(No. 15 - January 14, 2010 - 2:15 p.m. EST) The following is an edited transcript of a statement made to media by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the situation in Haiti. The statement was made at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada headquarters at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2010:
"Once again, on behalf of the government and people of Canada, I would like to express our heartfelt sympathies to those who have been affected by the disaster. We send our condolences to grieving families—our thoughts are with you.
"We are deeply saddened by reports of Canadian casualties resulting from the earthquake in Haiti. Unfortunately, the reality in the aftermath of the catastrophic events is that we expect more casualties to be reported as search and rescue operations unfold.
"On the ground, more than 100 Canadians have taken refuge at our embassy in Haiti, and another 48 are being assisted elsewhere in Haiti.
"I can confirm that Canada is taking the appropriate steps to evacuate Canadians from Haiti.
"Later today, the first wave of approximately 100 Canadian evacuees will arrive in the Dominican Republic. They will continue on to Montreal to arrive late this evening. They will travel on the Hercules aircraft that flew to Haiti yesterday. Over the next few days, we hope to evacuate as many Canadians as possible as we continue our operations in Haiti.
"As my colleague, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced this morning, Canada will match the contributions of individual Canadians to eligible Canadian charitable organizations, in support of humanitarian and recovery efforts in Haiti, to a total of $50 million. CIDA will allocate these funds to established Canadian and international humanitarian and development organizations that have an established presence in Haiti.
"On the diplomatic front, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last evening on the tragic events unfolding in Haiti.
"Today, I will speak with Brazil's Minister of External Relations Celso Amorim. Brazil is the leading contributor of troops to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti which, despite having suffered serious casualties, will play an important role in establishing security.
"I also plan to speak with Alain Leroy, the Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations. We agreed on the importance of building capacity and coordination on the ground in order to adequately respond to the crisis.
"I noted to Mr. Leroy that Canada has a large diaspora of Haitian nationals, and that the Government of Canada is doing everything possible to assist.
"In conclusion, I can say I am moved by the generosity of Canadians and the outpouring of support. I want to thank the Canadian people.
"Later this morning, my colleague, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture), will remind those who wish to make a charitable donation to ensure that the charity they choose is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.
"Information is available on our website for those who wish to donate. I encourage Canadians to consult this information online, as we are trying to free our emergency lines for people in need.
"Again, the Embassy is limited to providing basic shelter services until essential services are restored. We continue to deliver much needed support and assistance, and to work on accounting for and assisting all Canadians in Haiti."
For more information, including advice on how to help those affected by the disaster, please visit Earthquake in Haiti.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada