I get that John Baird is a very important man with a very important job doing very important things, like saving the world for Stephen Harper’s democracy. But does Canada’s foreign minister have to be such a party pooper?
Specifically, as the thermometer outside my office door barely nudged 10 degrees Celcius this week did he have to throw water on the idea of this country welcoming the tropical paradise known as the Turks and Caicos Islands into its provincial fold?
“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,” Baird declared on Monday, as the premier of the Caribbean state, a British protectorate, openly flirted with the notion of he and his 29,000 fellow islanders formally becoming Canucks.
“I’m not closing the door completely,” Rufus Ewing told reporters in Ottawa. “It is not of my mandate to close the door. What I’ll say is on the radar is some kind of relationship. I can’t say what kind of relationship it will be,”
Still, insisted Baird: “We’re not looking at any sort of formal association with the islands.”
But, as the Globe and Mail’s editorial writer asked reasonably yesterday, “Why the heck not? Yes, the idea is slightly loopy. But a people subjected to six months a year of winter, preceded by four months of fall, are entitled to the occasional tropical daydream. And if Newfoundland could go from a British colony to Canadian province, why not some slightly more temperate islands?.”
Of course, the circumstances of Newfoundland’s entry into Confederation in 1949 were unique to that place and time (having had something to do with 15 years of government by appointment only), yet Canada’s self-styled national newspaper is not wrong about this. And its readers concur. After all, if Richard Branson gets to own a palmy getaway at the equator, why can’t we?
“Has anyone even run the numbers?” writes Peter Sutherland of Ottawa. “The cost of providing Canadian social services for some 30,000 islanders versus the money that would stay in ‘Canada’ (not the southern United States or Mexico) during the winter? Looks like this rare opportunity will once again fade as fast as my short-lived summer tan.”
Adds Mary Lazier-Corbett of Picton, Ontario: “Assuming there is an informed wish on the part of Turks and Caicos to become part of our Confederation, it would have huge advantages to Canada. . .It would. . .open up opportunities for citizens in the ‘new‘ area and force us all to rethink, rationally, what it means to be Canadian. . .Go for it!”
Finally, this word from Janice Campbell of Halifax: “Frostbitten hand to winter-numbed heart, there is so much I’d forgive the Conservatives if they did this. Puh-leeze, Mr. Baird.”
Well, Mr. Baird, the people have spoken; what say you now? Shall you stand in the corner just as the festivities kick into high gear?
“If you don’t want another prov/territory,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall tweeted to the prime minister, “Turks/Caicos can join Canada as a part of Sask.”
To which Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz responded, “Hey, Brad, PEI would be happy to partner with Saskatchewan on the Turks and Caicos project!”
Replied Wall: “Now we’re talking.”
Even Mr. Baird’s colleague Conservative MP Peter Goldring likes the idea. “There are opportunities that are going to be growing in the Caribbean,” he told Global News. “I think it would be good for business if we were to develop a good strong relationship and maybe even a marriage.”
It’ll never happen, of course, because the politicos in positions of real power – never the most imaginative among us – can’t divine an immediate up side.
I, on the other hand, can think of 12. In the Turks and Caicos, average high temperatures for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December are, respectively: 27, 27, 28, 28, 29, 30, 31, 31, 31, 30, 29, and 28 degrees Celcius. Plus, it never gets below 20 at night.
As one gets older, these considerations acquire greater significance, especially as one obsessively checks the mercury outside my office door.
It’s May 28 and what do you know? The temperature just shot up to 13.
Maybe John Baird is right after all.
Turks and Caicos?
Bah, who needs you?