Turks and Caicos and Canada – A match made in heaven?

The Premier of the British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos, Rufus Ewing was in Ottawa today (May 26, 2014) and as always happens when the Turks and Caicos comes up, media stories (here, here, here and here) emerged floating the idea about Canada annexing the Caribbean island chain and it becoming the nation’s 11th province. Although I agree the idea of Canada adding a new province or territory to confederation is an interesting one, but it is little more than a fantasy in my opinion.

The Canadian Constitution is very clear on this issue. Article 42 subsection e and f state:

42. (1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1): …

(e) the extension of existing provinces into the territories; and

(f) notwithstanding any other law or practice, the establishment of new provinces.[1]

Section 38(1) refers to the general amending formula requiring 7 provincial legislatures representing 50% of Canada’s population approving the change.

If the federal government is unwilling to open the Constitution to deal with major problems within the current political and social system: the Senate, Aboriginal Representation, Electoral Reform, Quebec’s Special Status. What gives anyone the hope that it will be successfully opened to give a remote set of islands that are thousands of kilometers from Canada, provincial status.

Of course the islands could be added to Canada as a territory, but then the question is why would the join. They are already a territory of the United Kingdom, logically if they were to leave it would be for a better arrangement. Last year, Premier Ewing stated that “I won’t be too hasty to jump from one mother’s nest to another mother’s nest – one master to another”: That means the islands would likely need a “sweetheart deal” receiving substantial equalization transfers from the federal government in order to join Canada. Tax rates on the Turk and Caicos islands are much lower then in Canada with no income or capital gains taxes. More or less they would need to be bribed to join Canada, in order to be enticed to pay Canadian tax rates and/or GST.

Although I love the idea of a Canadian province or territory in the Caribbean, is it worth the headaches it will cause when there are plenty of political, social and economic issues at home?

 

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