Martin Regg Cohn, a deputy editor at the Toronto Star, notes in a column that when Governor General Michaelle Jean mentioned Haiti to Obama at a meeting in February, many “Canadians seemed startled”. Haiti’s story is unknown (not least because the Canadian media, including the Toronto Star, has repeatedly misreported it).
Cohn says that Canada has made a “massive commitment of aid and manpower over the years, yet [Haiti] remains stunted”. But what was the substance of this massive commitment? Cohn neglects to mention that Canada’s substantial contributions were the training the brutal Hatian police, the vilification of Haiti’s most popular political party, and its creation of an ideological pretext to remove an elected government.
Despite these efforts, incredibly, the Haitian people continue to resist.
Cohn concludes that Haiti remains in dire conditions because “[t]hat’s the reality of nation-building: it never goes according to plan”. Yet so far, Canada has refused direct aid to the elected Haitian government of Rene Preval. In other words, Canada’s help has consistently gone against the vision that the Haitian poor majority have, repeatedly, chosen for themselves.
A change in the policy of direct aid, a reorientation of Canadian aid to meet the clear wishes of the Haitian people, for food, health care, and education, might produce a very different result.