Canadians should learn from Haiti

What is Canada doing in Haiti? Former Haitian Cabinet Minister speaks in Halifax

Reporting for Shunpiking Online

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Dr Patrick Elie speaks at a rally in Toronto on 25 February on the third anniversary of the Haitian coup d'etat
HALIFAX (17 March 2006) -- FORMER minister in the first Aristide government, Patrick Elie, told an audience of some 60 people in Halifax on 13 March that Haiti had much to teach Canadians.
Dr Elie earned a PhD in organic chemistry from McGill University in 1976, was the Drug Czar under the first Aristide administration and Secretary of State for National Defense, 1994-1995, instrumental in creating the National Police and dismantling the Haitian Army. He is in the midst of a speaking tour of Canada, visiting twenty cities and towns and has already spoken to thousands of people, which belies the misinformation of the major political parties that Haiti is "not an issue amongst Canadians."

Following the 29 February 2004 coup against President Jean-Bertrand Artiside, Dr Elie helped to found SOS (Sant Obsèvasyon Sitwayen), a citizen watchdog group wqhose motto is, "Politics is too important to be abandoned to the politicians."

The Haitian activist, speaking at Dalhousie University, stressed that democracy and sovereignty are not merely conditions one first obtains like eternal bliss, but are processes which require eternal vigilance of people to achieve and protect. Canadians should know this as wells as Haitians or peoples of other countries. We live close by the United States, the world's only superpower, with designs on the whole world.

Dr Elie asked rhetorically what if they (the US) looks north and decides we really need all that water, or if they want a firmer control over our oil and gas reserves. If Canadians were to succeed in getting a government that has the best interest of Canadians at heart, then our sovereignty will be as much in danger as that of Haiti.

Dr Elie said that the Canadian government played a key role in the overthrow of the popularly-elected president Aristide in 2004, and continues to play a role in the occupation of Haiti and the support for the illegitimate government which was imposed on Haiti by US, Canada and France. Prior to this intervention, Canada had hosted an international conference on 17 January 2003 in Ottawa, code-named the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti, "concerning the Haitian crisis" but at which there were no Haitian representatives. The secret meeting during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003 was hosted by then Liberal Minister for La Francophonmie, Denis Paradis. This formed the venue for planning the coup that followed just thirteen months later.

Dr Elie said that he had once hoped that he could convince the newly-elected government to correct the policy towards Haiti of the previous Canadian government, but Harper has failed to learn anything from the elections in Haiti.

The recent election of René Préval, said Dr Elie, is a condemnation of everything Canada is doing in Haiti. Yet Harper along with Premier Charest of Quebec have ignored president-elect Préval and met instead with the unelected Prime Minister La Tortue who was imposed on Haiti by the intervention of US, Canada and France.

The Canadian democracy in action
In response to a question from the audience, Dr Elie, who holds dual citizenship (as does the current Governor-General), drew attention to the targeting and ongoing harassment he receives from Canadian authorities as he travels on his speaking tour.

His luggage has been repeatedly searched at airports. He is delayed for hours before flights while clerks make phone calls. Aggressive body searches have been carried out. Following his recent arrival from Haiti in Montréal, as well as taking domestic flights, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service has even come to the airport to interrogate him for two hours at a time asking him for lists of contacts, his itinerary, who sent him to Canada, and what were the details of his last conversation with Aristide. He has told them that they are paid to find out this information and he was not going to do their job for them. These unnecessary delays have sometimes caused him to miss flights.

Dr Elie commented that this was far different from the treatment he had received when he was a cabinet minister or before the 2004 coup.

"It's scandalous," he said. "I think I am being targeted for the political message that I am bringing to Canada, which is critical of the Canadian government's policies in Haiti."

Dr Elie's tour is organized by the Canada Haiti Action Network.

Actions across Canada demand: Haiti for Haitians!
In related news, actions were held across Canada during late February on the occasion of the second anniversary of the coup in Haiti organized by the U.S., Canada and France to consolidate the grip of the financial oligarchy over the country. The actions demanded an end to all foreign interference and justice for the crimes committed against the Haitian people.

Close to 350 people joined the Montreal action February 25 where youth participated in large numbers as well as workers and members of the Haitian community. Haitian flags flew brightly over the crowd, with many placards reading: "Canada, Out of Haiti," "Haiti for Haitians," "Free Haiti's Political Prisoners," "Bush Criminal," "Justice for Haiti."

Events were also organized in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. The Haiti rally in Toronto, also addressed by Dr Elie, joined a rally of 1,000 people at the U.S. consulate protesting the incitement of civil war in Iraq following the recent bombings there.
Related

Canada, Haiti and the struggle for justice: An interview with Patrick Elie
Derrick O'Keefe, Seven Oaks Magazine, 27 February 2006
http://www.sevenoaksmag.com/features/99_feat2.html

Here is an mp3 of Dr Elie's talk on 24 February 2006 at the C.A.W. Local 200/444 Hall in Windsor, Ontario. It's about 56 minutes long. Thanks to Enver Villamizar who made available the audio files from his broadcast of the talk on the University of Windsor's student radio, CJAM.

Haiti: Préval declared president
Damning evidence of occupiers' electoral fraud. TML Daily
http://www.cpcml.ca/Tmld2006/D36018.htm

Left, Right, Left, Right: running off with Haiti's democracy - Anthony Fenton
http://www.cpcml.ca/Tmld2006/D36018.htm



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