Federal government ministers have held top-secret meetings with their provincial counterparts in Manitoba and Ontario for nearly a decade to discuss the merger of the two provinces into one “super-province” called Mantario, Canadian Geographic can reveal.

The merger is already at an “advanced stage,” according to leaked documents seen by the magazine’s editors, and a separate, highly-placed source within the federal government who has attended the merger negotiations (and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity) says that officials had planned to announce the birth of Mantario as a fait accompli on July 1, 2017 — Canada’s sesquicentennial. “It was a done deal,” the source said, “but I guess now we’ll have to actually convince the Canadian public on the merits of the merger.”

What those merits might be is currently unclear. Both the source and the documents make it clear that over eight years, the cabal of government ministers got no further than choosing the new province’s name, flag, emblem and capital.

“We struggled with the name for, oh, four or five years, I guess,” said the source. “The permutations were endless: Ontoba, Mantario… you can see why we had difficulty.”

Choosing the flag, emblem and new capital was easier. “It came down to an epic round-robin game of paper-scissors-rock for the flag,” the source said, “with the winning design finally being named as the image of a gender-neutral stick figure straddling the former provincial border. It’s about heritage, remember.”

The new provincial emblem, meanwhile, is the manatee. “Mantario’s emblem must be remarkable, it must resonate with the people,” the leaked documents say, glossing over the fact that the gentle giants of the sea are more commonly found near, well, the sea, never mind much farther south. Nevertheless, according to Canadian Geographic’s source, ministers had already discussed airlifting the entire population of manatees out of Florida and bringing them north to resettle in Mantario.

Documents show that the manatees would be housed in a purpose-built aquarium in the new provincial capital, Thunder Bay, before being released into the wild. “We thought about keeping the capital in Toronto or Winnipeg,” said the source, “but we liked the idea of calling Mantario’s legislature The Thunder Dome.”