Montreal

The former Haitian president is coming to Montreal — and some want the show to be cancelled

Before being elected, Michel Martelly was a popular musician known as Sweet Micky. He's performing here next week, but some say between accusations Martelly is a misogynist and that he's corrupt, he shouldn't be allowed to leave Haiti at all.

Before being elected, Michel Martelly was a popular musician known as Sweet Micky

Haiti's former president Michel Martelly looks at the camera after voting in the 2016 election. Martelly, who is also a musician, will be in town next week for a show in Montreal. (Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press)

The former president of Haiti is coming to Montreal, and his visit has nothing to do with politics.

Before being elected, Michel Martelly was a popular musician known as Sweet Micky. He has returned to his musical roots, and is bringing his show to the Plaza Centre-Ville Friday, March 22.

But some don't want him here.

Frantz André, who is part of a group organizing a protest and a petition against the show, said between Martelly's misogynistic comments and accusations he is corrupt, he shouldn't be allowed to leave Haiti at all.

Ideally, André wants Canada to block Martelly's entry into the country. But he plans to be outside the venue next week, voicing his opposition.

"I'm ashamed someone like that represented my country. We cannot continue to be silent, otherwise we'll just be accomplices," he said.

Frantz André said between Martelly’s misogynistic comments and accusations he is corrupt, Martelly shouldn’t be allowed to leave Haiti at all. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

The protests in Haiti, which received attention in this country in recent weeks, are linked to funds that were intended for development projects.

The money, from PetroCaribe, an oil assistance program sponsored by Venezuela, was supposed to help get Haiti back on its feet after the 2010 earthquake.

But in 2016, a Haitian Senate commission report alleged nearly $2 billion was embezzled or misappropriated. The report called for investigations into a number of officials, including members of Martelly's government.

To date, no one has been charged.

In 2015, Haitian media reported Martelly told a female critic at a campaign rally to "go get a man and go into the bushes" to have sex.

Three government officials, including the women's affairs minister, resigned in protest.

And days before his term ended in 2016, he released a song with suggestive lyrics referring to bananas and targeting well-known radio reporter and human rights advocate Liliane Pierre-Paul.

André said misogyny was Sweet Micky's signature, and he carried that mindset into his presidency.

And the issues are linked — the PetroCaribe money would have helped improve people's lives, including the women of Haiti, he said.

Sweet Micky popular in Montreal

André said some have told him they welcome the petition initiative, but he acknowledged that Sweet Micky has a following here.

It's not his first time playing in Montreal — he was here for a show at the Metropolis in 2016.

La Maison d'Haiti isn't involved in the petition against Martelly's show, but its director says the former president should be held accountable.

"We are asking all the presidents who have been in power since 10 years ago: 'Where is the money?' So he's one of them, and he has to answer us," said Marjorie Villefranche.

She said it's a shame that Martelly is coming to Montreal despite the serious allegations against him.

Promoters for the March 22 show they're selling Sweet Micky the artist, not Michel Martelly, and that they aren't qualified to talk about politics.

With files from Matt D'Amours