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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

TURKS & CAICOS CANADIAN MARRIAGE?

Recently we were in the Turks & Caicos and we got talking to some folks there and they are still very much interested in becoming Canadian. Not all mind you ... but many. Most Turks respect Canada and Canadians. In fact their hospital on Grand Turk is Canadian built and Canadian staffed and most of their banks are Canadian. As we were told Turks has an "excellent relationship with Canada". The politician who was leading the charge there during the Pierre Trudeau era got into trouble as he took a lot of $ for personal use apparently ... and flew the coupe. He is now just being extradited from Brazil to be tried in the Turks. While the Turks & Caicos is a UK colony, there is not a lot of attachment there ... and besides the UK already has many islands. Many Turks would like to be independent but realize they cannot do it on their own and Canada is the country they feel closest to.

Economically they got whacked like everyone else in the great depression but the island group is far more developed than it was during the Trudeau negotiations in the 80’s. Having said that some of the outer islands have hardly changed a bit and the water is the most beautiful in the Caribbean. They have the third biggest barrier reef in the world and it is a diving mecca. The water drops off to some of the deepest clearest water in the world (outside the reefs around most of their islands).

Proposals for political association between Turks and Caicos Islands and Canada have been in play since the early 20th century, beginning with First World War era prime minister Robert Borden’s suggestion to Britain that it transfer some of its Caribbean possessions to Canada. In the early 1960s, the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker played a significant role in encouraging unity among several Caribbean island nations and colonies including Turks and Caicos in hopes of encouraging stronger economic relations and potentially a political association between the region and Canada. Two other lone MPs, the NDP’s Max Saltsman in the 1970’s and Conservative MP Dan McKenzie in the 1980s unsuccessfully championed the cause of making TCI part of Canada. In 2004 the Nova Scotia legislature unanimously adopted a resolution calling for talks with Turks and Caicos to explore the idea of the sunny islands joining the Atlantic province. Conservative MP Peter Goldring of Edmonton has emerged as this century’s leading advocate of a Canada TCI union launching his lobbying effort about a decade ago. Last month, during a Turks & Caicos scheduled trade mission to Canada, which included a meeting with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, they met with Goldring to discuss the MP’s ideas about forging stronger economic and political relations. Goldring said political union remains a long term goal but that preliminary move to increase economic and social engagement leading to Canada securing special access to a deep-water Caribbean port would represent serious progress toward his vision of a snow free 11th province.

If they were to become part of Canada it would be a huge win economically for their population of approx. 30,000. For Canadians, somewhere warm that will work with health care and banking, taxes, business etc. It was pointed out to us however that Turks can move slow on this kind of thing and an education process addressing all the pros and cons needs to be vetted through the people - as one might expect.

It’s a five step process in my simplistic view:

1/ Education process Canada and Turks & Caicos

2/ Hold a referendum in Turks & Caicos

3/ Ask the Queen for separation as a British colony

4/ Join Canada

5/ Canadians break out the beach towels and invest in the Turks & Caicos

Should we start a petition to join forces with these beautiful Caribbean islands as an 11th province?

Posted by at 12:23 PM
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