As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our international reputation as peacekeeper and upholder of democracy.
But there is a dark side to our foreign policy — a policy that often aligns Canada with the objectives of the United States in punishing small countries that attempt to break free of American dominance.
Haitians hold a special place in human history. In 1804, after a slave revolt against France, they established the world’s first independent black country. Haiti has been paying for this affront to the international order ever since. For 122 years, Haitians were forced to pay a crippling indemnity to France for loss of slaves and territory. Today, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank impose austerity on Haiti, benefiting a tiny minority of wealthy families who were returned to power in a 2004 coup, after a decade of democracy.
Between 1991 and 2004, against all odds, Haitians managed to elect a series of democratic governments. These governments improved health, education and the rule of law even as they were under siege by the Haitian elite. The Haitian people also endured a punishing US led aid boycott.
Canada, who Haitians once saw as a constructive partner, joined the United States and France to help overthrow the Haitian government. The coup d’état took place in the middle of the night on February 29, 2004. This is the first time Canada has played a military and strategic role in removing a democratically elected government.