Canadian Forces Lt.-Col. Danny Houde speaks with reporters Monday at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. (CP/Tom Hanson)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CP) - The Haitian capital is tense but the situation is improving, the leader of a Canadian military reconnaissance team said Monday. But an expert warns that unless Ottawa knows what it wants to achieve, it will be wasting time and money trying to bring stability to Haiti.
Despite sporadic outbreaks of gunfire, Lt.-Col. Danny Houde, in charge of the reconnaissance unit that arrived in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, said he believes security in the city is getting better.
"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."
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.
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
"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.
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
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
The clash came a day after at least six people were killed
during a demonstration near the presidential National Palace.
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
"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.
Source: TERRY PEDWELL | Canadian Press