Transition can be tough

Egbert Gaye
There is a bit of a kerfuffle at the Black Coalition of Quebec over the question of leadership. And according to the two main protagonists it all hinge on respect.
Dan Philip, who was one of the founders of the organization over 40 years ago, and who still serves as its executive director and front-man says he has been put in a position where he feels as if he has to defend his name and the legacy he has tried to build after almost 50 years as a human rights advocate.
Peter Francis, who was encouraged to join the organization about four years ago, was elected its president on April 13. He says he cannot fulfill his role without having full transparency in the organization, and his efforts to bring more openness have been met with resistance by Philip.
“It’s a question of respect,” says Philip. “I worked all my life to sustain this organization, to serve my community and society. At this point in my life I don’t want anybody to use my name and trash it.”
Francis says the intention was never to cast aspersions on Philip, but to allow him and other newly-elected board members a better understanding of the financial state of the Coalition and find ways to modify its day-to-day operations.
The conflict led to an impasse that pitted Francis and several new members of the board against Philip and his loyalists.
It was obvious, Francis says, that we lost confidence in each other, so something had to give.
It all came to a head on Tuesday, May 31, when a meeting was called for the membership to deal with the issue.
However, security placed at the front door of the association’s headquarters on Decarie Boulevard prevented Francis and his group from entering the building which brought police to the scene.
The meeting ended with Philip and the membership putting a new board in place and literally shutting out previously elected directors who they say were ineligible because they were fully paid members.
The situation has since deteriorated further, after Philip served Francis with a $100,000 lawsuit claiming defamation of character.
And at the time of publication he was about to do the same to another board member, Pharoah Freeman, whom he says made inflammatory statements on Facebook about the use of community funds.
Francis says he is troubled by the turn of events.
“As a community we should be bonding with each other, not fighting. And I hope we can come to a resolution soon. I don’t view Dan Philip as a bad man. He is a good man.”
“We’re in a state of transition and that’s always tough. When there’s change…it always comes with challenges…”