Address by Minister Cannon to International Conference of Groupe de réflexion et d’action pour une Haïti nouvelle

No. 2010/36 - Montreal, Quebec - May 21, 2010

Check Against Delivery

We know that the mobilization and citizen engagement efforts that were set in motion following the January 12 disaster [in Haiti] will be the key to future success.

Therefore, I enthusiastically welcome this initiative, which stems from the collective will of Montreal’s Haitian community, the third-largest Haitian community in the world, after those of Miami and New York.

Here in Montreal, we hear Haiti’s heartbeat very clearly.

So it was only natural that, on January 25, 2010, Haiti’s government and its partners met in Montreal and adopted the Montréal Principles, laying the foundations of a shared vision for Haiti’s reconstruction.

These principles, reiterated at the recent International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti held in New York City, are now the framework for our response.

All of Haiti’s partners, regardless of origin or ability, support the principles of ownership, coordination, sustainability, effectiveness, inclusiveness and accountability.

Canada also acknowledges the effort made by the Haitian government to devise an action plan for Haiti’s renewal and development.

In New York, Haiti’s partners developed two coordination mechanisms: the Haiti Interim Commission for Reconstruction and the Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Both will be key for coordinating international efforts in Haiti.

They will also be essential for ensuring that a focus is maintained on our objectives of accountability and transparency—principles that are very important to us.

I have assured President [René] Préval and Prime Minister [Jean-Max] Bellerive that Haiti’s government can count on Canada’s full cooperation in this regard.

During the New York conference, Canada made a commitment to spend an additional $400 million over two years to assist Haiti, on top of our current commitment of $555 million for the period 2006 to 2011.

But regardless of how good or effective are the tools we forge to rebuild and reinvent Haiti, it is essential that all of Haiti’s stakeholders and partners join together in this collective effort and that the diaspora be well represented.

I have just returned from my first visit to Haiti, where I was able to observe that the transition from the emergency phase to the reconstruction phase is gradually taking place.

But I also saw the scope of the work that remains for us to do together.

I therefore reaffirmed Canada’s long-term commitment to and solidarity with Haiti.

During my visit, I also met with the leaders of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, whose staff members continue to show tremendous courage and ingenuity after being so severely affected by the earthquake themselves.

I would therefore like to pay tribute, here before Canada’s Haitian community, to Edmond Mulet, the United Nations’ Special Representative in Haiti—and MINUSTAH’s guiding spirit.

Together with Haiti’s Minister of Justice and Public Safety [Paul Denis], I also visited the construction site of the new Croix-des-Bouquets prison, a flagship project of Canada’s tangible commitment to support the reform of Haiti’s security and justice systems.

This project is being completed parallel to the deployment to MINUSTAH of Correctional Service Canada officers, who will train and mentor their Haitian counterparts.

During my visit, I also announced that we were going to increase our contribution to the Global Peace and Security Fund to Haiti, bringing the total to $25 million.

This funding will be dedicated to projects whose primary purpose will be to stabilize the current situation and rebuild the infrastructure destroyed on January 12.

It will also support the non-governmental organization Lawyers Without Borders Canada in a local justice project to give the most vulnerable [of Haiti’s people] access to high-quality legal services and legal representation.

Canadians are proud of their country’s contribution in support of Haiti, just as they can be proud of the spontaneous outpouring of generosity from thousands of their fellow citizens.

Canada’s commitment in Haiti is built on decades of ongoing partnership and is rooted in a shared language and shared values, close demographic and cultural ties, and the presence of one of the most dynamic Haitian communities abroad.

The ties uniting Canada and Haiti are heartfelt.

The contribution of Haitian Canadians to Haiti’s reconstruction and development is also impossible to ignore.

We must rebuild on solid, lasting foundations—like security, sovereignty, the rule of law, economic prosperity, equality and inclusion.

The Groupe de réflexion et d’action pour une Haïti nouvelle [Reflection and Action Group for a New Haiti] (GRAHN) will be a valuable ally in this task, and Canada is proud to contribute its support.

It is time to innovate, to get off the beaten path and explore new ways of doing things. The Groupe will enable us to think boldly about the situation in Haiti and to look at it clearly.

However, we must turn thought into action right now, by supporting strong, concerted citizen engagement.

By using its resources strategically, the diaspora can position itself as a genuine lever for economic growth and sustainable development in Haiti.

How can we make the most of this transfer of skills?

Above all, in light of the priorities that have been set, how can we match those skills to the real needs on the ground?

Moreover, would it be worthwhile redirecting some of the funds collected to small- and medium-size enterprises in Haiti? Turning these funds into targeted, structural and promising investments?

What can be done to create a climate in Haiti that fosters investment and boosts investor confidence?

The answer to these and many other questions can be found right here in this room, and everywhere in the world where Haitians are united in their desire to build a new Haiti that is democratic, prosperous and equalitarian.

Thank you.