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Canada forgives its share of Haiti's international debt

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Canada has paid off its share of Haiti's debt to international financial institutions
  • That comes to US$33 million
  • Haiti "a special focus" for Canadian government

Toronto, Canada (CNN) -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday that Canada has paid off its share of Haiti's debt to all international financial institutions to help the impoverished island nation recover from January's 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

"Two weeks after the tragic earthquake in Haiti, Canada called for the full cancellation of the debt owed by Haiti to international organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," said Harper in a statement. "With today's announcement, Canada has fully honored its international pledge to the people of Haiti, and we urge others to follow this example at the G-20 Leaders' Summit this weekend."

In all, Haiti owes more than $825 million to the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Canada estimated its share at US$33 million.

"Haiti is a special focus for our government," said Andy MacDougall, press secretary for Harper, in a telephone interview. "We have a relatively large Haitian diaspora, mostly in the city of Montreal."

In addition, he said, the governor general of Canada, Michaelle Jean, is Haitian. When she finishes her term, she will work for UNESCO as a special representative for Haiti, he said.

The earthquake, which was centered near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killed more than 200,000 people and left widespread destruction.