An Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Regarding Haiti

By the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, February 21, 2021

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

It is time to change Canadian policy towards a nation born in struggle to liberate Africans from slavery.

The Canadian government must end its support for a repressive, corrupt Haitian president devoid of constitutional legitimacy. For the past two years Haitians have demonstrated their overwhelming opposition to Jovenel Moïse with massive protests and general strikes calling for his departure from office.

Since February 7 Jovenel Moïse has been occupying the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince in defiance of the overwhelming majority of the country’s institutions. Moïse’s claim to another year on his mandate was rejected by the Superior Council of Judicial Power, Haitian Bar Federation and other constitutional authorities. In response to the opposition selecting a Supreme Court judge to head an interim government after his mandate expired, Moïse arrested one and illegally dismissed three Supreme Court justices. The police were also sent to occupy the Supreme Court and repress those protesting, shooting two reporters covering the demonstrations. The country’s judges have launched an unlimited strike to force Moïse to respect the constitution.

Moïse has ruled by decree since January 2020. After the mandates of most officials expired due to his failure to hold elections, Moïse announced a plan to rewrite the constitution. Fair elections are unlikely under Moïse’s leadership as he recently pressured the entire electoral council to resign and then appointed new members unilaterally.

Having garnered fewer than 600,000 votes in a country of 11 million, Moïse’s legitimacy has always been weak. Since massive anti-corruption and anti-IMF protests erupted in mid-2018 Moïse has become steadily more repressive. A recent presidential decree criminalized protest blockades as “terrorism” while another established a new intelligence agency with anonymous officers empowered to infiltrate and arrest anyone deemed to be engaging in ‘subversive’ acts or threatening ‘state security’. In the worst documented case, the UN confirmed the Haitian government’s culpability in a massacre of up to 71 civilians in the impoverished Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline in mid-November 2018.

All this information is available to Canadian officials, however, they continue to fund and train a police force that has violently repressed anti-Moïse protests. The Canadian ambassador in Haiti has repeatedly attended police functions all the while refusing to criticize their repression of protesters. On January 18 ambassador Stuart Savage met the controversial new head of police Leon Charles to discuss “strengthening the capacity of the police.”

As part of the influential US, France, OAS, UN, Spain “Core Group” of foreign ambassadors in Port-au-Prince, Canadian officials have offered Moïse important diplomatic support. On February 12 Foreign Minister Marc Garneau spoke with Haiti’s de facto foreign minister. The post meeting statement announced plans for Haiti and Canada to co-host a forthcoming conference. The statement made no mention, however, of Moïse extending his mandate, illegally firing Supreme Court judges, ruling by decree or criminalizing protests.

It’s time for the Canadian government to stop propping up a repressive and corrupt dictatorship in Haiti.

SIGNATORIES:

Noam Chomsky, author & Professor

Naomi Klein, author, Rutgers University

David Suzuki, Award winning geneticist/broadcaster

Paul Manly, Member of Parliament

Roger Waters, co-founder Pink Floyd

Stephen Lewis, Former UN ambassador

El Jones, poet and professor

Gabor Maté, author

Svend Robinson, former Member of Parliament

Libby Davies, former Member of Parliament

Jim Manly, former Member of Parliament

Will Prosper, filmmaker and human rights activist

Robyn Maynard, author Policing Black Lives

George Elliott Clarke, former Canadian Poet Laureate

Linda McQuaig, journalist & author

Françoise Boucard, former chair Haiti’s National Truth and Justice Commission

Rinaldo Walcott, Professor and Writer

Judy Rebick, journalist

Frantz Voltaire, Éditeur

Greg Grandin, Professor of History Yale University

André Michel, Président ex-officio Les Artistes pour la Paix

Harsha Walia, activist/writer

Vijay Prashad, executive-director Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Kim Ives, editor Haïti Liberté

Anthony N. Morgan, racial justice lawyer

Andray Domise, journalist

Torq Campbell, musician (Stars)

Alain Deneault, philosophe

Peter Hallward, author of Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment

Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer, journalist and activist

Antonia Zerbisias, journalist/activist

Missy Nadege, Madame Boukman – Justice 4 Haiti

Jeb Sprague, author Paramilitarism and the assault on democracy in Haiti

Brian Concannon, Executive Director of Project Blueprint.

Eva Manly, retired filmmaker, activist

Beatrice Lindstrom, Clinical Instructor, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School

John Clarke, Packer Visitor in Social Justice York University

Jord Samolesky, Propagandhi

Serge Bouchereau, activist

Sheila Cano, artist

Yves Engler, journalist

Jean Saint-Vil, journalist/Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Jennie-Laure Sully, Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Turenne Joseph, Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Frantz André, Comité d’action des personnes sans statut/Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Louise Leduc, Enseignante retraitée Cégep régional de Lanaudière à Joliette

Syed Hussan, migrant workers alliance

Pierre Beaudet, éditeur de la Plateforme altermondialiste, Montréal

Bianca Mugyenyi, ‎Director Canadian Foreign Policy Institute

Justin Podur, writer/academic

David Swanson, Executive Director of World Beyond War

Derrick O’Keefe, writer, co-founder Ricochet

Stuart Hammond, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa

John Philpot, international defense lawyer

Frederick Jones, Dawson College

Kevin Skerrett, union researcher

Gretchen Brown, lawyer

Normand Raymond, Certified Translator, Signer and Songer-Writer

Pierre Jasmin, Pianist

Victor Vaughan, activist

Ken Collier, activist

Claudia Chaufan, Associate Professor York

Jooneed Khan, journalist and human rights activist

Arnold August, author

Gary Engler, author

Stu Neatby, reporter

Scott Weinstein, activist

Courtney Kirkby, founder Tiger Lotus Coop

Greg Albo, York professor

Peter Eglin, Emeritus Professor Wilfrid Laurier University

Barry Weisleder,Federal Secretary, Socialist Action

Alan Freeman, Geopolitical Economy Research Group

Radhika Desai, Professor University of Manitoba

John Price, Professor

Travis Ross, co-editor Canada-Haiti Information Project

William Sloan, ex. refugee lawyer

Larry Hannant, historian and author

Grahame Russell, Rights Action

Richard Sanders, antiwar researcher, writer, activist

Stefan Christoff, Musician and community activist

Khaled Mouammar, Former Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Ed Lehman Regina Peace Council

Mark Haley, Kelowna Peace Group

Carol Foort, activist

Nino Pagliccia, Venezuelan-Canadian political analyst

Ken Stone, Treasurer, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

Aziz Fall, President Centre Internationaliste Ryerson Foundation Aubin

Donald Cuccioletta, Coordinator of Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme and Montreal Urban Left

Robert Ismael, CPAM 1410 Cabaret des idées

Antonio Artuso, Cercle Jacques Roumain

André Jacob, professeur retraité Université du Québec à Montréal

Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project

Tracy Glynn, Solidarité Fredericton and lecturer at St. Thomas University

Tobin Haley, Solidarité Fredericton and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University

Aaron Mate, journalist

Glenn Michalchuk, Chair Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Greg Beckett, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Western University

Marie Dimanche, founder Solidarité Québec-Haïti

Françoise Boucard, former chair Haiti’s National Truth and Justice Commission

Louise Leduc, Enseignante retraitée Cégep régional de Lanaudière à Joliette

Tamara Lorincz, fellow Canadian Foreign Policy Institute

André Michel, Président ex-officio Les Artistes pour la Paix

Monia Mazigh, PhD/author

Elizabeth Gilarowski, activist

Azeezah Kanji, legal academic and journalist

David Putt, aid worker

Elaine Briere, documentary filmmaker Haiti Betrayed

Karen Rodman, Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste

David Webster, Professor

Raoul Paul, co-editor Canada-Haiti Information Project

Glen Ford, Executive Editor Black Agenda Report

John McMurtry, Professor & Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

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