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Rep by Pop!

HARPER REVERSES COURSE


 

Rep by Pop!

Harper has reversed course and has now agreed to give Ontario 21 new Commons seats, up from the 11 the promised last year. Ontario’s alpha-male premier is taking credit:

“He made the traditional argument, which is ‘look, you’re better off than you were before,’” Mr. McGuinty said Wednesday, recounting his conversation with Mr. Harper. “And I said ya, that’s true but that’s not the point. The point is we should be working towards fairness and over time we would have continued to fall behind.”

I’m guessing there is more at work here than McG’s powers of persuasion, and I doubt Harper is giving Ontario the seats out of warm feelings for the people of this province. Did McG agree to a quid pro quo of some kind, maybe w/r/t Senate reform? Or perhaps Harper has really thrown in the towel on Quebec and has decided the road to a majority runs through the keystone province of Confederation?

It’s all very curious. Great news, yes. But curious.

***

UPDATE — Here’s a newer version of Lee’s story.

And here’s an indispensible backgrounder — thanks to Leslie Seidle of the IRPP for the pointer


 
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Rep by Pop!

  1. Quid pro quos don’t work if they are secret and the seat allocation happens before.

  2. I think Harper is just trying to butter up Ontario. It’s a dangerous game, because his base hates Ontario.

  3. Ouch. J’ai mal.

  4. Great news for Ontario, I don’t forsee too many people whining about the new seats because rep by pop is an issue of basic fairness, after all.

    Actually scratch that – some Quebecers may be displeased because as soon as the new seats are created (2011?) it will be entirely possible to win majority governments without winning seats in Quebec. The Bloc will no longer be a destabilizing element in our political system. No more minority governments or parliamentary crises! Hooray!

  5. “Or perhaps Harper has really thrown in the towel on Quebec ”
    If only this was true. I suspect there will be continued attempts to satisfy Quebecers. The proper alignment of the universe says this to be so.
    The truth is however…what. What more can Canada give? Perhaps Liberals will find a way to doubledown.

  6. Hmm. I rather think Alberta will be put out by Ontario gaining say.

  7. I should add as a Conservative, I never felt comfortable with short changing Ontario like this. But as an Albertan, it wasn’t so bad.

  8. It depends on whether we gain out here in Alberta as well. With all the immigration here lately, either more seats or a redistribution of seats is probably advisable.

  9. Andrew (not Potter or Coyne), Alberta will not at all be put out by Ontario gaining seats. I’ve found that Albertans are remarkably fair-minded. Albertans don’t want preferential treatment for themselves, they just can’t stand preferential treatment for others.

    Under the new distribution, seats in AB, ON and BC will all be equally weighted, which will please Albertans. It’s all about equality, which includes equal representation by population.

  10. “I think Harper is just trying to butter up Ontario. It’s a dangerous game, because his base hates Ontario.”

    I think he’s more concerned about Ontario hating his base.

  11. Thwim: Harper has proposed Ontario to gain say more quickly than previously suggested. Indeed, he just promised Ontario 10 more seats while offering none for Alberta. I can’t imagine that will play well.

  12. CR: Then why on earth did Harper shortchange Ontario initially?

  13. Two caveats I’d point out.

    1. Where does it say Alberta won’t be getting additional as well?
    2. When did we start believing what Mr. Harper says?

  14. Andrew: I have no idea why Ontario was shortchanged initially, but I suspect Harper was more concerned by Quebec’s reaction to a percieved loss of influence in Parliament, if Ontario were to gain a whopping 21 seats.

    Again, this will play well in Alberta, as it will in Ontario and BC. All three provinces will gain influence in parliament that is commensurate with their populations.

  15. “Then why on earth did Harper shortchange Ontario initially?”

    Probably because he didn’t think Ontario would vote for him. But then they did. It’s amazing how that changes the relationship.

  16. I think he’s more concerned about Ontario hating his base.

    That’s a lot of folks hating themselves. But, hey, I see what you mean.

  17. So who decides on how the ridings are redistributed?

    Couldn’t be that the redrawing of the electoral map in Ontario will find these 21 seats in more “favourable” areas…just couldn’t be…

    Austin

  18. sbt is right. Andrew Steele at the Globe has an analysis of this which makes sense. Six months ago Harper thought his political growth would be in Quebec, not Ontario. That has now changed, so Harper’s formula has changed. That is how one expects harper to behave. Many of the seats will go in the 905 area, where Harper and Kenney have been successful in targetting various ethnic and religious groups.

  19. Ontario is the new Conservative base. Ontario has more Conservative voters than any other province. I think that Conservatives get more financial support from Ontario as well.

  20. “Ontario’s share of the national population will hit 40.4 per cent in 2021, while its share of seats in the Commons will be 35.6 per cent, an under-representation of 4.8 per cent. according to the government’s projections. ”

    Still not quite ‘democratic’ but moving us in a better direction.

    Potential reasons for Harper:

    (1) He saw that this was the right thing to do.

    (2) He thought the backlash would be too significant in vote-rich Ontario (which it would).

    (3) He can win where seats are being added (as suggested by others)

    (4) He is planning to bring in the Senate reform with equal REGIONAL representation.

    In the event of number 4, I will form or join the Ontario separatist party, as representation by region is thoroughly undemocratic.

    I hope it’s number 1, but I don’t feel confident.

  21. And Quebec countinues it’s long slide into irrelevance…

    It’s the right thing to do obviously, but I think it will benefit BC & Aberta more than Ontario – If those 20 new MP’s are anything like the dalmatians we’re stuck with now, they wont do much to represent the people of Ontario. The best to hope for is that it will increase the proportion of MP’s who aren’t actively trying to funnel more money out of the province. Even that doesn’t seem likely to me.

    Next up, a cap on the number of MP’s (like in the US) so we aren’t stuck with an ever-growing house of commons.

  22. Skinny, so that shows marginal difference for the 2008 election (just 3 extra seats for Harper.) But I think Harper looked at where the gains were, and weighted those both with rep by pop and for further gains. I suspect that’s the calculation that caused him to change his mind.

  23. I didn’t know the distribution of ridings was the Prime Minister’s to give or withold. I thought the Electoral Boundaries Commission (or some similarly named agency) decided how many ridings there are and where. I am puzzled as to why the PM would be involved, assuming he really was.

  24. “(2) He thought the backlash would be too significant in vote-rich Ontario (which it would).”

    Sadly, I don’t think this is true. Ontario voters typical response to misttreatment by the Federal government is to bend over and pay for some lubricant.

    “(4) He is planning to bring in the Senate reform with equal REGIONAL representation.

    In the event of number 4, I will form or join the Ontario separatist party, as representation by region is thoroughly undemocratic.”

    Right there with ya!

  25. DR, I agree there should be a cap on the number of MP’s, but this will be political poison for future seat redistributions. It’s one thing to give a fast-growing province new seats, it’s quite another to take seats away from a slow-growing province like Quebec.

  26. Isn’t that a bad sign for the Western Alienation party? I get the sense that the Mulroney/Reform cycle will play out every 30 or 40 years.

  27. Further to my post at 16:20, I since visited the Elections Canad aweb site and read up on the process for adjusting electoral boundaries. There are electoral boundaries commissions for each province and territory. They examine the population after each decennial census and make reocommendations to the Chief Electoral Office of Canada. These eventually go to a Parliamentary committee for review. Once the committee has approved, redistriubtion is implemented by the Chief Electoral Officer. There was no mention in the process of any role for the PM of the day. So now I am doubly puzzled. Where did Potter get this stuff?

  28. Most putative Albertans who comment here ( not all, of course ) seem less interested in rep by pop than rep by economic clout.

  29. Seems to me this is a risky gamble for the Tories, assuming there’s deep strategy involved. More room for a majority, sure, but also more room for the Liberals to expand without a western breakthrough. Well, should make things that much more interesting.

  30. Hi Catharine,

    I know the difference is minor. However, three seats could make a difference between a majority and minority. If those extra seats go to the 905 area, then the Conservatives may pick up a few extra seats.

    Thanks anyway.

  31. JMD, what is being reported is that Harper has agreed to give Ontario its share of seats (which is 21 more). The riding boundaries would not be determined by Harper, but the new ridings can be expected to go where there has been significant population growth — such as the 905 area.

  32. JMD, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that Canada is a Parliamentary democracy and not a Republic, and that Harper is de facto President of Canada. The Parliament is just a formality–the people of Canada have given Harper carte blanche to execute his agenda, and for Parliament or its committees to impede this process in undemocratic. Thus, Harper is giving Ontario new seats–it just needs to be rubber stamped by committee, the HoC, Senate and GG.

  33. I didn’t know the distribution of ridings was the Prime Minister’s to give or withold. I thought the Electoral Boundaries Commission (or some similarly named agency) decided how many ridings there are and where. I am puzzled as to why the PM would be involved, assuming he really was.

    The government — that is, the PM — can, within constitutional limits, tinker with the allocation formula by which provinces are allocated seats.

    The government — that is, the PM — can also, within constitutional limits, tinker with the separate legislation governing how ridings are drawn up within each province.

  34. We don’t know why, but we must assume its nefarious.

    Evil and nefarious.

    Because it’s Harper.

    And he’s evil.

    Did I mention Harper’s evil?

    Harper Derangement Syndrome (HDS), alive and well here at Blog Central.

  35. Kody, it’s simpler than that.

    He ran out of cookies.

  36. So are we looking at 40 more MPs by 2020?
    And where in the heck did Andrew find that photo? Is that from the ‘2006 New Government of Canada Christmas Special-ganza’, with surprise guest Dom Deluise, and ‘Santa’ Kenney? Looks like it’s from Harper’s medley of Jingle Bells/One for the Road…

  37. Something needs to change.

  38. SAB – what’s so unfair about equal regional (or better yet, provincial) representation in the Senate?

  39. Austin So
    Dec 17, 2008 16:07

    So who decides on how the ridings are redistributed?

    Couldn’t be that the redrawing of the electoral map in Ontario will find these 21 seats in more “favourable” areas…just couldn’t be…

    * * *

    let the riding association meeting for Timmins-Sioux Lookout-Three Square Blocks of Queen St. West come to order!

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