Above: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meeting Monday with Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Dr Rufus Ewing (Photo: OPM Canada)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Should the Turks and Caicos Islands become part of Canada?
It may sound strange, but that’s the proposal being bandied about by a group of Canadian provincial Premiers, renewing an oft-made call for the British Overseas Territory to become a Canadian province.
In fact, several times in recent decades there have been efforts to have the archipelago to join Canada as the country’s 11th province.
In 2004, Nova Scotia’s legislature voted to have the Turks and Caicos become part of its province, echoing an idea by Conservative MP Peter Goldring.
On the occasion of Turks and Caicos Premier Dr Rufus Ewing’s visit to Canada this week, a number of Canadian politicians got in on the act as Ewing met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall made the most high-profile call, tweeting to Harper that “if you don’t want another/prov territory @pmharper, Turks and Caicos can join Canada as a part of Sask.”
That led to a response from Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz, who tweeted that “hey brad. #pei will be happy to partner with Saskatchewan on the Turks and caicos project!”
Wall responded to Ghiz’s tweet with “now we’re talking.”
Ewing reportedly did not rule out the request, although he stressed that he was focusing on deepening the country’s economic partnership with Canada.
It would be a strange step for the territory, which has been working to recover from a crippling corruption scandal that led to the British government suspending the territory’s constitution.
There has not been any local referendum on the idea, and Harper has not commented.
It’s not clear how the idea would work, or whether British officials would ever consent to such a move.
A spokesperson for the Turks and Caicos Island Governor’s office told Caribbean Journal that “no formal expression of interest from the TCI government or Canada for a more official relationship between the two” had been received.
“As set out in the UK Government’s 2012 White Paper ‘The Overseas Territories Security Success and Sustainability’ any decision to sever the constitutional link between the UK and a Territory should be on the basis of the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory,” the spokesperson told Caribbean Journal. “Where independence is an option and it is the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people to pursue independence, the UK Government will meet its obligations to help the Territory to achieve it. This principle is also relevant to expressions for a change of Sovereignty.”