymond Cho pose with the Grey Cup
Joe Halstead, former City of Toronto economic development commissioner, who was involved in Toronto's Olympic bid and the 2002 papal visit
"Joe Halstead is a terrific, terrific person in terms of a manager; someone who can lead and someone who provides great direction and has great insights," said Councillor Michael Thompson, who represents Scarborough Centre. "I will tell you now, mark him as the saviour of this whole Caribana."


The CCC was denied city funding to produce the festival this year because of long-standing concerns about financial accountability. Organizers were unable to produce a clean audit for 200"It is no secret that the previous carnivals have in fact had some difficulty accounting properly for the finances they have received," Joe Halstead said upon being named chair of the new group on April 25.

"Our goal was to enhance the strength, the vibrancy and value of our community as well as others in the Canadian mosaic.
Today, it appears as though the vision has been lost and an important means of achieving it has been taken away.
For the CCC, the City of Toronto, and the Mas Bands Association to move forward together effectively and ensure a wonderful tradition is preserved and passed on to other generations, it must first be recognized that Caribana is the result of 40 years of labour by the CCC. "
Dr. Maurice L. Bygrave, Director of Caribbean Cultural Committee, 1966, Mississauga in a letter to the editor dated 18MAY06


The Festival Management Committee will receive combined funds from the city and province, and probably a grant from Ottawa, to run the festival, which is said to draw about a million people every July. The provincial-municipal amount typically totals about $800,000.

Although it will have a new name — the Toronto Caribbean Festival — organizers vow that it will keep all of the hallmarks of Caribana, from the main parade along Lake Shore Blvd. W., to the King and Queen of the Bands competition.

Halstead, Toronto's former commissioner of economic development, culture and tourism, was tapped by Councillor Joe Mihevc, the city's liaison with the festival, to lead the new committee.

But not everyone is warming to this make-over and Monica Pollard, chairperson for the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC),  who assumed the post in December, is one such person.

She contends that her group, which has organised the two-week summer event for almost four decades, has been sidelined.
"It (the festival) should have not been taken away from us," she said at a Jamaica Gleaner Editors' Forum held at Yum Yum Restaurant on Dufferin Street, Toronto, on April 27. "The CCC are the best people to run it."

Download Councillor Joe Mihevc, the long-standing City point person for its relationship with the largest Caribbean Festival in North America, has a different take on the turn of events. His stance, he says, was brought about by the lack of accountability on the part of the former organisers. "The city funds 1,500 organisations, directly and indirectly," he said. "And, not one of them which fails to produce a clean audit gets funding the next year. It's public money."