Canada to send 1,000 more troops to Haiti


Published: Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 9:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 9:49 p.m.

TORONTO — Canada will send an additional 1,000 troops to support relief efforts in Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake and will host a meeting of diplomats aimed at coordinating reconstruction efforts.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Sunday the 16 countries that comprise the Group of Friends of Haiti have agreed to meet in Montreal on Jan. 25.

Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and foreign ministers from France and Brazil are among those expected to attend in what will be a precursor to a larger conference of leaders which is to be held at an unconfirmed date.

"We're all looking to see how we can cooperate and how we can best put to use the different sources of equipment, the aid that we want to do," Cannon said.

Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Canada has a moral imperative to do all it can. MacKay said the security situation remains volatile as desperation escalates.

The troops will serve as engineers, medics and security forces.

"The situation in Haiti is grave," MacKay said. "A lack of basic needs such as food and clean water are causing stress and anger among the local population."

The soldiers will complement an additional 500 soldiers on board two Canadian Navy vessels that are expected to reach Haiti's shores Monday, as well as 200 members of Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team.

Once all of Canada's assets are in place about 2,000 soldiers, hundreds of vehicles, seven helicopters and two ships will be under the command of a Canadian general.

Cannon said eight Canadians have died in the earthquake and 1,115 are unaccounted for. About 6,000 Canadians live in Haiti.

More than 100,000 people of Haitian descent live in Canada, most of whom live in Montreal.

Canada's Haitian-born governor general, Michelle Jean, broke down in tears on Wednesday when she talked about the devastation. Jean, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II as Canada's head of state, said it's as if an atomic bomb has fallen over Port-au-Prince.

Canada is sending $5 million Canadian (US$4.8 million) in immediate aid and matching contributions by individual Canadians to eligible charitable organizations up to a total of $50 million Canadian (US$47 million).

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top