Canadian military intervention in Haiti can’t happen unless all political parties in the troubled nation agree to it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday.
Trudeau was speaking from Tunisia where leaders at the annual Francophonie summit held a roundtable on Haiti on the final day of their two-day gathering.
Trudeau announced $16.5 million to help stabilize Haiti, where gangs are strangling access to fuel and critical supplies amid a worsening cholera outbreak. About half the money is going toward humanitarian aid, and some of the rest is intended to help weed out corruption and prosecute gender-based violence.
But Haiti’s government has asked for an international military intervention to combat gangs who have strangled access to fuel and critical supplies in the middle of the outbreak.
The United States says Canada would be an ideal leader for such a military intervention.
Trudeau said Sunday that Canada is working with CARICOM, the Caribbean governments organization, along with “various actors in Haiti from all different political parties” to get a consensus on how the international community can help.
“It is not enough for Haiti’s government to ask for it,” he said. “There needs to be a consensus across political parties in Haiti before we can move forward on more significant steps.”
He did not rule out eventually establishing a Canadian military mission on the ground in Haiti.
“Canada is very open to playing an important role, but we must have a Haitian consensus,” Trudeau said in French.
A Global Affairs Canada assessment team sent to Haiti to establish some understanding of what is happening and what could help has already returned and provided a report at meetings Trudeau said he attended.
He said the need for a consensus comes from a “political dynamic” in Haiti that is “quite challenging.”
“One of the fundamental problems that Haiti has always faced is that various elites and oligarchs across the country’s society have been motivated to continue to use political influence and humanitarian crises as a way to enrich themselves on the backs of the Haitian people,” he said. “So that is why our approach now is not about doing what one political party or the government wants. It’s calling for a level of consensus and coherence from all actors in Haiti to call for solutions that we can actually get behind and lead on as an international community.”
Canada expanded its sanctions on political elites on Saturday by adding three more names to the list of Haitians whose Canadian assets will be frozen.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said the sanctions target those who are profiting from the violence in Haiti.
“Our goal is to make sure that these people that are profiting from the violence, that are part of a corrupted system, are facing accountability,” she said.
Joly called on other international partners to follow suit.
Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press