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Results: 1 - 15 of 160
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll be brief, Mr. Chairman.
I would first like to thank the members of the Committee for inviting me to discuss the situation in Haiti. Haiti is a priority of the Canadian government. Canada continues to play a key role in international efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country and uses every forum to reiterate its commitment to long-term involvement.
To encourage Haiti's interim government in its efforts, the Canadian International Development Agency is contributing more than C$180 million over two years. One key component of Canada's contribution is the 100 civilian police officers deployed to the UN mission in Haiti, including the Police Commissioner for this mission.
The Cayenne Conference on Haiti, organized by France and held on March 18, had a twofold objective: to take stock of the implementation of the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF) eight months after its adoption and the funding pledges made at the Washington Conference in July 2005; to provide an update on certain sensitive issues and policies such as the elections, disarmament and human rights.
This was a conference involving participation by five foreign affairs ministers including myself. They represented France, Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The other countries were represented by heads of delegations of various levels. Twelve countries were represented, including five from Latin America. Five international organizations also took part in this Conference.
The Cayenne Conference achieved significant results. It refocused on and strengthened interest in Haiti, while other global crises such as the tsunami in Asia, Darfur and Afghanistan took centre stage in terms of concern and international assistance.
The Conference also provided an opportunity to explore certain sensitive “policies,” generating open discussion of issues such as the feasibility of and budget for the elections, the disarmament program and human rights, including the case of Prime Minister Neptune's prolonged detention.
And above all, the Conference provided a means for renewing the commitment to the Interim Cooperation Framework and recognizing the importance of rapidly implementing projects that have a visible and concrete impact in an effort to meet the expectations of Haitians.
The international community has put considerable effort into assisting Haiti, but cannot carry out these commitments without the will of the people to commit to national reconciliation. However, such reconciliation is difficult if Haitians do not see any concrete progress — no improvement in their daily lives.
In this sense, I think the most significant result of the Cayenne Conference has been the creation of a detailed inventory of 380 projects in Haiti, projects in progress and in the planning stage, to encourage donor countries to accelerate their activities and disbursements.
This indicator has demonstrated that Canada has managed to respond to the ICF crisis — beyond its promises, with close to $100 million paid out in 2004-2005, compared with the $90 million projected.
Today the situation in Haiti remains fragile, particularly in Port-au-Prince. But despite the situation in the capital, tangible progress has been made in the country thanks to the MINUSTAH. Although the preparations for the elections are nearly two months behind the original schedule, we believe elections can still take place as scheduled in the fall.
Let me raise also another issue related to disbursements by donor countries. The slow pace at which the international community is disbursing its pledges made for the future of Haiti in Washington a year ago sometimes threatens the crucial process of democracy. Red tape is unjustified. These people cannot wait. I can assure my colleagues of the House that I will continue to urge all of my colleague ministers to get involved directly in reducing the bottlenecks associated with lengthy bureaucratic procedures in order to get the money to Haiti as soon as possible.
The bureaucracy must not slow down spending on aid that Haitians need now or tangible progress in helping Haitians at this difficult time in their history.
It is in this context that in two days, on June 16 and June 17, Canada will be hosting the Montreal International Conference on Haiti, in order to put forward the achievements obtained and difficulties encountered one year after the creation of the UN mission of stabilization in Haiti, and eleven months after the financial contribution commitments made by donors in Washington to the interim cooperation framework.
This conference, which I will inaugurate, will be held at the senior-official level and will also provide the opportunity to examine the implementation of the upcoming UN Security Council resolution and the necessary measures to take in order to improve security and justice; to discuss the electoral process, including electoral observation; and to consult on the timely application of the international cooperation framework.
This is just one more example of Canada's commitment to maintaining a leadership role in the reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
Today, Haiti is once again at a crossroads. This is an opportunity for a fresh start, for reconstruction based on the rule of law, democracy, security and access to decent living conditions for all Haitians.
Canada intends to stand with the people of Haiti and help them to meet this new challenge under the transitional government, and subsequently, the government chosen through the upcoming elections.
The international community has the obligation to stop the recurring 15-year cycle of crisis in Haiti. Canada understands that the task is formidable and costly, but there can be no failure this time in the efforts of the international community. Canada wants to help in building a stable, democratic, and--over time--prosperous society in Haiti. Canada stands ready to continue to work with the United Nations towards that objective. ,
I will be happy to keep you abreast of developments with regard to Haiti over the next few months.
This concludes my statement, and I am quite ready to engage in your questions and dialogue.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
We have always expected that as we progressed towards the election and got nearer to the election season, tensions would go up. There are people who do not want these elections to be held, and we expected increased tension in the months leading to the election. We support the strengthening of the MINUSTAH mandate, which is up for review at the UN Security Council on June 24, and we believe very much that the MINUSTAH, and the police component, need to be strengthened in order to meet the increased tension and insecurity that exist there. We do believe that across the territory there has been significant progress. There are--and I will ask Mr. Coderre to continue, as he was there a few days ago--in certain parts of Port-au-Prince serious tensions--but we believe in the strengthening of the MINUSTAH mandate, and its police contribution of that force as well.
I'll turn to Mr. Coderre, who has just returned from there.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Goldring, you are falling exactly into the trap that the people who do not want an election are setting up for us. You are repeating exactly what they're saying, and I--
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
No, Mr. Goldring, let me answer.
You are saying the Americans are considering, the Americans.... I had a very productive meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last weekend on the margin of the meeting of the Organization of American States. I sat down with Condoleezza Rice; her people responsible for the dossier of Haiti; Mr. Noriega, who was with Mr. Coderre; and a number of our special envoys in the region. She was quite clear that the United States is not considering sending other troops. We did discuss the renewal and the reinforcement--the strengthening, if you want--of the present MINUSTAH, because its mandate is due for review by the UN Security Council on June 24.
Be very careful not to participate in the climate that the people who oppose democracy want to create at this time. The situation is fragile; it is a delicate situation, but I do believe that what we need to do at this time is very serious, rigorous work to help Haiti at this time.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
Ms. Lalonde, you've raised a number of points that are central to our concerns. Disarmament, which is central to security, is obviously a responsibility that MINUSTAH has to discharge vigilantly and effectively. You raised the fact that MINUSTAH doesn't have a large number of troops. I believe we can hope that, when the mandate is reviewed on June 24, a larger number of soldiers will be approved. Not so long ago, there was talk of 1,000 more soldiers; they're now talking about more than 1,000 additional soldiers, which is entirely consistent with your observation.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
Obviously, it always helps when soldiers can speak French. However, we have to accept the generosity of the international community and of countries like Brazil and Chile, which are making a considerable effort. Of course, knowledge of French is an asset.
As for money, you're also right. As I said in my presentation, we've gone beyond our commitment in terms of financial contributions. However, it has to be admitted that many countries are behind in their contributions relative to their commitments at the Washington Conference. At least we can say we're ahead. We've even gone beyond what we were to do in the first year. Ninety million dollars of the $180 million was committed for the first year. We're now at approximately $100 million. However, as I said in my introductory remarks, a number of donor countries are behind.
Have we already given committee members the 380 projects of...?
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
We're going to give it to you. I asked that the 380 specific projects to which we committed between the Washington Conference and the Cayenne Conference be submitted to the committee. You'll be able to see what the projects are and the status of those projects, based on the countries that committed to carrying them out. Obviously money is needed. Haitians have to see an improvement in their quality of life. That may mean building a road to alleviate traffic in southern Port-au-Prince, or building a football field so teenagers have a place to play, something that, in many cases, is non-existent. There are all kinds of ways of doing it.
Before asking Mr. Coderre to add to my answer, I want to say that the president's visit to Taiwan has not yet been confirmed.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
You have to be vigilant across the country. Obviously, the country as a whole is in a delicate situation, but the real problems, the most serious dangers, are essentially in Port-au-Prince, in certain quite easily identifiable neighbourhoods. It's quite circumscribed. In that regard, this enables us to take action that could be more effective in the context of the renewal of MINUSTAH's mandate. The disturbances are essentially around Cité Soleil and the airport. That's where the major security challenges really are. You have to be vigilant across the country.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
At the conference.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
What do you mean by HNP?
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
Security and needs are always raised. Since it will be just before MINUSTAH's mandate is renewed, on June 24, those questions will definitely be raised. We can take a closer look at that and get back to you. We're taking part in training the national police. There are training aspects and complementary aspects in civil police work.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
First of all, we have to be careful here. Monsieur Coderre will address this report, the executive summary you're referring to.
We are very vigilant. I have heard the allegations about Canadian police being involved in certain activities. You seem to be talking about that.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
I have had a number of conversations with David Beer, who is the head of the one hundred RCMP people we have there. They are very vigilant. They are working in extremely difficult circumstances, but they are very vigilant about not being co-opted as part of this by the simple reality of the environment they are in.
I raise the security concerns in Haiti every day. When we had the kidnapping of the Canadian women, the Montreal women, two days ago, I was the first to say there were security concerns, so I'm not saying that raising them.... I'm talking about absolutism. I'm saying that taking only that part of the picture and focusing on it plays into the extreme elements of the Lavalas, who just don't want the rest of the picture. That is what I was referring to earlier, and certainly I think it's our duty as members of Parliament, and for us as the government, to make Canadians well aware of the situation, so that they don't set their foot into a reality they're not aware of.
On the executive summary, I'll turn to Monsieur Coderre.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
You see, the people in Haiti are like people everywhere else. They want to have families, raise their kids, send them to school, earn their living, and have security when they go and visit their friends at night. We have to be careful not to confuse the will of the people with the will of the political parties.
You have some political parties that are not behaving appropriately, that do not want Haiti to become a democratic country with the rule of law applying to them as well because they want to enact their own justice. They want to have their own control of societies. So what we have to do is strengthen the will of people, who are the same there as everywhere else, by improving their quality of life--hence the 380 projects to improve their quality of life--so that they feel in a tangible way that this government in transition, with the assistance of the international community, is actually improving their daily lives.
We have to work, and I want to thank my colleague, the member for Bourassa, Denis Coderre, who has spent a lot of time talking to the political parties and to the political leadership in Haiti.
I myself have met with the political leadership in Haiti twice in the last few months and have talked to them. They have to offer viable political options. There have been some improvements. From 184 a year and a half ago, they've boiled it down now to about 70 groups. So it's already a bit more orderly somehow.
Denis has been engaging the political leadership of the different factions there in a very strong way, and that's given Canada's role in the country a particular colour, if I compare it with that of the United States and France and the other players.
View Pierre Pettigrew Profile
Lib. (QC)
I absolutely agree that Haiti is the place where Canada should be involved. It is in our hemisphere. It is the poorest nation in our own hemisphere, so I think we have to pay a great deal of attention. It also speaks one of our national languages, and there's an important community here. So my view is it is imperative that we be there.
I believe that on the governance front we can make a substantial contribution because of the credibility we have there—governance in terms of the institutions, the judicial process. We've been investing—CIDA has been doing great work. The European Union has followed up in the rebuilding, the reconstruction, and the organization of tribunals there, because justice needs to have some kind of appearance to be credible to the population. You should have seen the state of some of the tribunals there. It does not inspire people to respect justice very much. This is the kind of thing we have been doing.
Before I turn to my colleague, Monsieur Coderre, I just want to tell you that it is not because someone has been elected that he respects democracy and the rule of law. Clearly, elections are a must for the progress of the people. It is an important element of the reconstruction of that country, and one we cannot miss. But we have to be very careful here in saying that Aristide had been elected. He had been elected, but you have to respect the rule of law; you have to respect your citizens. This is something in which our country, with, as you know, the responsibility to protect, wants to play a certain role with the United Nations reform—which we will probably have as a committee the opportunity to discuss, I would think, with the United Nations General Assembly.
Monsieur Coderre.
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