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Ottawa hopes to air Haiti concerns with Clinton

Two of Canada's federal cabinet ministers want to meet with former U.S. president Bill Clinton to discuss his concerns about the pace of reconstruction in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told a news conference Monday to mark the six-month anniversary of the quake that he and International Development Minister Bev Oda "intend to meet with former president Clinton in a very short while as to be able to get from him the correct assessment as to where things are going on the ground."

Mr. Clinton is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti. He said recently that, although the world has promised to donate almost $10-billion to rebuild the Caribbean nation, including $2.5-billion that was supposed to have been spent by the end of this year, only 10 per cent of the money had been dispersed as of June 30

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Canada has promised $400-million over two years and has so-far paid out about $150-million.

Ms. Oda told the news conference that, despite criticism there is much left to be done in Haiti, much has also been accomplished.

"The immediate and basic humanitarian needs have been met and will continue to be met," she said.

"There's millions of people receiving food, water, shelter, there are child-protection centres up and running, some schools have been opened, medical facilities now are dealing with ongoing more regular type of needs."

The major challenges, she said, have been removal of the rubble to create space for more permanent shelters as well as establishing landownership in a country where the title system was never robust and many of the records have been lost.

"The Canadian Red Cross is ready to provide over 3,000 of these more permanent temporary shelters and they are working with the commission and our representatives in Haiti to try to get those constructed," Ms. Oda said.

The Canadian Save the Children organization, meanwhile, issued a release Monday to say that children remain from major health complications related to living in camps and substandard conditions around the country, particularly as the rainy, hurricane season intensifies. The group said it foresees a long period of reconstruction and investment ahead.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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