House of Commons math, revisited and revised

How the provinces stack up under the new seat redistribution formula


Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Democratic Reform, will be in Brampton, Ontario tomorrow to make an “important announcement.” According to the CBC that will involve 13 new MPs for Ontario, six for Alberta, five for British Columbia and three for Quebec. That’s one more seat for Quebec than had been reported last week.

Quebec currently has 75 of 308 seats, or 24.35%. The NDP had been calling for that percentage to be matched in any redistribution.

After the 2015 election, Quebec will now have 78 of 335 seats, or 23.28%.

The provinces thus break down under the new formula as follows.

Ontario 38.8% of the population, 35.5% of the seats
Quebec 23.1% and 23.3%
British Columbia 13.3% and 12.2%
Alberta 11.0% and 10.1%
Manitoba 3.6% and 4.2%
Saskatchewan 3.1% and 4.2%
Nova Scotia 2.7% and 3.3%
New Brunswick 2.2% and 3.0%
Newfoundland 1.5% and 2.1%
PEI 0.4% and 1.2%

(Population based on StatsCan data here. Figures rounded.)


House of Commons math, revisited and revised

  1. I see the new seat distribution, what I don’t see is the new “formula” you speak of. Whether this distribution is fair or unfair is something others can debate. I actually don’t have a problem with it. What I don’t accept is that the allocation of seats is to be determined simply by the government party’s say-so.

    I hope tomorrow’s announcement contains an actual formula, the merit of which can be debated and discussed in the House, and in the media. The formula can then dictate how many seats go where. If it’s just “province X get Y because we say so”, then there’s something wrong.

  2. Your post says 13 new MPs for “Ottawa.”

    • Fixed. Obviously past my bed time.

  3. If I’m not mistaken, Ontario, which had the largest gap, got the smallest remedy.  And, of course, Ontario still has the largest gap.

    Nevertheless, still more than anyone else has done, and closer to where we should be than where we were.

  4. Still would have like to see BC and Alberta = Quebec in sears

  5. I get the part where we add seats for Ontario, Alberta and BC – that is two steps ahead.

    But then giving Quebec 3 seats – that’s simply one step back.


    • I actually don’t have a problem with giving Quebec three seats.  For the sake of national unity, it makes sense to give Quebec precisely the number of seats that its population warrants.  The separatist movement is on life support right now, and I see no reason to increase its oxygen supply.

      • Yeah, I’m not ginormously worked up about it – there are definitely other electoral issues that I’ve got much greater concerns with, and I do understand your rationale.

        Yet, it is mildly frustrating….

        Before giving Quebec three seats (and after allocating the seats to ON,AB,BC) you have QU,ON,AB,BC ‘shortchanged’ by 0.8, 2.7, 0.8, 0.7% respectively, which isn’t really too bad at all…the four largest provinces are all subsidizing the smaller provinces, with only Onatrio carrying more of the load than the other three large provinces.

        After giving Quebec the bonus seats the ‘shortchanging’ becomes 0.1, 3.0, 0.9, 0.8% respectively – Quebec is now doing alright, but the situation of the other 3 large provinces has been modestly worsened.

        Btw, not sure that I agree with your assessment wrt the separatist movement.  Sure the most recent vehicle (the BQ) that used to carry the hopes of the dedicated separatists as well as quite a few voters along for the fringe benefits appears to be a write-off after crashing into the ditch in May of this year.  But most of the passengers are still alive and well, and after the key organizers dust themselves off, they will find a new viehicle…our ‘troubles’ with Quebec are not over.

  6. Why should Quebec be the only province with representation by population among the four largest provinces?  The only way to get true rep by pop in this country is to expand the house of commons to 952 seats or to reduce PEI’s representation to 1 (with 238 seats total) or 2 (576 seats total).  Like it or not, the four biggest provinces are always going to be underrepresented compared to the six smallest unless we ret-con the agreed upon floor representation for those six provinces.  The closest I can get to actual rep-by-pop while keeping the smallest six as is are:

    Ontario 124 (36.5% of seats vs 38.7% of the population, 18 more seats)
    Quebec 75 (22.1% / 23.2%, 0 more seats)
    BC 43 (12.6% / 13.3%, 7 more seats)
    AB 35 (10.3% / 10.9%, 7 more seats)
    Total seats: 340

    Ontario is always going to have the largest gap between population and representation, simply because it is the largest province.

    Also:  Why not wait until the 2011 census population data is released publicly before tweaking the seats?  That data is due to be released by StatsCan in February.

    • You probably already know this, but just for the benefit of other readers, keep in mind that reducing the number of MPs from PEI below 4 would require a constitutional amendment.

      • Yup.  And consider that such an amendment would need to be agreed on by 7 provinces that would likely be opposed to it (Quebec, as it is mandated to have no fewer than 75 seats, and the 6 over-repped provinces).

        Meh. I’m pretty sure that FPTP is a bigger detriment to democracy than a bit of over-represenation of the smaller provinces.

  7. A greater concern is that 7,426,914 ballots selected 308 MPs, while the other 7,297,066 ballots had no effect.

    Equal representation, ain’t it wonderful.   ;-)

    • I’m not sure what you’re saying here.

      • :-)

        It’s a plea for some other voting system….PR, STV, AV…a system where EVERY vote has EQUAL impact on the selection of our representatives, instead of the current binary system where your vote has an approximately even odds chance of having ZERO impact.

        It’s simply not right that about half of the folks who take the initiative to vote have their wishes ignored.  It’s not right AND it’s not necessary.

        • Ah, in that context I see what you’re saying. It seemed like you were complaining that one’s vote only matters if one votes for the winning candidate, and otherwise it’s useless, which on the surface just seemed weird. However, I see what you’re saying about a system like PR essentially giving more weight to EVERYONE’s vote, and better reflecting the intentions of the ENTIRE population, and I’m a big fan of PR-type systems too, so good point.

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