Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rep by Pop to Come to Ontario?

Harper appears to have backed down on yet another issue. Originally Harper's plans for redistribution would have seen Alberta and BC get equal representation to Quebec while Ontario got the shaft. Now there appears to be a thaw, and Ontario will get 21 more seats according to McGuinty. Aside from the very un-conservative idea of expanding government in a time of so-called belt tightening in other departments, this is a long time coming. It would mean the elimination of 170,000 person ridings like Brampton West. So, you ask, how would this break down within the province? Well, that depends. Northern Ontario currently has 10 seats but even under the new formula would only really need nine. However, there will be significant upset in Northern Ontario if they get the redistribution shaft so there may yet be maneouvring on that count. Here's my calculations based on rep by pop (current seat totals in brackets):

Cottage Country (basically Parry Sound to Peterborough): 11 (9)
Eastern Ontario (not National Capital Region): 8 (7)
905 (limited to Durham, Halton, Peel and York (southern) regions: 29 (20.5)
Northern Ontario: 9 (10)
NCR: 8 (7)
Southcentral (Hamilton to Niagara): 15 (12)
Southwest: 21 (17)
Toronto: 26 (22.5)

The half riding in the current total for Toronto and the 905 is Pickering-Scarborough East which would be an obvious target redistribution. Clearly, the big winner is the 905. However, Liberals should be extremely worried about the prospect of 7 additional seats south and west of the GTA. That part of the country has become increasingly infertile land for the party in the last couple of elections. Toronto is likely to be the biggest headache for the mapmakers. The tendency has been to separate the old boroughs of Etobicoke and Scarborough from the rest of the city. Maintaining this tradition could prove difficult. The natural rivers and ravines which dot the city also provide challenges for the mapmakers.

Side Note: This will also provide the basis for an expansion of the Ontario Legislature. As the Tories under Harris bound electoral districts outside of Northern Ontario to Elections Canada boundaries. The City of Toronto could also see a redistribution as council seats and school board seats are, for the most part, based on federal riding boundaries.

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