76

Hey Liberals, the House faces West

Seat count: New legislation would add as many as 34 seats to the current 308, all of them in Tory-friendly parts of the country


 

Hey Liberals, the House faces WestElsewhere in this issue you will find an incisive exploration of the Liberal party’s latest self-inflicted wounds in Quebec. As for me, my only contribution is to ask of certain members of that great party: will you please get real?

If, as we are told, the subtext to the unpleasantness over who is to be the party’s nominee in Outremont is the rivalry between Denis Coderre and Martin Cauchon to succeed Michael Ignatieff as leader; and if the supposition, as that suggests, is that the next Liberal leader must come from Quebec, in the historic party tradition of alternance; and if, as that suggests, certain members of the party are still fixated on regaining Quebec as the route to their eventual restoration as the natural governing party—then again I ask: will you please get real?

Has there been a more stunning example of a ruling caste succumbing to the delights of fratricide, at the very moment the forces that would consign them all to oblivion were amassing? The last act of Hamlet comes to mind, but aside from that? Already the Tories are blanketing the country with pre-election spending, in the name of “stimulus.” In the campaign to come, they will invoke the coalition power grab to remind voters of Liberal hubris. And if ever the Tories win their majority, there goes the party’s public subsidy.

But it is the Liberals who will be responsible for their own demise if they do not put aside their fascination with disembowelling themselves long enough to notice a much more ominous trend, one that threatens to lock them out of power for decades. In a word, it is called redistribution. Even as the Battle of Outremont was raging last week, the Conservatives were letting it be known they were preparing legislation that would radically reapportion the seats in the House of Commons, adding as many as 34 seats to the current 308, all of them in Tory-friendly parts of the country: B.C., Alberta, and suburban Ontario.

The Liberals can’t say they weren’t warned: the Conservatives have twice brought forward similar legislation before this, only to see both die on the order paper. Neither can they object to the bill on any principled basis: these are the fastest-growing parts of the country, and the ones suffering the starkest discrimination under the present allocation. Between them, the three provinces are home to nearly 63 per cent of the population, yet receive just 55 per cent of the seats. Alberta, with a population of nearly 3.7 million, gets just 28 seats, or one seat for every 131,702 residents. At the other extreme, Prince Edward Island, with about 140,000 citizens, is guaranteed four seats—a ratio of one seat to 35,246 Islanders.

In any normal country, this sort of accumulated unfairness would be remedied after each census, simply by reshuffling the seats among the provinces. In Canada, the process is hamstrung by a variety of constitutional and quasi-constitutional grandfather clauses, the upshot of which is that no province can see any reduction in its current seat count.

If no province can have fewer seats than it has now, then the only way to achieve greater parity is by adding seats to the disenfranchised, that is by expanding the House. Still, the arithmetic is tricky. To bring Ontario, B.C., and Alberta up to their proportionate share, you’d have to add 64 seats overall. And even if no province is worse off in absolute terms, that doesn’t mean the others won’t squawk at seeing their share of the total decline. To be sure, in most cases they would only see a reduction in the unfair advantage they currently enjoy. But in the case of one province, it would actually be put at an unfair disadvantage. Unhappily, that province is Quebec—currently slightly overrepresented, it would be slightly under-represented in a reformed House.

So the bill the Tories are preparing is, necessarily, a compromise: it would not move the three provinces all the way to parity, but more nearly so. Even so, it’s nervy. It would appear the Tories are prepared to brave the inevitable backlash in Quebec, in anticipation of electoral gains elsewhere.

Which brings us back to the Liberals. If the Grits think they are going to rebuild out of their old stronghold of Quebec, they are delusional. The population, the money, and the power are all shifting west, and will continue to do so, in all likelihood, for decades to come. Where are the Grits in the West? Nowhere, that’s where.

Time was when Liberal governments won power with a healthy number of seats from the West. But that hasn’t been the case for, well, decades: the last Liberal government to carry the West was Mackenzie King’s, in 1949. In the 60 years since then, the Grits have rarely won more than a handful of seats in the West—even in the Trudeaumania election of 1968, they took just 27 of 68. Once, they could get by on the strength of their historic dominance of Quebec, or latterly Ontario. But Quebec is lost to them now. And Ontario, increasingly, is looking West, aligning its interests and values, not with Quebec, but with the western provinces.

What is the Liberal strategy for rebuilding in the West? Do they have one? Has it even occurred to them, obsessed as they are with retaking Outremont? Is this party for real?


 
Filed under:

Hey Liberals, the House faces West

  1. And even that is too few. If we had a MP/Pop ratio similar to the UK, a reasonable comparison then we would have 352 seats, or 10 more than are proposed. Or 1 MP per 94,000 unlike the proposed 1 MP per 108,000.

    Of course if we were to properly balance it we would take the worst of them, PEI and make that the standard 1 per 34000 you would have 978 MP's….on that basis you would get something approaching the wonderful PR….its all about granularity…and yes you would get MP's off all stripes then, including a whack of independents, MP's who get elected no matter what their party was.

    Anyway, the strategy question is a valid one. But one that has been around for some time. Just proof that the Liberals are talking amongst themselves….a post modernist party that has fallen into self reference as a substitute for progress.

  2. This should help break the deadlock that the Bloq have created and effectively neuter them. It's about time B.C., Alberta, and Ontario received increased seats to reflect their growing populations and bring them a little closer to equal representation.

    Let the Liberals squabble with the Bloq for the 12 or so seats in Quebec that are up for grabs. The Conservatives can and will take all the newly created seats and walk away with a majority.

  3. They need to take their focus off Quebec, the rest of the country is tired of them. I see a huge shift in this country, and it isn't leaning toward Quebec .We tire of them stamping their collective feet until they get what they wnat. We are all in this recession together.Iggy promising them more, more-money more power, it isn't sitting well with the rest of Canada.I cannot wait to hear the spin the at issue panel put on all ths.I pay the CBC with my taxes, and they are so busy being left, it makes me ill.I would like to 'opt 'out of the CBC

  4. They need to take their focus off Quebec, the rest of the country is tired of them. I see a huge shift in this country, and it isn't leaning toward Quebec .We tire of them stamping their collective feet until they get what they want. We are all in this recession together.Iggy promising them more, more-money, more power, it isn't sitting well with the rest of Canada.I cannot wait to hear the spin the "at issue " put on all ths.I pay the CBC with my taxes, and they are so busy being left, it makes me ill.I would like to 'opt 'out of the CBC

    • Amen to that!!!

    • >Good morning Mister, wake up to realize you are not the only one in this country. Who stops you “to 'opt 'out of the CBC” as you write? All you have to do is make use of the “switch button.”
      >In case you didn't know, there are still millions who enjoy the CBC and its impartiality.
      >They understand that reporting and comenting facts as they actually occur, is NOT necessarily leftist propaganda.
      >As for Quebec issue? The last thing Canadians need on top of the present crises is another constitutional turmoil. Unless, more Conservatives in the Parliament is all you care about.

  5. Trust me th eprovincial government and the Bloc will ride this to town.

    It is most dangerous when power is about to shift……..the war drums are already beating.

  6. Could you please provide a link to the proposed new formula? I find it very hard to believe that it would leave Quebec underrepresented. I thought the formula just allocated seats based on population of all the provinces, with the only exceptions being the grandfathered in *minimum* seat counts. If Quebec deserved more seats based on population in a larger house, they would get it.

    • Here's the article giving approximations of the seat changes (probably not fully accurate as it's based on the 2001, not the 2006, census data). But there's no plan on allocating extra seats to Quebec, just to Ontario, BC, and Alberta as they are the ones that are currently underrepresented.

      If the HoC was increased to 340 seats (+32), with all the seats going to those three provinces, the fairest way of doing it would be to give BC 8 more seats, Alberta 6, Ontario 18, and Quebec 2.

      It's not a big deal, as Quebec has been almost permanently overrepresented, isn't growing as fast as the other three provinces, and would get more seats through the usual process after the 2010 Census information was procressed, but Quebec MPs certainly won't like it.

    • You don't need a formula.
      Quebec has 7,782,561/33,803,000 = 23% of population.
      Quebec has 75/308 = 24.4% of seats

      If 34 seats were added, none in Quebec, they would have
      75/342 = 21.9% of all seats. If only 21 were added, 22.7% of all seats.

      My response – lets not make this about provinces. Lets make this about regions. There are parts of Ontario (the north) that are over-represented. There are also parts of Quebec that are under-represented. Dividing Quebec into regions and assigning additional seats in those under-represented areas would divide even self-interested Bloc members, and give the Liberals cover to support such a change.

      What parts of Quebec are under-represented? I'd wager most are in Montreal and Quebec city.

  7. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario.

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power, as per China's enforced restrictions google searches and blogs, but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    The internet may be a force for evil in many ways, but it has certainly led to greater ideological freedom and diversity than at any time in Canada's recent history.

  8. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power, as per China's enforced restrictions google searches and blogs, but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    The internet may be a force for evil in many ways, but it has certainly led to greater ideological freedom and diversity than at any time in Canada's recent history.

  9. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power, as per China's enforced restrictions google searches and blogs, but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    It is almost Darwinian how the left-leaning ideologies lead to a reduction in population, and thus eventually a loss of political power.

  10. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power, as per China's enforced restrictions google searches and blogs, but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    It is almost Darwinian how left-leaning ideologies lead to a reduction in population, and thus eventually a loss of political power. It's survival of the fittest in all its brutal beauty.

  11. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power, as per China's enforced restrictions on google searches and blogs, but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    It is almost Darwinian how left-leaning ideologies lead to a reduction in population, and thus eventually a loss of political power. It's survival of the fittest in all its brutal beauty.

  12. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power (as per China's enforced restrictions on google searches and blogs) but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    It is almost Darwinian how left-leaning ideologies lead to a reduction in population, and thus eventually a loss of political power. It's survival of the fittest in all its brutal beauty.

  13. That is a really interesting article.

    I suppose if Coyne is right about Ontario shifting westward (politically) and the West staying relatively conservative, then the Liberals have only two options for survival: move to the right ideologically, or find a way to reverse the ideological momentum in Ontario. (Option 3 is to increase the population, and hence the seats, in Quebec and the East but this is (a) not within the Liberals' power and (b) not likely to succeed without losing the leftward political slant of those regions)

    Historically the latter option was within reach as long as the media, once the public's only window into the world beyond their friends and neighbours, played along. But now we have the internet, a medium in which it is impossible to control the worldview shown to the public. The Liberals could change this if they were in power (as per China's enforced restrictions on google searches and blogs) but they aren't. That leaves option 1… an option they will have trouble swallowing.

    It is almost Darwinian how left-leaning ideologies lead to a reduction in population and thus eventually a loss of political power. It's survival of the fittest in all its brutal beauty.

    • Don't mix left-leaning ideology with cosmopolitanism. The old french canadian famillies were left leaning and they HAD to procreate with a litter of at least 10 kids. On the other hand there is a portion of conservatives who are cosmopolitan in nature and could pass as left-leaning at first glance.

      Anyway, I don't think it would too hard for the Liberals to win back southern Ontario and Quebec; they just have to appeal to the manufacturing sector, something the conservatives haven't managed to pull off successfully within their conservative framework.

    • I don't think the Liberals are losing the West in general because it's conservative. Remember, Manitoba just had a three-term NDP government and Saskatchewan was the home of Tommmy Douglas and the first province to implement public health care. As for BC, Vancouver Island is fairly left-wing (provincially, it's an NDP stronghold) and Vancouver leans liberal. The Liberal Party isn't losing out here because they're insufficiently conservative (as matters stand, in policy terms they're barely distinguishable from the federal Conservatives) – they're loosing because they've been ignoring the West for the last few decades and continue to do so, and so nobody out here respects them.

      Reform managed to trounce the Liberals in the West not just because they were right-wing, but because they had high level of populism and supported a democracy that engaged citizens (qualities the current Conservative party has, sadly, largely lost). The Liberals, on the other hand, are the party of the establishment, insufferably arrogant in the belief of a permanent 'right to rule,' and undemocratic in their inclinations (most of the members aren't involved in choosing leaders, and just a few top members of the party chose Ignatieff).

    • Is Ontario really shifting to the right politically? I'm not sure. Ontario's suburbs are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, as incoming immigrant populations become wealthier and more established. The suburbs may yet become disenfranchised with the Tory coalition. Remember, it's not just suburbanites with semi-libertarian, lite-Social Conservative leanings. There's a lot to not like about the Tories, just look at their overwhelmingly WASPy cabinet.

      Also, Coyne may remember that things change until they don't. Yesterday, Alberta is experiencing hyperinflation, mass immigration, record surpluses. Today there's layoffs, deficits and cutbacks in public service including health care. A whole bunch of people moved out West during the energy boom of the 1970's. Some stayed; many moved back to their home provinces.

      Remember also that unlike Ontario, Alberta and B.C. are really poor in higher education and technology. Not that Ontario does this especially well, but any future economic growth that doesn't involve boiling half a river to loosen up some black goo will involve high technology. Ontario has universities. Alberta and B.C. don't.

  14. Here is a little tidbit. I had the opportunity to employ a single mom immigrant whose country of origin was Burundi (she was a fluent French speaker). I asked her why she choose Edmonton rather than Montreal – her answer, she wanted to learn English and have better opportunities for herself and children. She is now going to school to be a nurse. The west is the beacon. Cheers.

  15. What leverage do the Blog really have though? The Conservatives may loose a few more of their remaining Quebec seats, but loosing 5 to gain 20 (or more) is real a no-brainer.

    I can't see any situation where the Bloq can win this debate. There is nothing underhanded about creating these badly needed seats, it is simple mathematics.

    While the Liberals continue to appeal to their Toronto and Montreal bases, the real war is being fought and won by the Conservatives in the West.

    • It's not a war if you continue to fight after you've already won. It's a massacre.

      If I were a Liberal, I'd be reading this like I were hearing an air raid siren.

      Redistribution is good for the health of our democracy. But it doesn't feel like a healthy step, given the timing and all. It feels like one more chess piece is moving into position.

      Pardon me for mixing my metaphors.

  16. I thought "Rep by Pop" was a shibboleth in Canadian constitutional circles – and therefore applaud not just the courage, but the eminent common sense that this rumoured legislation displays. I only wish the Conservatives had the courage to further right the imbalance that shifting population and resources have created upon the political landscape of Canada. 1867 is a long time ago…

  17. I'd love to have rep by pop. Regardless of where you come in on the political spectrum, no way is it reasonable that someone in PEI has a vote worth 3 of mine. If we truly want a representational government, break down the riding system, everyone gets a vote in the pile and we pick based on the numbers.

    So, the Tories get 42 percent of the vote, they get 42 percent of the seats. The Greens get 8 percent, and so on. This would also lessen the strength of regional-only parties, like the Bloc. Would we have a perpetual minirity? Sure. Would we have frequent elections? No, we could set fixed dates.

    Yeah, yeah, I'm dreaming. But it would be painfully fair for everyone. No gerrymanering electoral borders, no parachute candidates, and boy oh boy would it encourage people to get out and vote.

  18. The old French Canadian families were devout Catholics. They were right-wing on social issues by today's standards (e.g. they would be unequivocally opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage). Also, as I understand the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they did not HAVE to produce a "litter" of any particular number.

    That nonsense aside, the second half of your post is pretty accurate in my view.

  19. I really, really, really, REALLY don't like how a basic issue of seat allocation is turning partisan.

    It shouldn't matter if the new seats lean Tory, or Liberal, or Bloc, or NDP, or Communist or Facist. It shouldn't matter. Above all our political views, we are all supposed believe in DEMOCRACY first. And in any democracy, one citizen's vote should be worth the same as another citizens (within reason of course, we need to keep MP's in certain regions with the way our system works, and we can't reduce PEI or the NWT to one quarter of an MP or anything like that).

    When millions of people move West, we should have MP's move west too. When millions move East, we should have MP's move with them. It's pretty simple, it's pretty basic. If Alberta, BC, and Ontario are growing like gangbusters, so be it, they should have more people represent them. It's the basic tenant of representative democracy.

    As Coyne mentioned, due to various stupid clauses in our constitution put their by short sighted governments, this is not possible in Canada like it is in every other "real" democracy, but to do our best, we need to at least give fast growing regions more seats. Anything less would be undemocratic and outrageous. You can all try to justify it however you want, but the bottom line is one persons vote should be the same as any other persons, regardless of if they live in BC, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, or PEI, and shame on all Canadians who say they believe in democracy but don't believe in that simple principal.

  20. I would be shocked if the Liberals oppose this bill. Truly shocked.

    • you're right, they will still say that they have concerns for Quebec in particular but won't oppose …in fact if we believe the media then Iggy's inner circle are all Torontonians …Ontario is going to benefit the most from the redistribution

    • If I were a French Canadian with Liberal leadership ambitions (and hey, its their turn coming up), voting against this legislation alongside my caucus-mates would be a good way to outflank any potential claimant to the "Quebec candidate" mantle. It might help if I had already gone after Ignatieff's Toronto-based advisors.

    • I would be shocked too…however…I do believe Liberals will "fight to the death" over Senate reform as it appears more and more likely to be the only future for their power base.

      • They might give that up that fight as CPC gets the seante majority in Q1 2010. The current appointees have agreed with Harper to step down after 8 years….. but does that really count if the Liberals and not harper is in poer in 8 years?

  21. The timing is good too. Quebec lost a lot of bio-fuel funding partly because they baned sugar ethanol refineries and Ontario is in dire need of diversification and entrepreneurial support in the wake of the automotive and forestry shut downs, and our green energy sector is a shame.

  22. Yeesh AC.Do you really believe the liberals are unaware of their peril, or the general ramifications of these proposed changes? Ontario may not have taken a liking to Ignatieff, but really, where's the evidence the province is off limits in the future to the liberals. While we're at it what are the chances this will reignite the separatist forces in Quebec. Not that i'm not tired of them holding the country to ransom. But when has reason ever stopped these guys? Some commentators seem to be under the illusion that the ROC will suddenly hold all the cards – i think not, they can always keep on threatening to leave – can't they?

    • They can threaten to leave but that doesn't work anymore if the rest of the country is indifferent on if they leave or not.

      Ontario may not be off limits to the Liberals, but thanks to a united conservative party, gone are the days when the Libs would take 100+ Ontario seats.

      A united conservative party has a minimum guaranteed base of about 25 of seats in Ontario and an upper level of possibly 70 (currently at 58 if I'm not mistaken).

      In summary, the united right has robbed them of their dominance in Ontario and the BQ has done the same to them in Quebec. They're dead in the west and will continue to be so for some time. This only leaves them the east coast and their 35 or so seats.

  23. This article and none of the posts so far have touched on other aspect of the present way the seas are distributed in that within each provincial allocation of seat there is a provision that there can be 25% variation in population from the provincial mean population per seat. This means that the big centres, the metropolitan areas of each province are way under represented in comparison to the rural areas of each province. In other word the metro area of Calgary and Edmonton do not their fair share the present allocation of Alberta seats. (As an aside how are the seats for the provincial legislature allocated? Last time I looked Calgary and Edmonton got the short end of the stick) This must be addressed.

    • This may be a card the Liberals play – if they are going to add a whack of seats to Ontario and Alberta, they might as well go all the way and redistribute both provinces so urban voters are not disadvantaged.

  24. Don't expect the Tories to fix that one anytime soon.

    • Yeah, the Tories don't want to take this too far. If our votes were truly equal (ie. in a PR system – which I oppose for a myriad of reasons) the Conservatives would only get about 117 seats (and they have benefited from the tics in our system less than previous governments).

  25. I'd be more in favour of rescinding the number of seats in some regions even out representation. Yes an Islander who thinks that smaller government might be able to do more.
    The claim is that ordinary MP's have lost voice in the house, so why add more? More salary, more filibuster and more shoving for the mikes after question period. Or we shuffle the seats in a manner that ensures 2 seats minimum for each province and territory plus take riding size (land area) into account.

  26. Two minimum per territory?? Haven't read the census lately, eh?

  27. Arguments in comments above point out that nothing prevents the Liberals from regaining ground in these rapidly growing regions. Well, maybe, but the CPC success is as much the appeal of conservatism in general as it is the slicing of the leftish pie among the Libs, NDP and Greens.

    So this redistribution must happen out of basic fairness. But there is no question it solidifies the Conservative (insert "united right" here) advantage.

  28. ''(losing the West) because they've been ignoring the West for the last few decades and continue to do so''

    If only the Libs had just ignored us,
    no, they bash the West at every turn.

    Trudeau's National Energy Program that killed Alberta's number 1 industry. And resurrected in 2008 (brainchild of MI) presented in a jolly green giant costume called the Green Shaft.
    Being the healthcare boogey man when Libs want to secure Eastern votes (p.s Alberta has had e-health records for 5 years, what's taking the ROC so long?)
    Ralph Goodale sending 6 WC grain farmers to jail for selling their own grain, something Eastern farmers are enchouraged to do, not imprisoned for it.
    And now the all out assault on the oilsands, that dirty oil piped (thru the US) to the East, that dirty oil that had Ontario and Quebec firms lining up service industries to grab a piece of the action.
    ( Did yah know while Quebec was setting up demo turbines, the first commercial wind farm was in Alberta, 1994 )

    Yes, if only it was just that the Liberals ignored us.

  29. I can't believe I missed an opportunity to say 'coalition of losers'
    willing partners to steal the West's voice and give it to the seperatists.

  30. "… radically reapportion the seats in the House of Commons."

    Moving towards (and not further away from) the democratic principle that each vote carries the same weight, can hardly be described as "radical".

    Rather, we are "radically" holding on with our fingertips to a seat allocation that is grossly unfair to a good many citizens, making one Canadian's vote worth a quarter or less than another's! Even in the same province, we have votes that count for 66.67% more than others (actually, it's worse than that with the exceptions; that 66.67% is just the discrepancy that is mandated in the electoral redistribution laws!).

  31. "Remember also that unlike Ontario, Alberta and B.C. are really poor in higher education and technology. Not that Ontario does this especially well, but any future economic growth that doesn't involve boiling half a river to loosen up some black goo will involve high technology. Ontario has universities. Alberta and B.C. don't."

    An idiotic comment if ever there was one. And I say that as an Ontarian. Alberta students always lead the way in test scores for Canada, and have done for what seems like decades.

    And of course, as Peter implies, no Canadian is allowed to enroll in any university/college outside of the province in which they reside.

  32. Perhaps Harper can gain support for these new seats if it occurs with a more democratic Senate, legitimizing the upper house and empowering its already distorted distribution of senators to compensate for fairness in the lower house. Let the lower house be by representation, and the upper house by region.

    As the population of the West swells, the Liberals should focus on urban seats. They should start with those surrounding urban universities, since those are always the first to go Liberal.

    • In 2009 what with airplanes and internet, there is absolutely no reason to have any order of government's seats distributed by region. Rep by region vs. rep by pop is apallingly undemocratic. The notion that the senate should be distrbuted by region is, in my opinion, undemocratic and wrong.

      • Hear, hear!

    • How about allocating Senate seats based on a party's share of the popular vote in each province. Parties would be allowed to appoint the Senators off a list. Since it would almost be impossible for the majority party in the House to have a majority in the Senate, this would serve a check on the PMO and Cabinet. This would also give a party representation in Parliament from regions of the country where "first past the post" distorts the political diversity of a province, i.e. Alberta, where 40% of the voters do not vote Conservative, but the Conservative usally win 100% of the seats. This would be a good start on Senate reform.

  33. >>In any normal country, this sort of accumulated unfairness would be remedied after each census, simply by reshuffling the seats.

    I see your P.E.I and raise you a Rhode Island,a Deleware, and a Wyoming – 2 U.S. Senators each for states with a gazillionth the population of California.

    • How many electoral college votes do they get?

      Comparing the American and Canadian systems in such a manner is foolish for many reasons.

      One reason being is that they actually get to vote for the leader of their nation, while we Canadians have to vote by proxy thru our MP as to who takes the PM chair, and represents us all.

    • At least those senators were voted in by the people of their state.

      That alot more then I can say for our lopsided, unrepresentative, useless upper-chamber.

    • Those senators don't choose the President.

  34. This math is probably why we are going to base the seat count on the 2011 census.

    You're 23% number isn't going to hold up after that.

  35. The way I see it is that the adding of new seats would be important but it doesn't address the real problem that a lot of Canadians feel unrepresented because of the way our system works. There are thousands of ways to reform, many leaning in the right direction and i would like to see somebody muster up the courage to get the ball rolling.

  36. What is the Liberal strategy for rebuilding in the West? Do they have one? Has it even occurred to them, obsessed as they are with retaking Outremont?

    I have been wondering the same thing, for years. In particular, since Dion became leader, they seem to have completely ignored the west, and watched their support plummet in the west.

    • David Emerson was the "star" candidate out West. Anyone else come to mind?

      • Anne maclellan was their alberta star, now they have none. Goodale is their Sask star. I guess Dosanjh is the BC star, who like Rae is an NDP transplant because he knows the NDP can't win federally.

        I am thinking more about policies. Their key policies tend to be screw the west. The green shift wouldhave screwed alberta and saskatchewan – it had absolutely no compensation for the fact that the west wold have borne the brunt of the taxes. Iggy's EI policies are geared towards Ontario and Quebec, where the manufacturing job losses are. They've always had slush funds that were geared towards Quebec, arts and culture and slush funds for events and so on. They even used to go out of their way to attack Alberta over health care even though quebec is where privatisation has taken hold.

        The Libs have treated the west like the enemy for a long time.

      • Anne maclellan was their alberta star, now they have none. Goodale is their Sask star. I guess Dosanjh is the BC star, who like Rae is an NDP transplant because he knows the NDP can't win federally.

        I am thinking more about policies. Their key policies tend to be screw the west. The green shift would have screwed alberta and saskatchewan – it had absolutely no compensation for the fact that the west wold have borne the brunt of the taxes. Iggy's EI policies are geared towards Ontario and Quebec, where the manufacturing job losses are. They've always had slush funds that were geared towards Quebec, arts and culture and slush funds for events and so on. They even used to go out of their way to attack Alberta over health care even though quebec is where privatisation has taken hold.

        The Libs have treated the west like the enemy for a long time.

  37. Good points.

    The strength of Provincial NDP's west of Ontario seems to indicate there are more issues for the Liberals out west than just being "left or right" in the political spectrum.

    Aside from your point of the Liberals "ignoring the west"…more recent history has seen them screw the west (remember the NEP?…if you don't…lots of Albertans do!)

  38. Good points.

    The strength of Provincial NDP's west of Ontario seems to indicate there are more issues for the Liberals out west than just being "left or right" in the political spectrum.

    Aside from your point of the Liberals "ignoring the west"…more recent history has seen them screw the west (remember the NEP?…if you don't…lots of Albertans do!)…as noted by wilson above who hit the "submit" button before me!

  39. I think one has to consider the influx of immigrants and the changing ethnic mix of cities like Toronto…many of whom (at least on social issues) are quite "conservative."

  40. Mr Coyne, you should clip your Liberal Party membership card to shirt collar.

    I grant that most of what you say is obvious to even some of the lowest IQs in this country, but somehow it seems to have escaped the grasp of most Liberal politicians.

    Their lust for power has blinded them. I suspect many Liberals have completely lost trust in Ignatieff and would love to hang an electoral loss around his neck. That is one sure way to get rid of him. But in their blind hunger for power, they don't realize the extent of the long term harm they are doing.

    Quite frankly, after growing up a stone's throw from Pierre Elliot Trudeau in Montreal, I have developed such a loathing for the Liberal party, that if they ceased to exist tomorrow, t wouldn't be soon enough for me.

  41. "Well, maybe, but the CPC success is as much the appeal of conservatism in general as it is the slicing of the leftish pie among the Libs, NDP and Greens

    The absurdity of this statement is profound, given that the CPC cannot in any objective way be described as having acted in a conservative fashion. I'm still waiting for the conservative uprising against Harper!

    • Uh, YYZ, you got any other choices for those leaning right?

      • Sadly no – I was just challenging your thesis that the appeal of "conservatism" is a root cause for the CPC's success. Although I did interpret it as growing appeal, which to be fair, you did not say, and I think there are a lot of Canadians who value fiscal conservatism.

        As for me, in the next election I'll be voting for the most serious deficit slayer. In recent Federal history, that was a Liberal named Chretien. In recent Ontario history, it was a Tory named Harris. I voted for both.

      • He's got a point though.

        I'll hold of on determining that "conservatism" is in vogue until we get a conservative government. Harper's government being more popular today tells me nothing whatsoever about the popularity of conservatism. Our current government is arguably much less "conservative" than what we'd have gotten out of another Paul Martin win.

  42. Just have the Liberals join the NDP and "Bob's your Uncle" !

  43. Read the land area criteria. MP's spend little enough time meeting constituents because of distance it seems unfair to give them too large of land area or else we would have to give them higher exceptions on travel expenses for them to be effective. Large population areas have the advantage of improved transportation and large meeting areas for public functions.
    Don't use the Internet reaches everyone to send messages argument because it doesn't.
    In the end, smaller government would likely be more effective in debating and working together.

    • That's always the classic example people use. We deserve more representation because we are spasely populated. Well I'm sorry, but that's a load of BS.

      1. This isn't 1867 anymore. How many of you actually see your MP? I live in Toronto. I haven't seen my MP in a decade. Any communication I have from them or to them is through e-mail, mail, or calling their office. So maybe by that logic, Toronto deserve's more MP's too?
      2. That would work if the sole purpose of the MP was to represent constituents, but today, our MP's are emasculated into having no power at all, they have one function; to warm a seat, and to choose the Prime Minister, who controls all the real power. Giving extra MP's to sparse regions just gives them more ability to choose the Prime Minister. It truly is an asinine system, and it is supported by some pretty asinine arguments.

      Now, back to the first post, we can't reduce anyone's seat count because of the Grandfather clause, and opening up the constitution to try to reduce the seat count of over represented provinces is just not going to happen, ever, so this whole discussion is moot anyway. We have one and only one option, that is to expand the house, so that the under represented provinces are brought up to a similar level as the over represented provinces.

      Finally, this should apply WITHIN provinces as well. Albertan's often complain about the problems they have their with distribution, and they are right to complain. A vote in Calgary should be the same as a vote in Red Deer. What kind of democracy is based on geography, and not one person, one vote?

  44. Remember when Paul Martin said he would have failed as prime minister if he didn't end the problem of western alienation? That was funny.
    Funny to start, funnier as events unfolded…

  45. I think you missed the point. Ontario needs Alberta more than Alberta needs Ontario. The center of gravity is changing.

    Did you not realize that people were commuting from eastern Canada to work in Alberta until the recent downturn?

    There is a huge shift going on. It is mirrored in politics, although the politics are a lagging indicator.

    And the Liberals don't seem to know what to do except demonize the new center. Almost like they think they still are the center.

    Derek

  46. ANDREW–I AM SHOCKED THAT YOU WOULD NOT KNOW THAT IT WAS "UNCLE LOUIE" WHOSE LIBERALS WON THE 1949 ELECTION. SHAME ON YOU!!

  47. WHy are all the seats in rural areas and suburbs? Inner cities are growing rapidly and are terribly under represented. Cities are the fastest growing areas of the country but they still get minimal representation in both National and provincial governments. That, to me, is the real issue, not another phoney east vs. west debate.

Sign in to comment.