Don Cherry took to Twitter on Monday to air his objections over the millions in aid money that Canada sends to Haiti.
A series of tweets posted on the outspoken hockey commentator’s Twitter feed questioned why Ottawa has sent tens of millions of dollars in aid to the earthquake-battered Caribbean nation.
“You know, I am one of those guys, like most people in Canada, we like to help the countries all over the world. But sometimes it makes you wonder,” read a couple of the tweets under his Twitter handle of @CoachsCornerCBC.
“Maybe it’s just me. But Canada gave Haiti 49.5 million dollars last year. Are we nuts?”
A report on the website for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) says Canada sent nearly $49.5 million to Haiti in 2010-2011.
Cherry asked why Ottawa would send so much cash to Haiti when the health-care system in Canada is stretched to its limits.
“We’ve got a guy dying in Toronto waiting 3 hours for an ambulance,” the controversial star of Hockey Night in Canada tweeted to his nearly 118,000 followers.
“We got people waiting 7, 8, 10 hours, if they’re lucky, in a waiting room with one doctor for a zillion people.
“We nickel and dime our doctors, nurses and veterans plus a million other services. Yet we can send almost 50 million to Haiti.”
A message on Cherry’s account said tweets are made by himself as well as Kathy Broderick, his friend and producer on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
The broadcaster’s tweets came five days before the third anniversary of a massive quake in Haiti that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless. The island nation is still struggling to rebuild from the January 2010 disaster.
Cherry’s messages follow recent remarks made by Canada’s international co-operation minister that created controversy in Haiti.
Julian Fantino told a newspaper last week that CIDA will stop funding new aid projects in Haiti until it finds a more effective approach to help the country.
Fantino told Montreal La Presse he’s disappointed about the lack of progress in post-earthquake reconstruction. In the interview, he reportedly said Ottawa will continue to fund development projects already underway in Haiti.
The former head of the Ontario Provincial Police indicated that Canada has sent $1 billion in development assistance to Haiti since 2006.
Fantino also compared Haiti’s terrible state with much-better conditions in the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The two nations share the island of Hispaniola.
He remarked about the filth and garbage he saw during his November visit to Haiti. He wondered how a country with so many unemployed people had not found a way to clean it up.
The overall tone and content of Fantino’s remarks left a bitter taste in the mouth of at least one Haitian cabinet minister.
”Canada is very bad,” Economic Minister Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie said.
”I don’t have one gourde (the basic Haitian currency) from the Canadian government in my budget.”
She added that Canadian companies operating in Haiti tend to benefit more from the CIDA funding than do local firms.
Cherry tweeted that he’s pleased Canadians have a good guy with common sense, like Fantino, in charge.
“I’ll tell ya something,” read a posting on Cherry’s feed Monday.
“The working guy is getting kind of sick of people spending money like that... Lets (sic) smarten up. As the old saying goes, charity begins at home. Am I right or is it just me?”