No entry without signing

July 1, 2005
The Jamaica On Line Star
By Germaine Smith

CANADA HAS LAID down the law for Jamaican artistes who wish to perform there.

The Canadians require that before local acts secure work permits they must sign documents stating that their lyrics will not harm certain groups. The artistes have to declare their refusal to perform any discriminatory lyrics even before their work permits are processed.

Carol Hart, representative of the Public Affairs section of the Canadian High Commission, confirmed the report this week, adding that it has been in effect since late last year.

"All entertainers going to Canada are required to sign a declaration that states that the entertainer will not engage in activities in Canada that will break the Canadian Criminal Code, or engage in or advocate the hatred of persons because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation," states a release sent from the commission after questions were posed by THE STAR.

Hart noted that it was changed after a few consultations with key industry people last year. The industry people were not named, but the effective date for the declaration requirement was on November 9, 2004. Hart added that since that time, compliance with the requirements "has been good."

Be careful

However, at least one Canadian promoter says that he or she now has to exercise care as to how his or her events are promoted as not all the artistes are willing to sign the documents.

"If you want to bring in an artiste and they don't want to sign it, then it can put you as a promoter in problems, especially if they were advertised for the show. So promoters have to be wise and not start to advertise artistes before hand," he said.

He said that another promoter recently had to quickly adjust his line-up after the performer did not sign.

"He had TOK down to appear and they said they would not sign the waiver so he had to drop them ... So things like this will affect the promoters, depending on the stance that the artistes take," Henry said.

So far, he says some of the other dancehall acts have signed in order to do shows in Canada.

Based on the document which was obtained by THE STAR, local acts have to promise absolute saintly behaviour before they are granted their permits. The document is based on the Canadian Criminal Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian Human Rights Act, which are outlined on it. These three bodies of rules all have specific and strict guidelines on what people are able to say against other groups publicly, and the undesirable consequences which follow a breach.

Jamaican artistes have to sign four clauses.

"I will not engage in or advocate the hatred against persons because of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, or sexual orientation," reads one of them.

Another reads; "I further understand that contravention of Canadian laws may lead to prosecution and, if convicted, I may be rendered inadmissible to Canada."

The other two state that they have read sections of the Criminal Code, the Charter of Rights, and the Human Rights Act and they have agreed to abide by them.