Baird says no to Turks and Caicos joining Canada

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

OTTAWA — Will Canada ever become the world's largest exporter of bananas?

Absolutely not, and the same goes for Turks and Caicos ever becoming a Canadian province or territory, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says.

"We're not in the business of annexing islands in the Caribbean," he said Monday, quashing renewed dreams of a southern Canadian beachhead.

But the fantasy of shivering Canucks adopting their own passport-free archipelago to splash in turquoise waters and walk along pristine beaches lives on — fanned by a visit from the premier of the British Overseas Territory, Rufus Ewing.

Ewing and his delegation met MPs to strengthen relationships. He even paid a brief courtesy call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But the notion of a merger was front and centre.

In 1917, then-prime minister Robert Borden first raised the idea of empire building with the islands, situated close to Cuba and even closer to Haiti.

But governments, fearing a surge of refugee claimants, equalization payments and the cost to implement Canada's health-care system, have politely dismissed the idea of a Caribbean cousin.

 

Ewing said he came to Parliament Hill to promote tourism, trade, and cultural and parliamentary bonds. Becoming part of Canada wasn't on the agenda, but it's still open for discussion, he said.

He reminded reporters of the vast Canadian investment on the islands, including major banks, law firms, hotels and a hospital, and droves of winter tourists.

But he wants to formalize closer ties with Canada before the flirtation goes any further.

"There's no marriage without some kind of relationship," he said to laughs.

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun


Videos

Photos