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Advocacy groups says it’s time for MP’s to work for Haiti

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For Immediate Release, Thursday December 2, 2010

Contacts: Jean St-Vil, Ottawa 613 482 2549; Roger Annis, Vancouver 778 858 5179; Kevin Edmonds, Hamilton 416 892 8142 canadahaiti [at] gmail [dot] com

Vancouver BC–A national advocacy network for social justice in Haiti says it wants Members of Parliament to get involved in steering more Canadian funding toward humanitarian relief in Haiti and away from what it calls destructive interference in that country’s affairs.

The Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN) says the November 28 election is another example of that interference.

“We agree with the human rights groups, like the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Bureau des avocats internationaux in Port au Prince and the LAMP For Haiti foundation, who said that the ongoing humanitarian crisis, the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas and other parties from the election, and the absence of an adequate electoral administration precluded the holding of a fair and democratic election,” said Roger Annis, a spokesperson for CHAN.

“Despite the warnings, Canada, the U.S. and Europe charged ahead and bankrolled the election with more than $25 million,” he said. “Many Canadians are aghast at what they wrought.”

In November, the group addressed two letters to all Members of Parliament outlining its concerns with the elections. It has not received a single response to the issues it raised.

Kevin Edmonds of Hamilton served as a volunteer observer of the election for one week with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He and Mr. Annis co-authored a December 1 Toronto Star op-ed article headlined, “Don’t blame Haitians for election fiasco.”

“Yes, we saw terrible things on election day,” said Edmonds. “ But when you disenfranchise so many people from their political process, you can’t blame them for the ugly mess that results.”

Jean St-Vil, a Haitian-born spokesperson in Ottawa for CHAN, said, “Haiti’s 2010 election is like a multiple choice exam where a cynical class master, in this case the foreign overseer, motivates his class to chose wisely, while knowing full well he has ruled out the one correct answer: none of the above.”

CBC is reporting that Haiti will soon face a ‘tsunami’ of cholera spread. “Why,” asks Mr. Annis, “has it taken six weeks since the cholera outbreak for the Canadian Red Cross, Canada’s quasi-governmental responder, to establish a new field hospital for treatment and prevention?”

“Humanitarian needs are not being met on a vast scale in Haiti and few politicians in Ottawa seem concerned.”

The group says much of the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti can be traced to the aid embargo against the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide elected in 2000 and its overthrow in February 2004 with backing from the U.S., Canada and France.

Since the earthquake, Canada has committed at least $58 million to equipping Haiti’s police and prisons.


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