Turks and Caicos ‘marriage’ with Canada would be good for business: Tory MP

WATCH: The possibility of the tropical islands of Turks and Caicos becoming a part of Canada is making headlines once again. Mike Le Couteur explains why.

OTTAWA – Conservative MP Peter Goldring is revisiting his dream to annex Turks and Caicos and make it the 11th province as the tropical islands’ premier met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa.

“There are opportunities that are going to be growing in the Caribbean,” Goldring said in an interview from Ukraine.

“I think it would be good for business if we were to develop a good strong relationship and maybe even a marriage.”

Now, Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing is leaving the door open to the prospect of his country joining Canada, even though he has opposed the idea in the past.

But Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird suggests Canadians are dreaming if they think they’ll have a province in the Caribbean any time soon.

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Click to play video: 'Baird says government not interested in admitting Turks and Caicos as 11th province'
Baird says government not interested in admitting Turks and Caicos as 11th province

Ewing met Harper in Ottawa, where he says the two leaders spoke about exploring a more formal relationship.

Ewing described the meeting as a “courtship,” but said the pair did not discuss the possibility of Turks and Caicos becoming Canada’s 11th province.

The idea, however, is not out of the question, Ewing suggested during a news conference following the meeting.

“It is not of my mandate to close the door,” he said.

“It is my mandate to see Turks and Caicos have sustainable economic growth and development and development of our people … and we look to Canada, who has shown by example of being a very strong democracy.”

FLASHBACK: July 8th 2013 | MP Peter Goldring talks about a push to make Turks and Caicos Canada’s next province.

A department spokesman said in an email the Islands are a British Overseas Territory.

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“Canada is not exploring a more formal association with the Turks and Caicos Islands and does not consider that any such arrangement would be of greater mutual benefit than the friendly relations that currently exist,” said spokesman Ian Trites.

Even creating closer ties is a long shot, says Baird: the Harper government is not exploring stronger trade and investment, let alone annexing the British colonial territory.

“We’re not in the business of annexing islands in the Caribbean to be part of Canada, so that’s not something that we’re exploring,” said Baird.

“We’re not looking at any sort of formal association with the islands.”

Goldring said giving the island provincial status would allow it to diversify its economy by becoming the Canadian centre for the entire region.

“We could do nothing to the Turks and Caicos to advance their sun and sand. They have it mastered now,” he said.

“But this is more about economic interest.”

Some provinces appear open to the idea.

While Ewing was in Ottawa, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz tweeted to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall that he’d be happy to partner with the Prairie province on the Turks and Caicos project.

WATCH: Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing “not closing the door” on joining Canada

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Click to play video: 'Turks and Caicos Premier ‘not closing the door’ on joining Canada'
Turks and Caicos Premier ‘not closing the door’ on joining Canada

Some facts about the islands:

Where: The Turks and Caicos consist of 40 islands and cays lying north of Haiti and east of Cuba. Only eight islands are inhabited.

Population: About 30,000 people.

Area: A total of 958 square kilometres.

Status: The islands are a British Overseas Territory, in essence a colony with a governor appointed by London overseeing an elected legislature.

Economy: Tourism, offshore financial services promoted by a “zero tax” regime and fishing.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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