20 April, 2009 – Global Research
The “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”: Humanist Peacekeeping or…?
On Sussex Drive in Ottawa, just a few steps away from the enormous US embassy, stands the Peacekeeping Monument. The structure titled “Reconciliation” was erected to honour the more than 125,000 Canadians who have served in United Nations peacekeeping forces since 1947. The current article documents one particular instance –the February 2004 intervention in Haiti – where the historical record conflicts with the “good peacekeeper” narrative communicated by the Canadian government, reiterated by the corporate media, and represented by “Reconciliation.”
Seeing themselves as a generous people, most Canadians also consider that their noble ideals are reflected in the foreign policy of their government. The importance of nurturing this positive image both at home and abroad is well ingrained in the national psyche and, every now and again, surveys are conducted to confirm its resilience.
Walter Dorn, Associate Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, writes that:
For Canadians, peacekeeping is about trying to protect people in mortal danger… about self-sacrifice as well as world service. These notions of courage and service resonate with the public, and politicians across the political spectrum have readily adopted the peacekeeping cause… Canadian support for its peacekeeping role has been so strong for so long that it has become a part of the national identity.
Canada’s intervention in Haiti is represented and legitimized in such terms. On the very first line of the section of its website devoted to Haiti, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) boasts how “Canada has committed to allocate $555 million over five years (2006-2011) to reconstruction and development efforts in Haiti.” Such “special consideration” is given to Haiti because “[t]he Government of Canada is committed to helping the people of Haiti improve their living conditions.” Unequivocally endorsing the government’s line as reiterated by its Ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher, Maclean’s Magazine answers its own question in an April 2008 feature article: “it’s easy to forget that what Boucher says is true. Haiti is a less dangerous, more hopeful place than it has been for years, and this is the case, in part, because of the United Nations mission there and Canada’s involvement in it.”