Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bill C-22 Explained

Okay, so there's a lot of discussion about representation. Harper's rewording the elections act to give more seats to Alberta and British Columbia. Here's the legalese. Here's how it would work (or at least how I read the legalese). First you take the population of Canada's provinces and divide by 279 (the divisor prescribed in 1985). So (population data taken from wikipedia):


Then you take the population of each province and divide by the quotient above giving you:

Ontario: 108
Quebec: 65
Alberta: 29
Manitoba: 10
Nova Scotia:8
New Brunswick:6
Newfoundland and Labrador:4

That would be the Canadian parliament under pure representation by population basis. However, three clauses of the election need to be implemented. First, no province can have less seats in the house than it does in the senate. Second, no province can have less seats than it did in 1988 (the coming into force of the 1985 revision).

Leading to this:

ON: 108 (unchanged)
PQ: 65 to 75 (1988 level)
BC: 37 (unchanged)
AB: 29 (unchanged)
MB: 10 to 14 (1988 level)
SK: 8 to 14 (1988 level)
NS: 8 to 11 (1988 level)
NB: 6 to 10 (senate-based minimum)
NL:4 to 7 (1988 level)
PE: 1 to 4 (senate-based minimum)

Here's where C-22 changes things. Under bill C-22, if a province does not benefit from the readjustment above, and a larger province does, they get to recalculate their seats. The applicable provinces - BC and Alberta - get the same member to voter ratio as the larger province - Quebec - meaning in this case one member for every 102,677.4267 people. This leads to:

BC: 37 to 43
AB: 29 to 34

So, basically the only province that doesn't get a boost is Ontario. No wonder Dalton's pissed off. Basically, this gives the West the special treatment that they resent Quebec for getting. Not a bad deal for them. Aside from McGuinty's valid complaints, this system guarantees that the house will expand ad infinitum. The Conservative Party of Canada: Delivering Bigger Governments Since 2006!

In all seriousness, we should have a system which limits the size of the house. We should eliminate the clause that requires that a province's seat count cannot shrink below a certain level. Leave in the senate thing to ensure adequate representation out East. This would allow Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador to shrink (as their share of the Canadian population has) and give us a stable number of MP's.

Side Note: Those advocating an equal senate should take a long look at the clause above. An equal senate (10 senators a province) would mean an increase in the house delegations of both PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador to ridiculous levels. PEI would have one member for every 14,000 people. Ontario would have one member for every 118,000 people. Yikes!


Koby said...

Assuming that no government would ever dare take away seats from a particular province or region, the government would have to add a lot more seats to make it half way equal. If the government would commit to an MP for every 70,000 people the new numbers would break down as follows. Ontario would gain 67 seats, Quebec 27, BC 23, Alberta 19, and Manitoba, Nova Scotia 2 each. All told, 140 seats should be added, most of those in urban areas and nearly half in Ontario. Even then there would still be outliers. PEI, and the territories would still be over represented.

The way to pay for such an expansion would be to abolish the senate.

Anonymous said...


With regards to the seat allocation in my proposal, this is what I did:

I got the numbers by cutting the constituency MPs of these provinces by one-third. Used that number to multiply by two to achieve the 50-50 mixed member proportional split. Note that the Ontario numbers could go even higher when taking into consideration the population increase there.

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