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  Weekly Feature: (January 1, 2006)


Canada Needs a Tropical Island
Rick's Weekly Feature


I always enjoy going swimming in the ocean in the winter , but it is often difficult to do this in Canada. Certainly, there are opportunities to do so. There is the annual Polar Bear Swim in English Bay on January 1st and, although there are not always lifeguards on duty, you are free to use the public beaches in the Lower Mainland 365 days a year.

But, at the risk of being labelled a wimp or a wuss, I must admit I have difficulty submerging my body in the local waters even during the hottest of summer days. If you know me, you are probably aware that my body is doubly protected from the cold by a thick layer of hair that traps warm air and a layer of fat that insulates me and provides energy during the long cold Canadian winters. From a long distance, the hair also gives the illusion of a rich dark tan.

Despite these evolutionary adaptations to our Northern climate, I do not find swimming in our ocean very relaxing or enjoyable. I must therefore conclude that Canada needs an eleventh tropical province. I see three possible candidates for this new province, Haiti, the lesser known Turks and Caicos Islands of the Caribbean or the American state of Hawaii.

I must admit that I do not know much about Haiti except what is reported in the news, but it is tropical and the official language is French. Many Haitians immigrate to Quebec because of the common language. If the Haitian people were made aware of all the benefits and positive press Canadians enjoy they would seriously consider joining our country.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of a civil war there at the moment and although we Canadians learn a bit of French in school it is generally not enough to survive in Quebec let alone Haiti. Also, when I think of the Caribbean, I also think of the alphabet soup of hurricanes that strike the region. If there is one thing I hate more than cold water it is strong winds.

I'm ashamed to admit that I know less about the Turks and Caicos Islands than I know about Haiti. But I do know that the Canadian government has, on occasion, considered these small islands as a potential province. It has a small population of just over 20 000 and the official language is English. There are also a few French speaking Haitians who have fled Haiti for a better life. Like many of Canada’s provinces, they were a colony of Britain. Tourism is the main industry. I see only two problems with this vacation destination becoming a province; it is in the hurricane belt and it is too far from BC.

My final choice would be Hawaii. I recently spent 10 days there. I was surprised that the state flag had the British Union Jack on it. This reminded me that, like BC, it is a former British Colony discovered by Captain James Cook way back when. Captain Cook died there on his final voyage when his crew upset the locals, but I think they are a little more friendly these days. Driving on Maui is much like driving around BC, only hotter. The roads are well paved and the motorists are fairly polite. The television carries all your favourite programs except the CBC, and there are also sports channels that broadcast hockey games. It takes the same amount of time to travel to Hawaii as it does to travel to Montreal, but you can leave your parka and snow boots at home.

It is doubtful the Americans would give the islands up to Canada without a fight, but maybe they would give us an island or two in exchange for Newfoundland. We probably wouldn’t want Honolulu anyway. I hear it is a typical American city with the same American problems. A referendum would be a good Canadian way to find out how much interest the Hawaiian Islanders have in becoming a province. We could sweeten the offer by promising to open several Tim Horton’s and a Canadian Tire.

With the federal election fast approaching, I think it is important to find out where the candidates stand on this important issue. Canadians need a warm place of their own where they can spend Canadian money, watch hockey and get a decent cup of coffee. Being part of Canada would give these places access to decent healthcare, skating rinks and satisfying doughnuts and coffee. Think about this issue when you cast your vote on January 23rd.




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