Canada will deploy Navy vessels to conduct surveillance off the coast of Haiti and airlift more Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in remarks at an annual meeting of Caribbean leaders in the Bahamas.
Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry previously urged Canada to lead a military intervention, but instead Ottawa has provided piecemeal aid. Canada delivered armored vehicles to Haiti in January, just a few months after Ottawa and Washington sent similar security assistance to counter rising gang violence.
“Today I am announcing that Canada will also deploy Royal Canadian Navy vessels to conduct surveillance, gather intelligence and maintain a maritime presence off the Haitian coast in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said on Thursday. “Earlier today, I announced that Canada will airlift another three additional MRAPs, purchased by the Haitian National Police, which are scheduled to arrive in the coming days.”
Trudeau said it will equip Haiti with the tools and support to degrade the gangs’ devastating impact in the area and to enable the police to be more effective on the ground.
When later pressed on intervening militarily in Haiti, Trudeau told reporters Canada is “elbows deep” in terms of trying to help the island nation.
In a statement later in the day, his office said Canada is also imposing additional sanctions on two Haitian elites tied to gangs and violence. This came within hours of the State Department announcing that the US designated five Haitians involved with criminal organizations.
The release said Trudeau met with several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders – including the prime minsters of The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, and Barbados.
Trudeau also announced C$44.8 million ($33.3 million) in new initiatives to boost CARICOM in battling climate crisis by protecting more biodiversity and disaster preparedness, along with C$12.3 million to address food and nutrition needs, the release added.
Haiti has long been mired in a socio-political crisis that worsened after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021. Moise chose Henry to succeed then-acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph in his role but did not manage to ratify his appointment before his death.
Nevertheless, Henry was sworn in as the country’s prime minister on July 20, 2021, but his appointment caused discontent among various opposition forces questioning Henry’s legitimacy.