Bill C-12 Dropped Scrapping 30 New MPs

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Bill C-12 Dropped Scrapping 30 New MPs

I'm certainly disappointed that the federal parties have quietly scrapped Bill C-12, which means that BC, AB, and ON will not see a combined increase of 30 new MPs due to population increases. These type of actions fomented the anti-Ottawa sentiment in the west, which resulted in the growth of the populist Reform party, back in the 1990's.

The Harper government and the opposition parties have agreed to quietly sink legislation that would have given Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta more seats in the House of Commons.

Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic MPs and party strategists, speaking on condition that they not be named, stated this week that the bill has no chance of passage. In April, the Conservatives announced with great fanfare Bill C-12, which would add 30 seats to the House of Commons, taking it to 338 from 308, to address severe underrepresentation among Canada's fastest-growing provinces.

Under the legislation, Ontario would have received 18 new seats, British Columbia seven, and Alberta five, bringing all three provinces up to the level of representation in the House warranted by their populations.

Sources report that the Conservative, Liberal and NDP leadership encountered strong resistance to the bill among Quebec and Maritime MPs, who correctly argued that their regions would have relatively less influence in the House. The Bloc Québécois opposed the legislation from the start.

The Liberals and Conservatives especially feared that passing the bill could harm the electoral prospects of their Quebec MPs. Facing caucus revolts and potential electoral losses, the government shelved the bill.




Iwant Liberty

Ha.  Great stuff.  You can't make this up.  The political elite in the east feel their power threatened and promise revolt!  Amazing.  Our, ahem, "leaders" are so corrupt there are no words to describe it.

Vansterdam Kid

Yeah, obviously they'd have less influence. That's the bloody point, since they have a lot less people. They're already overrepresented in the Senate, which recently proved that it isn't as toothless as people claim, now they'd like to be grossly overrepresented in the House of Commons as well? Absolutely pathetic. Are MP's supposed to represent plots of land or people? Yet again the government has said that the average Maritimer, Saskatchewinian, Manitoban, Quebecker and Newfoundlander is worth more than the average British Columbian, Albertan and Ontarian.

I'm going to be charitable, but one of the many other problems with this is that the vast majority of Canadians of colour live in the latter three provinces. This means that they will continue to be underrepresented in the House of Commons.


When there is a new redistribution after the 2011 census - there will still be some more seats created in Ontario, Alberta and BC - just not as many extra ones as C-12 would have mandated.

I'm actually surprised the Tories have backed away from this. They would clearly have had the most to gain from the new seats and I think that their base will be very upset about this.

Sean in Ottawa

I'm not so sure-- depends on where those seats would go. There are areas where the Cons could see opposition seats squeek through if there were more seats.

remind remind's picture

There is going to be a 2011 Census?


According to the background documents, if the current law is left in place, Ontario should gain four seats, B.C. two and Alberta one at the next redistribution.  The average MP in those three provinces would represent approx. 123,000 people, while MPs in the rest of Canada would represent approx. 93,000 people each.



Dont worry people still wont vote. So more fake MPs sent to sit on the backbench and howl at the opposition. 30 extra seats would only be 3 -5 million more(you will need more cabinet jobs with sooo many more people in the house)

Why dont we work on PR first. As peggy Nash mentioned today on P&P


Politicians will never be in a position to fairly decide these kind of issues. Politics shouldn't take precedence over basic fairness so the courts should mandate basic standards of democracy.

The courts have already mandated that the correlation between seats and population not veer too far. The courts should also mandate that the correlation between votes cast for political parties and seats alloted to them should not veer too far.

The courts should mandate:

- The correlation between percentage of vote cast and seats attained by parties should not be greater then 20%.

- Parties that have 5% or more of the votes must have some representation.

- Only parties that come in first place overall can become single-party majority governments. No "wrong winner" majority governments.

- Those elected in single-member ridings must have majority support in that riding.


Once the courts make these basic requirements, the legislatures will be free to establish electoral systems that meet these requirements.

Maybe a referendum should be held asking voters to vote on these kinds of basic requirements?  The vast majority of voters would vote for requiring that the correlation between percentage of votes cast and seats attained by parties should not be greater then 20%.


Hopefully the Quebec Court of Appeal will support basic democratic rights:

FVC intervenes in challenge to Quebec Elections Act - hearing set for February 8


Tiny note: correlation can take any value on the range [-1, 1].  The closer to 1 the absolute value of the correlation between two variables (e.g., "percentage of votes received" and "number of seats won") gets, the more linear the relation between the two variablesis.  When the correlation is 1, one variable is increasing if and only if the other variable is also increasing; conversely, when the correlation is -1, one variable is increasing if and only if the other variable is decreasing.

In any case, if you're actually calling for the courts to mandate that an election cannot have a vote-share/seat-count correlation greater than 0.20, you're basically calling for the courts to mandate that an election cannot ever produce a legislature whose partisan (or not) make-up is an exact reflection of the electorate's voting patterns, because that would have a correlation of 1.  Which exceeds 0.20.  And, I'm sure, that's also not what you were calling for in the slightest.

George Victor

Haven't the foggiest of what you were on about there, Threads, but stick around. The silence that descended after your presentation is awe-inspiring.  Perhaps one could learn the language of statistics? Smile


JKR seems to be talking about discrepancy, not correlation, between popular vote and percentage of seats. And correlation (the simultaneous change in value of two numerically valued random variables e.g. the positive correlation between cigarette smoking and the incidence of lung cancer; the negative correlation between age and normal vision) is a concept. Threads is talking about correlation coefficient (or technically the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient), which is a means of measuring correlation.

West Coast Greeny

I didn't know Lester Pearson was a statistician.


West Coast Greeny wrote:

I didn't know Lester Pearson was a statistician.


the grey

If all the parties don't want their own party to move it, but want it moved, then why don't they just ask the independent member for Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier to move it?

autoworker autoworker's picture

I always thought that Quebec is entitled to at least 25% of the seats..but what do I know?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I thought keeping Quebec's democratic weight at 25% was proposed in the Charlottetown accord.


autoworker wrote:

I always thought that Quebec is entitled to at least 25% of the seats..but what do I know?

The 75 current seats for Quebec comes from the Representation Act, 1974, or "Amalgam Formula".

autoworker autoworker's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

I thought keeping Quebec's democratic weight at 25% was proposed in the Charlottetown accord.

I think the Constitutional guarantee is 75 seats; but I'm no expert.  You may be right about the 25% figure.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Policywonk wrote:

autoworker wrote:

I always thought that Quebec is entitled to at least 25% of the seats..but what do I know?

The 75 current seats for Quebec comes from the Representation Act, 1974, or "Amalgam Formula".

Thanks, I should have checked your post first.  Your link is quite informative.

Wilf Day

The fascinating point here is how scared all parties are of anti-Quebec sentiment.

Under Harper's plan, the House would have 338 seats for 33,909,700 people (projected 2011 population), an average population of 100,325. But Quebec would have 75 seats for 7,841,400 people, an average of 104,552 each. The Bloc would have a field day: Quebec shafted once again, under-represented, with more people per MP than the Canadian average. Rightly so.

To prevent this, all the House has to do is pass an amendment, once the Bill gets to committee, to give Quebec as many MPs per person as the Canadian average. That only means 4 or 5 more MPs. The average population for 342 seats is 99,151, and the average for 79 Quebec MPs is 99,258. The average population for 343 seats is 98,862. The average for 80 Quebec MPs is 98,018. They need to fine-tune their projection of the 2011 population to see if it takes 5, or if 4 would do.

But the Conservatives don't want to move the amendment. They want the Liberals to move it. The Bloc won't move it: their position is Quebec should have 25%, which would mean another 12 or 13 Quebec MPs. Tom Mulcair is ready to move it. The Liberals are trying to figure out how to finesse the issue. Even some NDP caucus members may be hoping to get the Liberals to move it.

Will the NDP blow the whistle on this game?

Who could be opposed to another 4 or 5 MPs for Quebec, to keep them at the Canadian average? Anti-Quebec voters, and "fewer politicians" populists. Is the NDP scared of pissing them off? Everyone else is.




Briefing Note: Changing the Number of Seats in the House of Commons

A Globe and Mail story from last night that's now being denied has put the issue of the Commons provincial seat allocation formula back onto the front burner of public debate in Ottawa. Time is running out to settle this question before the 2011 decennial census and subsequent redistribution, but some observers are now wondering if it's too hot to handle before an expected spring election.

The government's Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act (democratic representation) has still not been called at all by the government house leader for second reading debate, but the Globe reported last night that a number of party insiders on both sides of the House were discounting its likelihood of being adopted under pressure from Quebec MPs in their caucuses. National columnists reacted indignantly on Twitter late into the evening (@acoyne and @inklesspw in particularly full throttle), then in Friday morning's Question Period Conservative MP Peter Braid from Kitchener-Waterloo, ON was told by Deputy House Leader Tom Lukiwski of Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, SK that the government supported the bill and the fairer representation it afforded the faster growing provinces, and by lunch-time the CBC's Kady O'Malley had obtained the government's talking points declaring the Globe story to be wrong.

I'm unclear whether the story was actually wrong, or whether in response to some of the blowback, the unnamed party officials are now stepping back from it. Time will tell on that score. But meanwhile, this development gives us a chance to look at the mechanics and impact of the bill, something I've meaning to do for some time now.



Reports of the death of C-12 greatly exaggerated?

Wilf Day

On April 20, 2010, the Bloc moved, supported by the NDP, a motion "That the House denounce the fact that the government seeks to marginalize the Quebec nation by introducing a bill to decrease Quebec's political weight in the House, and call on the government not to enact any legislation that would reduce Quebec's current representation in the House of Commons of 24.35% of the seats."

The Quebec National Assembly had unanimously declared "THAT the National Assembly demand that the Federal Government renounce the tabling of any bill whose consequence would be to reduce the weight of Québec in the House of Commons."

This would mean adding about nine seats for Quebec, said Alexandra Mendes, and I agree.

The federal Liberal position was "We also need to be aware of the feeling of alienation in the western provinces, particularly Alberta and British Columbia. However, neither can we allow ourselves to dilute the weight of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. . . we will very probably vote in favour of the bill at second reading so it can be studied in depth in committee. . . We are concerned by the Conservative bill because it will result in under-representation of Quebeckers, based on the population of Quebec. . . Let us move to the government's bill that will lead to discussions in committee. At that point, we will be able to try to find a fair representation for Quebec in the House so that its presence can be maintained with everything that sets us apart as a province."

That would result in a Liberal amendment to add four or five Quebec MPs (or maybe two or three, said Alexandra Mendes, but this time I think her math is wrong), so that it will have the same number of MPs per capita as the Canadian average. However, they have not yet said so. I suspect they would rather let Thomas Mulcair move that amendment. It will still leave Quebec unhappy, while annoying those voters who oppose any more MPs (especially for Quebec).

In that same debate, Quebec Conservative Steven Blaney said "I want to remind my colleague that the Bloc Québécois is over-represented here in the House with respect to the percentage of votes in Quebec." Nice to see a Conservative make the case for proportional representation. New Democrat David Christopherson noted "If we really want to go a long way toward offsetting some of the less than pure aspects of the way that we represent ourselves in this country, many of us believe that proportional representation would allow us to go a long way toward correcting that" and Libby Davies added "We have been very strong advocates for proportional representation."