Reality check: Should Canada adopt Turks and Caicos as its 11th province?
It was an idea proposed by an NDP MP more than 40 years ago and could be revisited at the party’s national convention in Edmonton this weekend: the adoption of the islands of Turks and Caicos as Canada’s 11th province.
The NDP released its wide-ranging resolution list Tuesday ahead of the convention, and resolution 1-92-16 states that an NDP federal government should develop the islands into an “affordable tourism industry for all Canadians.”
“New Democrats Believe in: Engaging with the peoples and government of Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British government to have the Turks and Caicos Islands become Canada’s 11th Province,” reads resolution.
While the idea was more recently proposed in 2013 by former Conservative MP Peter Goldring, the idea goes back to 1974 when New Democrat MP Max Saltzman introduced a private member’s bill to annex the islands. The proposal can be traced back even further to 1917 when former prime minister Robert Borden asked Great Britain to let Canada have the tropical paradise.
“One of the reasons the idea continues to be popular is because there is this thing called winter in Canada,” said Robin Sears, a principal at Earnscliffe and former NDP strategist. “But it ain’t going to happen.”
In 2014, Goldring revisited the idea of making Turks and Caicos Canada’s 11th province telling Global News it “would be good for business if we were to develop a good strong relationship and maybe even a marriage.”
And while Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing was open to the prospect of his country joining Canada in 2014, former foreign affairs minister John Baird shot down the idea of a tropical Canadian province.
During his final speech in the House of Commons before retiring, Goldring called his Turks and Caicos dream “a work in progress.”
Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory consisting of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas.
“It would require the Queen being willing to transfer one of her assets to us and I don’t think that is very likely,” said Sears. “But it’s a nice fairy tale.”
Errol Mendes, a constitutional law expert at the University of Ottawa, said there would also have to be a “constitutional amendment to add another province.”
“If it included having representation in the House of Commons or the Senate, that requires unanimous consent of all the provinces,” said Mendes, adding that it has been historically difficult to use the amending formula.
“But we have such awful winters we may get unanimous consent,” he said jokingly.
Mendes said while things like health care or representation would be up for negotiation, the federal government would also have to consider concerns like assuming debt and security.
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