How much is an MP worth?

Never mind how many we need, how few could we get away with?

The Liberals have apparently decided that 308 MPs is enough.

“It doesn’t make any sense in these days of financial restraint,” Liberal MP Marc Garneau said Tuesday at a Commons committee studying the legislation that would give 15 extra seats to Ontario, six seats each to B.C. and Alberta, and three seats to Quebec … “Canadians are concerned about the added cost of such an inflationary measure,” Garneau said. “The government’s new proposal sends the wrong message to Canadians: that it wants to increase the number of politicians, while it slashes the public services that are provided.”

We presently have 308 MPs for 34.6 million people (one MP for approximately 112,000 people). For the sake of comparing Westminster systems, the United Kingdom has 650 MPs for 62.2 million people (one MP for approximately 96,000 people), while Australia has 150 MPs for 22.3 million people (one MP for approximately 149,000 people).

But if the concern is “cost,” then perhaps the Liberals should propose reducing the number of MPs. Never mind, how many we need, how few could we get away with? That, if the Liberals want to get into it, makes for an interesting debate about what exactly our MPs do to justify their respective existences.

A young Stephen Harper, for instance, advocated for a ten percent reduction in MPs. That would’ve reduced a 295-member House to a 265-member House. So instead of adding 30 seats, perhaps we could get away with 43 fewer than we already have.

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