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Canadians Scout For Base Location In Haiti

Posted on Tuesday, March 09 at 19:09 by polemarch1

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"Yes, the situation is still tense in certain parts of town," Houde acknowledged. "But it is much more calmer than it was, let's say, a week, 10 days ago, before the (international) force started to arrive."

"I'm not concerned that this is escalating," Houde said. "In fact I'm satisfied that there's some level of what appears to be stability."

U.S. and French troops are patrolling in Haiti, and a small contingent of Canadian soldiers are providing security for the embassy and flights at the airport.

Canada plans to bolster its presence to 450 military personnel, and Houde's team is scouting possible locations to set up a base. Additional troops are expected to begin arriving soon - perhaps late this week or early next week.

But David Rudd, head of the Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies, said Ottawa will be wasting time and money unless it first decides what it wants to accomplish in Haiti.

"I think this deployment is just for show," Rudd said in a telephone interview from Toronto. The Canadian government, he said, "is just taking part in the 'do-something syndrome'."
Rudd argues that Haiti's government is a "self-made basket case" that can only be repaired by being replaced.

"The country has shown itself unable to govern itself," he said. "No matter how uncomfortable it is, you might have to start (reforming Haiti) by running things."
There was more gunfire in Port-au-Prince on Monday. Police and soldiers opened fire when civilians surrounded an industrial park near the airport, seemingly intent on looting it. It was not known whether there were casualties.

The clash came a day after at least six people were killed during a demonstration near the presidential National Palace.

Regardless of the current situation, Rudd said he doesn't believe foreign troops alone will be able to bring long-term stability to Haiti.

"Ottawa is underestimating the rebuilding challenge," he argued. "Stability will depend on reformation of the government, not just a change in leadership."

Rudd was skeptical about comments last week by Prime Minister Paul Martin, who said Canada would not make the same mistakes in Haiti that it did in the mid-1990s.

"I'm not sure Canada did anything wrong the last time," said Rudd. "In fact, I'm not sure there's anything we can do differently except try again."

Rudd had a couple of suggestions.

"Monitor more closely where aid money is going so it's not misused," he said.

"There's also a need to disposes Haiti's political elite. Perhaps a UN trusteeship would work, underwritten by foreign forces. But the only way to fix Haiti's government is by taking it over."

A team of military engineers is scheduled to arrive in Port-au-Prince Tuesday, where they will lay the foundations of a camp for Canadian soldiers who could begin patrolling the streets of the Haitian capital next week.

Note: Source: TERRY PEDWELL | Canadian Press

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