Crisis in Haiti | Canada needs “a new approach,” says Trudeau

(Ottawa) Canada remains determined to play a leading role in any intervention by the international community in Haiti, assures Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while insisting on the importance of changing the approach to avoid repeating past mistakes.


“Our role is to see how we can help, and we can no longer be naive about this. If we really wanted to help over the last few years, but it gave us what we see now, we have to have a new approach,” he said in French during a closing interview.-year awarded to The Canadian Press.

The topic likely came up on the table of the Incident Response Group that met Tuesday to address the crisis in Haiti.

Mr. Trudeau, who chaired the meeting, mentioned during the interview that Canada has thirty years of experience in providing support to the pearl of the Antilles. However, he noted that several international development initiatives have not yielded the expected results, such as police training.

“We have a long history in Haiti and we still find ourselves, 30 years later, in a crisis as serious, if not worse, than the others,” the Prime Minister said.

He presented Canada’s sanctions regime as part of the desired new approach. Ottawa has sanctioned – along with Washington – members of the Haitian elite who are considered responsible or complicit in the violence the people of Haiti have been subjected to.

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly repeated the same message during a press conference on Tuesday. “We believe that sanctions have not been used in the past and create sufficient pressure to encourage political dialogue and respond to the security challenge in Haiti,” she said.

European sanctions?

Mr. At the end of the year, Trudeau mentioned a desire to see European countries follow in the footsteps of the Canadian government.

“We are leading the United States and perhaps even Europe to also (impose) their own sanctions.”

The prime minister did not fail to reiterate that other sanctions would be added to Canada’s list. Minister Joly had recently pointed this out.

Prime Minister Trudeau sent Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, to Haiti to try to find a path to consensus to get the country out of the crisis.

On Tuesday, Minister Joly indicated that Mr Rae had returned to the country. “He certainly presented his point of view, his recommendations, and you will have more information soon,” she said.

In recent months, the Haitian people have been confronted with a new wave of violence from armed gangs whose members commit repeated rapes and blockades that prevent the population from receiving essential services.

In addition to the glaring security issues, the country is currently facing an outbreak of cholera and food insecurity.

From disappointment to failure

Mr. Trudeau, while bluntly acknowledging that Canada’s past interventions have not allowed Haitians to find a climate of stability, does not go so far as to speak of an acknowledgment of failure. Asked about this, he used the word “disappointment” instead.

“It is certain that we are extremely disappointed to see the situation, but (it) is nothing compared to the violence and to what Haitians are experiencing at the moment,” he replied.

Nevertheless, a few sentences later, the prime minister used the word “failure” when discussing Canada’s sanctions regime.

“Maybe it’s a way to break this ‘pattern’ that has been there for a long time, but is not just a failure of Canada alone, but (also) of the United Nations, the United States, France, from Europe – from everyone who have wanted to help over the years, but without seeing real results for the pearl of the Antilles,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Canada, a “Leader”

Haiti’s prime minister and self-proclaimed president Ariel Henry – who was not elected after an election – called for foreign military intervention to help build a humanitarian corridor.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was in favor, and the United States has since joined discussions on the topic, suggesting Canada could take a leadership role.

When asked to clarify whether he still foresees Ottawa leading the parade, Mr. Trudeau, yes, and ruled out any possibility of a secondary role.

“There’s a level of trust between the Haitian people and the government of Canada that they have less with other allies elsewhere. So we’re well equipped for that,” he said.

The prime minister noted that Ottawa is trying to involve stakeholders from the Caribbean and South America, while reiterating that Canada would be “at the forefront.”

One of the things we try to do is bring other countries with us […] of the Global South to be part of an approach that (is not going to) only (reduce to) “it will still be the North, the West, that will come to Haiti’s rescue”.

Justin Trudeau

Throughout the interview segment on the crisis in Haiti, he hammered home that Ottawa wants to lead Haitians to find a consensus on the way forward.

The last election in this country dates back to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Former President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021, and Prime Minister Henry then presented himself as leader.

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