GPAC ready for court battle with Culture Minister

The Grenada Professional Association of Calypsonians and Tents (GPAC-T) intends to take Culture Minister, Sen. Brenda Hood to court to challenge her decision to overlook their nominee and to appoint the controversial Isha Antoine to serve another three year term on the Board of the state-controlled Spicemas Corporation (SMC) to represent the interest of calypsonians.

Leading GPAC-T member, seven time calypso monarch winner, Findley “Scholar” Jeffrey told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the members of the association are not taking the reappointment of Antoine lightly and are planning to take the matter to the high court for judicial review.

“Scholar” said the calypso grouping is going ahead with the filing of an injunction against the decision taken by Sen. Hood because it believes that based on the SMC Act itself, the reappointment of this particular individual is considered to be null and void.

The corporation was enacted in 2011, under the former National Democratic Congress Government (NDC) and calls for elections to be held every three years.

The ace calypsonian is confident that GPAC-T will prevail in the court battle to challenge Sen. Hood’s decision.

“This is not something that the Minister could ever hope to win,” Scholar said, since “it is clearly written in the statutes of the SMC Act (Article 7.1D) – that it doesn’t give the Minister the powers to appoint who she wants.”

Apart from GPAC-T, there is another body involving calypsonians made up principally of several soca artistes who are known to be closely aligned to the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration of Sen. Hood.

According to the seasoned calypsonian, “she (Minister Hood) cannot choose a representative for us,” although she said that the decision taken by her was in the best interest of calypsonians because we (GPAC-T, the Grenada Calypsonian and Cultural Associations) could not come to an agreement on which person we wanted to represent us…”.

Scholar described the act of the government minister as “wrong” and “illegal”.

He said under the act, the Culture Minister has the authority and is obligated to get the associations together in order to bring about consensus on issues.

“We are not going to take this blatant act of law breaking, we are not going to take it just sitting down,” he added.

Scholar, who strongly objected to Antoine, a suspected activist of the ruling New National Party (NNP)  serving another three-year term, indicated that prior to the culmination of the lady’s first term in office, GPAC wrote to Minister Hood informing her of their position as far as representation on the body is concerned.

“Before her (Isha Antoine’s) term was finished … we wrote to the Minister of Culture”, he said,  indicating that “we would not like to see her re-elected and we named who we wanted as our representative” in the person of “Sylvan Chan.”

According to Scholar, “Chan is a guy who works with all calypsonians, plus he doesn’t belong to any of the associations, so there is no conflict of interest in what Sylvan Chan would do and on top of that he has worked voluntarily with SMC before, so he knows about the running and the dealing of the SMC…”.

“…We thought that he would be a very good representative”, said the calypsonian who is a school teacher by profession.

Scholar who has been involved in the Calypso business for the past 22 years spoke of Sen. Hood responding to his organisation, indicating that “GPAC by itself cannot choose the representative”.

He said the female government minister also cited the need for “consensus” on the matter of the representative to serve on the Spicemas Corporation “but lo and behold we understand that she went on and she chose Isha Antoine for another three years.”

The aggrieved Calypsonian said it is still not clear why their nomination was not considered for the position.

“It begs the question why Isha Antoine and not Sylvan Chan,” he said.

Scholar said GPAC-T is “open to dialogue if the Minister wants to speak about the issue but it was prepared to proceed “steadfast ahead to file an injunction”.

“…We are correct and the Minister is wrong, wrong, wrong. She cannot choose somebody because the law does not give her that power”, he added.

In commenting on the issue, another veteran calypsonian, Elwin “Black Wizard” Mc Quilkin, who has been singing Calypso for more than four decades expressed the view that Antoine has “failed the calypsonians” in her first three-year term on the Spicemas Board of Directors.

“She represented maybe more the SMC or herself, but she never really represented Calypsonians,” Wizard told THE NEW TODAY.

“Maybe she didn’t understand…when you go inside SMC you go there to represent Calypso…She got three years and she didn’t do us any good…”, he added.

Without being specific Wizard, who has won the National Calypso monarch competition on three occasions indicated that there are a number of persons available who “can do a better job” than Antoine.

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