The Coffee Break. 28th May 2014.
According to an article from the CBC, Canada and the Turks and Caicos Islands have ruled out a merger, but they hint that it may still be in the books far later down the line. Now to summarize the article in order to save time and space (and because you dear readers can check out the story in the link at the end of this article): the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands visits Canada and while he did not ask to join Canada on behalf of the Turks and Caicos, any future discussion on the possible addition of the Turks and Caicos Islands to the Dominion of Canada far into the distant future should not be ruled out entirely. The article then goes into some key points regarding absorbing a foreign territory into the Canadian state such as the issue with the three provinces, and issues that can arise concerning the constitution and other related affairs.
Right well the comments section on CBC are a mess as always: people blaming politicians, pro-annexation individuals pointing out some benefits, people disagreeing and pointing out the disadvantages and so forth. What I want to do however is touch on one key issue that the Canadian government will have to overcome should – if it occurred – Canada absorb the island chain.
Starting things off; the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory located in the Lucayan Archipelago, part of the larger Antilles according to Wikipedia. These Caribbean islands rest south by southeast of The Bahamas, and east by northeast of Cuba, with Haiti and the Dominican Republic directly south of the small island territory. Being and island territory by nature, the key issue the Canadian government will have to deal with if they were to accept a offer of joining from the premier of the Turks and Caicos is defence – on top of a possible flight of refugees seeking Canadian refugee status by landing on the newly acquired territory not so far from home.
Starting things off would be the Royal Canadian Navy: 33 ships total is our fleet, and yet we have only 15 operational. Should an island territory become part of Canada our navy will have an even greater task of providing defence and security for these islands, on top of their already massive mandate of protecting Canadian shores which includes a massive swathe of northern waters. The cost for the navy would be at least two frigates with six to eight patrol vessels for the security of the area. Cost of maintaining a patrol squadron too much for the Canadian government? Shrink that squadron down to one frigate and six patrol vessels similar to the ones being procured for our northern operations.
Could the Canadian government afford to operate a naval presence in the region to protect territorial sovereignty? That is the first question out of the list: the next is ground forces. A regular force battalion raised and permanently stationed in the Turks and Caicos could prove costly for the Canadian government, and seeing as it would be very difficult to conduct military training with the unit on an annual basis, a regular force battalion might be out of the question. Thus it falls to the Turks and Caicos Islands to form army reserve units to defend their home – funded and supplied by the Canadian government of course. The type of reserve units would be one infantry battalion, one artillery/coastal artillery battalion, one air defence battalion, and one logistics unit to provide the previous three battalions with food, ammo and weapons. Should having multiple units prove unsustainable however, then a single infantry company will have to suffice for internal security.
Now with regards to policing of the island territory, the local police forces can simply be carried over from their previous status as an overseas territory; yet we have not factored in one key aspect – the citizen’s decision. Should some of the 30,000 residents of the Turks and Caicos wish to remain British Overseas citizens, they will have to move to another part of the Caribbean in order to continue with their status. This could in turn create some difficult scenarios in that the people are forced to leave behind their homes, livelihoods and so forth in order to retain their documentation – the choice is theirs.
Government offices and so forth can be established by absorbing the current structure over there, which brings us back to our initial question: what will Canada do for the defence of those islands? Our current fleet will prove insufficient, and an army division stationed on the island would be difficult to maintain – even for army reserve units. There is not enough land for a full air force base and with a limited fighter craft fleet we cannot spare the jets: in other words the islands will only get a small squadron of light warships with an army reserve unit as their first and only line of defence against foreign aggression, and for internal security in an event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Now Canada is not a nation which goes about pissing off other countries on a whim, but certainly the defence of the islands would be an important consideration to look into yes? Should these people and their government choose to join Canada they will have to be protected. Difficult questions best left unanswered as the territory belongs to the United Kingdom, and any – per se – “transfer” of territorial authority could have some unseen consequences sooner or later. For now however it is all just talk; let us hope it stays that way, otherwise these questions will have to be answered and fast.
Yet one final thing to note before finishing this article for the day: Canada has suggested a union with the Turks and Caicos before in the past. Back in 1917 Prime Minister Borden suggested this idea, with another attempt by an NDP member of Parliament Max Saltsman through a Private Member’s Bill which was rejected by the House of Commons. Judging from the historical events present, this sort of talk is not something new: definitely in the future Canadians will be reading more of this as history continues to visit us again and again. The link to the full article is located below this paragraph. Thanks everyone for reading, and I will catch you next time.