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Commémoration de la fête du drapeau de l’Ambassade d’Haïti


Photos du 15 mai




The music plays on in Haiti

(as published in Embassy Magazine) by Anca Gurzu
Published: Wednesday, 05/22/2013 12:00 am EDT


Haiti is open for business!

That is the message that guests heard on May 15 at the Museum of Civilization during a reception commemorating the anniversary of the Haitian flag.

This message was clear even before speeches began: three mining companies were listed as partners on the back of an eight-page program designed specifically for the event. The program was also an indication that this would not be your typical diplomatic reception.

Before the wine started pouring and the anthems were played, guests were handed a show ticket that allowed them to enjoy a two-part concert in one of the museum’s theatres. The lighting, in shades of red and blue, were highlighting the colours of the Haitian flag.

Pianist David Bontemps and mezzo-soprano Chantal Lavigne delighted the audience with an array of well-chosen songs. To match the museum’s current Vodou exhibt, Ms. Lavigne sang parts from the series “Offrandes vodouesques” by early 20th-century composer Werner JaegerhuberPierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport, addressed the audience before the artists took the stage, talking about the strong Canadian-Haitian ties and the Haitians’ impressive resilience.

But now back to business. Some of our readers may remember that the Haitian Embassy had planned to host the flag-commemorating event back in January.

The venue was the same and the concert was also included. Invitations had been even sent out. There was just one small glitch: International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino, at that time just six months on the job, said in an interview in early January that he had put new assistance projects for Haiti “on ice.”

He said he planned to review new aid to the small Caribbean country since the current approach is not getting the results “that Canadians have a right to expect.” These comments came as a shock to many, including to Haiti’s ambassador to Canada Frantz Liautaud, who expressed his surprise in an interview with The Globe and Mail at the time.

The Canadian International Development Agency quickly put out a statement following the minister’s comments, saying existing aid projects are still ongoing, but that the review is necessary because of the “the slow progress of development in Haiti due to its weak governing institutions and corruption.”

Less surprisingly, and perhaps out of a need to let the storm pass, the museum event was cancelled—or rather, as it turns out, postponed. It took place four months later, but this time, Haiti pushed the foreign aid file aside and put on the business hat.

Mr. Liautaud announced that, under a Canadian government initiative, several mining companies are currently discussing the possibility of opening a factory in Haiti that would exploit gold without cyanide. This technology is “une premiere mondiale,” the ambassador said.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a government-funded not-for-profit foundation that finances clean technologies, together with Canadian mining company Majescor Resources, in a joint project with Haiti’s Somine, are looking at partnering with Montreal-based Nichromet Extractions Inc. for this venture.

“We are pleased to underline that the Government of Canada and [SDTC] will have a major role to play in the financial feasibility of a project that is, in more ways than one, a flagship in terms of environmentally friendly, responsible economic development,” Mr. Liautaud said during his speech.

NDP development critic Hélène Laverdière and Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger also attended.

Mr. Liautaud continued his sales pitch throughout his speech, inviting Canadian investors from various sectors to take advantage of the benefits and guarantees the Haitian government offers.

Albeit not in the mining sector, Canadian officials led a trade mission of about 20 organizations to Port-au-Prince in September 2012. All in all, the Haitian government seems to be trying a new approach to development. It will be interesting to see if and how the Canadian-Haitian partnership will move from aid to business.

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