Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Turks and Caicos Coup: Enter Canada ? Part I

Could the Canada / Turks and Caicos union issue come up for air again ?

After 33 years of home rule, in what The Economist calls a very British coup, the Islands' 15 seat assembly was suspended in favour of rule by their version of the Governor General on August 14th.

Growing complaints about rapid corruption with former Premier Michael Misick and his cabinet led the British Government to call the Auld Inquiry. In his final report released earlier this summer, Sir Robin Auld found "...clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence..." and that there was "...a high probability of systemic corruption" by elected officials.

Feelings are split over the suspension of the constitution. Some consider it an outrage, (especially those who lost power). Considering what brought it about, though, some say it was overdue and needed to settle things down.

The suspension is expected to last for a two-year period.

Gordon Wetherall.
(Yeah, I'd be smiling like that, probably giggling under my breath too, if I got a posting as governor of a chain of Caribbean Islands !)

Canada's interest in "T&C", the second largest cluster of islands in the Western Hemisphere, dates back to 1917 when P.M. Robert Borden first contemplated a union with the then region of Jamaica. That idea was quashed by British PM David Lloyd George.

Fast forward to 1974 and you have NDP M.P. Max Saltsman's, proposed private members bill to enter into annexation discussions. The bill was quashed before it hit the floor but the off-beat Saltsman introduced Canadians to this exotic Island beauty and we've had a coy relationship ever since.

After Saltsman's death in 1985 the torch was carried by Winnipeg Conservative M.P. Dan McKenzie. In 1986 a delegation from the Turks and Caicos Development Organization came to Canada to seek union discussions. They were armed with an economic study and an independent poll that showed 90% support for the idea back home. An audience before an External Affairs sub-committee made it front page news across the country.

That visit reaulted in a "no thanks" but spawned the Daubney Report which concluded that union discussions were premature. It set out a potential diplomatic framework to pave the road should the parties want to pursue the matter. They included:

- creating stronger private sector economic ties
- participating in foreign aid projects with the colony
- formally asking the British Government for permission to talk
- formally asking the colony's assembly to talk

The report led to a return visit from a larger delegation and the creation of the Turks & Caicos Development Organization of Canada (no website) that would work on furthering the necessary ties. In the end, though, Canada did not bite and seek formal talks.

In 2004 on a visit to the region P.M. Paul Martin said the topic would come up between him and now disgraced Premier Misick. That same year, N.S. in a pre-emptive strike, passed a motion that if T&C ever join Canada they were welcome to do it as part of Nova Scotia.

That's three or four times that we've fended off more formal discussions with T&C. IF we get approached again is it something we should look at ? I think we should ! Seriously !

Coming Soon:
Part 2: Turks and Caicos 101
Part 3 Making the Case

Coup Media:
Official Statement Office of H.E. Governor G. Wetherall 14 Aug '09 (Audio)
World Leaders Should Condemn UK Takeover - T & C Sun (Op Ed)
A Very British Coup - The Economist
UK Imposes Turks and Caicos Rule - BBC News
Auld Inquiry Final Report - Media Release UK Foreign Office

Turks and Caicos Reference

Turks and Caicos Islands - CIA Factbook
Turks and Caicos In Depth - CBC News
Canada and the Turks and Caicos Islands - Cdn Parliamentary Review (1988)

Turks and Caicos-based Links
Turks and Caicos Islands Gov't
Turks Journal
Turks and Caicos Sun
Radio Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos Tourism Board

1 comment:

Dan Yuen said...

We need to! We lose too much money and jobs if we don't.

In 2011, Canadian travellers spent $32 billion abroad - 2.3% of GDP and the same as the entire 2008 federal stimulus that created 550,000 jobs by our federal government estimates. And $10 billion more than foreigners spent in Canada - a deficit of about 1/3, or about 180,000 jobs. It is a trend that has been worsening with the strengthening loonie and is expected to get worse. This represents a significant drain on the Canadian economy that reduces Canada's tax base and ultimately global competitiveness.

In just one of Canada's top winter destinations, Florida, Canadian tourism in 2010 added $4 billion to local GDP, supporting 63,000 jobs and generating $700 million in tax revenue. Canadians spent an additional $2.1 billion buying residential property in 2010. 89% of these purchases were paid for completely in cash.

The most important segment of the Canadian visitors are the snowbirds, who are retired or semi-retired Canadians who spend more than 31 nights abroad to escape the Canadian winter. They stay longer (average 4.7 months), purchase big ticket items like cars, and make large investments like purchasing residential property. They also tend to influence the vacation destinations of their friends and relatives. Of the 2.6 million Canadian tourists in Florida in 2010, 500,000 or about 20% of them were snowbirds. In 2010, they purchased almost $1.7 billion in residential property in Florida, accounting for 80% of all Canadian buyers. In total, about 62% of Canadian snowbirds in Florida own a home, estimated to be worth $50 billion.

The alarming thing about the snowbirds is that their numbers will increase in the coming years as 9 million baby boomers enter retirement, potentially doubling the size of the retiree population in Canada.

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