POLITICS

MP LeBlanc urges Haiti restoration efforts

01/18/2012 03:37 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc says the struggling nation of Haiti needs to continue restoring law and order, in part to help preserve hundreds of export jobs in his own province.

LeBlanc visited the Caribbean country, which was devastated by an earthquake two years ago, as part of a Canadian delegation which included Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

The Liberal MP said about 400 jobs in New Brunswick depend on the restoration of democracy in Haiti.

As it stands, a number of businesses in the Cap-Pelé region, located 50 kilometres northeast of Moncton, are having trouble shipping salted and smoked herring to the Haitian market because of what he called "informal tariffs."

LeBlanc said that includes bribes to harbour or transportation officials, which is making it both more difficult and expensive to get goods into the capital of Port-au-Prince.

"I mean there's this series of informal tariffs," he said. "So if you're a business person, how can you plan when you don't know if the guy who's operating the crane to offload your container wants $5,000 or $500."

LeBlanc also said Haiti needs to improve its democratic institutions and focus on the grinding poverty that still affects hundreds of thousands in the country.

"You can't ask people to have faith in democratic institutions, in a judiciary if you don't have any money to pay the judges —well they're living on tips," he said. "Well, if judges are living on tips, the chances are that the person wins the case based on the best tip they offer the judge."

LeBlanc said Canadians are contributing to the rebuilding of Haiti and in return the Haitian government should focus on improving government services, such as justice.

On Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti was rocked by a massive earthquake which killed more than 300,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million. Roughly 500,000 are still living in temporary shelters.