Trudeau took to Twitter and called the deadly attack on the president “appalling,” adding that “Canada stands ready to support the people of Haiti and offer any assistance they need.”
During a press conference in Calgary later in the afternoon, the prime minister further described the act as “absolutely unacceptable and not something anyone wants to see anywhere in the world.”
“Canada has been and will continue to be a close friend to the Haitian people,” Trudeau told reporters in Calgary.
“They’ve had a number of difficult years, including politically. Canada has continued to be there for them and we will continue into the coming difficult months to stand with the people of Haiti and move toward greater stability and greater opportunity for everyone.”
Moise was killed in an attack on his private residence early Wednesday, according to Haiti’s interim prime minister. First lady Martine Moise was shot in the overnight attack and hospitalized. It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the assassination in a country that had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled in recent years.
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Kevin Edmonds, an assistant professor of Caribbean Studies at the University of Toronto, said Canada and the United States have been involved in cultivating over the long term the current political situation in which the assassination took place.
In February 2004, a military coup overthrew a democratically elected government led by president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He accused the United States, France and Canada of orchestrating his ousting.
About 500 Canadian troops went to the Caribbean country after the coup “to restore order until a new UN stabilization mission could be well established,” according to Veterans Affairs Canada website. It says UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti reached about 7,500 military members and civilian police, from dozens of countries. It also says that at times, over 750 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and 100 civilian police officers have served there.
Since 2004, Edmonds said, a series of fraudulent elections have brought deeply unpopular presidents to power while a UN mission supported them.
Haiti is the largest recipient of development assistance from Canada in the Americas.
Since the January 2010 earthquake, Ottawa has provided $1.5 billion to Haiti, including $345 million in humanitarian assistance and $1.15 billion in development assistance.
Edmonds said Canada played a role in pushing for a national election to be held in 2010, when many Haitian parliamentarians and politicians had lost their lives in the natural disaster. The general election originally scheduled to take in February was put off until November that year and the presidential election was held the following spring.
“Canada and the United States were very insistent that elections happen right away, and a lot of voices within in Haiti, civil society, politicians, the citizens were saying ‘let’s wait a bit,’” Edmonds said, adding there were concerns about electoral fraud and parties banned from running.
In a 2019 report, Human Rights Watch said the Moise government’s elimination of subsidies led to widespread protests that had escalated since July 2018, with opposition groups demanding Moise’s resignation amid allegations that he had mismanaged government funds designated for social programs.
Edmonds said Moise was “very repressive,” but that he was also friendly to foreign investment as he was getting rid of regulations for mining, oil and gas companies and repressing labour unions.
“Having a weak but accommodating centre-right government in Haiti is good for Canadian interests U.S. interests,” Edmonds argued.
“I would have thought that Moise would have been tipped off that something’s gonna happen but this (assassination) is kind of unprecedented.”
The assassination drew shock and condemnation from leaders in Latin America, Europe and the U.S., along with calls for calm and unity in the troubled Caribbean nation.
Colombian President Ivan Duque condemned what he called a “cowardly act” and expressed solidarity with Haiti. He called for an urgent mission by the Organization of American States “to protect democratic order.”
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Other initial reactions reflected concern about Haiti’s security.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, tweeted that “this crime carries a risk of instability and (a) spiral of violence.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “shocked and saddened at the death of President Moise.”
“Our condolences are with his family and the people of Haiti,” he added. “This is an abhorrent act and I call for calm at this time.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez condemned the assassination.
“I’d like to make an appeal for political unity to get out of this terrible trauma that the country is going through,” Sanchez said during a visit to Latvia.
The White House described the attack as “horrific” and “tragic.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. stands ready to assist Haiti in its time of need.
“It’s a horrific crime and we’re so sorry for the loss that (the people of Haiti) are all suffering and going through as many of them are waking up this morning and hearing this news,” Psaki said during a previously scheduled interview with CNN. “And we stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”
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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen offered her condolences in a statement on Twitter.
“We wish the First Lady a prompt recovery, & stand together with our ally Haiti in this difficult time,” Tsai wrote. Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
— With files from Global News and The Canadian Press
© 2021 The Canadian Press