It is understandable that the Canadian Tulip Festival would want to avoid having a Falun Dafa banner displayed on stage while a Chinese embassy delegation sat in the audience during opening ceremonies.
But the statements in the Citizen from festival organizers, absolving themselves of responsibility were unbecoming of parties responsible for running a high-profile cultural event.
Mere seconds spent researching Tian Guo Marching Band reveals that the band is associated with Falun Gong, complete with photos of the band's parade dress and Falun Dafa banner.
If it isn't the tulip festival's responsibility to vet festival participants and avoid this situation, whose is it?
Furthermore, carrying a banner stating religious affiliation is not political protest; that Falun Gong practitioners face political persecution in China does not make their religious self-identification and pride a political act in Canada. Banners are commonplace for marching bands, and the group was scheduled to perform the Canadian national anthem and Maple Leaf Forever, not make speeches or distribute political material. Alluding that the band was attempting to covertly infiltrate the festival to deliver a political message is absurd.
I expect that many apologies will be offered regarding this incident. One is certainly owed to the members of the Tian Guo Marching Band.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2008