Government working to level the playing field

From the Hill: MP Colin Mayes: One of the key elements of democracy is representation by population.

One of the key elements of democracy is representation by population.

Recently, your government in Ottawa introduced the Fair Representation Act, which will increase seats in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia as these provinces, for far too long, have been under-represented in the House of Commons. The population growth in these provinces has diluted their representation on the basis of representation by population. The Act will give Alberta and B.C. six more seats each and Ontario 15. The formula not only reflects representation by population, but also takes into account the historical commitments made, as well as regional considerations, to ensure all Canadians have an equal voice in Ottawa.

In 1985 there was a grandfather clause, guaranteeing no province be allocated a number of seats less than the number of seats it had in 1985. Due to population decline or lack of growth, some of the smaller provinces are somewhat over-represented in the House of Commons, but the four largest provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and B.C.) will now be on equal footing regarding representation.

Once the act is passed, a process of electoral boundaries review will begin. The riding of Kelowna-Lake Country is the fifth largest riding by population, so one can assume there might be some boundary adjustments either north or south of this riding. The process will take time and it is hoped we will have the new ridings up and running by the 2015 election.

The four largest provinces will have one MP per 108,000 citizens. I compared this number with other countries in the G-7, and found the numbers were reflective of many other G-7 countries. For example, the UK has one member in their House of Commons representing 95,000 citizens; Italy one member to 95,000; France one member to 107,000 and the USA, because of their large population, one congress member for every 705,000 citizens.

As mentioned above, our constitution does not allow us to lower the number of MPs without unanimous consent of all the provinces.


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