If one federal Conservative MP from Alberta has his way, the Turks and Caicos Islands would join Canada as the 11th province and become our sunny, tropical vacation getaway.
“Canada really needs a Hawaii. The United States has a Hawaii. Why can’t Canada have a Hawaii?” Alberta MP Peter Goldring told the Ottawa Citizen.
It is a topic that has reemerged with the visit of Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing who is currently in Canada to promote further economic ties and Canadian tourism to the Caribbean islands.
The idea of annexation was first proposed by Prime Minister Robert Borden in 1917 when he asked Britain to give the islands to Canada.
The idea was subsequently floated again at least seven times by both Canadian and Turks and Caicos politicians over the last five decades. It was even formally proposed by senior level politicians in the Turks and Caicos Islands when there was mounting popular support amongst islanders to become a Canadian province. By the late-1980s, support had reached 90 per cent, before falling to 60 per cent in 2003.
However, the idea of having the British islands join Canada’s political and economic union might be too late with diminishing interest to do so – a far cry when they were still knocking on Canada’s door in the 1990s.
When Goldring made a push in the Canadian House of Commons last year, Ewing rebuffed the idea, saying his priority instead was to forge as many relationships as possible with other countries as a means of strengthening economic growth.
“I won’t be too hasty to jump from one mother’s nest to another mother’s nest – one master to another,” Ewing told the Turks & Caicos Sun in 2013. “That is something that the people of the Turks and Caicos have to demonstrate to me that they want and then take it from there. But I think right now it is important to get this economy to turn around, get people to work, get people getting employed and empowered.”
Proponents in Canada argued the English-speaking islands could become a deep-water port for Canada, open a new market for Canadian goods and provide Ottawa with the ability to spread its sphere of influence into the region through the establishment of a military base. Annexation would also allow Canadians to travel there passport free.
Canadians are the islands’ second largest source for tourists and Canada’s largest banks already hold a major presence on the ground.
Distance between Canada and the Carribean archipelago might not be that much of an issue either; Ottawa is closer to the Turks and Caicos Islands than to Vancouver or even Iqaluit, Nunavut. From Ottawa, it is a distance of 2,660 kilometres to the islands, 3,556 kilometres to Vancouver, and 2,794 kilometres to Iqaluit.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are located east of Cuba and north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The islands are part of the United Kingdom and have a population of just 31,458 within its land area of 616 square kilometres.
It consists of eight large inhabited islands that are surrounded by 299 smaller islands, giving it a total turquoise water beachfront of more than 300 kilometres. Its capital Cockburn Town has a population of 3,700.
Featured Image: Turks and Caicos Islands via Shutterstock