Julian Fantino -- who proclaimed before Christmas that Canada's foreign aid would be linked to Canadian corporate opportunities -- announced this week that Canada was suspending aid to Haiti, that God-forsaken half of the island of Hispaniola:
“If I can put it to you bluntly, we will not be signing any more blank cheques,” Fantino said. “There will be expectations and accountability associated with future aid.”
The former head of the Ontario Provincial Police likes to be blunt. The problem is that, as he showed on the national defense file, he's clueless. If you want to know what's going on in Haiti, ask former Governor General -- and Haitian native -- Michaelle Jean, now the United Nations special envoy to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere:
Jean defended the slow pace of recovery in Haiti, noting that problems like corruption can be found everywhere, including in Canada. She also said that international donors could do a better job supporting the Haitian government’s own plans to build an economy fuelled by more than global charity.
Still trying to recover from the earthquake, Haiti was ravaged by a hurricane. The nation has endured the modern equivalent of the trials of Job. And before the earthquake and the hurricane, the island was despoiled as a French colony and by American companies paying starvation wages for the manufacture of plush animals which sold for premium prices elsewhere.
Thirty-five years ago, my wife and I visited a clinic, situated on the hills of Porte-au-Prince. It was surrounded by hovels, all of which lacked indoor plumbing. A toilet was a bucket. The contents were dumped on the path leading down to the street. While we were visiting, there was a sudden cloudburst. The refuse slopped down to the gutter, where a woman was bathing in a slough, formed in the aftermath of the storm.
And Mr. Fantino talks about accountability? He needs to take a Haitian bath.