CIDA's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund: millions raised, nothing spent -

CIDA’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund: millions raised, nothing spent

“Funds will be disbursed in the near future”


Has anyone seen the new Alice in Wonderland movie? I haven’t, but every month or so I try to get straight answers from the Canadian International Development Agency, so I figure I’ve saved myself 11 bucks.

I called the agency yesterday with questions about the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. You probably remember this. It’s where the Canadian government promises to match funds Canadians donate to Haiti to help with, among other things, “early recovery” and reconstruction. I had heard from a contact who does relief work in Haiti that no one who has applied for money from this fund had heard back from CIDA. Seemed a little strange. It’s been two months since the quake and one month since the donation window closed on February 12. So I called CIDA to find out how much money has been raised, how much has been disbursed, where it’s been disbursed, and, if nothing has been disbursed, as my contact told me, when it will be.

The first thing you need to know about CIDA is no one who answers the media inquiries phone line is capable of answering questions. They can write questions down, though, which is all the job requires. Then someone else gets back to you – not by phone, mind. That would involve social interaction and thinking for one’s self. Dangerous.

Today I got an email response from a second media relations person, which didn’t answer all my questions. I called her up to ask for some clarity. She couldn’t provide it. She didn’t actually write the responses, you see, she just signs her name to the email. She said a third person will call me back. Now we’re up to three people answering one media request – not including however many people actually crafted the muddled response in the first place. (Hey, Stock – if you ever do get around to making some cuts to the public service, I have some suggestions.)

Anyway, here’s what I know so far.

As of the cutoff date, the 14 Canadian charities reporting donations to CIDA raised $154.4 million, of which $128.8 million is “potentially eligible” for the government’s fund matching mechanism. This is on CIDA’s website. What accounts for the $26 million difference is not. I asked the CIDA person I actually spoke to what “potentially eligible” means. She didn’t know.

UPDATE: CIDA says they are reviewing donated funds for eligibility based on these criteria.

I asked how much of the money raised through the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund has been spent. CIDA’s response included a paragraph about where Canada has spent money that doesn’t come from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, before adding the line: “Funds from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund will be disbursed in the near future.”

In other words, they haven’t spent a penny.

This rendered my question about who’s getting the money meaningless, but I still wanted to know when the money that Canadians donated in response to “urgent” appeals will actually be put to use. Here’s the response.

“CIDA officials are in close contact with the Government of Haiti and our humanitarian and development partners to determine the optimal use of these resources as relief, recovery and reconstruction needs are further identified. In keeping with its mandate to manage Canadian aid effectively, CIDA will disburse funds from the HERF as this process takes place.”

When I was in Haiti, a 19-year-old American in military fatigues showed up with boxes of latex gloves. His heart was in the right place, but he didn’t really know what he was doing and had a nervous breakdown after picking up an amputated leg when he was asked to clean a hospital’s waste-strewn yard. He went home the next day.

Some of us had a good laugh about the episode. But at least he accomplished something. He gathered dirty bandages and let Haitians know they mattered to him. That’s more than CIDA has so far accomplished with the more than $100 million Canadians have donated to its Earthquake Relief Fund.


CIDA’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund: millions raised, nothing spent

  1. I just assumed, based on information I (mis?)heard at the time, that Ottawa would match dollar-for-dollar whatever each eligible agency raised. If Oxfam raised 10 million, bam, here's an additional 10 million for Oxfam. If the Red Cross raised 75 million, bam, here's another 75 million for the Red Cross. Repeat for MSF, UNICEF, and all the others.

    Why can't it just be that simple? Ah, yes. The I'm-from-the-government-and-I'm-here-to-help-you people are on the case.

    • Just shows to me that THIS government doesnt know how to run the place efficiently

      • Because your experience has been that prior governments have been unassailable models of efficiency?

        • I had same thought as you. Apparently it is Harper's fault that it takes more than three people to write a simple email, or more apparently, if you want a coherent answer.

          Spot on with Reagan quote. Small, private charities are working away in Haiti doing good work while our bureaucrats are sitting around with their thumbs up their arses wondering what to do.

          • Of course the flip side is that one of those small charities is rubbing heavily diluted icky stuff to make it all better.

          • Great point – after so vigorously complaining about a small, private charity providing homeopathy in Haiti, it's a bit rich for jolyon et al to point to small, private charities as the ideal way to get things done.

            I heard a lot of reports of military forces (Canadian and others) making a huge contribution in Haiti. Perhaps small, private militaries would be more to the Reaganites' liking. Come to think of it, Reagan had a few of them in Nicaragua, didn't he?

          • "Great point – after so vigorously complaining about a small, private charity providing homeopathy in Haiti, it's a bit rich for jolyon et al to point to small, private charities as the ideal way to get things done."

            I don't think it's that great of a point since I didn't write any comments in Colby's post and you have no idea what I think of homeopathic medicine. I always support private charity, and much else, over public orgs doing charitable work.

            Private charities are attractive to dedicated people who want to do good while public orgs attract people who are interested in pensions and doing as little as possible to earn them.

            And why do liberals always sound like Libertarians when they have to defend government? Who said anything about having private armies. Most Libertarians believe The State should provide national defence, infrastructure and law/order. They are not all that keen on bureaucrats sitting around with their thumbs up their arses wondering what to do next while people are dying.

          • It has nothing to do with bureaucracy and everything to do with the fact that communications people in the government are not allowed to use their own judgment. Do you think they don't want to answer the questions? Do you think that's not frustrating to them? This is what control of the message gets you. This, and apparently votes.

          • Like you'd accept it if 24 hours after a mistake they had to make an apology. Sorry, the media cycle and the people who eat it up don't have room in their world for real world mistakes…

          • Guess what? We have an actual example! Remember when Harper got all mad at Ignatieff for saying something or another (I don't even remember what) only it turned out it wasn't Ignatieff? Harper actually apologized! And immediately, life went on (to the point where I forget the details of the thing and it was within the last year).

            Remember when Lisa Raitt got caught on tape calling cancer 'sexy'? Remember what a big story that was? REMEMBER HOW LONG IT TOOK FOR THE APOLOGY?

            But, you know, why let facts get in your way.

          • I believe you are referring to Ignatieff allegedly (but not really) suggesting Canada had no place in the G8, when Harper was at a G8 meeting. Harper was a total dope for bringing up this minor-league spat, even if the quote had been accurate. But he did apologize later and that is one of a very few major faux-pas on foreign soil.

          • "ery few major faux-pas on foreign soil"? I assume you mean as PM. You have not forgotten, I suppose, Harper being the first "Loyal Opposition" leader in a British-style parliament democracy to go abroad and criticise his government over their war policy, or more precisely their lack of one, when Chrétien refused to invade Iraq and Harper went to USA, in speech and print, and criticised Chrétien bitterly, and, here's the important point, given his role as Leader of Official Opposition, disloyally.

          • That was really a low point in our democracy. It will be some time before it's surpassed.

          • An opposition politician expresses himself in a foreign country. This is a low point in our democracy? Wow.

            But James did this better justice than I. Might I add the War Measures Act, the deliberate hyper-rejection of "non" ballots in federalist-rich ridings in 1995, and I hear certain shouts about "prorogue" off in the distance somewhere…

          • The commenter above whom you reference has a better list of serious sins, I think. I said "a low point," of course, not "the low point," but I realise reading is not your fellow commenter's strong suit.

            I do think it's absolutely deplorable that an opposition politician, speaking as the Leader of the Opposition, should get down on his knees to beg forgiveness of foreign powers for his rival's actions. It somehow smacks of lack of patriotism to display an open contempt for your own country on the op-ed pages of a major foreign newspaper.

          • What's interesting is I always thought that writing was one of your strong suits. I still do. But I am surprised that you would confuse "democracy" (your original incorrect designation) with "patriotism" (a likely better approximation of what I presume to be your original meaning). And here's the strength and beautiful wisdom of democracy: we the voters got to evaluate that foreign expression of opinion along with everything else when we elected him prime minister. Twice. (Yeah, yeah, nobody elects a prime minister, we all elect only individual MPs, etc., etc.)

            James had, in my opinion, a fair target when he replied, and (notwithstanding whatever history you may have with him) is undeserving of having his literacy skills questioned.

          • And here's the strength and beautiful wisdom of democracy: we the voters got to evaluate that foreign expression of opinion along with everything else when we elected him prime minister.

            I don't know if I can accept that, MYL. That basically equates democracy with relativism. If Harper declares black to be white, and he wins an election, that does not mean that black is white, it means either that the election wasn't about that or (whisper it!) that the voters got it wrong. The opposite approach to truth is not strength and beautiful wisdom, it's weakness and ugly foolishness mixed up with smugness like butter with eggs in a hollandaise sauce.

          • Maybe I should've used ALL-CAPS. May I retroactively emphasize the "beauty of democracy" thing as "we the voters got to evaluate," which was my intent. Not-so-much the "when we elected him prime minister" part.

            As for Democracy is not about bowing to the will of the majority, it's about not using violence to settle disputes. Cool. But I was unaware that the aforementioned "low-point" included any violence. Had I but known, I might have chosen not to vote for the man (yeah, yeah, I don't live in Calgary, I voted for a different MP candidate, etc., etc.)

          • Well, I was perhaps unclear myself, but by "our democracy" in this instance I meant "of our political life," our res publica being a democracy; so that one speaks of "our democracy" not only in those aspects of our democracy which are democratic but in those which merely pertain to the general condition of our political life.

          • madeyoulook noted:
            "What's interesting is I always thought that writing was one of your strong suits. I still do"

            No, madeyoulook, Jack's strong point is grammar and spelling. Any fool with a dictionary can do that. Quality writing is a used as an effective way to communicate points. The problem with Jack's writing, is that it is superior to his thought process.

            While he thinks his writing will receive one reaction (fawning appreciation of talent and skill) he quickly becomes angry if his errors are pointed out, or his hypocrasy revealed. At which point, he doesn't address one directly, but instead relies on comments such as,

            "The commenter above whom you reference has a better list of serious sins"

            Of course, my main sin being that I don't believe Jews (semite: genus Hebrew) are in a conspiracy to run the world.

            to Jack…that's unforgiveable.

          • Jack wrote:
            "The commenter above whom you reference has a better list of serious sins, I think. I said "a low point," of course, not "the low point," but I realise reading is not your fellow commenter's strong suit."

            I reply:
            Yes, Jack, the most serious sin is obviously pointing out the times you have written completely contradictory comments, still expecting people to take you seriously.

            Jack's drama continues:
            "I do think it's absolutely deplorable that an opposition politician, speaking as the Leader of the Opposition, should get down on his knees to beg forgiveness of foreign powers for his rival's actions"

            Again with the hyperbole Jack? Why so angry….do you think Harper is Jewish or something? (semite – genus Hebrew)

          • Jack wrote:
            "That was really a low point in our democracy. It will be some time before it's surpassed. "

            Sorry, jack, but that wasn't even close. There are many lower points in our history.

            1. Turning Jews back during the Holocaust (semites – genus hebrew)
            2. Residential schools
            3. Japanese internment,

            Just three examples of REAL black marks. Harper's comments weren't even close. However, I may point out that given the state of Iraq today…….many more Iraqi's are thankful to George Bush than have even heard of Jean Chretien.

            Chretien by the way….was opposed to Iraq simply because of the $$'s his friends at BNP Paribas (hence: Power Corp) would lose due to cancelled oil contracts.

            In a way, you could say going to war in Iraq had NOTHING to do with Oil, but NOT going to war in Iraq…had EVERYTHING to do with oil.

          • I think it is important to clairify your statement because it soundsl ike you might be saying that Harper may have gotten an Ignatieff quote wrong. The poroblem was that Harper attributed a quote to Ignatieff that someone else actually said.

          • If it was unclear, I apologize. Indeed, Ignatieff said nothing of the sort. Harper jumped on bad information and made an ass of himself overseas, picking a fight with a domestic opposition leader over the minor-league status of his country, in a major-league international forum.

          • Bathroom-gate.

          • Pardon me, but Harper has just committed us to the long term (?) in Haiiti. I would expect if that is the case, they would be able to responde with something. If he plans to fund NGO's rather than have CITA dispuse funds – fine – is it too much to ask that the government keeps us informed.

          • myl and jolyon:
            I'm a bit surprised by your comments here. Shouldn't supposedly real conservatives be pleased that the government cannot simply say – we're going to match every private dollar with a public dollar and "bam" there it is? If they could spend the public money that easily in this case, doesn't that mean they could do it in other, less altruistic ones? Yes beuracracy creates rules that create waste; but those rules are also designed to prevent abuse. This doesn't negate the "smaller" government argument that you are always making of course, but it seems your real argument here should be that the government shouldn't be matching private dollars with public dollars in the first place, it should just leave it to the private charities, because…

            The first thing I thought when the gov. announced this plan two months ago was:
            1. Where is this money coming from?
            2. Who is going to authorize it?

            Has CIDA or the government answered these questions? Probably not. Which is probably why the money is sitting unspent.

          • NP, you make an excellent and very fair point. In a perfect limited-government world, we wouldn't all be taxed so much that we need to incent ourselves into giving to charity for the tax credit. But this is the world we live in.

            And not only is Ottawa (and each provincial government) subsidizing our individual donations to the Haitian cause already just by applying tax laws, Ottawa has particularly added the "100%" matching idea. But if I am not mistaken, the offer was a "dollar-for-dollar" match to individual donations (and a ?50? million ceiling became a ?100? million ceiling became lastly, I think, no ceiling at all up to whatever deadline date they imposed). (My definition of) A reasonable person would conclude that my $250 donation to the Red Cross actually meant the Red Cross got $500. Now we learn that's not the case, because government rarely seems able to actually do what it originally says it will do.


          • (contd)

            If the federal government is worried that agencies like the Red Cross are abusing the dollars, they should be stripped of their charitable status. If not, then I would ABSOLUTELY prefer the dollars get deployed by the Red Cross, rather than have seven PSAC-unionized bureaucrats and two or three supervising managers and one deputy minister sit confusedly on the mountain of cash accomplishing zilch.

    • I made the same assumption. I agree that's what the feds should have done, instead of creating a Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. That would have avoided the glacial pace and mind-numbing bureaucracy of CIDA.

      Still, CIDA has a chance to redeem itself. Hopefully after reports like this one, the agency will pick up the pace and make sure that the money gets spent ASAP where it's needed in Haiti. Canada's Governor General may have some suggestions about where the money should go.

      • In my long-term dealings with CIDA, I'd say the place is consistently badly run and unreformable. I'm a big believer in foreign aid, but I honestly think that CIDA should simply be wrapped up, everyone let go.

      • So the government should just be able to give away public money without any authorization or review whenever the need strikes it? Sure, in this case it was for a good cause, but if they could do it in this case, what's stopping them from applying the mechanism in other less altuistic ones? That is how real government abuse occurs – this is just regular beuracratic innaction, which is the price of avoiding abuse. That's why you are always making smaller government arguments, which you should stick to in this case, instead of trying to argue for faster government action in this one instance.

    • Who cares how much they decide to match when nothing gets out the door anyways?

  2. CIDA is a terribly unorganized place. You have just begun to discovery Wonderland. Good luck and eat the mushrooms.

    • But what can we do about it

  3. Thanks Paul, you have broken open another major story, a story that has all the potential to embarrass a Harper government that jumped into the Haiti crisis for the photo ops and to shore up its base among Evangelical Christians. The Harper government that is hoping Canadians will not ask tough questions about its promise to match the generosity of Canadians who opened wide their wallets and bank accounts.
    Keep pressing CIDA and Foreign Affairs for the answers Canadians want and need.

    • Thanks Paul, you have broken open another major story,

      They're all honourary Pauls at Macleans: Paulitics.

      • hahahah Can cpac, tvo, or newsworld please give Paul Wells a tv show and call it Paulitics…. or even Power and Paulitics. That would be the best thing ever.

        • if he cohosted withTim Powers, it could be Powers and Paulitics.

          • if he cohosted with Rahim Jaffer, it could be Powder and Paulitics

          • Petrouth and Psmith (silent p) … one of my journalistic heroes …

          • LOL!

    • All jokes aside – you have given credit to the wrong person. Michael Petrou is the author of this article.

  4. This is embarrassing.

    • Embarrassing but not all together unexpected.

      • Even more embarrassing since we could see it coming.
        The precedent is embarrassing.

  5. Great, yet another demonstration of the incompetence of the Conservative government. You'd think the Cons would ensure that the government contributions to Haiti relief would be high priority.

    This sure as hell better show up as a topic in Question Period, based on how many Canadians donated money to Haiti expecting their government to step up in a timely manner with matching funds.

    Good reporting from Mr. Petrou.

    • While CIDA's general slowness and bureaucratic approach to everything is neither new nor acceptable, in this case the notion that somehow money should be spent as quickly as possible in an emergency is not correct. The immediate emergency response from Canada has already been made via the Canadian Forces. Longer-term rebuilding has to be done by the Haitians themselves. We could, of course, simply write a large cheque today for the Haitian government. Given past experience not much, if any, of such a sum would go anywhere but the bank accounts of the Haitian ruling class. We could simply buy and ship food to Haiti – destroying the local agriculture economy and bankrupting farmers in the process. Or we could determine what projects would be worthwhile, properly run and well planned, and direct the money there. That latter course would, even with a more efficient body than CIDA in charge, take months, not daysor weeks to even begin.

      • I think I agree with you, although the way you are suggesting it sounds a bit . . . ponderous and Empire-like. But I do believe we ought to learn from the Tsunami disaster in Indonesia that wildly throwing money at a problem ends up giving next to no value in comparison to the amount spent

        Also, I assume the money raised from Canadians by the Red Cross, Oxfam and the like isn't frozen in some bank waiting for the matching funds from CIDA? Because I think the fresh water, tarps and tents, emergency rations and other immediate aid could get a good start on that money. Add in the contributions by other countries' citizens to these internaitonal aid agencies, and now you're talking real money.

        I would like to see a plan with effective delivery, one that is capable of helping to solve the more mid-term issues, be developed with this money in mind. That said, time is ticking and we're pretty much in mid-term now.

        • Jenn, I read (somewhere) that many aid agencies (like the Red Cross) have pre-warehoused relief supplies stationed all over the world. These supplies get released at times of crisis to be pressed into service immediately. Our aid dollars INDIRECTLY get tents and blankets and food and water and splints into Haiti by reliably restocking the cupboard that got ransacked in the first days.

          But the Red Cross can only deliver what it can reliably estimate it can afford to restock, plus extras if the fundraising goes extremely well.

          As for more medium and long-term you discuss, I believe that is what the Montreal and New York donor conferences are about. I like the idea of Canadian cities and towns "twinning" with (or, more paternalistic if you like, "adopting") Haitian towns so that expertise and maybe some $ can get into place on water and sewage and phone and cable and electric wiring and parks and recreation and urban planning and policing and community gardens and public transit and zoning and construction standards and public health and fire and ambulance and a chamber of commerce and maybe a tourism development plan and maybe planting a tree or two…

          • I haven't heard (and don't really believe) the Red Cross would refuse to hand out all relief supplies it has on hand just out of fear it wouldn't get them replaced. I have heard they have these supplies at the ready, and yes otherwise your point about how our money is spent is very believeable and even makes good sense.

            I don't prefer "adopting" but I LOVE the twinning plan! That's a hand up kind of idea if ever there was one. As always, the details will probably kill it somewhat, but the concept is great!

          • I haven't heard (and don't really believe) the Red Cross would refuse to hand out all relief supplies it has on hand just out of fear it wouldn't get them replaced.

            Your idealism trumps mine, yet again. But there will be more diasters. Count on it. As cold-hearted as it may seem to those immediately in need, the only way to go is to avoid total nonregenerative depletion of your assets.


          • (contd)
            Glad you like the twinning plan. Haven't heard it discussed at all, but the idea came to my mind when I heard reports that Montreal Mayor Tremblay was accompanying Her Excellency Madame Jean on this week's visit to Haiti.

            Small-and-medium Canadian towns twinning with small Haitian towns. Larger towns like Saskatoon and London and Halifax teaming up with medium centres. And Ottawa and the big three of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver pitch in for Port-au-Prince. Lay out a laundry list of municipal functions, let the locals tell us what they need most, and draw from the twinned cities' pool(s) of talent (ok, maybe we can keep Walkerton hidden in the basement somewhere…) for exchange visits, access to plans and standards, etc. Then let the local municipal structures adopt or reject as they see fit, and the aid agencies can supply the raw materials.

            Couldn't be much worse than what is likely to happen. And Canada seems committed to be the leading face of supporting Haitian reconstruction. And spreading out the "twinning" as described above lets so many Canadians offer more than a five-dollar-per-text-message donation.

      • I'm not saying all the money that the government promised to donate as matching funds should immediately be available to Haitians who need it. But it would be good if SOME of these funds were being made available (e.g., "In other words, they haven't spent a penny.") for the preliminary relief effort.

        This report seems to indicate that no initial government funds (nada, none) have gone out of the door yet, so the only relief making it to Haiti as of yet is paid for by donations to non-governmental agencies. This is either due to some grand strategy of not using govt. money in the first stages of the relief (doubtful) or due to an ineffective, slow government bureaucracy in CIDA (much more likely) which the Conservatives are responsible for… like I said this is government incompetence.

      • Sounds terribly reasonable, but this is a crisis situation. Our government shoul;d have had the military stay there. There continues to be a huge medical need. The rubble remaining is dangerous and needs to be removed in preparation of any rebuilding. And what about the $12 million Harper has promised for a 'temporary' Haiiti government headquarters? Surely that's proceeding immediately, otherwise it really is a joke.

  6. I'd say this was worthy of Fail Blog if it wasn't so very, very sad…
    Do these people feel bad at all about how useless they are, how much they are ripping off citizens who donated, and how much the people of Haiti are suffering?
    What a bunch of xxxholes!

  7. You would think that between photo ops in Haiti, Harper would have been able to personally deliver some money. There's got to be some giant novelty cheques lying around still.

    • Martin earned his Dithers rep for his um, er action under these types of scenarios. Harper, meanwhile, displays Clark Kent-like speed in getting himself and his photographer to the scene and then returns to the safety of his lair where 100 monkeys are working on a hockey book.
      No doubt some of the requests made for funding were for urgently required relief. The only thing apparently getting 'urgent' help in Ottawa is Jaffer and the printers of 10-per-centers.

  8. Here's my understanding of how this works based on memories of studying for a Master's in Public Administration that I never completed due to it being as boring as what you are about to read here.

    1)- Parliament still has to authorize the creation of the Haiti Relief Fund through the Supply Cycle. I recall the Government said it will come from pre-existing funds, but that still requires a horizontal line vote before it can happen. You can probably find the request in an Estimate book currently before parliament somewhere.
    2)- Parlaiment was prorogued at the time so they weren't able to authorize this earlier.
    3)- Point number 2 was a sensless partisan dig on my part because… even if parliament hadn't been prorogued the Bill authorizing this spending wouldn't be voted on until the end of March.

    Kind of makes you want to pull your hair out . In fact I think I did just that during a course on the British Supply Cycle which was designed God knows how many years ago and has not really ever changed.

  9. Two questions: (a) Is this delay unreasonable relative to the best use of funds to meet optimal short, medium, and long-term needs in Haiti? (b) Is this delay unusual with respect to government matching programs in other countries (i.e. the US, Britian, etc.) and/or one's that have previously been adopted in Canada?

    The original pieces seem to assume that (i) the best use of the money would have been to spend it immediately, and (ii) that the delay is unusually long. Maybe that's right–but if so, there should be some information available to show that these assumptions have some empirical basis. Is there?

  10. Governor General Michaelle Jean – YOU HAVE RESERVE POWERS.


    • She has no power to direct CIDA to do anything, Don't be silly.

      • But she could, theoretically, figure out a way to kick Harper out and see if a coalition of smarter, nicer, ethical people could take over…

        … sigh. One can only hope.

        • Well, Jack above was looking for low points in democracy. Thanks for the contribution, Joops.

      • Ever thought of letting your emotions out of that box and contemplate the humanitarian take on things. Party loyalty is one thing but…

  11. Blaming the Conservatives for the slow pace of CIDA seems premature to me. Opposition parties best be careful when they are bringing it up in the House, which they are sure to do.

    We definitely need an answer for the hold up however; especially since people are still suffering and that money could do a lot of good…

    • If everything weren't such a political contest with the CPC there would be no problem bringing questions about CIDA's competence into the house. This is the failure of the governing party. They cannot just do the job! It is the mean-spirited pettiness that gets to the taxpayers and lowers their faith in government. It is the 'job' of Opposition to ask the questions and hold the government accountable otherwise we have a dictatorship. and if the Tories ever get a majority that is exactly what we will have.

      • I think it is too premature to know for sure what the hold ups are. That is why I would caution against jumping to conclusions.

        Also, I agree that the mean-spirited pettiness is a long term problem that further erodes many of our institutions, but that has to be treated as a contributing factor among many and might be irrelevant in this situation.

        Bureaucratic inertia was a problem before the Cons came to power, so I am not ready to blame the Cons until there is more information.

  12. "CIDA's response included a paragraph about where Canada has spent money that doesn't come from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, before adding the line: “Funds from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund will be disbursed in the near future.”"

    So it's not that the Cdn Gov't hasn't spent oodles of money on Haiti, it just hasn't spent any CIDA money yet. I fail to see a big story here. I'd rather see the money spent smartly than quickly. Haiti is going to take years to fix, regardless.

    • I have made some other comments here in support of the spirit of this article. However, you (Steve M) make a good point. There is a significant amount of money behind the recovery effort at the moment.

      Over time, the donations will wane as Haiti garners less and less media coverage. So, a carefully planned delay may, in the end, prove beneficial.

      That being said, we need to keep an eye on the actual disbursement of this money, to ensure that it is used wisely (not for too many mansions, please), and to ensure that our country (CIDA) honours the promise made.

      • Yeah, I don't doubt that money kept back for future use would be tremendously useful, but does this look 'carefully planned' to you? That's my worry, that this delay is a bug, not a feature

  13. Which is why, when prompted, I refused to donate a second time, fearing that nobody with any kind of organisational skills would be in charge. Sadly, I was right. God help the Haitian people if they rely on our CIDA to help

  14. I donated once to the Red Cross as soon as they heard the news about the earthquake, and then I donated a second time when I heard Prime Minister Harper's offer to match all our donations, believing that my money would be doubled and would be helping Haitians who were in urgent need of life-saving aid. In spite of all his excessive photo opping (an obvious attempt to make political hay) I believed that underneath that he really was doing a thorough, timely job on the Haiti emergency. Looks like I was wrong, it really was all about the photo ops, and I'm pissed the match to the second donation I made in response to his offer is rotting in Ottawa, instead of saving lives in Haiti.

  15. For a journalist, you're pretty sad. Why don't you take a look at what happened with the matched funding for the Indonesian tsunami?


    CIDA accepts proposals that meet criteria – generally determined by the recipient government on needs, like roads or bridges or housing – and distribute the funds to those companies or agencies whose proposal's are accepted. It takes a while to write a proposal and at least another few weeks for it to be reviewed. And shock and surprise, it takes more than a month to design and build a bridge.

    Where in Haiti has the rubble been cleared for work to even begin?

    Honestly. A simple google search on "CIDA report tsunami" delivers this:

    For years, CIDA forked over money with minimal accountability. Accountability, however, requires processes and structure, which takes a bit of time.

    Enough with the faux scandals. And the media wonder why they're going broke? Who would pay for a paper copy of this crappy article?

    • So clearing rubble isn't work?

      • It is work. Hard work.

        Sadly, though, it's work Haitians don't think is their concern.

        • Wow. Racist much?

          • Hi Holly…..thanks for your over-priced two cents worth of wisdom.

            How is it racist to point out the obvious? Haiti had a major earthquake and thousands died. Thousands of buildings collapsed. That was over a month ago.

            Pictures of Haiti today show a couple of things. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians sitting around waiting for people to help them…….and thousands of collapsed buildings.

            Do you think perhaps, that some of these thousands of Hatians sitting around may be a little more productive and decide to clear some of that rubble so re-building could begin?

            that would be a start…….don't you think?

            Sorry Holly…..but your NDP mindset seems to have you believing everyone should wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting. Not your fault I guess…….you must be from Toronto.

    • I suppose pointing out that you're reading, and feel you need to dissect, point by point, the entire story indicates your clear lack of interest in reading stuff like this?

      Me? I'm always interested in the train wreck a'comin' when someone starts assuming they could do somebody else's job. Keep writing, this could become interesting. I say "could", because I'm a realist, and fully expect to have to raise my "feces shield" shortly.

      • Candace, well said. I'm now off to do something productive after wasting minutes reading this drivel. Haiti's problems suck, but let the people trying to help, actually help, rather than beat them with a stick just because a journalist is bored and wants exposure.

  16. May be a good thing.
    Not that the people of Haiti don't need help but that history would indicate that said millions are likely to be intercepted by the Haitian 'authorities' and get losted. I follow @RAMhaiti on twitter and so found his article in The Huffington Post .
    This money will go to rebuild the mansions of the privileged in Haiti unless some other way to help the people who really need it is found.

  17. My question is this: Are the government's matching funds new money, or are their matching funds taken out of the amounts that were already announced and allocated to Haiti aid before the earthquake?

    if it's new money, then fine. If it is old money, then it's a bit of scam, since there were no new funds allocated to match the donations of Canadians.

    So which is it?

  18. …As you may know, could you possibly publish the names of the people that laughed in regards to that American soldier's "episode" & his break-down after his first-hand experience? Please, indulge us, truley supporting a reporters basic raison d'etre.

  19. I wonder how many people so eager to point a shaky finger are aware of the fact that 20 months prior to the disaster, the World Bank announced that there were over 10 000 NGO's active in Haiti.


    The place was/is a disaster, and that was BEFORE the earthquake.

    Needless to say, a little prudence, on top of the IN FACT supplied aid and succor that the Forces and others immediately offered seems like a reasonable situation.

    Unless you think handing over some One Hundred and Thirty to One Hundred and Fifty Five MILLION well intentioned dollars to; "Haiti ranks 177th out of 179 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2008." is a really swift idea without some strings attached.

    I thought the internet was supposed to educate people, turns out it was wasted on so many…

    • excellent point, there are a few posters above who should take note, hint Political Pundit, Dee

    • Quoting text-bytes does not constitute learning. If you want to be educated, you must "understand" what you read.

      I don't see anyone here saying we should hand over a briefcase full of cash to the Haitian government.

      Many, if not most, of the NGOs are pretty transparent these days… at least the ones actually "operating" visibly. The CIDA deal has a few criteria to help protect against the others.

      However, we still want to know what is happening. Our intrepid M. petrou has been stonewalled.

  20. Part of this slow dispersal could probably be attributed to the fact that with 80% of CIDA staff in Ottawa, having in-place on the ground processes for things like this is actually not feasible. Another reason could also be that due to CIDA's continuous cycle of shifting priorities and focus countries, that the long-term work of establishing relationships and being able to gather information quickly on what is needed, has never really happened. CIDA is miles and miles away from being the effective & transparent agency it claims to be.

  21. To be fair, the reverse story would also be bad: "Millions Raised by Charity & Matched By Government Misspent In Disorderly, Disorganised Rush To Fund Something, Anything in Haiti". BBC vs. Geldof on Band Aid is one example of latter story. And as with corrected alarmed reaction post-referendum: some sponsorship money was well-spent. And some was criminally misspent. This is always the problem, the balance between getting something done asap, and making sure the resources are most effectively allocated. Act too quickly, and there will be inevitable stories of waste and corruption, or at least a larger number of them. Act too ponderously, and achieve little when most needed, or less than possible. If one is intending to have a long-term role somewhere, say, Haiti, and one wants to keep political support for the mission over decade(s), is it better to have stories coming out at beginning about overly-slow, excessively judicious Govt not doing enough, or stories about waste and corruption of donations and Govt aid? Which of the two is more likely to undermine long-term support for mission, within Govt, parties and population, the too slow / inefficient one, or the reckless/waste & corruption one? Ideally, one would get things perfect, but if one had to err on one side or the other, which is better/worse?

    • It brings to mind the mad dash about a year ago, with the Conservatives requiring the Opposition sign off on $3 Billion in emergency stimulus spending – even though they wouldn't be able to fully account for the money until… until…..????
      You think that money went out the door faster than the Haiti relief?

    • Along the same lines, the govt has set up ways in which it can quickly act to help in the case of a disaster (DART, hospital ship, water purifiers, field hospitals, etc). It did these things, and in league with NGOs and other govts, provided a quick response to Haiti. Now, the president of Haiti is asking govts to slow down donations of food and water so as not to overwhelm their economy. As much as CIDA is a slow moving organization, I think Canada as a country has provided a respectable amount of help and is in a position to continue to do so. The govt probably shouldn't have said the donation matching money was for quick response if that wasn't how the money was going to be used, but medium and long term rebuilding efforts are as important as immediate humanitarian efforts, IMO.

      All of this hand wringing seems overly reactionary and likely done by those who will forget to ask how things are going with rebuilding in a year's time.

    • Here it becomes interesting. Which budget envelope did it come from, who did it go to, and was it disbursed for the earthquake or part of our ODA?

  22. How about money for rubble removal then.? They seem to have declared the emergency phase over. I suspect the Haiitian people do not share that sentiment. The hurricane season is on it's way. Those tents will be gone at the first hint of one. And they'll be back to square one.

  23. To The Committee Studying The Potential Placement of CIDA Funds:

    1. rent a freighter
    2. purchase: 2 bulldozers, 4 front end loaders with backhoe attachments, 6 tandem axle dump trucks
    3. load on freighter and sent to Haiti
    4. start clearing roads from the dump-site to cities and towns
    5. continue until cleaned up

    There, I feel I have just saved millions in planning…

  24. There's a stark lesson here for CIDA, this Government, all Departments, and all future governments: if you don't respond to journalists politely, rapidly, authoritatively, and credibly on important files, the lack of adequate response becomes the story. Justly or not, the public expects nothing less.

    • Exactly. A democratically elected government has a responsibility to its constituents.

      The media is the most efficient (if biased) conduit for us to stay informed.

    • This is a good point. Though for some reason Canadian journalists are a particularly interesting breed. US and journalists from other countries do behave differently. Perhaps this has something to do with the foreign ownership restrictions that have turned our media market into an insular drink-our-own-bathwater market of information inflation and conflation.

  25. CIDA's response included a paragraph about where Canada has spent money that doesn't come from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund

    Before I get outraged at CIDA, did this paragraph indicate how much Canada has spent. One of the lessons from Haiti is how hard it is to actually spend money in the very early days due to bottlenecks in transportation, infrastructure and security. My preference would be that we did all that we reasonable could as fast as we could (i.e. if money was not the limitation) then I could be quite happy with CIDA's response.

  26. It is well known that CIDA is just a good spot where incompetent people can get useless jobs, extremely well paid. Most of these people are friends of the government, who have proven to be very useless elsewhere. CIDA’s jobs are what we call in French, ‘des tablettes’. Just ask the lowest paid secretary there to tell you all she knows about what’s really going on there and you will go from one surprise to the next.

  27. Mr Petrou writes. "I still wanted to know when the money that Canadians donated in response to “urgent” appeals will actually be put to use"
    "That's more than CIDA has so far accomplished with the more than $100 million Canadians have donated to its Earthquake Relief Fund"

    Since Canadian donated money to aid agencies like the Red Cross, I assume that money IS being spent in Haiti. If not, it's the fault of the aid agencies, not CIDA. The money CIDA is talking about is the matching funds, which are a separate thing. So it seems to me incorrect to say that the money Canadians donated is not being put to the intended use. It's legitimate to ask why the matching funds havent been spent (though there may be a perfectly legitimate reason), but that's not actually the money that Canadians donated.

  28. Sounds like CIDA & FEMA handle disasters the same way! See no destruction, hear no destruction, speak no destruction! They'll just find another way to spend the money as soon as another disaster more to their liking (reputation) comes along! You have to wonder what would happen if this had occurred in our country?

  29. We've spent millions on Haiti so far, mainly in the form of military budgets and personnel & Equipment. The other money is standing by to be spent "Wisely" when the country is ready for it.

    Unfortunately, spending this money will have to be done without interference of Haitian politicians, who are wont to pocket the cash for themselves while their people suffer. Come to think of it…..that's how Haiti came to be the way it is in the first place.

  30. CIDA did send money immediately, that's from the money that they have sitting there that can quickly be released by the department as soon as something happens.

    While I am frustrated by how long it takes government to dole out the matching funds, I think the wording of the article is somewhat misleading. No one "donated to" the federal government's fund, they donated to a registered Canadian charity who then had to submit information to be eligible for the matching funds. I know the notion that every dollar is two dollars up until the February 12 deadline enticed many Canadians to give who might not have otherwise. For those who would have donated (or had already), great, it's doubled.
    The money is to be transferred to the individual charities and as Canadians we need to keep our politicians accountable to ensure that they actually deliver on that promise. Then the organizations who have had people working on the ground from day one (and in many cases, long before the earthquake) can spend the money as they see fit.
    CIDA is certainly cumbersome, but channeling the support to the organizations on the ground is surely a better way to help than sending bureaucrats in.

  31. Its all about photo ops and nothing more with Harper and his crowd. No doubt some or most of the money will be spent on worthy causes like advertising for the recovery plan for which even with a mamoth deficit there always seems to be money. the only possible conclusion is that conservatives have no morals, no ethics and no talent for management. I know this is belaboring the obvious but someone has to explain facts to members of the CPC.

    • "Some thoughts" ?

      Interesting monikor.

      One would think that the person who choose it would occasional write something that proves its accuracy.

      I guess we'll have to wait and see.

  32. Hello mate, I'd take a look at how 'investigtive journalism' has evolved in the Uk, where I am from. To start with, people found it interesting, but people grew up and had more important things in their lives to deal with other than listening to provocative journalists. Now, as some of them seemed to be intrusive to an extent that was uncalled for and also flawed as agendas were created and set before anything was asked or recorded, most of the journalists have been in the shadows.____I suggest, as a protective career move, you stick to things that don't intentionally stir things up when not knowing all the facts, especially when you have such a flawed argument (see a lot of these comments buddy) otherwise, I'll be heckling you in the dole queue along with all the people you have insulted.____If you have an issue with CIDA, I assume you have gone through proper complaint channels before airing you soiled underwear in public?____Ta ta!

  33. @cleargreen writes:

    To The Committee Studying The Potential Placement of CIDA Funds:

    1. rent a freighter
    2. purchase: 2 bulldozers, 4 front end loaders with backhoe attachments, 6 tandem axle dump trucks
    3. load on freighter and sent to Haiti
    4. start clearing roads from the dump-site to cities and towns
    5. continue until cleaned up

    Day 1: freighter unloads and leaves.
    Day 2: bulldozer severs last working water main in village — didn't bother to check with other aid agencies.
    Day 3: front-end-loader driver doesn't realize rubble was actually refugee camp.
    Day 4: drivers realized that cleargreen forgot to tell them send along diesel fuel, food, or water on the freighter.
    Day 5: drivers line up with Haitians from food and water from donor countries who planned a little better.
    Day 6: Haitian entrepreneurs disassemble useless equipment to sell for scrap metal.
    Day 7: US military agrees to fly Canadian "aid workers" home quietly to avoid international embarrassment.

  34. The Cons are dragging their feet as usual. They haven't spent the stimulus money they promised from last year! They promised matching donations on Haiti and that prompted more Canadians to donate more (myself included) and yet they are holding back that money which is urgently needed. and now that the rainy season is approaching more Haitians will be impacted even further!

    This government must give the money they committed and NOW to the agencies and let the agencies spend it. The Conservatives should not be allowed to spin their way out of this by inferring that the aid agencies are not organized. The Conservatives are the ones that are lying and are not organized!

    This sad example of a Canadian government needs to stop sucking and blowing and deliver on what they promise! Conservatives throughout Canada should be ashamed to be associated with the shady and duplicitous actions of this secretive government!

    Show us the money you lying Conservative hypocrites!

    • From listening to you leftist a-holes the money would be better spent on sponsorships.

  35. Jack's wisdom shines through:
    "It somehow smacks of lack of patriotism to display an open contempt for your own country on the op-ed pages of a major foreign newspaper."

    The same lack of patriatism that would make a man live outside of the country of his birth for most of his life? The same lack of patriatism that would cause a man to belittle the country of his birth, and the Canadians who live there?

    Oh wait…that was the other guy.

    As for the contempt shown…..that was for Chretien and his fellow crooks, not the country.

    • An example:

      Jack wrote:
      "Democracy is not about bowing to the will of the majority, it's about not using violence to settle disputes."

      Actually, Jack Democracy is pretty much what you are saying it is not.

      As for not settling disputes with violence…there's a word for that to; several in fact. Go find the aforementioned dictionary and see if you can find one.

      As I wrote to Madeyoulook……your writing is fine Jack, but not everything needs to be a production. Your writing is like the beautiful set of a stage production…….being used by a troupe of lousy actors.

      Looks good…..but pretty much a waste of time.

  36. BobbyB…….hypberbole much?

    But then again, if you don't expect to be taken seriously, then why bother writing anything thoughtful. (or even a wee bit clever)

    Keep up the…umm……good work?

  37. The world has it wrong when it comes to Haiti, instead of money ,send them birth control pills.

  38. I wonder how many staff members (higher ups) are driving new cars or mysteriously finished paying off their mortgages. etc.
    I generally don't trust charities or their distributions.
    I wonder what would happen if you called the U.S. and asked where the money went from the Bush Clinton fund?

  39. P.S. What about Chile?

  40. The other question seems to be: why can't CIDA give an answer?
    Micro management to the nth?

  41. Well we know from experience that 60% of program spending goes to administration. So thats a good 80 mil. Then there is fuel for the navy ships that carried supplies down as well as replacing the military supplies that were on board at retail + 20% or so that the government pays for everything.

  42. HAS ANYONE READ ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT IN HAITI……..who owns the land …what should be built….do we want this money to have lasting effect or be wasted…what is the rush………get an international group deciding what should the money be used for…someone said…housing………but housing on public land leads to public slums….so what is the solution…I dont want this money to have no lasting benefit…rushing in to waste the money is not the answer.

  43. Today is February 7, 2011 – i have yet to see how any of the matched fund CIDA proclaimed have been used, I have asked numerous times – NO RESPONSE. the bureaucratic mess in Ottawa is pulling strings that makes the govt look inept – then again … why would a 'matched funds program' be anything but matching the funds with the donor to give them the capacity to simply do more…. after all … someone had enough faith in their work to give them the money in the first place. Would ANY of those of us who are donors written a check to CIDA and said use it where you deem best … Canadians are NOT idiots.