A Broken Clock is still right twice a day: Expanding Canadian Sovereignty
“‘He (Ewing) is saying in his comments he doesn’t mind the talk of it going to Confederation,’ said Goldring. ‘And who knows? An engagement – that’s what engagements do sometimes. They lead to marriage. But that’s way off in the future. First of all you have to kind of prove yourself.’
Ewing came to power in Turks and Caicos Islands in November after a controversial, three-year period of direct rule by British officials in response to alleged corruption and mismanagement of the local TCI administration.”
- Turks and Caicos frustrates Tory MP’s plan to woo island colony into becoming Canada’s 11th province, by Randy Boswell, National Post, Postmedia News, July 21, 2013
I must say that I was surprised to see a Conservative MP advocating for the expansion of Canada. However, I must say that I agree. Our own history says that such an expansion would be beneficial for both parties. For Turks and Caicos’ recent history looks very much like that of the Province of Newfoundland. For between 1934 and 1949, Newfoundland, like the Turks and Caicos Islands, was administered by a Commission of Government. Like the Caribbean Island, the Newfoundland Royal Commission, headed by a Scottish peer William Mackenzie, 1st Baron Amulree, assessed Newfoundland’s political culture as intrinsically corrupt and its economic prospects as bleak. While administered by Britain, there were some successes and a lot of failures. However, Newfoundland’s most successful times have come under the Canadian Federation. This is true of most provinces. While most of them came into Canada with a number of economic problems, they have largely flourished under the Canadian Federation.
For the Canadian Federation has brought a level of both competency and exchange of ideas which is necessary in a modern country. Saskatchewan’s experiments in socialized medicine have brought us unexpected social and economic gains. While engineering programmes in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, London and Kingston have created engineers that can design planes in Montréal or extract bitumen oil in Alberta. And this is all before we get to the capital base that is created by both Governments and Private Industry. Just look at the history of Syncrude. Started by private market players, Syncrude ran into trouble in 1978. However, it was important to our national interest. Consequently, the Trudeau Government – a Liberal Government – led the charge to save it. It invested enough capital to take a 15% interest. The Governments of Alberta and Ontario took on ten percent and five per cent respectively.
This compact has also meant that all citizens in all provinces have been protected. As noted in the book, Shooting the Hippo, the bankruptcy of Alberta in 1936 caused a network of federal programmes to be established. Consequently, up until 1965, Alberta often received some form of equalization payment. Such payments allowed each province, in time, to adjust their economy. Just as Alberta received transfer payments from Ottawa to get it through its rough patch, Ontario and Quebec – net payers of transfer payments from 1936 to 1965 – are now receive varying amounts back from the transfer systems. What was a problem in 1936 has led to a series of solutions that has grown our federation. A federation that is now deeper and stronger. Just as each province has been helped from our system of private enterprise and public support, so could the Turks and Caicos Islands – either as a protectorate, a territory or a province.
Consequently, it is a simple prospect: a democratic prospect, an economic prospect and a political prospect which will not be found with an association with the United Kingdom. The Canadian State has a proven track record of improving territories under its purview. These are the advantages that we need to sell to the Premier of the Turks and Caicos, Mr. Ewing. The harder question is also simple: what are the advantages to Canada?
For me, there are three. The first advantage is a strategic one. Or to be more specific, if the Turks and Caicos becomes a Canadian Protectorate, Territory or Province, we could enhance our own criminal and national security priorities. Just think about it, North American Police Officials have been trying to stop two different drug routes: one by sea and another by air.
In the 1980’s, the sea route was dominated by go-fast boats. In calm waters, these boats can reach over 80 knots (150 km/h). Their seaworthiness, speed and stealth nature made them difficult to intercept with conventional craft. So Civilian Police Officials had to change their strategy. They deployed more high-speed craft, more helicopters and an improved radar detection system.
However, drug-smugglers did not stop developing new vessels. At present, they have developed a number of self-propelled submersibles that are becoming more sophisticated. For example, the first known vessels, detected in 1993, were semi-submersibles since they could not dive: most of the craft was submerged with little more than the cockpit and the exhaust gas pipes above the water. Modern narco-submarines are fully submersible, designed specifically to be difficult to detect visually or by radar, sonar and infrared systems. Consequently, more drugs can be moved from Colombia to Mexico and Colombia to the United States. What is more interesting is that the Islands of the Turks and Caicos are close to, if not at the centre of, those routes. In fact, the Islands of the Turks and Caicos were under Canadian Sovereignty, it would be easy to run naval ships to the Caribbean. Royal Canadian Navy Ships could add additional naval capacity and make a real difference. However, this is just the beginning.
The second reason for this move would be the maintenance of Canadian Wealth. According to Jeannie Armstrong of the Edmonton Journal, “In 2012, Canadians purchased a whopping $9.4 billion of U.S. real estate, according to the National Association of Realtors. At 24 per cent, Canadians represent the largest segment of international buyers investing in the U.S. real estate market.” (Plan a private haven in the U.S.? Do your homework when buying real estate, Edmonton Journal, Mar. 20, 2013) Imagine if Canadians kept some of that money within the Canadian Economy? Given that much of that money is going towards second homes in warm States – like Nevada, California, Florida and Arizona – Canadians lose out on the GDP growth the comes from the accumulation of internal assets as well as the tax revenue and other social benefits.
This argument is also enhanced by the fact that the major banks in the area are either local banks or Canadian Banks. Or put differently, CIBC (via their First Caribbean International Bank Subsidiary), RBC and ScotiaBank have been on the island for years. Consequently, expanding our sovereignty to include the Turks and Caicos means that Canadians could maintain their RRSPs, RRIFs or other assets in a familiar environment. Canadians would no longer have to travel to the States and Canadian tax revenue would be enhanced by tourism.
The final reason is simple: the friendly expansion of Canadian Sovereignty has never been a bad thing. The “Canadian Project” started with four provinces and has now expanded to ten. During World War II, Canada was home to the Dutch Monarchy and our efforts were monumental in bringing an end to Nazism. Our troops have proudly served through the UN – in peacekeeping and peacemaking functions. Our country has generally brought an expansion of rights to all peoples and been on the forefront of human and political rights. We have not always gotten it right. I can mention the internment of Japanese, German and Italian Canadians. I can also mention the attempted Anglicization of Aboriginal Canadians or the systemic discrimination of the Afro-Canadian community. However, with that being said, we have generally learned from our mistakes. While generations later, we tend to apologize and remember the wrong we have done. This is the principle of responsible government in action. It is not perfection but we are one the road to perfecting our way of life. Consequently, just as we should have encouraged Iceland, during the last global banking crisis, to take on the Canadian Currency; it is the belief of this lone liberal – of Bajan (Barbadian) and Jamaican heritage – that we should take a more active role in the future of the Islands of Turks and Caicos. We should, with their permission, look to introduce some Maple Syrup to their country.