Thursday, April 01, 2010

Bigger but Better?

The Conservative government has introduced a bill to add 30 seats to the House of Commons--18 for Ontario, 7 for British Columbia, and 5 for Alberta.  They tried to introduce a similar bill in 2007 but Ontario only got 4 extra seats and would be underrepresented.  With the 30, that makes 338 seats in a now cramped chamber, but no where near the cheek-to-cheek benches in the British Commons.

So what does this all mean?  Well, it will dramatically change the country.

The current standings in the House of Commons are as follows:

145 Conservative
  77 Liberal
  48 Bloc
  37 NDP
    1 Ind.

Now, for argument sakes, if everything basically stayed the same ... pessimistically speaking:

In B.C., the Conservatives hold 22 of the 36 seats (61%).       +4 of the 7 new seats.
In Alberta, the Conservatives hold 27 of the 28 seats (96%).   +4 of the 5 new seats.
In Ontario, the Conservatives hold 51 of the 106 seats (48%). +8 of the 18 new seats.
Total: 16

Add the current 145 + 16 = 161.  Which brings them to 161 / 338, only 6 seats shy of a majority (332).

My point is, this is all done without having to grow the seat count in Quebec.  In fact, I think the Conservatives can win back at least 5 seats in BC, 1 in Alberta, and 5 in Ontario.

While we all know there won't be an election in 2010, this legislation would not officially kick in until after the 2011 census. (Side note: the Constitution states that the first census after confederation would take place in 1871 and subsequent ones every 10 years after that.)

Now let's say an election happened in Spring 2011 and the census was shortly after, thus adding the setas.  What I don't know is when these seats are added, do by-elections have to ensue, or do we wait until the next general election?

Eventually, will the new House of Commons be bigger?  Yep.  Will it be better?  Well, without having to pander to Quebec as much to win over votes, and finally the possibility of having a stable majority, a Conservative one at that, with the left divided and merger speculation continues, you're damn right it will be better.

1 comment:

The_Iceman said...

I agree with the premise that an Alberta MP representing 130,000 people can provide less "one on one" service to constituents than a PEI MP representing 35,000. However I would prefer redistributing the existing seats to adding 30 new salaries (plus staff and offices) to Parliament.

I realize that eliminating existing seats is much more difficult than simply adding new ones, hence why this legislation is before us and why I won't oppose it.

How the legislation affects the ability of the Tories to win is not a concern to me. I am more concerned with fairer representation in the commons.