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Part of Quebec
In 1534 Jacques Cartier was the first European to visit the islands, however, the Mi'kmaq people had visited the islands for hundreds of years, were it is believed they harvested the abundant walrus population. Many archaeological sites related to the Mi'kmaq people have been excavated all over the islands. In 1663 François Doublet, the seigneur of the islands, named the islands Îles de la Madeleine, after his wife. When the Acadians were expelled from Eastern Canada by the British, it did not effect the Acadian population living in the Magdalen Islands, and today many people still fly the Acadian flag and call themselves Acadian. From 1763 to 1774, the Magdalen Islands was ruled as part of the Colony of Newfoundland. Until the 1900s, the islands were completely isolated during the winter, since the pack ice made the trip to the mainland impassable by boat. The inhabitants of the island could not even communicate with the mainland. In the winter of 1910, they sent an urgent request for help to the mainland by writing many letters and sealing them up inside a molasses barrel (or puncheon), which they set adrift. When this reached the shore, on Cape Breton Island, the government sent out an icebreaker to bring aid. Within a few years, the Magdalens were given one of the new wireless telegraph stations so that the inhabitants could at least have some communication in the winter.
On 14 November 2012 a group of high school students met and decided that it was in the best interest of the islands to become an independent country. The following day the group declared the independence of the Magdalen Islands and set up an caretaker government. In the Declaration of Independence it states, “We declare the independence of these islands because as part of Canada we have suffered greatly from the economic recession, and we believe that it is our job to chart our own course for the future of the Magdalen Islands, and its people.”
Tourism is a major industry on the Magdalen Islands. The islands have many kilometres of white sand beaches, along with steadily eroding sandstone cliffs. It is an excellent destination for bicycle camping, sea kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. During the winter months, beginning in mid-February, eco-tourists visit to observe new-born and young harp seal pups on the pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence surrounding the islands.
The current government of the Magdalen Islands is merely a caretaker government, and will remain in power until an election is held on 23 November 2012. The President of the Republic, Guillaume Garot, has tasked Moroccan-born Kader Arif, with leading the new cabinet until the time of elections.
List of Cabinets
- Arif Government
- Bouchard Government
St-André Government (19 December - 20 December 2012)
No Cabinet Ministers Appointed
Côté Government (20 December 2012 - present)
At the present time there is no National Assembly, but the first one shall be elected on 23 November 2012, and shall for convene on 1 December. When elected though, the National Assembly shall consist of 12 Members, 1 of whom shall be elected to serve as President of the National Assembly. The President of the Magdalen Islands shall also appoint the Prime Minister from amongst the members of the largest political party or coalition, the Prime Minister intern shall appoint the cabinet in the same manner. The leader of the second largest party or coalition shall also provide one of it's members to serve as the Leader of the Opposition.