Let's face it. America is an awkward colonial power. It throws its weight around absurdly, causing all manner of chaos for little or no avail. More to the point, the US obviously has no sense of how to pick a good colony. Clearly, Canada, which has more recent experience with colonialism, should take any opportunity it has to educate its southerly neighbour on how a good colonizer behaves. For that reason, if for no other, I'm endorsing Canada's new colonial venture in the Turks and Caicos
...The proposal was revived in the 1980s, when Canada commissioned a white paper on Canada-Turks union after a delegation from the islands came to Ottawa seeking political union.
See, that is how it should be done. The islanders came to Canada asking
to be colonized. It wasn't neccesary for Ottawa to lie to Canadians about being welcomed as liberators.... But enough of this. Seriously, what's this about?
With a population of about 30,000, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British overseas territory 900 kilometres southeast of Florida and 150 kilometres north of Haiti. British officials have said they would not stand in the way of a formal tie between Canada and the islands, if it was the will of the islanders.
Unfortunately, the article says virtually nothing about why we would want
the T&C as a new territory/province or to be otherwise united with them. What would the T&Cer's get out of it? What would Canada? The only thing I can think of is that a lot of tax revenue which is currently lost to international tourism could be collected. Here's the article again:
The Turks and Caicos Islands have become an increasingly popular tourist and investment destination for Canadians and Americans since the islands are considered the last bastion of largely unspoiled and underdeveloped Caribbean territory.
OK, so maybe we get tourist money. Does that offset the cost of providing various services to the T&C? (I have to say, I do like the acronym.) I have no idea. Plus there are political problems:
"This would be massively unpopular with citizens of other Caribbean states and make other Caribbean governments very uncomfortable at a time when Canadian, American and French troops ... are stationed on Haitian soil," said [University of Toronto history professor Melanie] Newton, who specializes in Caribbean history.
I can think of another potential problem. Remote territories tend to be problematic, and the issue of separation would almost certainly come up at some point. Without a long history of membership in the Canadian confederation, and with an obviously distinct vantage on the world, T&C would have a good claim to leave Canada again if the relationship ever became rocky. Would that reignite Quebec/Western/Maritime/whoever separatism? It might seem like a far-fetched question, and fortunately for now it is, since at this point:
In January, [Chief Minister of T&C] Misick told the TV current affairs program Global Sunday his government was prepared to engage in bilateral talks aimed at forming a political and economic union with Canada, should the people of both nations endorse the concept. ... Misick said he would be prepared to discuss full economic and political union with Canada under the rubric of "free association" -- something akin to the relationship New Zealand has with the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. ... Edmonton Conservative MP Peter Goldring and Quebec Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti have formed a committee to explore the possibility of full Canadian territorial or provincial status for the islands.
So at this point, few people are seriously talking about adding an 11th province. Though no one seems to be ruling it out either... Here's the CIA World Factbook
The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than half of the 93,000 visitors in 1998. Major sources of government revenue include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts. Tourism fell by 6% in 2002 but appeared to be picking up at yearend.
It's major industries are tourism and "offshore financial services". Would it still be engaged in lucrative financial services in the case of a union with Canada? What happens when the islands are drowned by rising sea levels? OK, I'm just ranting. If anyone has more information or thoughts on this very entertaining issue, by all means make use of the comments. Oh, and thanks to Andy for the link.