Evidence of meeting #51 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was haiti.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Elissa Golberg  Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force Secretariat, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Leslie E. Norton  Director General, International Humanitarian Assistance Directorate, Multilateral and Global Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Lise Filiatrault  Regional Director General, Americas Directorate, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Isabelle Bérard  Director General, Haiti and Dominican Republic, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Neil Reeder  Director General, Latin America and Caribbean, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Jean-Benoit Leblanc  Director, Trade Negotiations 2 Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

4:10 p.m.

Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force Secretariat, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Elissa Golberg

In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs is collaborating on a project with the United Nations Development Fund for Women, in partnership with the Haitian national police, so that the latter can ensure monitoring in internally displaced persons camps. The cost of this project was about $1 million.

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Another issue making the headlines is the famous police academy, the construction of which was actually announced before the earthquake. I think that it was part of the $550-million five-year plan for 2006-2011. The construction of the police academy was announced three months after the earthquake, and Canada was supposed to provide $18 million for this initiative.

Last March, we learned that the project was not going ahead as planned, since there were several bidders, but none of them met the requirements. Have any other bidders come forward? After all, this project was planned before the earthquake struck. It was the minister's priority a few months after the earthquake.

4:15 p.m.

Director General, Haiti and Dominican Republic, Canadian International Development Agency

Isabelle Bérard

Actually, the first call for tenders for the police academy was issued in December 2009. There was to have been a meeting of bidders on January 13 or 14 in Port-au-Prince to answer questions.

Obviously, we had to suspend that exercise, given the events. It was reissued in April 2010. As you pointed out, the initiative itself was identified in the Haitian government's five-year plan for the reconstruction of Haiti.

So, we reissued this call for tenders as quickly as we could, given the situation. There were two bidders. For technical reasons, the process had to be cancelled.

We are hoping to relaunch it as soon as possible because it's considered a priority. Our wish is to move ahead with this project. We are going to do it as quickly as possible.

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

I would like to understand a little more about how this works in terms of the financial framework. From the outside, it seems like a complex situation, when we aren't very closely involved.

The government announced an envelope of $400 million. Of that amount, $110 million went to the matching fund, $33 million to debt relief, $30 million to reconstruction funds, $10 million to Foreign Affairs, $5 million to the Department of the Environment, $20 million to the world food program, $30 million to Canadian organizations, $7.2 million to five municipalities selected by Canada, and $5 million to fight the epidemic.

This is all very confusing, even on the website. Now I know what the journalists went through when they tried to break all that down.

With little or no information, it seems that you have given barely a third of this money. In fact, it's felt by the organizations that get lost in all that. Perhaps you can be accused of lacking transparency and accountability.

4:15 p.m.

Director General, Haiti and Dominican Republic, Canadian International Development Agency

Isabelle Bérard

I'll answer you on the amounts, but not on the transparency issue.

This is very much a question to consider. We had to discuss these questions with journalists and others who have many questions. We are trying to find the simplest way to provide the information.

It's true that there is a summary of financial data on our website. Everything we have done so far is on the site. In short, the site tries to explain two very specific things: funding, or the credits that we receive from the government to fund activities, and this commitment to match the donations collected by Canadian organizations.

As for the funding that can be found on the website, which anyone can consult—which you obviously did, Ms. Deschamps—we are talking first about this envelope of $555 million that was promised in 2006 for five years. The details about that can be found on the site. There are the details on the humanitarian assistance, as it was delivered, and my colleagues, Leslie and Elissa, spoke to you about that a little earlier. All of that is detailed as well. On March 31, 2010, we announced $400 million in additional funding for reconstruction, which basically extended Canada's involvement by one year—since our original involvement went to 2011, and we are committed until 2012—and to supplement the funding that had already been announced previously.

At the conference in New York, the minister finally announced that the funding provided by Canadians to Canadian organizations was $220 million. At that point, Minister Oda committed to matching those funds.

Now, when we talk about the amount of $555 million in humanitarian assistance and the amount of $400 million, we are touching on credits that they did not provide. As for the matching fund, we are not receiving funding for that. So it needs to be funded. It is funded through the humanitarian assistance and through the $400 million. It was during the meeting in New York that Ms. Oda said that at least $110 million, or half the funding, would be matched in the coming years.

So, we need to make a distinction between the $555 million, the humanitarian assistance and the $400 million. These are all sources of money, and this mechanism allows us to match the donations of Canadians.

If you visit the website, you will find a list of activities that have been funded with the $400 million. You have mentioned a few of them, and the list is now complete. It includes all the initiatives that have been committed, including $202 million out of the $400 million, and the matching fund, which comes out of the humanitarian assistance and the $400 million. Those initiatives are on the site, as well.

In short, it's as if the fund was funded through the humanitarian fund and the reconstruction fund. We are identifying initiatives within this matching fund. The initiatives as such are also there. So there is a juxtaposition between the initiatives funded from the $400 million and those that are part of the $110 million.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you.

I'm always concerned when an MP tells me it's just a little question. It's always a big question with a big answer.

We're going to move to Mr. Lunney.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Thank you very much.

And thank you all for being here today for this important discussion. I want to start with a comment that I heard come out of this. First, I think I heard about 49 responses that CIDA was involved in—and maybe leading up to—Haiti in that year. Haiti of course has had the biggest whole-of-government response until maybe the present time—I think you said about 14 departments.

I heard a remark about the comprehensive integrated response of CIDA and the military, for example, working together, and I saw that. Ms. Golberg, your current position is DG of the stabilizing reconstruction task force. I had the privilege of travelling with the defence committee to Afghanistan, and I think I heard you remark on lessons we have learned in Afghanistan.

When the defence committee was there I was very impressed with our provincial reconstruction team, and Ms. Golberg was the head, the rock representing Canada in Kandahar. There were provincial officials around the table, elected officials, and our top general of the day I think was General Thompson, but it was Ms. Golberg who was in charge.

I think it made a real statement to the people in Afghanistan to see the way our government responded. I want to say on the record that as a member of that committee I was very impressed to see how this was playing out with our efforts at provincial reconstruction.

Picking up on that, I hear the OECD applauded Canada's strategy in early response. I think it's a good place to start. We have other questions, but it is important for us to understand how you have put together this ISST. You had people deployed very quickly to evaluate the situation in Haiti, and maybe you could take a moment to describe how that played out, who you sent over, and how that actually worked.

4:25 p.m.

Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force Secretariat, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Elissa Golberg

Happily. The idea of the ISST actually goes back several years, as part of the standard operating procedures that I was talking about before. Those have been a work in progress for over 15 years.

I'm sure that Mr. Goldring will recall that we didn't have them once upon a time. It was as a result of our lessons from Hurricane Mitch that the government decided it needed to have standard operating procedures. Enough of this making it up every time something happens: you needed to have things in place so that people knew what was expected of them, what every department was supposed to do. Making sure, for instance, that we train together beforehand, that we do tabletop exercises, that we do reviews after major crises so we can learn the lessons.

The ISST has evolved over time. As we've been deploying not just the DART but other Canadian assets into theatre, the decision was made that we needed to have a whole-of-government analysis that would go to catastrophic events.

The idea is that the team is led by Foreign Affairs, but it includes colleagues from the Department of National Defence—usually the commander of the DART, but not necessarily only the commander of the DART. There are a wider range of Canadian Forces' assets we might wish to draw on. Sometimes the DART might not be the right thing to take out of the tool kit. We might need to use engineers from the Canadian Forces or to draw on their airlift instead.

So it's DFAIT, National Defence, a colleague from CIDA, usually from Leslie's shop, the humanitarian assistance shop, and sometimes from the bilateral.... It depends on the nature of the circumstances at play. As I mentioned, depending on the kind of crisis we're looking at, we'll sometimes include other colleagues from the Government of Canada. For instance, after the tsunami, we brought along a colleague from the Public Health Agency, PHAC; we thought that was going to be a particular requirement given the number of dead and injured.

This ISST is pre-identified. All the colleagues know who is going to be on it. It's usually led either by me or by my director of humanitarian affairs and disaster response. That team trains together beforehand. There's an exercise that happens every year. We try to make sure we have a lot of staff interaction and contact with one another. We have our checklists and our preparation sheets. It's based on international best practice.

When the team is deployed, the idea is not to have Canada duplicating.... This is one of the other risks you run into when you have an ISST. We're careful about when we dispatch it. As Leslie said, Canada already invests millions of dollars into an international multilateral system. All of our UN partners, the International Red Cross and others, also have assessment teams.

When the Government of Canada decides to send in the ISST, it's because we anticipate it's going to be a circumstance where civilian organizations might need an additional set of supports from bilateral partners such as Canada. When that team goes in, we make sure its job is to liaise with the affected government, figure out what they want, and plug into all of the other assessment teams that have been deployed. We're not creating an additional burden, but we're getting a feel for what's required in that particular circumstance and what the Government of Canada can bring to the table.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

I appreciate that, and I heard from people in Kandahar that they appreciated the Canadian approach of going in and asking them what we could do to help, rather than telling them what they needed.

We've helped some 4.3 million Haitians, according to what we've just heard. We supplied 1.7 million people with safe drinking water, shelter materials, and access to health services. Children received protection, education, and support at the beginning.

We went into a country where the institutional capacity was nearly neutralized—the structures of government collapsing, buildings destroyed, offices in disarray, people missing. The international redevelopment effort has been criticized for slowness in delivering, in spite of the mega-dollars available. There was criticism from Oxfam, among others. The IHRC came into being about April 2010, and I understand they've approved some 74 projects.

Maybe I could ask you to address the challenges of working in that environment—cholera epidemics, reduced institutional capacity, domestic chaos—for outside international agencies trying to deliver services.

4:30 p.m.

Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force Secretariat, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Elissa Golberg

I'll start and then transition over to Lise.

A number of organizations sometimes express frustration about the speed of reconstruction, but I think Canada was clear from the very beginning that this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Given the extent of the devastation, the Prime Minister talked about 10 years. That's important, because it draws on lessons from other international crises. The international community tends to front-load all of its assistance and then it gets bored. It suffers from attention deficit disorder, and it forgets that these kinds of things take many, many years to reconstruct.

I'd mentioned the impact on the government in Haiti. It lost a significant portion of its senior officials in line ministries; it lost the entire ministry devoted to planning. Buildings collapsed. People who were our key partners died at their desks. To be able to come back after that human capacity deficit, you have to figure out who are going to be the new people you're going to work with.

The same was true for the UN. The UN deserves kudos. They lost 101 people as a result of the earthquake. It's the largest single loss of UN personnel killed in a single incident at one time, including the UN SRSG.

We lost Canadians Doug Coates and Mark Gallagher, as well as eight other Canadians who worked for the UN mission. That also created a capacity challenge for us in figuring out who we were going to plug into. So we've been trying over the last several months to re-establish linkages with colleagues within those institutions under the leadership of Prime Minister Bellerive, who has been quarterbacking the Haitian effort. He's been an excellent partner for Canada. This is just to give you an idea of the scope we're talking about.

4:30 p.m.

Director General, Haiti and Dominican Republic, Canadian International Development Agency

Isabelle Bérard

As you rightly pointed out, Elissa, the government lost 17% of its public servants. They were in the buildings at 16:53 on that day. They were mostly the managers and the directors, those with whom we normally have interactions. And 40% of the government infrastructure was destroyed. So we're dealing with massive destruction, as we pointed out a number of times.

The IHRC was set up, as you said, in April of last year, right after the New York conference. We've met five times since then. I say “we”; David Moloney, the executive vice-president of CIDA, is Canada's representative to the IHRC.

We were very lucky, in some sense. At the very beginning of the IHRC, we had the opportunity to meet with the former executive director of the reconstruction commission in Indonesia, the reconstruction commission that dealt with the tsunami. Just so we're clear, the reconstruction commission in Indonesia was set up to deal with a very small portion of Indonesia, with a fully functional government in its capital. The IHRC is totally different, and from that perspective, we're working in a very special situation. It's unique. We've never had the opportunity to work within these kinds of parameters.

The executive director of the Indonesian reconstruction commission was very clear about that. While their commission in Indonesia became fully functional after 18 months--it took them 18 months to get fully functional--a year later the IHRC.... It's not perfect. But you have to remember you're bringing around a table 14 Haitian representatives, governments from different countries, multilateral organizations, as well as donors whom I would qualify as non-traditional donors, countries that have never participated in development and want to share and be part of the experience. It's great, but it does make it a little complex.

That being said--as I said, we've had five meetings--the IHRC has a strategic plan. We have very specific objectives. We've approved projects. If you go to the site, you can get much more information on the IHRC.

We are starting to see the results of the preparation that started last April. For instance, if you look at debris removal, the objective for next October was the removal of at least 40% of the debris. We're doing well. We are halfway there. At its last meeting, the IHRC increased the target from 40% to 60%. We're convinced that with further financing, if other donors are interested in putting in some funding, we can achieve that.

On water and sanitation, we're reaching the targets that were set up last August and--

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

I'm going to have to cut you off here. We've gone over time.

We're going to move to Mr. Rafferty. Welcome to the committee.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and welcome, everyone. Thank you for being here today. I have met some of you before, and I look forward to asking you some questions.

In my short time available, I'm going to try to ask each of you a question, because I don't want you to have come for no reason at all.

Ms. Fortier, I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to ask you yet, but it's going to be something.

I'm going to ask a question or two about Honduras. One is, very quickly, how would you evaluate the political and economic situation right now? Not a big treatise, just a quick overview.

4:35 p.m.

Neil Reeder Director General, Latin America and Caribbean, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

In 10,000 words or less, exactly.

On the positive side, we can look at the elections yesterday. I think there was a big sigh of relief internationally. The elections went pretty well. There were some security incidents. Mr. Aristide came back. He did not make pronouncements on the election. He did not send his people into the streets. Generally speaking, Haitians voted. There were irregularities. Haitian electoral systems aren't perfect. But we think that overall it was a transparent, generally well-organized election. So on that side we feel good about Haiti.

If you had asked me on Saturday, no one was really certain where this was going to go. And obviously in that respect, we'll now look forward to the vote, to the count, and to the installation of a new president.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

I thank you for that great answer, but I was actually asking you about the political situation in Honduras.