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Why didn't Jamaica join Canada? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 50 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:19

Jamaica is not a part of Canada. Seems obvious, but there have been a couple of points in history where a union between the 2 has been proposed. The same is also true for the rest of Britain's former colonies in the Caribbean, where the same idea was put forward in the 1960s. So why didn't it happen? Why isn't Jamaica or any of these countries a part of Canada?

Speaker 1

00:00:19 - 00:00:43

So in the 19th century there were some small-scale discussions on who should be able to join the brand new Canadian Confederation. Britain was fairly neutral on whether or not its Caribbean territories would be run from London or Ottawa. This was because a colony of a colony is still really a colony, and also Britain's attention was much more focused on India because money. This discussion was mostly academic though until after the First World War. At this point Britain was struggling with being broke.

Speaker 1

00:00:43 - 00:01:03

As such, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George wanted to consolidate the governments of some colonies to make things cheaper. And 1 such proposal was that Canada, which was much less bankrupt, would run the empire's Caribbean colonies. But Canada's Prime Minister Robert Borden declined. Not because he didn't want the islands. He definitely did, mostly as compensation for all of the world-warring that Canada had been doing.

Speaker 1

00:01:03 - 00:01:30

He reluctantly declined though because the Canadian people opposed it, many of whom, including the opposition, saw empire as the reason why Canada had been dragged into the conflict in the first place, and as such Jamaica remained under the control of London. During World War II, Britain's relationship with its Caribbean colonies became... Strained. And as a result, Canada filled the void and relations between the 2 improved. The British government could see that its empire was unravelling and so it opted to begin the process of preparing the Caribbean for independence.

Speaker 1

00:01:31 - 00:01:56

It did this with the least effort possible in what's known as boilerplate independence. This is where Britain used a one-size-fits-all approach to decolonization. Britain didn't want to repeat this process 10 times, and so it just merged all of its Caribbean colonies together to form the West Indies Federation. During this process it was discussed whether or not they would become independent or simply join Canada as a single province. Some of the islands were pro-Canada and others, notably Jamaica, were pro-independence.

Speaker 1

00:01:57 - 00:02:23

The leaders of the federation couldn't agree on basically anything and so it fractured in 1962 and 1 by 1 each part became independent. And so after their freedom surely there was no desire for any of these countries to join Canada right? Well, there were 2. The first was British Honduras, whose interest was much more about Britain doing a terrible job at preparing it for independence than any real desire to join another nation. Honduras and its neighbour Guatemala had many disagreements on borders, access to the sea and trade.

Speaker 1

00:02:23 - 00:02:48

And Britain didn't care enough to fix any of these problems, which is why some politicians in Honduras pushed to join Canada. This never went anywhere and British Honduras gained full independence as Belize in 1981. The second was the Turks and Caicos Islands here. The people who lived there wanted much better access to other markets and countries for themselves and for their goods. But Britain was in a no-foreigners-please kind of mood and so politicians there discussed the idea of joining Canada.

Speaker 1

00:02:48 - 00:03:19

This proposal gained steam until the 1980s when some prominent Canadian politicians backed the idea and official talks between the 2 took place. Most of the islanders backed joining Canada but the Canadian people were very focused on another divisive issue at home. A free trade agreement with the United States. This debate raged for years, and was so important to Canadians that nobody had any desire to discuss grabbing a few Caribbean islands and what that would entail. And given that this debate took about a decade to settle down, the idea of annexing a Caribbean island just sort of faded, leaving Canada without a Hawaii of its own.

Speaker 1

00:03:20 - 00:03:19

I hope you enjoyed this episode and a special thanks to my patrons... Hockey, Spencer Lightfoot, Rod D. Martin, Words About Books Podcast, Captain Psydog, Gustav Swan, Marvin Casal, Camoon Yoon, Winston K. Wood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tabean, Miss Izzet, Matthew Shipley, Aaron the White, Corey Turner, The McWhopper, Alex Schwin, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Maggie Paskowski, Shuenin, spinning 3 plates and Charles I.