Friday, November 23, 2007

But he got more than me!

This seat dispute between McGuinty and Van Loan reminds me of a parent trying to be fair to all the kids, and yet inevitably someone's nose ends up being out of joint. Maybe Johnny has a part-time job and brother Sammy doesn't, so you end up giving Sam an extra buck or two for a treat, and then Johnny screams blue murder. It's a no-win situation.

Anyway, Christina Blizzard has interviewed political scientist Dr. David Docherty and relates his observations (More seats, less democracy) . Please read the whole article. It's quite enlightening.


Here's what I didn't know - There is very little rep by pop in this country:

"There have only been three provinces whose seats are determined by population: Alberta, B.C. and Ontario," Docherty said in an interview this week.

Quebec gets 75 seats no matter what -- despite declining population in that province. So if you divide their population by 75 seats, you get a higher voters-to-MP ratio than you get here in Ontario. And it's that formula that critics -- particularly McGuinty -- are applying to the new formula. Or they take the overall population of the country -- 33,800,700 -- and divide it by the number of seats in the House of Commons. Except that doesn't work either.

New Brunswick and tiny P.E.I. are protected by what is called the "senatorial floor." A province can't have fewer MPs than it has senators. This means that despite their minuscule populations, P.E.I. and New Brunswick get four and 10 seats respectively.


According to Doherty, other provinces have their seat numbers protected by the 'federal Representation Act.'
"Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia probably shouldn't have the seats they do, but the act protects them from losing seats..."

Under the proposed changes, the number of federal ridings would increase from 308 to 330. Of those 22 new ridings, 10 would be in Ontario, seven in B.C., and Alberta would get five.

New provisions to the act guarantee that provinces with smaller populations than Quebec -- the largest province that has a seat guarantee -- are entitled to equivalent representation. So Alberta and B. C. get more seats to reduce their MP-to-voter ratios until their constituencies are roughly the same size -- but conveniently slightly larger -- than Quebec's.

Blizzard calls it "the quintessential Canuckistan dog's breakfast of a compromise". If Ontario's seats are increased, then Quebec will be throwing the tantrum.

What a mess. McGuinty's letter to all Ontario MP's calling for "Representation by population, 'one person, one vote,' equality under the law and effective representation", seems rather unachievable.


Blizzard has advanced her own proposal:
Dump the Senate, so you don't have to worry about how many seats provinces have. While we're at it, ditch P.E.I. as well. What's it doing with four MPs? It has a smaller population than some GTA ridings. Roll it into New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.

Then let's start from ground zero. No deals. No seat guarantees. Just rep by pop -- all across the country.



Sounds good in theory, Christina, but I doubt that the kids would ever stop whining no matter how hard you tried to resolve the situation.


* * * *

Update: Jason Cherniak - Wake up Ontario. (For a Liberal POV)

Kerplonka!: Aha.


29 comments:

Greg said...

Blizzard's "solution" sounds like a lot more trouble than just giving 10 more seats to Ontario.

And for the record, I don't understand her political scientist's point about giving more seats to Ontario at B.C. and Alberta's expense. Ontario is not proposing that at all so why is he raising it?

Anonymous said...

I've never really thought that my federal vote was for my province, but I guess that will be on my mind in the next federal election. One person, one vote is a good thing to aim for, subject to constitutional guarantees which are difficult to change. The fact that Harper doesn't believe in this principle comes as no surprise to me. All he seems to care about is how he can carve out a majority from a country that doesn't want it.

Ron said...

anonymonus - your bias is showing --- Ontario gets and has always gotten more than its fair share of everything --- that is why everybody outside of Toronto hates Toronto and everybody outside of Ontario hates Ontario. One sure sign this county is headed for destruction in the near future is the small minded, self serviing premiers like Dalton and Danny (Nfld) hollering and screaming and crying about what they want - the rest of the country be damned -- gimme, gimme, gimme is their slogan --- No matter how much you give people like that, they will always want more and more --- your blaming Harper for their self-centered rants indicates to me that you are one of those who will vote for a lamp post if it is running under the Liberal banner - that, Sir, is not political thought, it is blind religious devotion. Another thing, since when have the Liberals been interested in one person one vote -- isn't it Liberal philosophy to demand MINORITY rights - isn't it Liberal philosophy to discard the "majority rules" line of thought - if you want one person-one-vote system - let's put abortion to a vote, let's put same sex marriage to a vote, let's put the youth justice system to a vote --- NEVER - these things are considered to be rights issues and not up for decision on a majority.
The provinces (outside Ontario) have the same concerns as those fighting for "rights" - the majority, given the chance, will crush the minority - given the chance Ontario will crush the rest of the country - there has to be a balance.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ron - Wow! Well said.


And for the record, I don't understand her political scientist's point about giving more seats to Ontario at B.C. and Alberta's expense.

Greg, I didn't quite understand that one either. I'll try to get more info.

Anonymous said...

Heres a thought.
Werent these new seats based on the percentage increase in population?
Heres another thought.
If this is a LIBERAL value, how come it hasnt already been corrested?

Lee said...

sorry, forgot to include my name to above post.
Need more coffee.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Lee, thanks. To his credit, Dalton has dissed the previous federal Liberal government on this issue as well.

Anonymous said...

TangoJuliette sez:

Dalton is now into his second mandate. All Provincial Ridings are identical to all Federal Ridings.

If Dalton thinks that Ontario residents are being shortchanged with the MP's being sent to Ottawa, the same should prove to be the case with MPP's goping to Queen's Park.

I suggest that "der Preem" attend to correcting the "rep by pop" imbalance within his own Provincial jurisdictional bailiwick first, by adding those 22 new seats into the Ontario legislature -- non?

Once having done that, maybe then -- his graspy whining might have a little more of a ring of truth to it, wouldn't you think?

tj


t.e.&.o.e.

liberal supporter said...

If Dalton thinks that Ontario residents are being shortchanged with the MP's being sent to Ottawa, the same should prove to be the case with MPP's goping to Queen's Park.

Why would that be? If all Ontario ridings have the same number of residents, then there is no imbalance problem in the Ontario Legislature.

If that number is greater than the same number for other big provinces, then we have an imbalance at the federal level, while not having one at the provincial level.

Kingston said...

there had to be some kind of balance, and that is why we cannot go directly by rep by population, Ontario might have the most people but try this scenrio, what if ten years from now they have 50+1% and the new Bloq Ontario party forms, they win all the seats in Ontario, one province would control the Country. Screw the martimes, screw the west. there has to be some balanced so all views are taken into consideration and policies for the country are based on the country not one province.

Anonymous said...

Ontario doesn't vote, people do.

OMMAG said...

Apologies in advance if this turns out to be a double post! Jo please delete the extra if it is!

You know what?
I recall having this discussion way back in high school ...( wistful memories of the late 60's go by...)

All the same arguments pro and con along with exactly the same kind of nonsense from the members of peanut gallery.

The only thing that has changed is the names. And the fact that the Liberals have added seats in key demographic areas to suit their own needs.

BTW - This article is erroneous in several areas:
Statement -
"Quebec gets 75 seats no matter what -- despite declining population in that province. So if you divide their population by 75 seats, you get a higher voters-to-MP ratio than you get here in Ontario." is incorrect!

1) Quebec's 7.5 million (which BTW grew 4.3% in the last census period) to 75 seats gives approx. 100 thousand to each seat.

Ontario's population is upward of 12.7 million with 104(?) seats.
This gives approx 122 thousand population per each seat in parliament.

So Quebec has a higher number of seats - per - voter than Ontario!
Not the other way around!
But this is essentially the argument the McGuinty is making.. right!?

Now the argument for MORE seats goes that if you have more people concentrated in a small area they should have more political clout.

I think this has some merit but I do not believe that it is an overpowering argument because of several problems it will create.

Problem one - The only trend this addresses is the intensification of urban population. Urban populations tend to become mostly homogeneous in character with divisions becoming stratified by economic standing. Basically in urban ridings you will tend to have majority groups that tend to be more or less in the same economic situation. This leads to political stratification based on nothing more than the politics of envy and self interest. Perfect for socialists not so good if you want to see a broader range if ideals represented.

Problem two - Higher cost of governance! Self evident .... there are no examples anywhere of larger government being more effective or more efficient. Complexity breeds failure.

If anyone needs any examples of how this works take a look at the circus's of nations like India, Mexico, Italy, South Korea or any South American nation.

All the shakiest democracies in the world and the most incompetent and corrupt of them have followed a complex model of representation that effectively destroys the value of the individual vote.

In short if you want good government you'd better keep your government simple.

Anonymous said...

Simple is good. one person, one vote, equal, period.

Anonymous said...

Well, seems like all the experts, pundits, etc., agree with McGuinty.

Blizzard is a flake and an extreme partisan - or haven't you noticed that yet.

She works for the Sun - owned by Quebecor - on the board of directors - Brian Mulroney. Speaks volumes to me

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

"Maybe Johnny has a part-time job and brother Sammy doesn't, so you end up giving Sam an extra buck or two for a treat, and then Johnny screams blue murder. It's a no-win situation."

So, Ontario's the good hard-working son who gets nothing from his parents while his syblings rake in the coin because he has a job and works for his own money? LOL

I'd say, there's one reason, and one reason only that Ontario will be the ONLY PROVINCE IN THE NATION to be underrepresented in the new system (a sytem designed such that our underrepresentation will continue to get WORSE as time passes). It's because Ontarians think of themselves as Canadians first and Ontarians second, so the federal government figures we'll just accept being the only province in the federation that gets screwed, because we're good federalists (an increasingly rare breed in Canada).

They're probably right.

Don said...

Until all federal parties dump their strict party discipline and allow the majority (if not all) votes to be free votes, then what is the point of increasing the number of MPs? When was the last time you saw your MP's name (providing he/she is not in cabinet or shadow cabinet) in the news? Canadians have created federal and provincial governmenst with so much power concentrated in the leader and their coterie of appointments that I am really not sure any longer what my MP or MLA is able to do (aside from bark like a trained seal). We have turned primeministers and premiers into a combination of head of state/head of government rather remembering than ensuring that they act only as heads of government. The unicameral set up of all provinces, and the defacto unicameral set up of the federal Parliament doesn't help.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Don,

I'm not a huge fan of increasing the size of the House either, but the problem is that we can't REDUCE its size to make things fair. Quebec is constituionally guaranteed 75 seats, even though their population is decreasing. By federal statute, none of the provinces smaller than Quebec can have their seat totals reduced. So either you add seats to the Commons, or you just accept that Quebec and the smaller provinces will continue to accrue more and more relative power through nothing more than the passage of time, while provinces with increasing populations fall further and further behind.

The problem comes when one uses Quebec's constitutionally guaranteed seat level as a base line in making your changes. It means 1) Quebec gets slight overrepresentation, 2) all provinces smaller than Quebec get proper representation or slight overrepresentation, and 3) all provinces larger than Quebec get screwed. It wouldn't be quite as patently unfair as it is, if it wasn't fo the fact that there is only ONE province larger than Quebec. So, Ontario, and Ontario alone, gets underrepresented so that the other provinces can get a fair, or in most cases BETTER than fair, shake. Ontarians have often shown a willingness to forgo what is fair in the interests of federalism, and I think they will again, but I don't think it's out of line for our Premier to point out that we're moving from a system that underserves the people of Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, to a system which underserves only the province of Ontario to the benefit of the entire rest of the federation. In Joanne's analogy, Johnny isn't particularly upset that Sammy gets more than him. Johnny's upset because there are ten kids and he's the ONLY one who gets less. And why does he get less? Mostly, because he's the oldest, and his parents know he probably won't complain too loudly.

Rest assured that if Alberta, or Quebec, or even B.C. was the ONLY PROVINCE IN THE NATION getting underrepresented by the structure of the House of Commons we'd never hear the end of it.

OMMAG said...

Check your facts LKO ...
Stats can figure say Quebec's population is increasing and is UP by 4.3 % during the last census period.

As for the argument that under representation is a fact ... consider that it may be interpreted as being Appropriately represented.
The facts are that the current situation is the result of politically motivated meddling in the electoral boundaries and largely the doing of Liberal governments.

Something that could be fairly addressed by the EEE Senate proposed by the Reform party.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, actually, they were Joanne's facts, which were actually Blizard's facts (which I think may have been Docherty's facts) but point taken, I ran with what Joanne quoted, and it does seem to be wrong.

The fact remains that the new formula fixes things proportionally for EVERYONE, except those of us living in Ontario. Alberta and B.C. get rough proportionality, pretty much everyone else in the country gets OVER proportionality, and Ontario alone gets the shaft.

As for "under-representation" being "appropriate" representation, I have no doubt this is the CPC's belief (i.e., "they tend to vote liberally, so it's "apporpriate" that we rig the system to under-represent them, and to under-represent them more and more as time passes"). I'm just not personally sure that's "appropriate" though.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

And why does he get less? Mostly, because he's the oldest, and his parents know he probably won't complain too loudly.

Johnny McGuinty seems to be doing a good job of complaining lately.

That's probably why Daddy Van Loan lost his temper and called Johnny a name. Not nice, but even the best parents sometimes lose it.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

but point taken, I ran with what Joanne quoted, and it does seem to be wrong.

O.K. Another issue to take up with Blizzard and the professor.

Anonymous said...

Her figures aren't wrong; if the larger provinces population is going up faster than Quebec's, which they are quite quickly; Quebec will be over-represented.

Anonymous said...

Boy it's tough to keep up with the seat allocation comments this site has generated over the last couple of days. Good job everyone.

As a Canadian I have no issue with the so called over representation for areas that are remote, very large geographic ridings. That takes in a large part of our land mass in the north of the country. As well I have no issues with the representation afforded those who live in rural areas. Our "natural resource entrepreneurs" need a voice in the affairs of the country. That said, I feel that the third way for the urban masses must be based more on a pop by rep basis no matter what constitutional arrangements there are. This means that the large cities must take a hit and have ridings that are large people wise in the 125 to 150 thousand range. Canada could then "reduce" the number of MPs and save money!!

For a later post I shall discuss the STV-BC method of voting, redesign the country and hopefully provide some comic relief!!

West Coast Teddi

maryT said...

This whole crying thing by Dalton and Dion is an attempt to get the east vs west thing going again and it wont work. Where are these seats or new ridings going to be. Ontario should take the 10 now and ask for more when liberals get back at the trough, in the next century.
Dion is wrong, cdns do want an election, but it will not favor dion.
If libs keep up the games they are playing it will send the message, minorities don't work, give PMSH his huge majority.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the nonsense I'm reading here.

Ontario gets everything? Flaherty tells Ontario cities to stop whining about the infrastructure and yet Harper/Flaherty gave $1 billion dollors to Quebec to fix their roads, just one example.

Like it's Ontario's fault they have a bigger population - give me a break.

Obviously, hatred and attacks are more important than common sense here and quite frankly, I think the experts know more than you guys do - and they agree with McGuinty.

liberal supporter said...

Dion is wrong, cdns do want an election, but it will not favor dion.

So says you.

I am a Canadian, not a "cdn". Either way, you don't speak for me.

The strategy is working. The CPC and its trolls are getting more and more restless. Funny that, they are being given majority like power, but with a long leash.

If they still claim they need a majority, what exactly is it that they need it for?

They need it for the real (not hidden) agenda.

Eventually Harper will break his own law and call and election.

Möbius said...

As for "under-representation" being "appropriate" representation, I have no doubt this is the CPC's belief (i.e., "they tend to vote liberally, so it's "apporpriate" that we rig the system to under-represent them, and to under-represent them more and more as time passes"). I'm just not personally sure that's "appropriate" though.

I'm sure the over-representation of the Maritime provinces bothers you as well.

Möbius said...

Eventually Harper will break his own law and call and election.

You forgot to mention the "soldiers in our streets" talking point.

Did you skip a meeting?

liberal supporter said...

maryT didn't mention soldiers in the streets, so I didn't either. Seems cutting the pay of the soldiers is not in the BT songbook today.