Haiti’s ambassador to Canada on Wednesday faced fierce questions about his country’s controversial foreign military intervention request, with Liberals arguing that Ottawa must respond to a series of attacks. humanitarian crisis.
Ambassador Wien-Weibert Arthus told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in French: “The violence orchestrated by armed gangs is stopping the country and pushing millions of Haitians into an acute humanitarian crisis. “.
“It’s a desperate situation that needs a solution.”
Aggressive gangs have cut off access to Haiti’s main fuel depot, leading to power outages and unclean water that have exacerbated a cholera outbreak.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has called for foreign military intervention to restore order.
Henry’s government has been in power since the assassination of former president Jovenel Moise in July 2021 and has argued that the country cannot have an election during the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and now crime. widespread organized crime.
Arthus noted that children have been out of school since June, and called on Canada to not only help stabilize the country but also provide aid for infrastructure to stop the cycle of poverty.
He said his country had barely recovered from the 2010 earthquake, but sending Haitians to work could avoid future unrest.
Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg challenged Arthus about rampant government corruption in Haiti, and asked if the request for foreign intervention would lead to failure.
“Um, next question,” Arthur replied in French.
“In the soul of any Haitian, a foreign power is never welcome in the country,” he said at another point in his testimony.
Dubourg, a Montreal MP who immigrated from Haiti, also asked whether Canada should hold elements of Haiti’s current government responsible for contributing to corruption and going unpunished for the violence.
“Everybody who finances the gangs must be punished,” Arthur said in French, noting that he has lost several of his loved ones to the violence.
Dubourg also said there was “no credible plan” to get Haiti out of its crises, and Arthus acknowledged the lack of political consensus in Haiti but said there was broad support for Canada to help.
“I am not a dreamer but I always hope that we will find an agreement between the Haitian people,” he said in French.
Bloc Quebecois MP Stephane Bergeron said in French that many in the Haitian diaspora were concerned about Canada working with “a government whose legitimacy is questionable” and has little control over the territory. mine.
Arthurs replied that Henry had spoken to international bodies and leaders such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trudeau told reporters he knew that many Haitians were uncomfortable with foreign military intervention.
“At the same time, we look at the crisis, rape, violence, poverty, cholera and health,” he told reporters in French.
Trudeau also convened a meeting on Wednesday of cabinet ministers known as the Incident Response Team, which meets only when there’s something “of great significance to Canada” to discuss the matter. Haitian.
The group had a similar meeting two weeks ago. Since then, Canada has sent a team to assess the besieged Caribbean nation, and they have returned and informed senior officials in Ottawa.
On Monday, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti said Canada would play a leading role in supporting the country, as it is one of the most respected nations in Port-au-Prince.
Canada and the US sent armored vehicles to Haiti. Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Ottawa and Montreal, hinting that Canada could play an important role in a military intervention.
The United Nations is currently contemplating a proposal to authorize a mission, which has been endorsed by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
US officials say the UN resolution is expected to be passed in early November and have mentioned Canada as a candidate to lead such a mission.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 2, 2022.
– With files from Emilie Bergeron