The problem with our MPs is that we need more of them (II)


After withdrawing an earlier attempt to adjust the House seating arrangement, the Conservatives are apparently prepared to go forward with legislation to increase the number of federal ridings.

The House would be adjusted so that the three fastest-growing provinces in Canada would have the number of seats that their numbers warrant. Depending on the formula, the House could grow by 30 seats or more from its current level of 308. Quebec, which is now properly represented in the House, might also be given more seats, to ensure that reapportionment did not leave it underrepresented. The influence of the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba would diminish in relative terms.

The Mowat Centre’s recent reports on federal representation are here and here.


The problem with our MPs is that we need more of them (II)

  1. Who in their right mind would actually want the job?

  2. And the cities are about to get smacked around, again, while the burbs and the boonies get well served. I smell a constitutional challenge.

    I mean, why is the vote of some guy in PEI worth three of mine?

    • A little soon to be claiming that.. unless you know something about the redistricting that I don't, and if so, please share.

      • Canada redistributes. The US "redistricts". The US "verbs" a lot of nouns when perfectly good verbs are already available.

          • They ped, obviously.

    • Must be from Quebec. Duceppe, is that you?

    • The vote of some guy in PEI being worth three times more than yours or mine is particularly the point of this. I expect most of these seats will go to the suburbs and the cities, as they're currently underrepresented.

      Why are you complaining about something that addresses the precise problem you complain of?

  3. 150,000 per year, with the chance of pocketing more based on committee or parl sec or cabinet appointments.

    Are you kidding me?

    You think Pierre Polievre, Rob Anders, Wayne Easter et al can do much better in the private sector?

    • And that's assuming you've given up your pension, like Anders, Easter, Harper, et al di.. what's that? They've reversed that decision? But didn't they say tha.. oh..


      And that's not including the pension!

  4. Why can't we fix the number of seats and reassign them based on population shifts, rather than keep adding them? We already have politicians at the municipal and provincial levels. How many more do we need?

    • This would be impossible to pull off because it is sensible. Gov't does not work that way! ;)

    • I would LOVE to see them take a few Bloc seats out of Quebec. Of course it would never happen, but it would be sweet.

  5. That's a better idea, but prohibited by the Constitution unless provinces consent to the loss of seats.

  6. Yeah why should the votes from some hellhole count more than yours?

  7. Helena, is that you?

  8. Whoopie.

    Not only do I loathe the lumping of the "Atlantic" provinces (Stuff doesn't sound so bad when you list three names instead of saying six provinces will be excluded from seat additions) but I loathe how the "smaller provinces" will now have less effect, in total, in both houses of Parliament. Even if all four provinces could agree on something (which they can't) and elected members of the same party (which they don't), thirty seats only hold sway in minority parliaments.

    Democracy: The tool by which Ontario bludgeons the rest of the country into submission with.

  9. I know. How dare they have such a large population. The bastards.

  10. "Democracy: The tool by which Ontario bludgeons the rest of the country into submission with."

    Hasn't worked with this federal government.

  11. Idiocracy: The tool with which Someone Else apparently believes electoral districts should be drawn.

    • Yes, heaven forbid that all provinces had an equal chamber of discourse and legislation at the federal level. Neither the House of Commons nor the Senate provide an equal voice to each province within Confederation.

      • Why should they?

        Why should some arbitrarily drawn lines on a map determine the weight of one's voice in the federation?

        Under your logic, if we divided Ontario into four provinces, it should have four times the representation.

  12. Yep, definitely long overdue. A "worthwhile Canadian initiative", so to speak…

  13. This is a good thing, long overdue. Re-balancing representation oughtbe done more frequently in accordance with the Canada census.

  14. It's also true that neither the House of Commons nor the Senate provide an equal voice to each individual Canadian.

  15. Just watch. Ontario is going to get hosed (er, I mean treated "special").

  16. I think the real substantive impact is that a Tory or Liberal majority government possible once again.

  17. It's possible now. Just not with the current incarnation of leaders, policies etc. etc.

    The argument that the Bloc somehow prevents a majority is a Stephen Harper internal communications strategy to lower expectations so he doesn't get turfed by the party for only winning minorities.

    Although for the record, I agree with the redrawing to fix the Ontario/AB/BC problem.

    • If the right had been united, and if the Bloc existed (winning 50 seats each election), the last majority government in Canada would have been Mulroney in 1984. Before that it would have been Diefenbaker in 1958.

      • If the right had been united, and if the Bloc existed (winning 50 seats each election), and if the Liberals won Alberta, the last majority government in Canada would be today.

        It's easy to prove anything if you use imaginary facts to start with. YYZ's point is solid. There is absolutely nothing preventing a majority government today.

  18. Based the proposal the Cons have put forth, a House of 338 seats still leaves the big three provinces under represented in the House compared to their populations: ON (7 seats); AB (4 seats); and BC (1.5 seats). Moreover, as proposed, the larger House moves QC from being slightly over represented (+1.9 seats) to a roughly 3.5 seats under representation.

    So what's going on? Clearly, one can't take seats away from the small provinces currently over represented. Also, if I'm the Cons, I don;t want to add any seats in QC which in all likelihood go the the Opposition in most elections. I want to add in Ontario, but not so many that I start putting new Liberals and Dippers in the House. The fewer the additions in ON, the easier it is to be selective about where the new ridings go and easier to make the additions net favourable to the government. BC is similiar to ON in that respect. Of course any seats added to AB are easy Con wins.

    Problem is what the Cons have proposed barely addresses the really massive under representation of ON. Currently ON is 12 seats under their share of the population. The proposal closes that gap some, but leaves ON still 7 seats shy of an equitable distribution. It also leaves AB and BC 3.9 and 1.6 shy, respectively. So this is meager progress at best.

    QC is going to go ballistic if they move to (even slight) under-representation. ON remains massively short. AB's seat deficit is barely addressed.


    • Well, by definition if the six smallest provinces are over-represented, then the four biggest provinces have to be under-represented. So unless we're willing to take away seats from the small provinces, or make the House of Commons much bigger. For example, Newfoundland is currently guaranteed 7 seats, which works out to an average population of about 73 000. At that level, Ontario is only properly represented at around 180 seats, in a total House of around 465 seats. In some ways, that would be the fairest solution, but I'd like to see any government increase the House to 465 members!

    • Agreed. Fail.

    • Minor correction to my comment above. Seems rather than used the actual current seat distribution, I used the "1985 formula" adjusted counts as the baseline. By bad.

      Doesn;t;t change any of the conclusions, as ON, AB and BC remain very under represented regardless. Current seat count is, of course 308, not 315.


  19. From my blog:

    "What would the federal election results have been had the winning party in each riding received a weighted share of the ridings based on the population of each riding compared to the national average? For example, the winning party would have received 0.257 seats for winning Labrador–the least populated riding in Canada. In Brampton West, Ontario, the winning party would have received 1.660 seats. Brampton West is the most populated riding."

    See more: http://skinnydips.blogspot.com/2008/10/brampton-w

  20. "The actual results for each party were as follows:

    Conservative: 143 seats
    Liberal: 76
    Bloc Québécois: 50
    NDP: 37
    Independents: 2

    Total: 308

    The weighted results for each party would be as follows:

    Conservative: 146.015 seats
    Liberal: 75.861
    Bloc Québécois: 49.025
    NDP: 35.331
    Independents: 1.767

    Total: 308"

    • In other words: big whoop?

  21. It seems to me that Harper has tried almost anything and almost everything to achieve polling popularity above thirty-and-a-bit percent.

    It just makes sense that if Canadian citizens will not cleave to Harper's cockamamie vision and version of this Government of Canada and provide him with his coveted majority . . . of course Harper would eventually attempt to gerrymander the results.

    Quelle surprise.

    • They're making the playing field MORE fair, not LESS. This is a very good proposal, and I'm confident it will pass, because it's the right thing to do.

    • Gerrymandering involves setting district boundaries such that a party is more likely to win (or sometimes gerrymandering is done to protect incumbents). While boundaries will be redistricted, it isn't Harper doing the redistricting, so this doesn't quality as gerrymandering. Rather, this is a redistribution of seats – one that challenges the unrepresentative nature of the house. That it also increases the chance of a majority government (for Harper OR Ignatieff) is an added bonus.

      • Are you are studying political science [oxymoron alert] or sophistry?

        Harper, and yourself, appear to have an unusual affection for the latter.

  22. Yeah, to get each province to a seat share that is witihin +/- 1% of their population share, but without reducing any province's current seat count, the House would have to expand to 357 seats. That's compared to the current 315 and the Cons' proposed 338.

  23. NO, NO, NO! Do not try to fix the problem by increasing the number of MP's. Do it by readjusting what there is now and decrease the size of the Senate as well. How ridiculous at this time of huge deficit, to add to the burden of cost to run the country. We want less government not more! I wish the political parties would stop playing these costly games in order for them to keep/regain their power. Selfish Bas****s! When will they really start caring about the Canadian citizens instead of themselves?

  24. And that should say 1949 not 1948.

    • Except all your arguing here goes *against* your original point that adding more seats makes a majority any more possible than it is now.

      More seats in Alberta, could easily give you more NDP (In Edmonton) and/or Greens (In Calgary). More seats in Ontario could do much the same. Still a minority government. Is it possible to get a majority with these? Sure. But it's possible now.

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