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Brian's Beat: Haiti - Disappointment infused with hope

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Ward 11 official website

Today was a disappointing day. It started well with a breakfast meeting at the Hotel Karibe, with the Canadian Ambassador and people from MAECD (Department of Foreign Affairs). Allow me a little side bar here.

The Hotel Karibe is beautiful! Unlike the Hotel Montana that I am staying at, it suffered minor damage in the earthquake. It is an old colonial school that has been converted with grand staircases and absolutely beautiful grounds. Where I am staying is very nice but it is in rebuild, and I gather, a shadow of its former self.

Anyway, it was a good start to the day, talking about our project with CIDA and the embassy. CIDA funds the majority of our work and we need the embassy on the ground to help us push local government a bit. It is also important to maintain ties back to the Government of Canada, to ensure their continued understanding and support.

Then, well, it became a bit of a waste of time. The next meeting was with all the internationals who are working in Les Palmes region. That would include the Dutch, the French (two different organizations from France) and Martinique. Along with the Canadians, they come together twice a year as a Plateform to update on the projects and coordinate their work.

The Dutch have been working on setting up waste collections systems and a landfill in the region. Great work that has been making good progress. They have bought vehicles and have identified a landfill site. Good stuff, but it is a long way from getting up and running. And they are pulling out at the end of the year with absolutely no plan to continue any of the work. It will just end.
Can't really figure out what the French and the Martiniquans have been doing. Showing up to meetings mostly. The French have done some work on the ground, but they are not putting very many resources towards their work so they are not making much headway, and they too are withdrawing at the end of the year. That leaves us, the Canadians. And they all look to us to pick up the ball and run with it.

While I am incredibly frustrated by the work and attitude of some of the other countries, I am very proud of the approach that we are taking. We have made a true commitment to this country and have a program that can support Haitians to make real change. The CIDA reps recognize that our approach is unique and, if it works (and it will dammit!), it will be sustainable for the country in the long run. We have planned our withdrawal and announced it at the beginning of the five year plan. We all; Haitians, other countries and Canada, know that there is an endpoint. Only by doing that, taking that approach, can we have a true partnership with Haiti.

Now, let's hope that it doesn't catch us by surprise, just like Christmas seems to each year!

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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