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Cablegate: Canada and Haiti


DE RUEHOT #0086/01 0222048
R 222044Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary. Haiti, even before the recent earthquake, was a
major foreign policy priority for Canada. Haiti is Canada's second
largest recipient of humanitarian assistance worldwide, with a
number of Canadian federal and provincial agencies as well as
private sector institutions active in the country. Trade and
investment levels were at modest levels, however. Canada has been
an important contributor to MINUSTAH, and will remain an key
partner on the future of Haiti. End Summary.

2. (U) Since coming into office in February 2006, Prime Minister
Stephen Harper has put Haiti as one of his government's top foreign
policy priorities, most notably beginning with a February 2007
policy address describing an increased focus on Haiti and Latin
America, followed by a visit that year by PM Harper. As the only
two major francophone countries in the Western Hemisphere, Canada
and Haiti have long had special bonds. Over 100,000 Haitians now
live in Canada, with the greatest concentration in Montreal,
Quebec. Although these Haitian-Canadians are far more likely to
vote for the opposition Liberal Party or the Bloc Quebecois, the
ruling Conservative Party has for years been patiently courting
these voters, as well as other immigrant groups.

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3. (U) Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean is Haitian-born
and did not even come to Canada until she was in her teens. In
addition to visits to Haiti and welcoming the Haitian Prime
Minister to Ottawa in December 2009, she has been highly visible in
Canada's reaction to the recent earthquake. The government -
unusually - included her in the Prime Minister's first
post-earthquake meeting with the Haitian Charge d'Affaires in
Ottawa, which was - also unusually - televised live. The
government then - again, unusually -- allowed the Governor General
to speak to the nation directly about Haiti, during which she
underscored her own personal concern for Haitians, urged Canadians
to give generously to earthquake relief, and expressed appreciation
(seemingly, on behalf of Haitians everywhere) for Canadian
humanitarian assistance to Haiti in the wake of the latest disaster
in Haiti.

4. (U) Long before Canada's robust response to the earthquake
(the following links provide specifics on Canada's humanitarian and
financial contributions: ps/fs-fr/dart-eicc-eng
.asp, A.nsf/eng/NAT-11992614
-JXG, and umanitaire/earthquake_
seisme_haiti.aspx ), Haiti had become Canada's second largest
recipient (after Afghanistan) of foreign assistance, with C$ 555
million committed over five years through 2011. (The following
link provides details on the Canadian assistance program in Haiti: A.nsf/Eng/JUD-12912349
-NLX.) Canadian aid dollars in Haiti were already feeding over
300,000 school children a day, building infrastructure, and
providing emergency relief after natural disasters. Canadian aid
had also helped to register more than 90 percent eligible voters
and to immunize more than 620,000 children against polio and
measles. More than C$65 million dollars have gone to strengthening
the operation of Haiti's parliament. Individual Canadians, NGOs,
and church groups also operate clinics, orphanages, schools, and
women's shelters.

5.. (U) In addition to the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA), a large number of federal and Quebec provincial
agencies have separate programs in Haiti, including on:
governance assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration,
and the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Canada; policing and security from the Department of National
Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Correctional
Services of Canada; and, food production and safety through the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Agriculture.
Canada continues to provide technical assistance for the
establishment of a functioning taxation and customs system, and to
build Haiti's export capacity in agriculture, textile and cultural
products. Canada has contributed both police and troops to
MINUSTAH; two RCMP officers were killed in the earthquake.

6. (U) Because of the fragile nature of the Haitian economy,
Canada-Haiti business interests are relatively small, but some of
the larger Canadian businesses operating there had been Gildan
Activewear (textiles), Scotiabank and Desjardins Group (financial
services), and Somine (mining). (No statistics are available about
the value of these investments.) Remittances from Haitians in
Canada to family members in Haiti estimated at C$250 000 per year.
Canada exported goods to Haiti in 2008 worth C$ 58 million, while
importing C$ 29 million worth of goods from Haiti. Canada is
currently negotiating a trade and development agreement with
CARICOM (of which Haiti is a member). Canadians also had been one
of the few reliable sources of tourism dollars in Haiti.

7. (U) Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon will chair a special Haiti
donors' preparatory conference in Montreal on January 25 to bring
together key donors and to hear from key international
organizations and non-governmental organizations over the key
challenges ahead for Haiti. PM Harper is expected to speak as

8. (U) Comment: Canada has long been a key partner on assistance
to Haiti, and - in no small part due to cultural and linguistic
capabilities - will remain a major player as the international
community responds to the latest natural disaster and humanitarian

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