PM announces aid project as he kicks off visit to Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CP) — Canada will help the hobbled Haitian government get back on its feet by building an administrative home to replace numerous smashed buildings in the country’s shattered capital.
During a visit to Haiti, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that Canada would spend up to $12 million to create a new temporary home for government departments and civil servants.
Harper made the announcement after meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.
A number of Haiti’s public buildings have been reduced to rubble, from the presidential palace to the tax department and the education ministry, leaving the national government on the verge of collapse.
Workers have been trying to salvage any scraps of paper documents while crews remove bodies and bulldozers demolish what’s left of the condemned buildings.
The Canadian-funded base will house several temporary buildings — from soft, tent-like ones to hardshelled ones. It is expected to be up and running for up to a year, and construction will start once the Haitian government chooses a location.
“(This is) an important step toward recovery and reconstruction,” Harper said.
Canada will also help out with office furniture and supplies, as well as computer equipment.
The prime minister is the first G20 leader to visit Haiti since the earthquake, following the heads of several neighbouring countries who have already made the trip.
He landed in Port-au-Prince in a military transport plane Monday, kicking off his two-day trip by meeting with Preval and Bellerive.
Harper plans to get a glimpse of Canadian aid efforts, assess longerterm needs and stress the message that Canada is in Haiti for the long haul. The Canadian military and civilian volunteers have been providing clean water, food, security and medical care since the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Harper will visit Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean’s ancestral hometown of Jacmel, and Leogane, another hub of Canadian activity.
He will visit a destroyed school in Leogane as well as tour a hospital being run by the Canadian Forces.
Harper will sleep aboard HMCS Athabaskan, which is anchored off Leogane, and then return to Ottawa today.