Turks and Caicos, Canada's 11th province?

Canadians are being offered a warm weather destination where they can settle and retire.

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) new premier, Dr. Rufus Ewing says the country is looking at a new concept that will allow Canadians to call the country home.

“We are in the process of revising our immigration ordinance.  Basically if you come and stay and retire and buy a home, you can have the right to either permanent residency ground or long stay certificate grant that removes you from immigration controls.  So you can come and go as you please if you live there.”

Interestingly, a Canadian MP has once again raised the idea of TCI becoming a part of Canada, now that it has returned to self-rule. In 2009, TCI reverted to British control after a scandal involving a former premier.

Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Goldring is once again touting the idea that Turks and Caicos, a British territory consisting of 40 islands and cays in the Caribbean, should join Canada as its eleventh province.

The idea has existed for decades and several past attempts to make it reality have failed. Prime Minister Robert Borden first proposed connecting the two countries in 1917. Then in 1974, New Democratic Party MP Max Saltsman tabled a bill to annex the islands, but it didn’t pass.

After more failed talks in the late ’80s, Goldring adopted the issue in 2004 and he’s been advocating for Canada’s place in the sun ever since.

Last week, Goldring met with Ewing in Toronto to discuss the idea once again.

Ewing did not address this issue, but said he is looking at Canada and the province of Ontario for investors in a number of areas.

While the tiny country already has a number of Canadian-owned businesses and resorts on the ground such Scotia Bank, RBC Royal Bank and CIBC First Caribbean, Fortis TCI and Interhealth Canada, Dr. Ewing during a visit to Toronto for Caribbean Week events, met with potential investors and Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa to discuss further opportunities.

He told The Camera that besides investment in the tourism and hospitality industry, he is also looking for investment options to reduce energy costs.  “We’re looking towards alternative energy, we have some major infrastructure work to do like building bridges, roads, major ports of entry for marines for transhipment of goods, we’re also have international airports that we are looking at expanding in the future and colleges and universities.

Dr. Ewing is also interested in technical assistance in the area of agriculture, including policy development, training and personnel for in country support.

He said in the past, a number of TCI nationals have had the opportunity to study at McGill University and the University of Toronto.  “I’m looking to restrengthen those ties and also to see whether they are willing to have campuses inside of Turks and Caicos as part of our college parks concept that we are trying to develop there.”

Dr Ewing added that several hundred acres of land have been set aside for the college park campus, which can house three or four universities or colleges that will share common facilities and amenities.

“In addition to our college, we can have other colleges or universities come down and rent it and use it as part for their program here in the Turks and Caicos or hold some of their classes or summer courses here,” said the TCI premier.

Dr Ewing, who is also the tourism minister says, while they also have the sun, sand and beaches, they are also have ‘something unique’.  “What you get to experience is the way of living of the people and the culture and the heritage that you can’t get in any other country.”