Skip to main content
Logo Canadian Section of ParlAmericas (ParlAmericas)



A delegation of five parliamentarians representing the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas travelled to Port-au-Prince from 18 to 24 March 2012. The delegation was led by the Honourable Laurie Hawn, P.C., M.P.; also participating were the Honourable Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C., Senator, the Honourable Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Senator, Ms. Pauline Ayala, M.P., and Ms. Joyce Murray, M.P. The parliamentarians were assisted by Mr. Leif-Erik Aune, executive secretary to the delegation, and Mr. Andre Barnes, Library of Parliament analyst to the delegation.   In preparation for this activity, on February 9 and 10, 2012, Mr. Randy Hoback, M.P., travelled to Washington, D.C., to hold meetings with various international organizations. Mr. Hoback was assisted by Mr. Leif-Erik Aune, executive secretary to the delegation.

Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the International Executive Committee of the Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA), which has since been renamed ParlAmericas, adopted a resolution expressing its solidarity with the people of Haiti. In April 2010, the Executive Committee of the Canadian Section of FIPA resolved to hold a bilateral visit to Haiti. This bilateral visit was, however, twice postponed by the Executive Committee on the recommendation of Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) for substantive, logistic and safety reasons. It was agreed in February 2011 that a bilateral visit to Haiti would be held following the April 2011 elections in Haiti.

The purposes of this bilateral visit were many. In broad terms, the delegation held as an objective to convene meetings with a wide variety of groups and individuals, including Haitian parliamentarians, Canadian officials and stakeholders, and personnel and professionals providing services on the ground to Haitians. These meetings were meant to provide the delegation with a more complete comprehension of the issues and challenges to reconstruction and development in Haiti, as well as the effectiveness of aid delivery and the extent to which federally-funded programs were achieving their intended goals. The delegation also held a strong interest in collaborating with and providing support to their parliamentary counterparts in Haiti.

The purposes of the visit, as such, included professional capacity building for parliamentarians; institutional capacity building for the Haitian National Assembly; ParlAmericas engagement; and information gathering on the topics of public safety, citizen security, reforestation, food security, Presidential and parliamentary relations, social services, land ownership, and the status of women in Haiti.

ParlAmericas performs an important role in the hemisphere, acting as a liaison between the Parliaments of the Americas. The bilateral visit provided the Canadian delegation with an invaluable opportunity to cultivate positive inter-parliamentary relations between Canadian and Haitian parliamentarians. If further allowed the Canadian delegation to engage in frank and focussed discussions with Haitian decision‑makers, to exchange information, advance Canadian interests and values, and to clarify expectations that Canadians hold in respect to its financial contributions to Haiti.


On February 9 and 10, 2012, Mr. Randy Hoback, M.P., travelled to Washington, D.C., to hold meetings in preparation for the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas’ bilateral visit to Haiti. The meetings, held with various international organizations, were meant to shed light on ParlAmericas’ activities in the Caribbean, and in Haiti in particular, and to encourage regional organizations to collaborate with ParlAmericas and to support its activities.

Mr. Hoback met with Mr. José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), where the two discussed the possibility of expanding cooperation in the Caribbean between ParlAmericas and the OAS.  Following their meeting, Mr. Hoback and Secretary General Insulza signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to define an enhanced relationship between the OAS and ParlAmericas.

Mr. Hoback also met with H.E. Duly Brutus, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS and President of the OAS Permanent Council, and the two discussed the importance of supporting a parliamentary dimension to the OAS, to match the importance placed on other actors, such as Civil Society.  Ambassador Brutus strongly emphasised the importance of parliaments, and expressed his hope that the OAS would strengthen its support of parliaments during Haiti’s presidency of the Permanent Council.

Mr. Hoback met with Mr. Regis Cunningham from the World Bank, where the two discussed areas of synergy between ParlAmericas and the World Bank.  Having attended a ParlAmericas meeting in the Caribbean earlier in 2012, Mr. Cunningham felt that there was great potential for cooperation between the two organizations and that close communication would permit the World Bank to keep abreast of developments in the needs of parliaments and potential benefits of a partnership with ParlAmericas. 

Mr. Hoback met with Ms. Vinita Watson, Director for Canada at the Inter-American Development Bank, where the two discussed the importance of securing financial support for parliamentary activities, which would support the mandate of IDB.  Ms. Watson strongly encouraged ParlAmericas to pursue a program of professional development for parliamentarians in the area of extractive sector legislation in the region of the Andean Community.


On 19 March 2012, the Canadian delegation met with Mr. Henri-Paul Normandin, Ambassador of Canada to Haiti; Mr. Dominique Rossetti, Head of Aid, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); Ms. Nell Stewart, Political and Economic Advisor; and Mr. François Goudreau, Second Secretary (Political), at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. In his remarks, Ambassador Normandin provided the delegation with a brief overview of the many facets of the work accomplished by the Embassy in Port-au-Prince. He underscored Canada’s important presence in Haiti through various CIDA programs, including those aimed at improving education, health, youth, food security. He spoke also of Canada’s important presence in assisting police and security; in supporting the judicial system; as well as the Embassy’s role in the promotion of trade and development, and of cultural exchanges.

In his view, there were encouraging and discouraging aspects to development in Haiti. As for the reconstruction efforts which followed the earthquake, he underlined that a great deal of work had been accomplished, including the re-opening of schools, and the re-establishment of health services and micro-financing. He commented that momentum was presently behind the reconstruction efforts. Much work remained, however, including finding suitable living accommodations for those who had lost their homes in the earthquake (known as the déplacés). He noted that Canada was undertaking an important project in helping to clear an encampment composed of approximately 7,000 déplacés from the Champ de Mars Park, situated across from the presidential palace.

Ambassador Normandin commented that the political institutions in Haiti were quite weak and as such, political upheavals happened with unfortunate frequency. A general lack of cooperation also existed between Parliament and the executive. Political instability remained, in his view, a substantial impediment to progress. He noted, however, that the Embassy had exceptional access to the upper echelons of Haitian politics. He also noted that Haiti possessed little ability to generate wealth for itself, stating that the national budget was approximately half of international donations and also inferior to the sum total of the money sent home from Haitians living abroad. In order to raise funds, the Haitian government was proposing to establish a stronger customs tariffs and taxation regime.

In respect of current issues at the time of the delegation’s visit, Ambassador Normandin briefed the delegation as to the process that was underway to appoint a new Prime Minister. He noted that because of Haiti’s history with dictatorships, the Constitution now prescribed strong checks and balances; so strong in fact that goodwill was needed to make it work, and very little goodwill existed, at present, between Parliament and the executive. Ideology did not, however, enter into debates. Rather, in Haiti, the issues of contention revolved around the desire of the actors involved to exert the most influence. He also noted that, currently, former military personnel, along with a number of unemployed youth, were occupying old military bases, with the former seeking to have certain pension issues addressed.

Trade and investment activity in Haiti was also addressed, with the Ambassador noting that an industrial park was being built in the north of Haiti.

Ambassador Normandin lastly noted that the Embassy’s message has been to Haitian leaders that they need to work together for the interest of their country; if not, they will not be optimizing Canada’s support.


Following their briefing with Ambassador Normandin, on 19 March 2012, the Canadian delegation met with Mr. Nigel Fisher, Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), for a working lunch at the MINUSTAH headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Mr. Fisher’s briefing to the delegation touched on a wide range of subjects. He noted there were numerous challenges impeding progress, prosperity and stability in Haiti. Foremost of these was Haiti’s political problems; he indicated that the recent paralysis caused by the country’s decision-makers was frustrating efforts to enact positive economic and social changes. He noted also that frameworks and systems to deliver policy services were defective or absent, including specifically the health and education systems, which were broken and did not work.

Mr. Fisher commented that there were a number of impediments to setting up a business in Haiti, including customs, taxation, and also formidable challenges related to Haiti’s land-title system (known as the cadastre), which, generally speaking, lacked clear rules, transparency, and reliable documentation. He stated that, for each policy field, there needed to be a strategy that included mutual responsibilities, with standards put in place and then adhered to. There was a degree of urgency to such reforms as the pockets of international donors were not bottomless. For non-governmental organizations (NGOs) willing to invest in Haiti, he counselled that these ought to have policies in place to mitigate against a variety of contingencies, including the disappearance of investment money with little to no evidence of results.

Mr. Fisher did note that he had witnessed progress since the 2010 earthquake, with agricultural yields rising, and an increase in housing starts and construction.

Also bridged during the working lunch were certain aspects of Haiti culture, including notably maronnage (a widespread practice, in Haiti; it essentially means to say one thing and do another), as well as the historic reparations that Haiti was required to pay to France as compensation to its former colonizer, after achieving independence in 1804. Mr. Fisher noted the irony of Haiti being Latin America’s first independent colony, only to now be totally dependent on international donors and assistance.


On 19 March 2012, the Canadian delegation also met with Mr. Marc Tardif, Deputy Police Commissioner (MINUSTAH); Col. Steve Charpentier, Chief of Staff (MINUSTAH); Mr. Serge Gagnon, Correctional Services Canada; and Ms. Allison Poff, Second Secretary, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START), at the MINUSTAH headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

Mr. Tardif began by providing the delegation with an overview of his role as Deputy Police Commissioner of MINUSTAH, as well as role that the UN plays in providing security and stability in Haiti. Established in 2004 following the departure of President Aristide, MINUSTAH is a UN stabilization mission that is mandated to ensure a secure and stable environment. It is estimated that MINUSTAH currently assumes 80% of security functions in Haiti. Canada’s contribution to MINUSTAH includes 150 police officers, 25 corrections experts, and five Canadian Forces personnel. It was noted that while at first glance these numbers might appear low, those Canadians are in many cases high ranking officers and personnel, who occupy key positions aimed at bolstering upper management. The principal role of Canada’s police in Haiti is to mentor, train, develop, and observe Haiti’s National Police Force (PNH).

Following the 2010 earthquake, however, the focus has been on rebuilding. Canadian police operations suffered a setback, as a result of the earthquake, equivalent to a year in terms of training and development. Further, PNH headquarters was destroyed by the earthquake, including all files (electronic and paper) and almost all of the equipment in and around the building. Mr. Tardif indicated that the goal was to get the PNH to be a force of about 15,000 officers; at present this number stood at around 10,000. While they continued to make up ground, capacity issues for training remained, including most importantly an inadequate training facility, which acted to limit the number of recruits that could be trained at one time. He also noted that certain structural barriers existed to becoming an officer in the PNH, including that police officers in Haiti must possess a university degree (Mr. Tardif indicated that this was the approximate equivalent of a high school degree in Canada). The physical test, as well, was very onerous, and he noted that a large number of recruits had major difficulties passing it.

A further challenge that existed for the PNH police was the lack of middle and upper management. There were 10,000 police, but very few of Haitian-descent possessed any managerial skills. As such, there existed an overall lack of supervision and follow-up on files, and nepotism remained rampant. Over the next five years, Mr. Tardif noted that the goal was to create a six-month supervisor program to build managerial capacity.

Following the 2010 earthquake, 1.5 million Haitians lost their homes. At present, approximately 550,000 remain without homes. Canadian police, partnering with the PNH, are presently responsible for maintaining order in seven encampments of déplacés. It is a job that Canadians plan to transfer, in the near term, to the PNH. In this respect, the relationship between international police officers and the PNH was improving. Canadians have enjoyed an advantage in their relations with the PNH in that our officers speak French.

In terms of current issues, a selection process for the appointment of the next Chief of police was due to finish in August 2012. This person must be Haitian. Mr. Tardif noted, however, that this role had in recent times grown increasingly political, with a number of actors seeking to influence who will be selected. Mr. Tardif expressed some concern that the most able candidate might not be selected, in favour of one with stronger political connections.

Overall, Mr. Tardif noted that respect and confidence for the PNH was on the rise; there was an increase in the number of women enlisting; and that security has stabilized, with civil unrest seen less and less. He noted that when the PNH was ready to assume security duties for the country, Canada would gradually pull out and hand over the reins to them.

Col. Charpentier then provided an overview of the military’s engagement in Haiti. He noted that the contribution of the Canadian armed forces, at present, involved high-ranking officers occupying key positions, with a focus on managing operations, planning, and organizing. The three main operations for the military under MINUSTAH has been to cooperate with and support the police; to, during the most recent election, maintain order and the rule of law at election polls; and to contribute to the reconstruction. This last operation has included repairing roads, clearing streets and ditches of debris and garbage, and preparedness in the event of another humanitarian emergency situation.

Col. Charpentier discussed some of the challenges the military faced. These mostly related to it being an international force composed of troops from 54 countries. He had found that, generally, there was unevenness to the quality of the troops under his command; some troops were competent, some were poorly trained and adhered to a lower standard of accomplishment when undertaking a task. Communication was also a formidable barrier, as approximately 45% of the troops spoke some French, while English was either their second or third language. He noted the overall goal was relationship‑building and cooperation with South Americans at the military level. He also noted the successes experienced by the military, including a marked drop in violent crimes in the three most dangerous quarters of Port-au-Prince.

Col. Charpentier also briefed the delegation on the issue of the occupation of defunct military bases by former military personnel. He highlighted a concern regarding the possibility that these groups might attempt to import illegal firearms from the south. He noted, at present, it was a relatively minor issue that could be resolved quickly should the Haitian government give a clear indication to MINUSTAH that its assistance was required.

The issue of crime, in general, in Haiti, was raised. The murder rate in Haiti, as compared to the rest of South America, was relatively low. It was also noted that in times of government instability, crime tended to rise, although the crime rate itself had returned to roughly the same level as prior to the 2010 earthquake.

Mr. Serge Gagnon briefed the delegation on the role of Canadian corrections officers in Haiti. He noted this role, in general, involved observing, and providing advice and suggestions to Haitian counterparts, but without intervening. He set out the challenges faced by corrections officers. Prisons were severely overcrowded, an issue made worse by the 2010 earthquake, which reduced eight prisons near the epicentre to rubble.

Approximately 88% of all incarcerated individuals were those that had been accused of a crime and were being held in pre-trial detention. Mr. Gagnon noted that the judicial system, if it functions at all, moves very slowly, such that an individual accused of a crime can wait years in jail without formally being charged. Further, a large number of files pertaining to prisoners were lost following the 2010 earthquake, which created the problem of holding a person in prison without a file as to why he or she was being held.

One of Canada’s roles has been to assist in expediting the judicial process by matching files to persons in jail, and then bringing the case before a judge so that, at a minimum, the individual would be either convicted or set free. Mr. Gagnon noted that while the police system had noticeably improved, the justice system had not.

Other challenges for Haitian prisons that he had observed included shortages of water, food, and limits to septic tanks. A certain competitive tension also existed between the justice system and the PNH, as their budgets came from the same government ministry.

He lastly briefed the delegation on the Croix-des-Bouquets prison built with Canadian federal funding. He noted that Canada had, in consultation with Haitian counterparts, set up a complete program for prisoners at this facility, from planning, to administration, to nutrition.

Lastly, Ms. Allison Poff briefed the delegation regarding the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START). Since 2006, the majority of START projects have focused on building and refurbishing infrastructure, as well as providing equipment to the Haitian police, corrections and border services. Canada has contributed $15 million a year to START and, along with the U.S. are the key donors. Examples of projects include the reconstruction of 32 police stations damaged during the 2010 earthquake; provision of 100 trucks to the police and five 40-foot patrol boats; workshops to train mechanics to fix broken equipment.

Ms. Poff also provided information to the delegation about the training program for PNH recruits. There had been no budget for training police, nor was there equipment for them (truck, guns, gasoline, etc.). The program takes six to nine months, and is very physically rigorous. The graduating class this year is expected to be around 244. She noted that among these graduates, were women; prior to the establishment of MINUSTAH, women had basically been excluded from participation in the PNH.

She noted that each project had goals and/or objectives that these were required to meet. START worked in collaboration with NGO’s; NGO’s undertook the physical completion of a given project, while START ensured the appropriate standards were met.


The morning of 20 March 2012, the Canadian delegation was given a guided tour of the newly constructed National Assembly of Haiti. Located on the spot of the former Christopher Columbus Park, the new National Assembly was designed jointly by the U.S. and Haiti, and its construction was contracted to builders from the Dominican Republic. The buildings were completed in November 2011 but remained unoccupied; it was indicated by the government official giving the tour, that the buildings had lacked certain amenities that needed to be added before it could be occupied. At the time of the visit, Haitian woodworkers were adding, among other things, a rostrum at the front of the Senate chamber. It was further noted that a permanent Parliament was to be re-built in an as-yet-to-be determined location in the downtown core, and the buildings at Christopher Columbus Park would be re‑purposed as a document repository and centre for legislative research and training.


Following a site visit to the newly constructed National Assembly of Haiti, the Canadian delegation met with the Honourable Simon Dieuseul Desras, President of the Haitian Senate, on 20 March 2012, in the temporary National Assembly buildings, in Port-au-Prince. During the meeting, as many as eight to 12 Haitian senators, at any one time, arrived to take part in the discussion.

Mr. Dieuseul Desras began the meeting by discussing the newly constructed National Assembly, noting that 29 March 2012 was the planned date for relocating to this new facility. He noted that Haitian parliamentarians strove to adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law, and thanked Canada for being a champion of democracy. He also noted that future support from ParlAmericas, in terms of capacity building of Parliamentarians, would be welcomed.

Senator Boisvenu thanked President Dieuseul Desras, on behalf of the delegation, for the warm welcome. He noted that, among other things, Canadian parliamentarians were confident that progress could be achieved in Haiti, but that certain political and economic conditions needed to be addressed.

In the discussion between Haitian senators and the Canadian delegation, a number of topics were addressed. Mr. Dieuseul Desras addressed the process, in Haiti, for appointing the prime minister, one which was currently underway. While being unable to comment on when the candidate for prime minister, Mr. Laurent Lamothe, could be expected either to be approved or disapproved by the National Assembly, he did note that senators had done all that they could to prevent former Prime Minister Gary Conille from resigning.

Political instability in Haiti was also addressed. Senators, including Mr. Dieuseul Desras, noted the political problems between the National Assembly and the executive were complicated and ran deep. Mr. Dieuseul Desras stated that, in his view, the executive had generally acted in a dictatorial fashion; did not respect the democratic process; and had not, generally, sought the National Assembly’s approval and support, as required by the Constitution, in making certain decisions. Some Senators also questioned the priorities that had been assigned to certain projects, feeling that the process generally lacked in transparency and accountability.

It was also felt, among the senators, that a democratic deficit existed among Haiti’s institutions. Specifically, the judiciary lacked autonomy, as judges to Haiti’s highest court (la Cour de cassation) were named directly by the executive. As such, it was noted that Parliament could make laws but the judiciary would not enforce them. It was also noted that the equivalent role of Auditor General in Haiti was also named by the executive. The senators present at the meeting desired the judicial appointment system to be independent from the other branches of government.

Some senators also felt that the executive tended to listen and heed MINUSTAH more so than the Haitian Parliament and the state’s governmental institutions and departments. In this respect, it was noted the longer a weak state persisted, the longer the reconstruction period would take. Senators also spoke of personal security issues of being a senator, including incidents involving threats and other dangerous situations that they had been confronted with.

Mr. Dieuseul Desras asked for Canada’s assistance on the following needs:

·         the National Audit Office (Cour supérieure des Comptes) required support in conducting its audit of public accounts;

·         general technical training, in particular regarding the building code; and

·         light infrastructure (he did not offer specifics or details on this request).

·         He also noted that parliamentarians planned, in ten years time, to construct a new permanent Parliament. Upon its completion, he requested Canada’s assistance in helping to establish a research centre at the site of the Christopher Columbus facility.

Lastly, the situation surrounding the return of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier to Haiti was addressed. Senators noted that the inability to bring the former President to justice was very frustrating, as was the discussion that had occurred surrounding a possible pardon.


On 20 March 2012, following its meeting with President of the Haitian Senate, the Canadian delegation met with the President of the Haitian Chamber of Deputies, the Honourable Louis-Jeune Levaillant in his office in the temporary National Assembly buildings in Port-au-Prince. Senator Boisvenu began the meeting by thanking Mr. Levaillant, on behalf of the delegation, and noting that the delegation’s objective was to better comprehend the economic, political and social developments in Haiti as well as to assess the effectiveness of Canadian investments.

Mr. Levaillant, in reply, underlined the importance of such exchanges and noted that this was his first opportunity since becoming President of the Chamber of Deputies to meet with a Canadian delegation of Canadian parliamentarians. In his remarks he noted that, at the last election, a large number of first-time deputies were elected and that they needed support and training. His view on the political situation in Haiti was that cooperation was needed between the executive and the National Assembly, and that political problems had resulted in unnecessary delays in the reconstruction and development of the country. He further indicated that, in his view, because President Michel Martelly did not have a single member from his party in the Chamber of Deputies, he needed to negotiate with Parliament as opposed to by-passing it. Mr. Levaillant stated that President Martelly cannot act alone; he must respect the elected members of Parliament and parliamentary institutions.

In response to a question posed by Ms. Murray, Mr. Levaillant noted that international aid, generally, and Canadian aid specifically, had been well targeted and had resulted in positive outcomes, especially in respect of security and police. Mr. Levaillant noted, however, that reconstruction efforts, in his view, lacked a high-level, systematic approach. In this respect, Haitians themselves needed to devise a plan that was their own, they needed to define it from top to bottom, and once this was accomplished, Haitians could then ask for international assistance to make it work. He indicated that, in his view, Canada had already done its share to support Haiti.

In response to questions posed by Ms. Ayala, Mr. Levaillant discussed the conflict of interest regime in Haiti, noting that this regime was in place for all public servants, including parliamentarians. He also addressed the matter of the return of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier to Haiti, noting that deputies were following the situation closely; were not at all satisfied with the present situation; and expressed a willingness to take the matter before the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation). Mr. Levaillant then discussed the issue of land titles (cadastre) in Haiti, indicating that a solution was urgently required as it impeded international investment. It was, however, a problem that dated back to Haitian independence in 1804. In his view, a legislative initiative to rectify this matter had to come from the executive, as senators and deputies did not possess the expertise or resources to bring forward such a complex bill.

Senator Boisvenu elicited Mr. Levaillant’s views on the issue of losing the brightest Haitians to emigration. Mr. Levaillant indicated that, in his view, the return of retired university professors who were expatriates of Haiti would be a great asset. He further expressed that in his view, in Haiti, a rivalry existed between employment with international organizations or employment with the Haitian state for the best and brightest Haitians, as international organizations paid better.

Senator Hervieux-Payette discussed with Mr. Levaillant a possible initiative that would see retired Canadian university professors who, acting on a voluntary basis, would come to Haiti to teach. The arrangement could either involve or be similar to the service provided by the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO). The matter that would need to be resolved, in her view, was not money for these professors but rather providing them with suitable housing.


Following its morning site visit and meetings, the Canadian delegation met with the Chairs of parliamentary committees, on 20 March 2012, at the temporary National Assembly buildings in Port‑au‑Prince.

Prior to the commencement of this meeting, the delegation met in a brief impromptu session with Ms. Florence Élie, Protector of Citizens (Protectrice du citoyen), Citizen Protection Centre (Office de la Protection du Citoyen (OPC)). Ms. Élie briefed the delegation on the work of the OPC in protecting the human rights of Haitians, and training members of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary on their obligations concerning human rights under Haiti’s Constitution. She noted that the National Assembly was in the process of passing a law to provide for the legal independence of the OPC.

The delegation then met with the following Chairs of parliamentary committees: Mr. Sadrac Dieudonné, Ethics and Anti-corruption committee (Chamber of Deputies); Mr. A. Rodon Bien-Aimé, Finance, Commerce, Economy and Budget committee (Chamber of Deputies); Mr. Romial Smith, Interior, Regional Communities, Decentralization and Border Development (Chamber of Deputies); and Mr. Jocelerme Privert, Finance, Economy, Commerce and Industry committee (Senate). Senator Boisvenu began the meeting by expressing his thanks to the Chairs and asked if each could provide the delegation with a brief overview of the mandates and work of their committees.

The discussion that ensued covered a number of topics. It was noted that the debate on approving Haiti’s national budget had been suspended, and was currently into limbo, since former Prime Minister Conille’s resignation.

The Chairs explained to the delegation the budgetary challenges which confronted Haitian parliamentarians. Each office was provided with funding for two policy consultants (roughly $1,000 per consultant per month); this was the extent of the research support and expert advice that they received. Each parliamentarian was also assigned a chauffeur and a security guard. The Chairs noted that this support was insufficient. They desired to have a large, permanent pool of experts, paid from the National Assembly’s budget, who would be native-Haitian; non-partisan; unbiased; and through time and training, would develop institutional memory and become experts in their field. It was noted that they did not have an institutional equivalent to the Library of Parliament, but that they hoped the research centre in Christopher Columbus Park would eventually fill this role. It was also noted by the Chairs that a significant number of the best-educated Haitians tended to go abroad in search of better opportunities. It was noted by Senator Privert that Haitians needed to improve the conditions in Haiti for investment, which in turn would create jobs and give Haitians a reason to remain in their own country.

The lack of direct foreign investment in Haiti was addressed. It was noted by Senator Privert that for 40 years, the Haitian government had offered incentives and guarantees to foreign investors. In his view, the number one impediment to development in Haiti was political instability. There needed to be increased transparency and parliamentary scrutiny over the executive. International donors needed, however, to demonstrate greater confidence in Haitians, and cease routing their investments in Haiti through international NGOs instead of local or state operations.

The Haitian government’s ability to expropriate land was discussed. Under the Constitution, the state can, if it so desires, expropriate land for projects that will benefit the country. In doing so, the state must compensate the land-owner(s). If the project ceases to operate for whatever reason, the land-owner then has ten years to reclaim his or her land. It was noted that because of this power of expropriation the disorganized land-title system in Haiti (cadastre) should not present an impediment to international investors.

The Chairs also addressed the topics of centralization and decentralization in Haiti. It was noted that Haiti had a number of jurisdictional issues between levels of government. Senator Privert explained that state services were largely absent in most regions of the country. In the absence of the state, delivery of services, de facto, became the responsibility of other levels of government, but without this relationship being prescribed in law. Examples included the lack of a jurisdictional understanding between levels of government over the provision of water, electricity and the maintenance of roads.

The presence of women in the National Assembly was also addressed, as the Canadian delegation had noted that there were only four female deputies out of 99 and one female senator out of 30. The Chairs indicated that the National Assembly women occupied an important role in Haitian society and that the Assembly was looking to encourage their participation. It was noted that the subsidization of female candidates to increase their participation in elections and representation in the Assembly, had been considered in the relevant parliamentary committee.

The Chairs also explained the delay in their occupation of the newly constructed National Assembly at Christopher Columbus Park. They felt that insufficient consultation, as to the needs of Haitian parliamentarians, had occurred during its design and that this had resulted in a number of problems and deficiencies in the final product. These deficiencies required addressing before Parliament would begin sitting at the Christopher Columbus Park location.

Tourism in Haiti was also addressed. It was noted that during the 1970s, Haiti was second only to Cuba as the most popular destination for tourists in the hemisphere. In the 1980s, however, a number of issues deterred tourists from going to Haiti, including political instability, kidnappings, and having been erroneously labelled by the U.S. government as a country with a high level of AIDS among its population.

In closing, the Chairs expressed their concern that President Martelly would not work with Parliament and that the existing divide between the executive and the legislative would continue to grow. In their view, the main reason that parliamentarians were at odds with the executive was that President Martelly refused to adhere to the powers and roles as provided by the Constitution.


On 21 March 2012, the Canadian delegation met other Chairs and members of parliamentary committees at the temporary National Assembly buildings in Port-au-Prince. In attendance at this meeting was Mr. Abel Descollines, member of the Foreign Affairs, Religious Sects and Haitians Living Abroad committee; Mr. Bertrand Sinal, Public Health and Population committee; Mr. Juslaire Dorgil, External Planning and Cooperation committee; Mr. Bilgot Colas, Social Affairs and Women’s Rights committee; Mr. Kenston Jean-Baptiste, special committee on Human Rights; Mr. Frédely Georges, special committee on Human Rights; Mr. Paul Olivard Richard, Justice and Security committee; and Senator Francisco De la Cruz.

The meeting began with Mr. Hawn thanking the deputies and senators, on behalf of the delegation, for helping the delegation to gain a better understanding of major issues in Haiti. Each senator and deputy introduced himself and gave a brief outline of the work currently underway in their respective committee. The discussion which ensued covered a number of topics.

A re-occurring theme among the Haitian parliamentarians was the need to address the growing disparity in the concentration of aid and availability of services between rural and urban areas. It was noted that the focus of aid had been to Port-au-Prince. To access this influx of international assistance, a large number of Haitians had abandoned productive agricultural land for life in Port‑au‑Prince. This had resulted in overcrowding in Port-au-Prince, and a decline in agricultural production in rural areas. The Haitian parliamentarians indicated that the scope of aid needed to be widened to better include rural areas. Investments could be made to modernize agricultural production, better utilize the land and create work.

The same disparity between rural and urban areas occurred in education. It was explained that, where possible, Haitians sent their children to Port-au-Prince to receive their education, while others sent their children abroad. The majority of schools in Haiti were privately run, and generally lacked physical resources and teachers. It was noted that there was only one teacher’s college in all of Haiti. Other challenges for Haiti’s education system included nursery schools being neglected, with many children that age simply staying home instead of going to school. The Haitian parliamentarians also decried the lack of university life in Haiti, noting further that no academic standards existed across universities.

The status of women in Haiti and the Haitian Parliament was addressed. It was noted by the Haitian parliamentarians that deliberations were currently underway to develop programs and/or legislation to better integrate the female population. It was stated that it was a big issue, one that needed to start with the structure and roles in Haitian families. The Canadian delegates noted that firm rules or laws ought to be put in place to create obligations, such as, for instance, a minimum 30% female composition of Parliament.

The proposal, on the part of the Canadian delegation, to have retired Canadian professors teach in Haiti was also discussed. Senator Hervieux-Payette offered to put the Haitian parliamentarians in contact with the individuals who could get such a program started.

The need to create opportunities for Haitians was addressed. A number of economic sectors with the potential to be developed were discussed, including tourism, natural resources (specifically mining), and the encouragement of small businesses. It was noted by Haitian parliamentarians that, in their view, political stability was the key. The Haitian parliamentarians asked for the cooperation and/or assistance of the Canadian government to help develop and put in place a civic education program. The Canadian delegation took note of this request and indicated they would see what could be done to help.

Mr. Hawn concluded the meeting by thanking the Haitian participants helping the Canadian delegation to better understand the challenges that Haiti faced in its efforts to modernize and repair the damage created by the 2010 earthquake, and that meetings such as these helped to strengthen already close relations.


Following its meeting with Haitian senators and deputies, on 21 March 2012, the Canadian delegation met with representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Port-au-Prince. The meeting took place in two parts, beginning with a discussion with Mr. Lumas Kendrick Jr., Senior Regional Energy Specialist – Caribbean; and Mr. Roger Roome, First Secretary and Deputy Head (Development), Embassy of Canada.

Mr. Kendrick briefed the delegation on the challenges of modernizing Haiti’s electricity generation and distribution. Electricity in the country was provided by Electricity of Haiti (EDH), a state-owned monopoly. He noted that the system was archaic, with 95% of Haiti’s electricity being created by petroleum (oil). The energy costs in Haiti were therefore tied to the price of oil, which continued to rise. Mr. Kendrick estimated the cost of providing electricity for the country at around $10 million per month, which represented a significant portion of the state’s budget.

The delivery of electricity in Haiti was extremely faulty and inefficient. As each house has a transformer, there are electricity losses sustained at each house. EDH has also been unable to bill or collect properly; meanwhile citizens don’t pay their bills. Furthermore, the phase distances are too far apart. All in all, Mr. Kendrick estimated that approximately 70% of the energy produced was lost. Stolen electricity was also a common problem.

The IDB’s role, in respect of electricity generation and distribution included, among other things: to rehabilitate the circuits in Port-au-Prince; ensure proper billing and collection; provide technical training to EDH employees; assist with technical aspects of power delivery (i.e., ensure the lines can handle the load); and to increase the overall efficiency of the system. He noted that this was a long term process, and that the IDB considered alternative power as the next step.

The delegation, during the second half of its meetings at the IDB compound in Port-au-Prince, met Mr. Eduardo Almeida, Representative of the IDB in Haiti. Mr. Almeida discussed the IDB’s activities in Haiti, noting that the IDB was Haiti’s largest multilateral donor, representing over $1.2 billion of funding. He indicated that the IDB has allocated $250 million per year for the period of 2010 to 2020 for projects and programs in Haiti. Their focus will be on energy, transport, education, water and sanitation, agriculture, private sector development.

For the purposes of grant allocation, the IDB had identified four regions it planned to assist with development needs: the north, south, Artibonite and west. The purpose of establishing such regions was to decentralize economic activity, to provide for growth centres beyond Port-au-Prince. Mr. Almeida highlighted the IDB’s current work in the north in terms of agricultural, tourism and manufacturing projects. The IDB had set a target of 40,000 jobs in tourism and 40,000 jobs in an industrial park that was being constructed. The IDB was also providing grants to help develop agri‑businesses.

The IDB’s governance structure and its relation to the Haitian governmental system were discussed. It was noted that neither the IDB nor the World Bank had a relationship or communications with the Haitian Parliament. Mr. Almeida indicated that the Haitian Minister of Economy and Finance (who is a member of cabinet and therefore of the executive branch of government) was the IDB’s governor, and that all IDB projects and their approval, including where applicable, land expropriations, were subject to the same governmental requirements and guidelines as any project.

Reforestation and sustainable forestry was also discussed. Mr. Almeida indicated that, in his view, the deforestation problems in Haiti were the result of an institutional failure on the part of the government. The lack of clarity as to landownership has meant that land could be cleared of trees without legal repercussions. He put forward that reforestation solutions had to occur in the broader context of finding alternative energy and income sources to charcoal, for Haitians. He noted that the risks (lack of a legal framework; institutional weaknesses; landownership issues) coupled with the length of time it took to realize a return, often deterred investors from planting trees in Haiti. The Canadian delegation, Ms. Murray in particular, emphasized the need to identify environmental investors interested in obtaining carbon credits and encourage them to invest in reforestation in Haiti; to emulate successful reforestation models and tap into existing knowledge as to practical solutions; and to give a stake in the maintenance and protection of reforestation projects to the local community, such that they would become the forests’ custodians.

Also addressed was a project to connect two Haitian cities, Cayes and Jérémie, by a road. The project itself was funded through “untied aid” from Canada. The Haitian government opened a competitive bidding process for the contract to construct the Cayes-Jérémie road, which a company from Brazil won by putting forward a bid, below that of any Canadian company, of approximately $80 million. Some viewed this bid to be unrealistically low, a contention that has been confirmed as the present cost charged by the Brazilian company for building the road has ballooned to between $120 million and $150 million. This prompted a discussion of the merits and issues of providing untied aid to foreign countries.

Tolls on roads were also discussed as a way to pay for their maintenance. It was also acknowledged that the creation of roads into formerly inaccessible parts of rural Haiti could potentially lead to further deforestation. Other investment projects were discussed including the IDB’s plans to invest $200 million in infrastructure in the short term, and $50 million per year into education (building schools, training teachers, providing access-vouchers to schools).

Mr. Almeida also discussed the lack of agricultural production in Haiti. He noted that approximately only 20% of the rice consumed in Haiti was produced internally. The challenges facing Haiti’s agricultural sector included the deterioration of land; lack or absence of irrigation; and the lack or absence of infrastructure, including foremostly, roads. Mr. Almeida noted that high private sector risk was a strong deterrent for investment, and therefore job creation in Haiti. He also pointed out that should GDP per capita over the past 40 years be graphed as a timeline, its lowest points would coincide with political crises.

Mr. Hawn concluded the meeting by thanking Mr. Almeida, on behalf of the delegation, for his insights. Mr. Hawn also noted that Canada has supported a number of IDB initiatives, and that Canada held expectations that its money would deliver results.


Following its meeting with officials at the Inter-American Development Bank compound, members of the delegation met with local educators employed by Haitian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in the evening of 21 March 2012, in the Acajou Room of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. In attendance at this meeting were Mr. Edouard Paultre, National Council of Non-State Actors (CONAN); Ms. Suzy Castor, Training, Economic and Social Research for Development Centre (CRESFED); Ms. Evelyne Bazin Verdier, Consortium of Private Sector Education Organizations (COSPE); Ms. Florence Délimon Théramène, Haitian Foundation for Private Education (FOHNEP).

The meeting began with the educators each providing members of the delegation with a description of their views of the disbursement of emergency humanitarian aid in the period immediately following the 2010 earthquake. They generally considered the emergency response to have been a success and were thankful for the international community’s intervention. Medicine, water and food were distributed immediately and efficiently.

The educators did note, however, that the emergency response did have certain repercussions on local resources and infrastructure, citing the example of a hospital that was forced to close shortly after international emergency teams departed because the emergency response had depleted the hospital’s entire stock of medical supplies.

The educators indicated that the education system in Haiti had, for too long, been in need of a major overhaul. In this respect, it was repeatedly underscored that the 2010 earthquake was an opportunity lost. The system and its programs could have been rebuilt from scratch to be superior to the dysfunctional arrangement that presently existed. In their view, the state’s use of grants it had received for education had been spent inefficiently. They felt that the state had yet to provide educators with clear policies and direction related to an overall long‑term vision for education in Haiti.

They further noted that educators were insufficiently consulted during decision-making processes; they felt the state had not respected agreements held between itself and educators; and that the efforts of educators to be partners with the state in fixing the education system had been, in their view, disregarded by the state. It was also noted that the education sector had a legal framework put in place in 2007. This law established conditions for grants from the World Bank, as well as a fund in the central bank to collect grants received as international aid for education. The educators indicated that the law provided for consultations with teachers groups to gather input in regards to the disbursement of funds but that these consultations had been held with great infrequency, and on the occasions when they were consulted, the input provided by teachers groups tended to rarely be reflected in decisions and outcomes.

Overall, the educators indicated that they desired the state to lead education reform in Haiti, and that continued inaction on the part of the state would result in the continuation of the failures and inefficiencies which plagued the system at present.


On 22 March 2012, the Canadian delegation met with officials of the Organization of American States (OAS) at the OAS compound in Port-au-Prince. Attending this meeting were Ms. Catherine Pognat, Senior Program Coordinator; and Mr. Frédéric Bolduc, OAS Special Representative in Haiti.

The meeting began with Ms. Pognat providing the delegation with a brief background of the OAS, noting that it was the world’s oldest regional organization and that Canada had been an active participant in the work of various OAS bodies since becoming a full member in 1990. Ms. Pognat then gave an overview of the programs that the OAS was undertaking in Haiti. These included helping reform the land-title system (cadastre) in order to, among other things, guarantee international investors that they own the land they have bought; helping to support the electoral system; assisting handicapped persons integrate into society; assisting with a youth orchestra program which took place during the hours following school in “at-risk”/high-crime neighbourhoods; supporting police efforts to license and track firearms; partnering with Haitian border authorities to assist in securing airports and ports; and partnering with the IDB to help develop alternative energy solutions for the country.

The OAS was also involved in helping to support the education system in Haiti. It offered $100,000 in scholarships aimed at encouraging young Haitian academics to remain in Haiti for their studies; a long‑distance master’s program in partnership with Laval University; implementing the Allo Prof! program (a program of Quebec origin which features free on-line educational tools for teachers and students); an information centre which provided Haitian students with access to computers and the Internet; and in conjunction with CIDA, offered a computer repair program, as this was a skill in high demand in Haiti.

Mr. Bolduc then addressed the topic of modernizing the civil registry in Haiti. It was explained that the civil registry was badly in need of reform. Challenges included a lack of a central authority to collect information about births and deaths in the country. These, if recorded, were done so only on paper. Further, only approximately 30% of Haitian children were born in hospitals. The national identity office (ONI) was established in 2005, with 141 offices set up around the country. In the lead-up to the 2010 election, 3.5 million electors were registered and given an identification card (Haitian National Identification card). At present, 5 million Haitians or 85% of the adult population has been registered in a computer database and given an ID card.

Further work in registering minors (under the age of 18) was ongoing. This involved the digitization of millions of historic records from the National Archives. It also involved an awareness campaign to encourage parents to register their children. The process for Haitians, however, remained costly and slow. The OAS had also encountered challenges such as imposters posing as registration officers in order to steal money from registrants.

Mr. Bolduc also raised a current issue involving an agreement that had been reached between Haiti and a private identity management company in Venezuela (Smartmatic) to create a civil registry in Haiti. The media reported that Smartmatic had pledged to complete the registry within 1 to 1.5 years. The OAS had asked for an explanation about this initiative and had not received a response. Mr. Bolduc indicated that the OAS was prepared to work in a partnership with Smartmatic but, also evinced concerns over the neutrality of a private company and the possibility that Smartmatic would duplicate work that the OAS had already done.

Lastly, OAS officials asked the Canadian delegation for its impressions of Haiti in respect of the issues and challenges it faced. Mr. Hawn concluded the meeting by thanking the OAS officials on behalf of the delegation.


Following its meeting at the OAS compound, on 22 March 2012, the Canadian delegation toured the National Republic of Guatemala School in Pétionville, Port-au-Prince. Ms. Micheline Pierre Augustin, the school’s director, briefed the delegation on the operation of the school. In the morning the school was attended by 714 students, all of them girls, in 13 classrooms, grades one through six. In the afternoon, the school was for children in grades six through 12, and at night, it was attended by adults. She noted that the school was run by a management committee which met every three months. The dropout rate at the school, as with the rest of the schools in Haiti, was very high, with only about 20% of children graduating from grade 6. In the school’s yard, at the time of the delegation’s tour, there were about 200 families of déplacés living in makeshift housing. Ms. Augustin noted that the school had coped with this situation reasonably well but clearly it was a problem that they hoped would be resolved in the short term.

The school canteen program, funded by CIDA, provided a hot meal every day to each student. Food was prepared by volunteers who began preparing meals at 6:00 a.m. Local food was used, usually involving rice, protein and pulses, with students’ parents providing spices and seasonal vegetables. While charcoal remained the cheapest source of fuel to cook the meals, the school was looking at fuel efficient stoves. The school canteen program had been in place for three years and provided one meal daily for 1.1 million children country-wide.


Following its site visit at the primary school in Pétionville, on 22 March 2012, members of the delegation met with CIDA officials for a working lunch in the Latin Quarter/Place Boyer in Port-au-Prince. Attending this meeting were Mr. Dominique Rossetti, Head of Aid, CIDA; Mr. Harry Adam, Director of Housing Construction and Public Buildings (Unité); Mr. Clément Bélizert, Head of Project 16/6 and Champ de Mars (Unité); and Mr. Emmett Fitzgerald, Project 16/6 and Champ de Mars (Unité).

Prior to the working lunch, the delegation visited Place Boyer, a public park in Pétionville, Port‑au‑Prince, located across the street from the restaurant. Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Rossetti explained that following the 2010 earthquake, those who had lost their homes tended to congregate and set up temporary housing in public spaces, which for the most part meant parks and school grounds. Approximately 750 families of déplacés (amounting to over three thousand people) had set up temporary housing in Place Boyer. CIDA, with the support of other partners, developed a program to clear the park of déplacés. It entailed committing one-year’s worth of subsidies for rent to each family, provided that they found their own accommodation on the housing market at market price.

During the working lunch, a wide range of topics were discussed. Mr. Rossetti noted during the first and second anniversaries of the 2010 earthquake, the press had focused on a perceived lack of progress to reconstruction. He noted, however, that the challenges on the ground were enormous. These included, foremostly, clearing the rubble from roads. The first half of these efforts was, in his view, crucial as it was impossible for vehicles to get around the city. Low‑income workers had been engaged to undertake much of this work, and a great deal of the debris had been re-purposed and recycled into other products, such as, for example, tiles.

It was also noted that the earthquake exasperated certain existing problems in Port-au-Prince. For example, prior to the earthquake, there were approximately 1 million homeless inhabitants. Also, overcrowding was an issue in Port-au-Prince. The example of the Pétionville quarter was given; it had grown from about 15,000 inhabitants to approximately 300,000 inhabitants over the past 20 years.

Another major project undertaken by CIDA, in collaboration with partners, following the 2010 earthquake, was to rate the structural stability of every house and building in the earthquake zone as either green (which meant it suffered inconsequential damage); yellow (which meant it could be repaired); and red (which meant that the disrepair could not be fixed).

Unité’s role in the reconstruction efforts immediately following the 2010 earthquake was discussed. It was noted that various international organizations and governmental agencies arrived to assist with reconstruction needs. Unité provided assistance to the reconstruction efforts by finding and targeting reconstruction solutions to fit problems; coalescing and coordinating projects into a larger plan; and devising and implementing methods for feedback and evaluation.

In response to inquiries on the part of the delegation as to the effectiveness of Canadian aid, Mr. Rossetti explained that all Canadian projects had been well-defined and had met their objectives. Administrative costs for the disbursement of funds of approximately 5% to 15% were normal, and as such approximately no less than 80% of aid had gone directly toward results on the ground. He indicated that all projects undertaken by CIDA had results-based targets and zero Canadian dollars had been wasted. Mr. Rossetti also provided the delegation with packages which set out the objectives, costs and results of 136 CIDA projects in Haiti.

A discussion also arose concerning the Cayes-Jérémie road and the lack of return on Canadian dollars in providing foreign countries untied aid. Mr. Rossetti noted that when Canada provided untied aid, because of the open and competitive nature of the bidding process, it usually meant that the most efficient outcomes for Canadian tax dollars. He noted that there were numerous positive examples of Canadian companies winning untied aid contracts from other countries.

Other points of discussion during the working lunch included the need to build up other economic poles outside from Port-au-Prince; the work that was being done to construct public buildings that could withstand certain levels of seismic activity; studying where building could take place that would not be susceptible to flooding or be too steep to be constructed safely; the land-title issue and its effect on deforestation; the efforts to build environmentally-friendly housing in Haiti.

Also, the insufficient dialogue between Parliament and the executive was again noted. Political leaders had shown themselves unwilling to act as mediators in order to find common ground on issues, to put laws in place, and enforce and advocate them. Mr. Rossetti noted that 90% of deputies were newly elected; and for 54% of them, the role as deputy was their first job with a salary.

Mr. Rossetti lastly noted that Canada was the only country, to his knowledge, to have kept, if not all, then 95% of its reconstruction and development promises.


In the afternoon, on 22 March 2012, the Canadian delegation toured a maternal health project in Port‑au‑Prince. Prior to the tour, the delegation met with Dr. Camille Figaro; Dr. Dorcely Olés, Ms. Evelyne de Graff, OMS/OPS; and Ms. Laura Stein, Program Officer. It was explained to the delegation that Canada had funded a program which had, for the past four years, provided free access to obstetrics, health services to children under the age of five, pregnancy planning and childbirth services to families at a maternal health centre in Port-au-Prince. The program was important because it removed the financial barrier to provide access to basic health services. Haiti has the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the hemisphere.

The program had evolved, since its inception, to provide a more global package of services, including prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, in particular syphilis. Participation in the centre’s programs had expanded rapidly. Working at the maternal health centre were 25 general practitioners, approximately 30 obstetricians, 1 psychiatrist and one surgeon.

Challenges for the centre included retaining their medical staff, as often those with the best training would leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Also, it was noted that over time, the centre’s programs had established a reputation for effectiveness and quality. This had led to an increase of emergency cases of women arriving at the centre with serious birth-related issues. The centre, therefore, was also working to increase awareness of their programs and to encourage participants to visit the centre early in a pregnancy. It was also noted, that for cultural reasons, males often attempted to deter their wives from taking part in the program. In this respect, a mother’s stay at the facility following childbirth was often very short, as it was difficult to keep them at the centre longer than 48 hours.

The topic of midwifery in Haiti was also addressed. It was noted that there was an insufficient number of midwives in Haiti. Midwifery training took approximately eight years, and the programs for recruitment and training needed to be reformed and improved.

The delegation then toured the centre’s facilities. These included the ward for regular births; the pathology ward; an operating area which had not yet been opened for lack of air conditioning; the neonatology ward (its equipment had been donated by the President’s wife, Ms. Martelly, but it had not yet been opened as it lacked staff); an abortion section (it was noted that abortions were not legal in Haiti; the women in the ward were those in emergency health situations as a result of procedures done outside the centre); and also a ward for women suffering from serious illnesses.


The morning of 23 March 2012, members of the Canadian delegation met with individuals working for NGOs on reforestation projects in Haiti. Attending this meeting was Mr. Marc Josué, Program Officer, CIDA; Mr. Volny Paultre, Assistant Reforestrant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); and Mr. Yves Gattereau, Oxfam-Québec.

Reforestation in Haiti was a priority and of high concern, and this was reflected in the efforts that had been made to reverse the situation. The reforestation officials explained that deforestation, in Haiti, had happened rapidly; in less than a hundred years, approximately 90% of Haiti’s trees had been cut. Presently, there remained only a few vestiges of forest. It was explained that deforestation was closely tied to other issues in the country, including economic development, agricultural production, and socio‑cultural norms.

Impediments to reforestation in Haiti included that the country was densely populated; that making charcoal was the most profitable activity for a large number of Haitians, coupled with the fact that most Haitians, in terms of income and foodstuffs, were living day-to-day; that no policy or law existed to conserve forests or trees; that the lack of protection of forests and trees was related, in part, to the lack of clarity as to who owned the land that the trees were on (cadastre); and that tree cutting was currently taking place at a higher rate than the combined reforestation efforts. It was also noted that reforestation was expensive, costing approximately $15,000 to replant trees on three hectares of land. The Haitian government did not possess the resources on its own to do the work. Further, it was stated that forests, as an investment, took 15 years to provide a return.

In 2008, the Minister of the Interior requested that the FAO produce an action plan which would set out a global vision for reforestation in Haiti. The FAO was continuing work on this file, and the target date for completion of the report was the end of 2012. It was noted that a clear, firm policy on reforestation was needed, including where to cut and where to protect; a policy tied into jobs, food security, and community interests.

Ms. Murray discussed with the reforestation officials a variety of proven methods for reforestation, including growing certain species of trees in conjunction with certain vegetables, in order to provide returns on investment and to the community at shorter intervals. She noted that there were numerous successful commercial models which could potentially be replicated in Haiti, which environmental investors would support financially. Ms. Murray underlined the importance of sustainable forestry for Haiti and that workable solutions were possible.


Following its meeting with individuals working for NGOs on reforestation projects in Haiti, on the morning of 23 March 2012, the Canadian Embassy organized a roundtable discussion for the delegation with private sector representatives and members of the Haiti-Canada Chamber of Commerce, at the Acajou Room of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. In attendance at the meeting was Mr. Serge Cousineau, Dejardins International Development; Mr. Thor Burnham, Williams Engineering; Mr. Maxime Charles, Scotiabank; Mr. Dominique Boisson, Eurasian Minerals/Marien Mining; Mr. Michel Lamarre, Majescor/SOMINE; Mr. Gerard Marie Tardieu, President of the Haiti-Canada Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Pierre Dumouchel, Haiti-Canada Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Normandin. He began the meeting by commenting on the work of the governments of Haiti and Canada in promoting investment and commerce in Haiti. Mr. Hawn then remarked that the Canadian delegation was keen to hear the perspectives of the attendees and exchange ideas with them on how Canada could better work with Haitian businesses.

Mr. Tardieu provided a few remarks on behalf of the Haiti-Canada Chamber of Commerce. He indicated that he supported the paradigm proposed by the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, in which the goal for Haiti was to replace charity and aid with investment, creating a “win-win” situation for investors and for Haitians. Mr. Tardieu further encouraged Canadian investors, specifically the Canadian diaspora, to take the risk of investing in Haiti.

It was noted that Canada’s development assistance in Haiti was very positively perceived in the country because it was well-targeted and had achieved results. Canada, it was felt, brought knowledge, experience and good governance models when undertaking development projects. The law and order sector was pointed out as one where Canada was needed to continue playing its strong role.

The mining sector in Haiti was also discussed. The present law, formulated in 1975, was now outdated, cumbersome and acted as a deterrent to investment projects. It needed to be modernized to include, among other things, better protections for investors. It was further noted in respect of this law that, in Haiti, the profits from mining were divided evenly (“50% – 50%”) between the company and the government. It was stated, however, that the norm for mining elsewhere was closer to 70% of profits going to the company and 30% going to the government. Also noted was that mining activities in the Dominican Republic were quite lucrative and effective at attracting foreign investment. It was felt that foreign mining companies ought to consider investing money in Haitian communities in order to raise awareness of the positive mutual benefits of foreign investment. Further, it was noted that Parliament and the executive needed to work together to create a modern mining law, and that this would take a good deal of political courage.

Ways to make investment more effective in Haiti were also discussed. It was stated that a database of entrepreneurs ought to be created. Priority sectors for investment needed to be identified. It was noted that a certain percentage of investment ought to be set aside for both small- and medium‑businesses, as well as for sustainable development projects. Through superior governance models, investment money could be used more frugally and efficiently, producing better results with less money. Canada’s role, in the long term, therefore, would be to offer training, experience and counsel as opposed to direct funding through aid. Mr. Tardieu proposed a potential investment system through which CIDA could provide loans instead of grants to Haitian companies, while using collateral as the guarantee on its investments. The Canadian delegation noted that Export Development Canada (EDC) could be an important resource for finding investment partners.

Other topics of discussion included the untapped potential of the tourism and natural resources sectors in Haiti; the desire to see expatriate Haitian teachers, professors, engineers, geologists, tradespersons, etc. return to Haiti to train and provide their expertise to Haitians. It was also suggested that it would be helpful if a trade mission could be organized to bring potential Canadian investors to Haiti.

In closing, Mr. Hawn thanked the group for its insights into the business conditions in Haiti, and indicated that the delegation would take these views back and impart them to their colleagues in Parliament.


In the afternoon of 23 March 2012, the Canadian delegation had a meeting with President Michel Martelly at the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince. Also in attendance at this meeting were Mr. Thierry Mayard Paul, Chief of Staff; Mr. Michel Pierre Brunache, Minister of Justice and Public Security; Ms. Anne Valérie Milfort, Special Assistant to the President; Mr. Pierre Richard Casimir, Foreign Affairs Secretary of State; Mr. Salim Succar, Deputy Chief of Staff; Mr. Grégory Mayard-Paul, legal advisor; Mr. Jamie Iglesias, Diplomatic Officer; Ms. Nell Stewart, Political and Economic Advisor (Embassy of Canada); and Mr. François Goudreau, Second Secretary (Political) (Embassy of Canada). Prior to meeting with the delegation, President Martelly convened a private meeting between himself and Mr. Hawn.

President Martelly began the meeting with the Canadian delegation by offering a warm welcome and thanking the delegation, on behalf of Haitians, for Canada’s assistance and its positive impact following the 2010 earthquake. He also thanked Canadians for funding the project to help clear the Champ de Mars Park; for Canada’s strong cooperation with the PNH; and for Canada’s assistance in improving education in Haiti. He underlined the importance of working together as partners. President Martelly also noted that a new government was currently being put in place.

Each member of the delegation, in turn, had a brief dialogue with President Martelly. Senator Boisvenu, in his comments, addressed the need to strengthen Haitian institutions; the need for cooperation between the Haitian Parliament and the executive; and the need for Haiti to better present itself as a desirable destination for investment. In response, President Martelly noted his government had taken strides to better adhere to the rule of law, including appointing a judge to Haiti’s highest court (la Cour de cassation) after that post had sat vacant for eight years. He also noted that his government had made advances in education; public services, including transportation; home construction; clean drinking water; police and security; corruption; and border services. He also noted the importance of aid money to Haiti, but expressed concern that NGOs could be viewed as an alternate government because of the money and resources they controlled.

Ms. Murray commented that the meetings during the week had shown a light on how many challenges Haiti faced and how complicated its situation was. She indicated that Haiti needed to make strides in terms of sustainable development; infrastructure; restoring the environment, including clean water and reforestation; land stewardship; and equitable development between urban and rural regions. In respect of reforestation, Ms. Murray noted that successful commercial models existed at present that could potentially be replicated in Haiti, and supported financially by environmental investors. She noted that other countries had overcome similar challenges. President Martelly, in response, stated Haitians were expert deforesters. He recognized that the reforestation situation was urgent, but that Haiti lacked expertise as to solutions. He indicated that he would like Canadians to come to Haiti to evaluate the situation and make recommendations and proposals.

Senator Hervieux-Payette, in her comments, brought up that, as a long‑term goal, Haiti should strive to receive investment instead of aid. She indicated that retired Canadian university professors would be willing to come to Haiti to teach at no cost except for their accommodations. She also noted that Canada could help establish a stronger legal framework, with tighter rules, for the Haitian taxation system; that women’s issues needed to be better considered; and that a great deal of opportunity existed for Haiti to profit from Canadian assistance. Senator Hervieux-Payette also indicated that she was very impressed by the women’s maternal health program, funded by Canadians, in Port‑au‑Prince. President Martelly replied that the taxation system in Haiti was in severe disrepair, with wealthy individuals avoiding paying taxes, while others were simply absent from the system due to failures with the system. He indicated that he would like to know how to fix Haiti’s tax system quickly. In terms of women’s issues he noted that women played an important role in his cabinet and that he believed strongly in the role of women in democracy.

President Martelly also addressed the topic of modernizing the civil registry in Haiti and the agreement that the government had engaged in with the Venezuelan company Smartmatic. He indicated that this project would integrate the work already done, and that eventually, the government would like to collaborate with Canadians in advancing the completion of the modernization of Haiti’s civil registry.


Following its meeting with President Martelly, on 23 March 2012, the Canadian Embassy organized a roundtable discussion for the delegation with representatives from Canadian NGOs at the Acajou Room of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. Present at this meeting were Mr. Karston Voigt, Red Cross; Mr. Yves Gatterau, Oxfam-Quebec; Ms. Marie Josée Fiset, Oxfam-Quebec; Ms. Suzanne Louchard, SUCO; Mr. Jean-Claude Jean, Development and Peace; Mr. Guypsy Michel, CECI; Mr. Sylvain Côté, Rights and Democracy; Mr. Martial Bailey, Save the Children Haiti; Mr. Baptiste Hanquart, Médecins du Monde Canada; Ms. Betsy Wall, Productive Cooperatives Haiti; Mr. Jean-Claude Mukadi, World Vision Haiti; and Ms. Janne Suvanto, World Food Programme.

The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Normandin. He began the meeting by welcoming the participants of the roundtable and indicated that its purpose was to give the delegation an overview of the challenges faced by Canadian NGOs in Haiti and the results of their programs. Mr. Hawn thanked Ambassador Normandin and the participants and indicated that the roundtable would provide an excellent opportunity to the delegation to find out what Canadian NGOs were doing and, pass this information on to Parliament.

Each representative gave the delegation a brief description of the roles their NGO played in Haiti, as well as the challenges it faced. These representatives had provided assistance to Haitians in the following ways: humanitarian assistance; re-capitalization of commercial firms; economic development; strengthening governance structures; sustainable development; job creation; promotion and protection of human rights; professional skills training; food security; agriculture; health; sanitation and disease prevention; house building, grant allocation; improving access education (it was noted that over 90% of Haitians were illiterate); teacher training; and prevention of violence against children.

During the discussion which followed, it was noted by some that Haiti was, in their view, a permanent NGO lab. The reason for the existence of the preponderance of NGOs in Haiti was due to the weakness of the state. This made coordination efforts between NGOs difficult because there was no leadership on the part of the state as there ought to be. It was noted that it was possible that having NGOs delivering services that ought to be delivered by the state, resulted in an increasingly weak state. A number of representatives commented that their role was to partner with local workers who could ultimately take over once the NGO departed. A comment was made by a representative who noted that he sensed donor fatigue. Another representative expressed concern over the dissolution of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission in favour of UN “clusters,” which provided aid. It was also noted that professional NGOs cooperated with the appropriate Haitian Minister in order to align their strategies, but some NGOs did not do so. In this respect, there were many NGOs who wanted to provide assistance to Haitians but those who did not organize themselves properly were not optimizing their help.

Mr. Voigt briefed the delegation on the Red Cross’ efforts to provide housing in rural areas. He noted that the prices of the houses that they were constructing were, unfortunately, driven up by costs beyond their control. The houses were hurricane proof and water resistant, and built according to Canadian building standards. The logistics of moving building materials to remote areas with practically no roads, along with the preparatory work involved in establishing land-title, caused delays of about nine-months before construction could begin.

NGO representatives were then asked to provide the delegation with one single comment that could be taken back by the delegation to the government of Canada. The following responses were provided:

·         Continue to reinforce the state and fulfill development commitments, as a strong state would let NGOs put their expertise to better use.

·         Support good governance and Parliament.

·         Invest in education and assistance with food production.

·         Apply political pressure to ensure the Haitian state respects its Constitution and the separation of powers therein.

·         Assist in coordinating financing between donors.

·         Funding for projects ought to be between three to five years. In particular, agriculture and environmental projects were the most important.

·         Reinforce institutions and the state.

·         Assist to increase foreign investment.

·         Improve Haiti’s perception in the international community.

·         Cease giving any money whatsoever to Haiti as this undermined the state and created a culture of dependence. To this comment, another representative countered that while money was not the solution in Haiti, no money whatsoever was also not the solution.

·         Direct aid money toward structural problems like deforestation.

·         Help NGOs to increase local ownership and the capacity of civil society.

Mr. Hawn concluded the session by indicating that it had been productive to have heard the experiences of the representatives and that he hoped others could build on their experiences.

Respectfully submitted,

Mr. Randy Hoback, M.P.

Chair, Canadian Section