[A-List] The Bloc and Liberals align on Haiti policy
mstainsby at resist.ca
Mon Jan 9 20:16:45 MST 2006
Toronto Star December 29, 2005
The Bloc and Liberals align on Haiti policy
By Yves Engler
Canadian involvement in Haiti has made for some strange bedfellows. Among
the many puzzling aspects of our country's recent role in the hemisphere's
poorest country is that the Bloc Québécois is a passionate defender of the
Liberal government's questionable conduct.
And supposedly "left-wing" groups based in Quebec share a political analysis
with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
While the Bloc asks questions about CIA "torture" planes landing in Canada,
the separatist party criticizes the NDP for using the word "removal" to
describe what happened on Feb. 29, 2004 to Haiti's elected President
In a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade, Bloc MP Pierre Paquette insisted the NDP's Alexa
McDonough use the word "departure" instead.
This is also the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew
and U.S. President George W. Bush.
Removal is the word preferred by Haiti's neighbours in the Caribbean
community (Caricom) and the African Union. Both organizations have called
for inquiries into Aristide's ouster and have refused to recognize the
A Bloc MP who met with members of the Montreal Haiti Action Committee
refused to see the irony of agreeing with the Bush administration on Haiti;
Rice went out of her way recently in Ottawa to praise Canada's role on the
Willing to condemn the U.S. war in Iraq, the Bloc remains silent on Canadian
"aid" that for three years went almost exclusively to NGOs opposed to the
Haitian government and now flows to groups who ignore the human rights
disaster that has resulted from the overthrow of the president and thousands
of other elected officials.
Neither the Bloc nor the Conservatives have asked the government why the
deputy minister of "justice" for the first 15 months of the interim
government, Philippe Vixamar, was on CIDA's payroll for four years until
How bad are the current human rights and social conditions in Haiti?
On Aug.20, machete-wielding men, protected by Haitian National Police,
chopped to death as many as 50 spectators in a crowd of 5,000 at a soccer
game paid for by USAID in a poor Port au Prince neighbourhood.
After UN "peacekeepers" attacked a "gang" leader in a Port au Prince slum,
Ali Besnaci, head of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti, said: "We received 27
people wounded by gunshots on July 6. Three quarters were children and
Reuters and Associated Press have reported numerous police killings of
unarmed protesters over the past 18 months. On June 28, UN
Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, described the
situation in Cap Haitien, the country's second largest city, as worse than
that in Sudan's devastated Darfur region.
More recently, Thierry Faggart, director of the human rights section for the
UN mission in Haiti, admitted that the post-coup human rights situation is
Yet Canadian-funded NGOs working in Haiti (largely based in Quebec) who
criticized the Aristide government and called for his removal remain
curiously silent on the abysmal record of the interim government.
Officials from the Quebec Federation of Labour blocked a resolution
originating in English-Canada union locals criticizing Canada's role in
Haiti at the Canadian Labour Congress's annual convention in June.
Even Quebec-based Alternatives, a "progressive" news organization that
receives CIDA funding for work in Haiti, effectively supports the Liberal
government despite growing grassroots opposition to Canada's shameful role
Why are the Bloc and Quebec "left" organizations siding with what has been
described as "Canadian imperialism" in Haiti?
Could it be the numerous Quebec-based companies that do business there? Or
the diaspora that sent many members of the Haitian elite to Montreal? Or the
fact that the Aristide government promoted the Creole language at the
expense of French?
One can only hope that this is not an example of an "oppressed people"
ignoring their complicity in a 21st-century version of colonialism.
Yves Engler is co-author (with Anthony Fenton) of Canada in Haiti — Waging
War on the Poor Majority. The article is an excerpt from the introduction to
the forthcoming French translation of the book.
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