Monday, May 20, 2024

Island Issues

Caribbean: Turks and Caicos Set to Become Canada’s Eleventh Province?

A recent diplomatic tour of Canada saw Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing move one step closer to becoming Canada’s eleventh province.

Parrot Cay - Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

Parrot Cay – Courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing got much more than he bargained for during his recent diplomatic tour of Canada, with talks of a trade agreement between the two countries soon turning into an attempt to transform the tiny island group into Canada’s eleventh province.

After meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss increases in investments and the diversification of the Turks and Caicos’ economy on May 26, Premier Ewing found himself bombarded with questions about annexation after a social media campaign started by Saskatchewan’s provincial premier Brad Wall went viral.

Faced with tricky questions about the prospect of becoming Canada’s hottest province, Premier Ewing admitted that whilst he wasn’t in a position to rule the idea out completely, he would prefer to concentrate on the real reason for his visit – the diversification of the Turks and Caicos economy.

“Our first step towards any kind of relationship should be one whereby we can discuss, discover areas of mutual interest between both countries. It’s a serious business in terms of economic growth and development of my country and my people,” he said. “At this point, I cannot state anything beyond that.”

It’s not the first time that the annexation of the Turks and Caicos has been on the political agenda, with former Canadian PM Robert Borden first floating the idea of a union in 1917. Since then, there have been frequent attempts to consolidate the island group, including an official invitation to join the province of Nova Scotia back in 2004.

Ten years on, however, it seems that this time, Saskatchewan is the province most keen on expanding its territories, with support for provincial Premier Brad Wall’s self-styled “Saskatchewarm” project already gathering momentum across both the political spectrum and – this being the 21st century – a series of social networks, too.

The islands of the Turks and Caicos (eight of which are inhabited) boast all-year average temperatures of 30°C – quite a contrast to the cool Canadian climate and, for some, reason enough to push for a union between the two lands.

The weather could well be Canada’s only benefit, however. An External Affiars study posted in The Canadian Press suggested that both countries would be better off alone, warning that annexation could lead to racial tension, would be too expensive and would ultimately provide very little financial incentive to Canada.

If a union between Canada and the Turks and Caicos were to take place, it would form the country’s first successful annexation of a British Overseas Territory since taking over Newfoundland and Labrador back in 1949.

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