Trudeau speaks with Haiti's outgoing PM about crisis, need for political agreement

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken with Haiti’s now−departing prime minister about the ongoing humanitarian, security and political crises in that country.

A readout issued by the PMO late Monday said Trudeau expressed his concern to Ariel Henry about the situation in Haiti, and that he underscored Canada’s longstanding support for Haitian−led solutions.

Henry announced early Tuesday that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created.

Henry has been locked out of his own country while travelling abroad, due to surging unrest and violence by criminal gangs that have overrun much of Haiti’s capital and closed down its main international airports.

A meeting among several Caribbean leaders, Canada’s U.N. ambassador and the U.S. secretary of state was held Monday in Jamaica to look at ways to respond to the crisis in Haiti. Henry remained in Puerto Rico during the meeting, according to a statement from the U.S. territory’s Department of State, and was taking steps to return to Haiti once feasible.

The readout of Trudeau’s conversation with Henry says Trudeau reiterated the critical need for a political agreement among Haitian stakeholders that was inclusive and would create the conditions for free and fair elections and the restoration of democratic order.

"Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Henry reaffirmed the strong bond between Canada and Haiti," the PMO readout noted.

Quebec has a large Haitian community — estimated at more than 140,000.

Many Haitian Montrealers are worried about loved ones amid the violent attacks that have paralyzed the Haitian capital, including Wedne Colin, who says his family members have had to flee their homes several times to find a place that’s safe from the armed gangs he says have seized control of the capital city of Port−au−Prince.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday announced an additional $100 million to finance the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti.

Washington in the past has asked Canada to lead such a military intervention, but Trudeau has said it’s unclear whether that would stabilize the country.

Blinken also announced another $33 million in humanitarian aid and the creation of a joint proposal agreed on by Caribbean leaders and “all of the Haitian stakeholders to expedite a political transition” and create a “presidential college.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.

−−With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

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