Cablegate: Quebec Relief Efforts for Haiti in High Gear

Published: Fri 5 Feb 2010 05:05 PM
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SUBJECT: Quebec Relief Efforts for Haiti in High Gear
1. (U) SUMMARY: Quebec's and Montreal's historical and cultural
links to Haiti are driving significant relief efforts at the
provincial, municipal and local levels. While the ties of this
province and city to Haiti were no secret, the extent of society's
involvement in relief efforts has been striking. END SUMMARY
2. (U) Three weeks after the earthquake that devastated Haiti,
Quebec's newspapers (both French and English) still devote
substantial (often front-page) coverage to Haiti, covering relief
efforts and related subjects. The disaster has evoked special
interest and a sense of "solidarity" here because Quebec and Haiti
have the two largest francophone populations in the Western
Hemisphere. Quebec is also home to 132,000 people of Haitian
origin. Over 100,000 of them live in Montreal, where they are a
well-established, growing and "visible minority".
Province Front and Center
3. (U) Quebec Premier Charest has been very visible since the
earthquake hit, assuring the Haitian community of the province's
concern. His bid to take part in the January 25 Haiti Donors
Conference in Montreal was rebuffed by the federal government, but
he met at that time with Haitian PM Bellerive, outlining programs
that had been sending Quebec and Montreal police officers to take
part in MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti),
and Hydro-Qu????bec's longstanding work to upgrade ????lectricit????
d'Ha????ti's capabilities. Charest has pledged $3 million to Haitian
relief, to be delivered through NGOs, dwarfing offers from other
provinces. Quebec's Department of Employment and Social Solidarity
has offered stipends to aid Haitian families arriving in Quebec as
well as those already present that were directly affected by the
Opens Doors to Further Immigration
4. (SBU) The province also announced February 3 that it would raise
its previously-announced quota of 1500 (of 50,000 Quebec immigrant
spots for 2010) was being raised to 4500 in order to unite extended
families of Haitian Canadians. Quebec has special discretion and
approval authority for immigrants choosing to live in Quebec and
has previously modified existing Canadian regulations during crises
for certain cases. About 70 of 85 fast-tracked Haitian adoption
cases for Quebec families have already flown into Montreal, with
the remainder scheduled for a fifth flight this weekend. At least
219 fast-tracked adoption requests by all Canadians have been
granted. The city of Montreal is running an emergency service
center to assist Haitian Canadians in finding missing family, and
with counseling on immigration and related issues.
City of Montreal Also Active
5. (U) Montreal's police chief and eighteen Haitian-born Montreal
police officers built on existing cooperation with Haitian
authorities, undertaking a mission to aid in security issues in the
wake of earthquake; with the generosity of Air Transat and Air
Canada. This flight to Haiti was not unique; like several other
flights originating from Montreal, it included volunteer doctors,
aid workers, nurses, field-station cooks, etc., and was fully
loaded with tons of water, clothing, generators, tents and medical
equipment donated by local NGOs.
6. (U) Other aid, reconstruction, and related efforts also bear the
Quebec label to a great extent. Nearly half of the first 800
Canadian soldiers involved in relief operations at Jacmel from the
Quebec-based 22nd "the Royal Van-doos" Regiment. Several
Montreal-based NGOs, religious organizations, and official
personnel were already established in Haiti at the time of the
earthquake, and have since expanded operations. The Jesuits (a
Catholic religious order) are organized in Haiti in an
administrative union with Quebec, an arrangement that has led to
substantial interaction between Quebec and Haiti in educational and
poverty-reduction efforts. Contacts in Montreal told us that the
order had set up six relief centers staffed by Quebecois/Haitian
personnel in the wake of the earthquake, building on their existing
7. (U) The Montreal-based NGO Center for International Studies and
Cooperation (CECI) also has a long-standing relationship with
Haiti, and was able to ramp up its operation by funding the
deployment of additional medical personnel to Haiti, as well as
sending food and supplies. CECI commented to us that they feel
their operations functioned particularly well because they
primarily utilized Canadian-Haitians fluent in Creole, unlike other
large operations.
Charitable Giving Runs High
8. (U) Montreal is still abuzz with private charity and corporate
fundraisers for Haiti. A French-language telethon garnered $6.7
million in Quebec, while a separate Canada-wide effort brought in
$13.5 million. The Canadian Red Cross branch in Quebec has been
particularly active, although there are no provincial-specific
statistics kept on the $90.8 million raised in Canada. Other large
Montreal-based charities are active with donors, including
Oxfam-Quebec and the Archdiocese of Montreal. The latter has
collected $2 million through its Development and Peace charity
9. (SBU) The ties of this city and province to Haiti were well
known to us, but the extent of the attention to - and involvement
in - relief efforts has been striking. The Consulate has played an
active role, as well, with strong outreach to NGOs and media to
update them on U.S. actions. The Consulate has also provided TDY
assistance for the crisis, with the Consular and Management Section
Chiefs working in Port-au-Prince and the Dominican Republic, in
addition to two Creole-speaking Canadian LES who have been deployed
back to their nation of birth to assist USG efforts.
10. (U) Minimize considered.
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