U.S., UN saddened by Fantino's Haiti remarks

Wednesday, January 09, 2013   by: Staff

OTTAWA - Officials from the U.S. State Department and the United Nations are taking Canada's international co-operation minister to task over his controversial remarks about re-tooling aid to impoverished Haiti.

Julian Fantino told a Montreal newspaper he wanted to freeze aid to Haiti, only to have his department, the Canadian International Development Agency, backtrack to explain it was conducting thorough review of Canada's $1-billion contribution to the Caribbean country.

The U.S. State Department's top Haiti official says it sees Canada as a valued partner in Haiti and doesn't want it to change any of its programs.

Meanwhile, a senior Haiti official from the United Nations Development Program says she was "saddened" by Fantino's musings, and says there's more going on in Haiti than he may have seen on his recent first trip to the country.

Fantino, who remarked on the garbage he saw strewn about, said he was disappointed by the lack of progress and wanted to find a better way to help Haiti's reconstruction.

His remarks last week came just before the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left swaths of the country in ruins.