Ottawa says it sees no benefit in annexing the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos.
In an email Saturday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Claude Rochon told HuffPost the islands are UK territory and Canada has no interest in changing that status.
"Canada is not exploring a more formal association with the Turks and Caicos Islands and does not consider that any such arrangement would be of greater mutual benefit than the friendly relations that currently exist," Rochon wrote.
Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing is in Canada for a five-day visit promoting the islands as a tourist destination. He met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday to discuss increases in investments and the diversification of the Turks and Caicos' economy.
But all the media wanted to know was whether Ewing was open to the idea of annexation.
Ewing told reporters he and his people are not closing the door completely to discussions but what he primarily wants is a deeper socio-economic relationship.
"Our first step towards any kind of relationship should be one whereby we can discuss, discover areas of mutual interest between both countries...as we go through a period of courtship and then see where it takes us," he said. "Beyond that, I cannot state beyond that right now."
Ewing noted the already strong influence of Canadian companies on the British territory. Most banks in the Turks and Caicos are Canadian, the power company is Canadian owned, as are several hotels and resorts, law firms and even the hospital is owned by a Canadian company, he said.
"I'm not closing the door completely," he said. "It is not of my mandate to close the door."
"[Annexation] it's probably not off the table because I've not said no and my people have not said no because they have not been given the opportunity to even have the question being asked of them," he added.
Conservative MP Peter Goldring had hoped annexation would be on the agenda. For over a decade, Goldring has pushed for the idea that Turks and Caicos become Canada's 11th province.
"Canada really needs a Hawaii. The United States has a Hawaii. Why can’t Canada have a Hawaii?" Goldring told the Ottawa Citizen Sunday in a telephone interview.
Last year, Ewing had poured cold water over the notion of annexation saying if Canadians wanted to talk about it and it encouraged them to visit the islands, then it was fine by him.
"I won't be too hasty to jump from one mother's nest to another mother's nest – one master to another," he told a local newspaper in 2013.
One source told HuffPost that the Turks and Caicos have never approached the Harper government with a desire to talk about annexation or any similar arrangements. A top cabinet minister, Jason Kenney, expressed serious concerns about any plans in that direction when the idea was floated internally when he was immigration minister.
Several sources said Kenney was concerned that if anyone who reached one of the Turks and Caicos' 40 islands could claim asylum in Canada, it would cause of flood of refugee applications.
Canada and the Turks and Caicos have toyed with the idea of annexation before.
In 1917, Prime Minister Robert Borden tried to persuade Great Britain to let us annex the lands, but was given the brush-off.
In 1974, a private member's bill from NDP MP Max Saltsman examining annexation of the Turks also failed.
The Turks and Caicos Islands sent a "serious offer" to discuss joining Canada in the 1980s, but The Globe and Mail reported it was "politely ignored" as politicians focused on the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement instead.
The Canadian Press reported that an External Affairs study released in 1987 warned that annexation of the islands — which had a population then of 25,000 — could lead to racial tension, would be too expensive and would provide little or no benefit to Canada.
The islands' population is now 31,458, smaller than any state in the Caribbean.
In 2004, the three political parties in Nova Scotia voted unanimously to invite Turks and Caicos to join the province, if it ever became part of Canada.
That year, the Canadian Press quoted a senior official in Turks and Caicos, Ralph Higgs, saying there was a serious interest on the part of islanders to join some sort of union with Canada.
"We will talk and come up with something that is beneficial to both parties," he is quoted as saying.
"It will be, in the final analysis, for the leaders of our countries to decide the best form for that relationship, whether it's provincial status, free association or overseas territory. We'll look at the pros and cons of each one and decide which is best for both parties."
When HuffPost asked a handful of islanders what they thought of annexation two years ago, most scoffed at the idea of paying Canadian tax rates.
It looks like both parties decided it would be best to leave things as they are.
With files from the Canadian Press and previous files
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Ambergris Caye, Belize
The beauty of Belize just got closer with Delta’s new non-stop weekly service from Los Angeles to Belize City. Delta joins a variety of carriers that already offer non-stop flights from places like Houston, Dallas, Newark, Atlanta, and Miami. The ease of getting to this striking Central American nation is helping to boost Belize’s status as one of the most compelling getaways for nature-lovers. The country is home to the massive Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System—the largest reef in the Atlantic Ocean—as well as the awe-inspiring <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-and-central-america/belize/the-cayes-and-atolls/review-161541.html" target="_blank">Blue Hole</a>. Many travelers peg Ambergris Caye as their home base. Its Belize’s largest island and it’s situated in the northeast, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The mangrove island is 25 miles long and one mile wide with white-sand beaches ringing the atoll. Visitors spend lazy days on the beach, bird watch, bike, golf, and take a variety of tours in the Caribbean Sea to fish, snorkel, dive, windsurf, or sail. Those interested in Mayan culture can take day trips to <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-and-central-america/belize/northern-belize/review-90306.html" target="_blank">Lamanai Ruins</a>, or <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-and-central-america/guatemala/el-peten/review-578515.html" target="_blank">Tikal</a> in the Petén district of nearby Guatemala. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-and-central-america/belize/the-cayes-and-atolls/" target="_blank">Visit Fodor’s Belize Cayes and Atolls Travel Guide </a>
Soufriere, St. Lucia
Honeymooners have long understood the allure of <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/st-lucia/soufriere/" target="_blank">Soufrière</a>, a small but vibrant town on St. Lucia’s west coast. Formerly the domain of French plantation owners in the 1700s, today Soufrière is the epicenter for tourism on the island. People come here for both luxurious and laid-back resorts, gorgeous beaches, and other natural attractions like The Pitons, the now-dormant volcano Qualibou, Sulphur Springs, dozens of waterfalls, and the expansive St. Lucia Rainforest. In welcome news for those on the East Coast, United Airlines recently launched nonstop service from Newark to St. Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport (UVF). <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit Fodor’s <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/st-lucia/" target="_blank">St. Lucia Travel Guide</a>
If you haven’t gotten around to visiting <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!8-cartagena,-colombia" target="_blank">Cartagena</a>, don’t delay much longer. As the country’s government and economy stabilize, more and more travelers are heading to this diverse destination in South America. The historic walled city on the coast is a study in Spanish colonial architecture and monuments to both military and religious figures. The city is now also home to all types of restaurants, chic art galleries, and trendy bars. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit Fodor’s <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/south-america/colombia/the-caribbean-coast/" target="_blank">Colombia Caribbean Coast Travel Guide</a>
The island of <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!12-corsica,-france" target="_blank">Corsica</a> in the Mediterranean may be part of France but it has a vibe all its own. Where else can you find a beach retreat that’s both hip and chic (it’s a favorite summertime vacation spot for Parisians) while retaining its old-world charm and culinary traditions? Best-known for being the birthplace of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1769, his ancestral home—<a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/france/corsica/review-589721.html" target="_blank">Maison Bonaparte</a>—in Ajaccio is now a museum. While hikers consider Corsica’s mountains a Mecca, its coastline consists of nearly 200 beaches that should not be missed. You’ll find powdery white sand, coarse golden grains, and beaches strewn with pebbles polished by the sea. Some of the best beaches can only be accessed by boat or a hike. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/france/corsica/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Corsica Travel Guide </a>
you’ve only visited Corfu for the day while your cruise ship was in port, you’re missing out. This lovely island in the Ionian Sea played an important role in the development of the <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!16-greek-isles" target="_blank">Greek Isles </a>but was also home to Venetians, the French, and the British throughout the years. You can see layers of those influences in the iconic palaces, monuments, and fortresses that still stand on the island today. Corfu Town, with its narrow, shop-lined streets and outdoor cafes, is the most-visited part of the island but sun worshippers also head south for sandy beaches or north for beautiful, but more pebbly, options. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/greece/corfu/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Corfu Travel Guide</a>
There is one place on the Dalmatian Coast that’s currently raising some eyebrows: <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!17-hvar,-croatia" target="_blank">Hvar, Croatia</a>. It’s long been a favorite stopover for sailors and the yacht set, but a wave of hotel development, most notably by <a href="http://www.suncanihvar.com" target="_blank">Suncani Hvar Hotels</a>, is bringing a whole new generation of couples and families to this island in the Adriatic Sea. The 115-square-mile island is notable for its lush hillsides that are dotted with olive groves, vineyards, aromatic lavender fields, pine forests, and fruit orchards. Hvar’s St. Stephen’s Square is the main gathering place with restaurants, shops, and a port that is nearly always packed with yachts and sailboats. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/croatia/central-dalmatia/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Central Dalmatia Travel Guide </a>
Ocean Grove, New Jersey Shore
Thousands of travelers flock to the Jersey Shore every year but it’s more important that you plan a visit in 2014. The fact is, tourism to New Jersey’s shore communities—with 130 miles of beautiful beaches—still hasn’t fully rebounded after October 2012’s category 3 Hurricane Sandy. The towns have rebuilt and are better than ever and that’s one reason the <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!18-the-jersey-shore" target="_blank">Jersey Shore</a> is on Fodor’s 2014 Go List. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/new-jersey/new-jersey-shore/" target="_blank">Fodor’s New Jersey Shore Travel Guide</a>
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Soccer fans are busy planning their <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/fodors-go-list-2014#!6-brazil" target="_blank">Rio de Janeiro</a> vacations for this summer when the city hosts the <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world-cup-fever/" target="_blank">FIFA World Cup</a> from June 12–July 13, 2014. But, don’t stick to the soccer fields and pub! Explore the city, visit the nearby Amazon rainforest, and check out a few of Rio’s chic beaches. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/south-america/brazil/rio-de-janeiro/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide </a>
San Diego, California
Lists of “best beaches” often gloss over the ones that are suitable for families, but if that’s what you’re looking for you can’t do better than <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/san-diego/la-jolla/" target="_blank">La Jolla</a>, a cool neighborhood in Southern California’s San Diego. La Jolla Shores offers safe swimming and snorkeling right from the beach and is a point of embarkation for kayakers who paddle to nearby La Jolla Cove. Caves have been carved out of the cliffs by the might of the Pacific Ocean’s waves over the years. When you tire of the beach, explore the nearby hillsides, go into town to check out some shops and galleries, and have a bite to eat at any of the restaurants that line La Jolla Village. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/san-diego/" target="_blank">Fodor’s San Diego Travel Guide</a>
Tetiaroa, French Polynesia
Tetiaroa—a gorgeous atoll 33 miles northwest of Tahiti in the Windward group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia—used to be the playground for Tahitian royalty. To this day, locals believe the island is a sacred place. Famous Royal Navy captain William Bligh is said to be the first European to visit the atoll, in 1789, while searching for the mutineers that commandeered HMS Bounty. Over the years the island changed hands until actor Marlon Brando bought Tetiaroa in the late 1960. He, ironically, was visiting the island while scouting locations for the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. The island with its 12 islets is known for untouched white-sand beaches and a healthy coral reef that is home to a large population of sea turtles and 167 different species of fish from spotted eagle rays to blacktip sharks to parrotfish. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/australia-and-the-pacific/french-polynesia/" target="_blank">Fodor’s French Polynesia Travel Guide</a>
Peninsula Papagayo, Guancaste, Costa Rica
The Gulf of Papagayo on the north Pacific Coast of Costa Rica makes for the ultimate beach vacation while throwing in access to dense tropical forests where you’ll spy howler monkeys and squirrel monkeys, Guanacaste Mountains for hiking, and national parks for day-long treks. But, most people come here for the crisp, white-sand beaches that glisten as the sapphire waters lap the coast. A new and expansive terminal was recently added to the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia, which greatly increased incoming and outgoing flights. Now is the time to visit Costa Rica. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-and-central-america/costa-rica/north-pacific-coast/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Costa Rica North Pacific Coast Travel Guide</a>
Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
The best news about <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/dominican-republic/the-north-coast/puerto-plata-and-playa-dorada/" target="_blank">Playa Dorada</a>, the best stretch of golden sand along the Dominican Republic’s Amber Coast, is that the region still offers a range of accommodations from budget to super deluxe. It’s also easy to get here from the United States with flights from a variety of major and budget carriers. In fact, Delta just increased service from New York’s JFK to both Santiago and Santo Domingo. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/caribbean/dominican-republic/the-north-coast/" target="_blank">Fodor’s Dominican Republic North Coast Travel Guide</a>
Emerald Coast, Nicaragua
Central America’s Nicaragua may not initially spring to mind when you’re planning your next beach vacation but it should. It’s got coastlines along the Caribbean Sea in the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Now is the time to visit before the country comes into vogue. It’s known for eco-friendly accommodations, active adventures on land and at sea, and impressive colonial architecture in its cities. <em> Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit <a href="http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4253.html" target="_blank">Nicaragua is Ready for Prime Time</a>
Tokoriki Island, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
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Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand, Fall 2004 by Jens Schinke. Beschreibung: Blick auf den Chaweng-Beach in Richtung Süden. Quelle: selbst ...
Koh Samui, Thailand
The quietest and most peaceful beach on this list has to be Chaweng Noi Beach (to the north of the much more boisterous Chaweng Beach). It fronts the recently opened Vana Belle in <a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/asia/thailand/the-gulf-coast-beaches/koh-samui/" target="_blank">Koh Samui</a>. This Luxury Collection resort is set along a secluded cove with an impossibly soft white-sand beach. The suites and villas—each with private pools and terraces—are tucked amid native foliage that keeps things cool and cozy. Vana Belle’s proximity to Chaweng and other more populated areas means it’s easy for you to explore the area, check out local restaurants, and go on shopping sprees. <em>Plan Your Trip</em>: Visit<a href="http://www.fodors.com/world/asia/thailand/the-gulf-coast-beaches/" target="_blank"> Fodor’s Thailand Gulf Coast Beaches Travel Guide</a>