LILLEY: Proposal makes mess of seat distribution in House of Commons

Article content

A proposal by Elections Canada to change the seat distribution in the House of Commons is supposed to be about fixing under-representation, but instead will make it worse.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The sad part is if the Trudeau Liberals do step in to alter what Elections Canada has put forward, they, too, will only make it worse.

Trudeau is worried about Quebec losing one seat, not several others being highly underrepresented.

If we had a true policy of allocating MPs based on provincial population, then Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta would all have far more seats than they do in the Commons, while the rest of the provinces would lose seats. Of course, we don’t have that kind of representation because some provinces are always treated better than others.

Most of the focus has been on the prospect of Quebec dropping from 78 seats to 77 seats in a newly-expanded Commons. It’s a proposal that the province has said is unacceptable, and I don’t see any politicians willing to stand up and tell the truth.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Based purely on seats by population, Quebec would lose two to three seats while Ontario would gain as many as 10, Alberta would gain five and British Columbia would add four more seats. Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia would lose four seats under a pure distribution, while P.E.I. would go down three, Newfoundland and Labrador two, and New Brunswick one.

We have a series of rules in place that prevent this from happening, though, ensuring that certain provinces – especially in Atlantic Canada – are always overrepresented.

No province can have fewer seats in the Commons than they have senators, guaranteeing that P.E.I. has four Commons seats even though population-wise they would barely qualify for 1 1/2 MPs. New Brunswick gets an extra three MPs due to this rule, while Nova Scotia and Newfoundland get an extra seat each.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

There is also a rule that provinces can’t have fewer seats than they did in 1985 which increases the seat counts for Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. Finally, there is the fact that each territory is guaranteed one MP each.

Despite all that, it still makes zero sense that Ontario, in the Elections Canada plan, is only offered one extra seat, moving from 121 seats to 122 seats.

Under the proposed redistribution, Ontario will have one MP for every 121,526 residents, while Quebec will have one MP for 111,746 residents. Obviously, P.E.I. with a population of 164,318 people and four MPs is the most egregious distortion: One MP for every 41,079 people.

Saskatchewan has one MP for every 84,274 residents and Newfoundland one MP for every 74,365 people.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

If Ontario had the same ratio of MPs to population that Quebec does, the province would have 133 seats in the House, Alberta would have 40 seats, and British Columbia, 47.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

This would be a very different House of Commons than we have now.

Would Trudeau and the Liberals even be in power today if this past election were played out against such an electoral map?

It’s telling that so far the PM has only spoken up about Quebec’s treatment in the seat redistribution. That’s in part due to provincial politics, where Quebec and her politicians are perpetually in grievance mode.

Ontario’s leadership is unlikely to engage in this fight, while B.C. and Alberta will to varying degrees.

Yet, we should all be demanding a true and honest seat redistribution for our electoral system.

We will never have a purely population-driven distribution of seats, but the current system is untenable. It perpetually gives a disproportionate amount of power to low-growth parts of the country, while denying voters in more dynamic areas of Canada their true voice.

Let Quebec and Atlantic Canada complain if they will; it’s time to make the system fair for the rest of us.

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world