PM an­nounces aid project as he kicks off visit to Haiti

Cape Breton Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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