Monday, November 22, 2004

The 13 provinces of Canada

I thought I'd throw this up here because it's interesting, but it's the kind of news that will appear on the front page of a paper and then we'll never hear of it again.

I hope to someday see the day when we have 13 provinces. That would a great thing for the people of the north.

Also, I think this is kind of funny: about half way down the article, it mentions that due to global warming, we'll have easier access to the north's vast resources...... so we can burn them and contribute to more global warming.

Anyway, here you are.

Paul Martin: Territories will be provinces
Canadian Press

SAO PAULO, Brazil — The three territories of Canada will ultimately become new provinces, Prime Minister Paul Martin predicted today, as he gave an impromptu geography lesson to a state governor here.

"They will eventually become provinces," Martin replied bluntly in a conversation with Sao Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin, who had asked what status the northern territories held.
"I would say they're one stage below (now)."

At a later news conference Martin said he couldn't guess a time frame for when Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories would be added to the roster of provinces.

He could not say if it might happen during his reign as prime minister and emphasized he was only expressing a personal belief, not official government policy.

The prime minister said his focus for now is on devolving additional powers to the three territorial governments in areas like revenue-sharing, health care and education.

But Martin again stated his belief they should not remain territories forever.

"I believe that ultimately this should be the case," he told reporters. "I'm not in a position to give dates but I believe it has always been the expectation (for) the territories."

Canada has had 10 provinces since 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation. Any changes to the arrangement would require potentially complicated constitutional negotiations.

"I think that it'll happen when the territories and the country is ready for it."

But the country is ready for more modest transfers of power to northern governments, he said, adding that Canadians also expect their leaders to play a greater role in the north.

At stake is Canadian sovereignty over the massive, sparsely populated land. Maintaining control of it could pay lucrative dividends as global warming makes it easier to navigate the region's waters and exploit its vast resources.

A diplomatic flap surfaced last year after a news report said Danes had placed their flag on Hans Island, an isolated island midway between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

"It is very important, to Canadians, and certainly to me, that we demonstrate unequivocally to the world: the Arctic is Canadian territory and it's part of our sovereignty," Martin said.

Canada can demonstrate its sovereignty by handing regional governments greater control, by spreading better education facilities throughout the territory, by protecting the environment and by flying airplanes or drone patrols over the Arctic.

One federal official agreed greater powers for the territories could feed into Canada's Arctic sovereignty strategy but added that doesn't necessarily mean territories need to become provinces.

"Is it a matter of aggressive government policy to turn them into provinces? The answer's no," said the federal official.

"(But) the prime minister's personal view is we're on a path that in all likelihood will lead there."
In his chat with the Brazilian official, Martin pointed out that the northern territories are an intrinsic part of the Canadian identity. He described Nunavut as an area much bigger than France, but with a population of just 30,000.

"It's a village with a lot of territory," he said.

"But it's a very important territory because it represents the Inuit. And they will eventually get full provincial powers."

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