Montreal, Canada–(ENEWSPF)–January 25, 2010.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton, welcome to Montreal. We’re delighted to have you in Canada representing the Administration and I should just say as well delighted with the work you’ve been doing with us and delighted – very pleased at the fact that President Obama has taken such (inaudible) very regularly on this. And of course, on the ground, our people have been collaborating very closely and we always appreciate that.
Let me be clear about why we appreciate this. As your closest neighbors and friends, we understand not simply the scale of American involvement in Haiti and in these kinds of circumstances, but we understand what drives them, although it’s not simply American power and capability, but the fundamental generosity of the American people, our great neighbors and friends. We always take great heart from that and look forward to working together.
And we – of course, we also had some good discussions on our other (inaudible) involvements in issues like Afghanistan and climate change, and, of course, our economic (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate greatly the very warm welcome, Prime Minister, but I also applaud you and your government for your leadership with respect to Haiti. Canada has been a very generous donor to Haiti over many years, and once again Canada and the generous people of Canada are leading the way.
This conference, which has been put together very quickly to bring together those who are already committed to Haiti to begin the process of planning the reconstruction along with our Haitian partners, is absolutely critical.
As you say, we talked about other matters that are of great concern and interest to both of our countries, and we appreciate your partnership, your friendship. You are not only a neighbor, but a true ally on so many of the important matters that we confront in the world today.
So thank you again; I’m always happy to be in Montreal any time of year, and I look forward to our continuing collaboration.
QUESTION: Yes, I’d like to ask you about a comment that the Haitian prime minister made this morning when she said that the strategy for the recovery and rebuilding effort needs to be rethought and retooled in light of the fact that so many people have fled the capital and gone into the countryside. I’m wondering if you see it that way also, and what are the implications for that kind of a change in direction?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, this was a very important point that Prime Minister Bellerive made, because one of the problems that the Haitians themselves recognize, as well as other outside experts, is that over the last several decades, the population of Port-au-Prince has swollen exponentially. Services did not and could not keep up. The countryside was depopulated in ways that were contrary to the future economic growth and prosperity of the entire country.
So I was quite heartened to hear the prime minister say that as part of our multilateral efforts to assist Haiti, we should look at how we decentralize economic opportunity and work with the Haitian Government and people to support resettlement, which they are doing on their own as people leave Port-au-Prince and return to the countryside from which most of them came. Agriculture has not gotten the attention that it deserves as being one of the pillars of the economy in Haiti. In fact, this past year, as we were working on our own bilateral plan with Haiti, agriculture was our principal emphasis.
And so we are prepared, working with partners like Canada, to assist in caring for those who leave Port-au-Prince, working to provide not only assistance, but sources of livelihoods, and seeing the entire country as in need of assistance which will help what we do in Port-au-Prince be more successful.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: I agree with that. I would just say I thought it was an interesting observation. Obviously, we’re in – I think the truth is we’re in the very early stages of thinking longer-term here, in what the rebuilding strategy really is. So I think it’s a useful observation, one that, we can adapt to it. I think, as Secretary Clinton said, it really would help with development going forward with a more balanced and (inaudible) development.
At the same time, I think it does also indicate to us the need for us to work closely with the Haitians, who do understand the conditions on the ground maybe a little better than some of us with high intentions but a little bit farther away here. So I think it’s a useful observation as we go forward.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Prime Minister, there’s been a lot of discussion here today about accountability and the need to make that part of the overall plan going forward. What specifically is going to be done to ensure that the money which the international community invests there is spent properly and gets to where it’s going? Who will follow the money and how will it be done? Prime Minister, when you respond, please respond in French as well.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: Just say that we discussed some of the specifics of (inaudible). Obviously, this is a wider discussion that’s going to go on with all of the countries here. But as Secretary Clinton said, I think we’re going to look around the world at some recent examples of multilateral recovery efforts, how those can be best coordinated, and how those can be done in a way to ensure accountability and ensure effectiveness. And there, I think we’re developing as the years go by some (inaudible) models of what works and what does not work. Obviously, a big part of this is working through credible international organizations that are capable of coordinating donors and also capable of tracking money and tracking the effectiveness of their efforts. So that would be a big part of it going forward, but I wouldn’t want to get into too much detail because, obviously, it will prejudice the discussion here, but as I say, we’ll look at the models that haven’t worked.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would emphasize what the prime minister said about the importance of effectiveness and responsibility. As we work together to design the mechanism that will be used to deliver assistance and create the conditions for sustainable development, we bear a responsibility to our taxpayers to assure that the money that our government commits will be well spent, transparently, and with results on the ground for the Haitian people. I think that is also true for all of the private donations that will be joined with government funds, through NGOs, so that together, we can point to the outcomes that everyone is hoping to achieve on behalf of this reconstruction and redevelopment effort.
And finally, I would just say a thank you to everyone here in Canada, certainly in my own country, who have seen that here in our hemisphere, we have a near neighbor in such great distress, who wish to help, who want to be part of the longer-term reconstruction of this country, but who look to people like the prime minister, President Obama, and myself to make sure that what we do makes sense, that it can be explained and justified, and that we can, along with our Haitian partners, put the money that is being provided to good use.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER: Thank you very much.