Turks and Caicos: Canada’s eleventh province?
This week’s visit of the premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has once again prompted talk of the British overseas territory joining Canada as its eleventh province.
However, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird suggested Canadians are dreaming if they think they’ll have a province in the Caribbean any time soon. Even creating closer ties is a long shot, said Baird, since the Canadian government is not exploring stronger trade and investment, let alone annexing the British territory.
TCI Premier Rufus Ewing met Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday in Ottawa, where he said the two leaders spoke about exploring a more formal relationship but said they did not discuss the possibility of Turks and Caicos becoming Canada’s eleventh province.
The idea of uniting Canada and the TCI has been around since 1917, when then Canadian prime minister Robert Borden suggested that Canada annex the islands. In 2004, Nova Scotia’s three parties voted unanimously to let the TCI join their province if they ever became part of Canada.
Some provinces, however, still appear open to the idea.
While Ewing was in Ottawa, Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz tweeted to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall that he’d be happy to partner with the latter province on the Turks and Caicos project.
Conservative MP Peter Goldring has been a consistent advocate of increased cultural and economic ties between the TCI and Canada for ten years but the idea has not been pursued since Britain imposed direct rule on the TCI in 2009, following a commission of inquiry that uncovered widespread and systemic government corruption in the territory.
Goldring has visited the Caribbean islands several times and said they would fit in nicely with the rest of Canada.
But Canada stands to gain more than simply a vacation destination from such a union, he said: “From my perspective, certainly it goes far behind sun and sand. South Caicos Island, for example, is on a deep water channel. It could be readily developed into a deep-water port, which would give Canada tremendous advantage for trans-shipment throughout the entire region.”
He added the islands would be a strategic location from which to increase engagement with Haiti and Cuba.