The third convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba was held at Metro Hall in Toronto on September 2-4, 2006. Of the 23 full member CNC organizations, 20 were present. 38 delegates and 18 observers (including 2 executive members) joined 14 special guests from Canada, Cuba and the U.S. These guests included Ernesto Senti, Cuban Ambassador to Canada, Margarita Valle, Embassy Political Counsellor, Laureano Cardosa, Cuban Consul General, Esperanza Luzbert, Embassy Press and Cultural Attache, Enrique Roman, 1st Vice-President, Cuban Institute for Friendship Amongst the Peoples, Javier Dominguez, ICAP North American Director, Sobukwe Shukura, U.S. National Network on Cuba, Lee Lorch, David Warner, Keith Ellis and Saul Chernos.
The convention began with a tribute to the late Mario Garcia, former Minister Counsellor at the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa.
Cuban Ambassador, Ernesto Senti, addressed the convention, focusing on Fidel’s improving health, challenges for Cuba in its inter-governmental relations with Canada (including working with the new Inter-Parliamentary Group), the worldwide Free the Five campaign and the development of Cuba solidarity in Canada.
19 CNC member groups presented reports on their past, present and future solidarity activities, including work on the Che Guevara Brigades, promotion of twinning activities, municipal Cuba solidarity days, the distribution of Granma, Jose Marti and July 26th celebrations, book and film tours, Canada Cuba trade union conferences, work with the Cuban Consulates and Embassy, newsletter and website production, Terry Fox activities, work with Pastors for Peace and financial and material aid.
The 2004-2006 CNC Executive Report was presented (see Web site link), including reports from the co-chairs, the treasurer, the membership and internal communication secretary and the campaigns and projects committee, as well as proposals for amending CNC dues structure and the CNC Statement of Principles.
There was a workshop on Campaigns and Projects, including reports on the Che Guevara Brigade, the Pastors for Peace Caravan, the Mission Against Terror Tour and Free the Five work.
A wine and cheese event with Cuban art and Cuban musicians was held Saturday evening at the Edward Day Gallery.
On Sunday, the convention heard from Enrique Roman. In existence for 46 years, ICAP has been one of the most stable organizations to come out of the revolution. Its primary purpose is to promote international friendship with Cuba and to counter anti-revolutionary propaganda by providing information on the real Cuba. It works with over 2,000 organizations in 134 countries. Its current priorities are the Free the five Campaign and the exposure of Bush’s "Plan for a Free Cuba," the U.S.’s latest blueprint for attempting to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. He said that the convention reports from the CNC member groups and the executive showed active and dynamic organizations.
The second workshop, "CNC Review," was introduced by a presentation by the Co-Chairs on CNC strengths and weakness over the past two years, followed by a Q and A and then a discussion of our structure, dues, membership, planning, communication, etc.
There was a report on a new quarterly magazine, Cuba Plus, part of whose objective is cooperation with Cuba solidarity groups. A second report gave information about the project to digitize the 700,000 letters to Fidel that came out of the first post-revolutionary literacy campaign.
The third workshop focused on "The CNC and the Canadian Government." Special guests Lee Lorch and David Warner led a lively discussion of strategy and tactics i n lobbying M.P.s and the federal government.
Sobukwe Shukura, one of the five Co-Chairs of the National Network on Cuba brought solidarity greetings from NNOC.
Nominations for the CNC Executive closed and the 8 candidates were each given a few minutes for presentations. The convention decided that the Executive be expanded to 8 members and to declare as elected the 8 nominees.
The Treasurer’s report was presented, discussed and adopted (with thanks).
The final workshop, led by independent journalist Saul Chernos, focused on "The CNC and the Media." After presentations by Saul and by Esperanza Luzbert, Press/Cultural Attache at the Embassy, the ensuing discussion produced some interesting ideas about the content and form of our initiatives and responses to the general public and the media.
There was an announcement of the division of labour of the new Executive:
- Bruce MacLeod - Webmaster
- Sharon Skup - Treasurer
- Daine Zack and Marvin Glass - Co-Chairs
- Nino Pagliccia, Dave Thomas and Tamara Hansen – Campaigns and Projects
- Lisa Makarchuk – Membership and Internal Communication
A tribute was paid to the outgoing Co-Chair, Evelyn Gervan.
The convention agreed to replace the CNC "Statement of Principles" with "The CNC Declaration" (see Web site link), to adopt a new dues structure and a new Brigade proposal, to establish a Pastors for Peace Caravan Committee, to work for closer contact with ICAP and the Embassy, to support a campaign for influencing Canadian foreign policy toward Cuba, to endorse a book tour of a Cuban general, to establish a Canada-wide coordinating committee on Free the Five and to approve a tour of one of the relatives of the Cuban Five.
Evelyn Gervan presented a report on Hurricane Relief (see link to Convention Report from the Executive) and Javier Dominguez reported that ICAP ended up handling donations during the special period because they had the international links, but now there is more need for ICAP to promote solidarity. MINVEC will handle donations, which they shared in past. For (large) donations see Web site link and contact Antonio Castanon economic counselor:
The Convention expressed gratitude to the local organizing committee, including Sharon Skup, Patience Okyere, Lisa Makarchuk, Ann Nicolson and Liz Hill and to recorders Linda Chobotuk and Miguel Figueroa. Also thanked were the Consulate for hosting the Sunday evening reception and the Ambassador and the Political Counsellor.