Char­i­ties, not feds, should foot bill for long-term re­build­ing in Haiti: poll


OTTAWA — Cana­di­ans are leery about the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shoul­der­ing the cost of long-term re­build­ing in Haiti, a new poll sug­gests.

This comes af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper has spo­ken of a 10-year Cana­dian com­mit­ment to Haitian re­con­struc­tion, no mat­ter how tightly bud­gets are squeezed at home.

The Cana­dian Press Har­risDec­ima sur­vey sug­gests that while there is some sup­port for short- term re­build­ing, some of that melts away in the face of a five-to 10-year com­mit­ment.

Asked who should pay to re­build Haiti, 44 per cent of re­spon­dents said char­i­ties should foot the bill over the short term, with 40 per cent opt­ing for gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Asked about the longer term of up to 10 years, 42 per cent chose char­i­ties, with only 28 per cent say­ing it should be the gov­ern­ment’s job.

The sur­vey ques­tioned more than 2,000 peo­ple in an om­nibus tele­phone poll Feb. 11 to Feb. 14. It is con­sid­ered ac­cu­rate to within plus or mi­nus 2.2 per­cent­age points, 19 times out of 20.

Doug An­der­son, se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent at Har­ris-Dec­ima, said it’s the idea of a long-term com­mit­ment that has peo­ple re­con­sid­er­ing.

“A lot of peo­ple clearly don’t have a prob­lem with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment fund­ing in the short term, but over the long term, the thing that I thought was in­ter­est­ing was that char­i­ties stay about the same, but some por­tion who were say­ing fed­eral gov­ern­ment, move to say­ing, ’I don’t think actu- ally fund­ing will be needed af­ter a while’.”

Harper, how­ever, has re­peat­edly stressed that Haiti needs more than a quick fix.

“ We need to com­mit to Haiti for the long term,” he said be­fore an in­ter­na­tional fund­ing con­fer­ence in Jan­uary. “It is not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that 10 years of hard work awaits the world in Haiti.”

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has al­ready ear­marked $135 mil­lion for im­me­di­ate earth­quake re­lief in the bat­tered Caribbean coun­try, with hun­dreds of mil­lions more promised over the next five years.

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