'I fear for its people' - Macleans.ca

‘I fear for its people’


Michaelle Jean, who fled Haiti as a child, comments on today’s earthquake.

“I am following, with great attention and concern, the emerging reports regarding the earthquake that struck Haiti with force, and which was felt elsewhere in the region.

“This natural disaster has hit a country with an extremely fragile infrastructure, where many buildings are already unstable, and where living conditions are often very difficult. I fear for its people.

“I would like all Haitians to know that they are not alone and that Canadians will respond to this emergency.”


‘I fear for its people’

  1. All good thoughts, wishes and prayers to the people of Haiti. While not talked of often, a very special ally of Canada. Next to Afghanistan, they are the largest recipient of aid from the Canadian government.

  2. was she out ahead of the government in announcing help?

    • No, because I saw Cannon in front of the padlocked HoC.

      • i meant timing to be clear

    • Let's try not to make this political. I would hope that the PMO would have deferred to the GG on this one being that her homeland has been ravaged by nature yet again.

      I don't think that 'who was first' should be an issue in this case.

  3. God, poor Haiti, they're always getting hammered out of the blue. I likewise hope we're swift in helping.

  4. Wherry, are you suggesting that this earthquake was a craven attempt by the prime minister to change the channel from progation and afghan detainees? I beg to differ.

    • Stay classy and never lose sight of trying to gain partisan advantage.

      • You missed the point, completely.

        • There needs to be a sarcasm emoticon.

          • I agree, good idea.

  5. It looks like Haiti will need tons of help. Let`s hope our people and resources are able to get there quickly.

  6. Who is she to comment in the first person? Since when does the GG have any right to comment apropos of nothing relevant to Canada?

    More proof that she is the best Governor General that Haiti ever had!

    • Get a life Larry. It's obvious that you haven't yet received your CPoC Info-Alert-Info email with your talking points yet today.

    • Well, technically the Constitution gives her the right. But more to the point she states that CANADIANS will respond, not that Canada will respond. And perhaps she looked at the evidence that shows that Canadians (like Americans) will always respond to try and alleviate suffering after a disaster. And she is right. I personally am glad to have her speaking for me.

  7. It is difficult to understand how some places can have such a terrible go of things.

    The poorest country in our neighborhood just got a whole lot poorer and this earthquake will still be felt 10 years from now.

    • It's quite easy to understand.

      • Well yes, we can look at the typical hurricane paths, tectonic plates, slavery/colonial past, indifference, few natural resources, corruption, weak regional neighbors among others… simple words describing complex interactions make it difficult to understand how this place has such a terrible go of things, while acknowledging the odds are still stacked against them.

        I meant more in terms of the human cost, which is never easy to understand.

        Perhaps it would have been simpler to state that Haiti provides me further proof there is no god.

  8. The Governor General spoke from her heart. Good for her. Haiti needs help. Canadians will, I'm sure, offer help (I am not referring to the government, though I'm sure the government will respond). I challenge all the posters on this thread to choose an NGO that works in Haiti and make a financial contribution. I've already done so through the MCC. How about the rest of you?

    This disaster should NOT become political fodder. It's a major catastophe and we should respond with our hearts and our wallets.

  9. How much unfairer can life get for this poor island?
    Certainly puts your life in perspective for a moment…my toughest decision to day was whether to have another cup of coffee…we're so damn fortunate, even on our worst days. Today i feel strangely ashamed of my good fortune.

    • One other thing: Haiti is not an island. It is one of two countries that shares an island.

  10. Please enlighten us then.

  11. "“I would like all Haitians to know that they are not alone and that Canadians will respond to this emergency.”

    Is GG now deciding foreign/humanitarian policy instead of government?

    • She was speaking in general terms, basically saying what we're all thinking: We know that Canada will help, even before the government announces aid. It's pretty much a given that Ottawa will lend a hand, considering our past commitments in Haiti.

    • This is sick. Partisan BS during this crisis. Perhaps Harper already told her we'd help.


      • Who am I partisan for, exactly? I just think it is interesting that we are right in the middle of discussion of our democratic institutions and how they should work and here's the GG saying what Canada will be doing and no one has anything to say.

        I agree that what happened in Haiti is a tragedy and Canadians should, and will, do something to help. I just don't think GG should be the one announcing/deciding policy.

        • Sober up, you lush.

        • (a) Where did the GG "declare what Canada will be doing"?
          (b) you're allowed to say that Canadians will help, but she isn't?

          What planet are you visiting from?

          • "you're allowed to say that Canadians will help, but she isn't?"

            I live in the trees on Mars. I wonder what planet you are visiting from if you think me, a private citizen, and the GG have exactly the same rights and responsibilities.

        • Oh good grief – she doesn't decide policy but it is her duty to try to console – and Harper probably already told her what the policy will be.

          • I was unaware that one of GG's duties is to console foreigners and that it trumps GG's duty to not comment on areas that Canadian government are responsible for.

          • Nobody complained when she ate seal, which was arguably a more politically charged action than her recent words on Haiti.

            What makes you feel this is something to go to the wall for?

          • Can you explain to me what GG eating seal meat has to do with price of tea in china. I have no idea what your point is. Does eating seal meat fall outside of GG's duties?

            I am not going to wall on anything. Just think of me as a person who is not looking forward to lib partisans and msm getting their knickers in a twist about democracy after Harper appoints someone other than female from cbc as GG and they do/say something they are not supposed to do.

            I can entirely understand Jean being worried about her people, I assume she has relatives in Haiti still as well, but she is GG and has clearly defined role to play which does not include getting ahead of government on foreign policy.

          • Canadians have always come to the aid of impoverished nations facing such horrible natural disasters. I don't think her words were any more than an assumption we'd act as we always have.

            There's something like 100,000 of Hatian descent in Montreal alone, so she's hardly the only Canadian with ties. And my sense is that most Canadians – regardless of ancestry – care deeply for the victims of this tragedy.

            I think we extend the benefit of the doubt in this case and simply treat this as a public official expresssing solidarity – nothing more.

          • She was also invited into high level government discussions as a courtesy. I hope that her role, as much or as little as she and the elected officials feel she has in her, may comfort her as she goes through hell coping with this tragedy to her friends, family and former countrymen. In a few weeks, as the recovery phase is underway, I would cheer on our armed forces' commander in chief were she to go visit our soldiers and sailors down there to thank them on our behalf for their hard work.

            It is impossible not to feel intense sympathy for the people of Haiti AND for our governor general.

          • GG was Haitian born and has family and friends there and we have many Haitians here in Canada that are worried about their loved ones – who better to talk to than someone who truly understands.

            Sorry, Jolyon – you actually make me sick.

    • Yes – deciding to offer supporting words to the people of another country on a morning after a disaster represents a serious breach of protovol. She should be fired.

      Honestly, where to you conbots get this stuff?

    • Canadians are responding, already, outside of government.

    • Your post is from 5 hrs ago. A post above, from 14 hrs ago asserts – `i have no idea if it is correct – says Cannon has spoken

    • Is GG now deciding foreign/humanitarian policy instead of government?

      No more than she is deciding overall government policy when she reads the speech from the throne, jwl

  12. Wish I could give more than one paltry thumb up for this post.

  13. what's really astounding is your comprehension and thinking skills. pls point to where i said this was not preventable.

    While we can have a debate over how prevention, or how context influences prevention or a number of related topics, my point is that your demeaning tone in anonymously evaluating Haiti's governance is at best arrogant given what they have on their hands at the moment. there is a time and a place for critical reflection. it generally isn't while people are counting the dead.

    • Look, if someone on this blog identified themselves as an acquaintance or family member or friend of a victim, then I'd agree with you, I would certainly avoid talking about any this stuff.

  14. Is that so? Well, Haiti has been sliding backwards on the development scale for decades, so when is a good time to be talking about it? I don't recall anyone talking about it last week. And I don't recall anyone talking about it when they had the food crisis over the last few years.
    This is a good a time as any to be discussing the conditions in Haiti.

  15. Why are the likes of s_c_f even arguing here – there's been a disaster, a crisis and it's not the time to dwell on other things. People have to be saved….sigh….you guys are really a joke.

    • So why are you commenting on this blog? Should not be on a flight to Haiti?

      Give me a break. We don't shut down discussion when bad things happen.

  16. The Philippines and Indonesia are examples of countries with large segments of poor people that are frequently hit by severe earthquakes.

  17. There is nothing unfair about it. That doesn't mean I don't sympathize with Haiti and the suffering there, but for a country that has not had a major earthquake like this for 200 years, it's expected to happen sooner or later. You'd have to say they are likely overdue. Places that are managed better, even poor places, have building codes that prevent widespread damage and danger.

    The difference is that Haiti is so poorly run, even compared to other poor Caribbean islands, that any significant event to occur in or around Haiti ends up being a massive disaster.

    There has actually been over 130 earthquakes worldwide of magnitude 7 or higher, some of them striking populated areas.

    • I'm all for cutting against the grain and that sort of thing, but what on earth compells you to stir the poop in this particular case?

      Honestly, there's a lot folks just trying to express genuine dismay and sympathy for the people of Haiti here. It might not be a bad time for you to park the anger (or whatever the heck motivates you) and simply stand back if you don't want to share the sentiment.

      • I don't know what anger you are talking about, and frankly I sympathize with the people of Haiti.

        All I'm saying is that a disaster like this is not random, it is something you'd expect to happen in Haiti, given the conditions in Haiti, sooner or later.

        • The day after your neighbour's house has burned down is not the time to point out that he had faulty wiring. At least where I come from.

          • Look, that paraphrase is by no means accurate. Let's try a more reasonable comparison, rather than your shit-for-brains comparison.

            If a homeless person in Toronto dies outside in the cold of winter to hypothermia, are we allowed to talk about getting homeless people in from the cold, it or do we have to wait a few days?

            If a starving family in Africa dies from starvation, are we allowed talk about the famine today, or should I wait a week?

            If a family is hurt or killed by the earthquake, are we allowed to talk about the conditions in Haiti today? Yes, we are.

          • Let's try a more reasonable comparison, rather than your angry and senseless one.

            If a family in africa starves to death, can we talk about the famine at the same time?

            If a homeless person in Toronto freezes to death, can we talk about getting homeless people in from the cold at the same time?

            if a family in Haiti is hurt or killed, can we talk about the horrible conditions in Haiti at the same time?

          • If it was upwards of 100,000 homeless people in a single night, I might give it about 72 hours before I really dug in with my "they were asking for it" argument.

          • Why are you saying "they were asking for it"?

            I don't agree.

    • the arrogance, seemingly grown from the happenstance of being born in one particular location rather than others, that afflicts some individuals is astounding.

      • What's astounding is that you see the world in that way. The scale of this disaster is preventable, but your suggestion that it isn't is rather surprising.

    • Why isn't it unfair? Whatever makes you think i'm just talking about this earthquake? A lot of countries badly mismanage themselves. What specific poorer places manage better, can afford bulding codes?
      It almost appears you're saying they got what they deserve…hope i misunderstood you, cuz there's a lot of people in this world who don't get what they deserve…people who damn well should.

      • You're suggesting I said a lot of things that I did not say. I said what I said, nothing more and nothing less. I said this is not random or unfair, this is what you'd expect to happen in Haiti sooner or later with the conditions the way they are in Haiti.

        • i didn't accuse you of anything, it's why i used qualifiers like almost appears, and words like misunderstood. Again…where are your examples of poorer countries managing better? It's my understanding that Haiti was as poor as it gets.

    • We started with lots of money from France and Britain, a big garrison, a ceaseless flow of private investment, subsidised immigration, a non-malarial climate, a first-rate educational system, and membership in the Empire trading zone.

      Haiti started with NOTHING — or worse than nothing, the total absence of institutions and even family life, thanks to SLAVERY.

      • Sure, the same can be said about various regions across the Caribbean, or Latin America.

        In fact, regions of poverty comparable to Haiti, like regions of Indonesia and the Philippines are hit with powerful earthquakes more frequently but do not experience the same kind of suffering.

        Like I said, this disaster is preventable, it's not random nor unfair. It's not some random crazy earthquake – over the course of time, you would expect an earthquake of this magnitude to hit Haiti sooner or later. Since the country is the poorest and the most mismanaged country in the entire Western hemisphere, they have never prepared themselves.

      • Yes, slavery was terrible, in all the places and peoples it affected all over the world. However, unlike the majority of the black population in the US, Haitians are poorer today than they ever were, so I don't think it helps to invoke the specter of slavery today.

        • scf, living prof a little knowledge is dangerous.

          • you'd be a lot better with a little knowledge, mr. puddle_n_molehills