- Published on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 06:09
- Written by TCI SUN
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An influential Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) is making strong and serious representation for the Turks and Caicos Islands to become a part of Canada.
In fact, Conservative MP Peter Goldring feels so strongly about the matter that he raised the topic with Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing when he met with him in Canada a few weeks ago.
Although the Premier did not, and could not, commit to the proposal to make the Turks and Caicos Islands a province of Canada, Goldring isn’t giving up.
According to several reports in the Canadian media, Goldring is seriously doing his part to make that happen.
The idea of the British Overseas Territory joining the Great White North is not a new one.
In 1917, prime minister Robert Borden tried to persuade Great Britain to let Canada annex the Turks and Caicos Islands, but was given the brush-off. Then in 1974, a private member’s bill from NDP MP Max Saltsman examining annexation of the Turks also failed.
And, according to The Globe and Mail, the Turks and Caicos Islands sent a "serious offer" to discuss joining Canada in the 1980s, but it was "politely ignored" as politicians grappled with the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement instead.
But Goldring believes the islands, home to about 30,000 full-time residents, may be a natural fit for Canada.
The Edmonton East MP met with the country’s premier, Rufus Ewing, at a reception in Toronto last Wednesday and told the National Post that while there is interest in an economic association between the Islands and Canada, he remains in favour of pursuing "full provincial status."
Goldring told the newspaper that a Caribbean province could mean development of a strategic, deep-water trading port for Canada and do wonders for national unity.
"Canadians holiday north and south, they don’t holiday east and west," he said. "So we don’t get a chance to meet and greet each other on a regular basis. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a common destination in the south?"
Goldring said advances in technology and air travel mean concerns about distance no longer apply. In fact, he suggested the spot could be like a "tiny Nunavut."
"Turks and Caicos are actually closer to Ottawa, in kilometers, than my riding in Edmonton," he told The Post. “With air travel and electronic communication it’s a whole new world.”
The Tory MP has been focused on this issue since at least 2004.
In a newsletter from nine years ago, Goldring wrote that while Canada does not want to be thought of as a colonial power, islanders would welcome an association to help them achieve their full potential.
“Perhaps the time has come to end the courtship and finally be wed,” he wrote.
The province of Nova Scotia, evidently, agrees.
In 2004, the province’s three political parties voted unanimously to invite Turks and Caicos to join the province, if the Caribbean islands ever become part of Canada.
The following is an interview which he did with the National Post newspaper.
Q: You’ve been pursuing the Turks and Caicos file since 2004, but what did Mr. Ewing say during your latest meeting?
A: He was definitely interested in pursuing an economic association, and he’s looking for my type of help to work with members of parliament to get some momentum going to see if we can’t maybe get him a meeting with cabinet members to look at what some of these economic interests might be. The difficulty is that they’re a territory of Great Britain, so of course you would want to do things in concert with and with sensitivities to what Great Britain’s interests are.
Q: What do you see as the ideal future relationship between Canada and Turks and Caicos? An economic union? Territorial status? Full-fledged provincial status?
A: I would look at giving it full provincial status because of the potential for the region because they would then be representing Canada’s interests for the entire area. We have precedent; PEI has a relatively modest population. While the Turks population is between 25,000 and 35,000 people, with development and commercialization of the islands, very quickly I could see a population of 100,000 people.
Q: Plans to annex the islands have fallen through at least three time; in the 1910s, the 1970s and the 1980s. What’s different now?
A: The messaging then was for the Turks and Caicos to join Canada, but I think the plan may have [fallen apart] when Parliament considered space and time and distance. But in today’s world, the Turks and Caicos are actually closer to Ottawa, in kilometers, than my riding in Edmonton. With air travel and electronic communication it’s a whole new world.
Q: It’s certainly a nice vacation spot, but what else would Canada do with a Caribbean province?
A: They say that South Caicos Island is on a deepwater channel that could be developed into a deepwater trading port for transshipment from Canada’s Maritimes. Cuba, of course, has great infrastructure needs. As they are probably soon going to be entering a post-Castro era, looking forward I think it would bode well to have Canadian interests based from the Turks. From a Canadian unity point of view [and Canadian unity is why I got into politics], Canadians holiday north and south, they don’t holiday east and west. So we don’t get a chance to meet and greet each other on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a common destination in the south? The Turks would love all the extra business they could get in tourism.