A proposed rejigging of Canada’s electoral map may see Quebec lose one in all its seats within the Home of Commons by 2024 whereas Alberta beneficial properties three and Ontario and B.C. every achieve one.
The adjustments would enhance the whole variety of federal ridings to 342 from 338.
There are cheap arguments for and towards implementing the precise adjustments really helpful by Elections Canada. However Bloc Québécois chief Yves-François Blanchet’s opening salvo within the debate — that the BQ would “unleash the fires of hell” if his province’s seat rely is dropped to 77 from 78 — is the incorrect approach to start what must be a relaxed, cool dialog about updating the nation’s political geography.
How are we supposed to reply to Blanchet’s Trumpian explosion of concern? Can considerate dialogue comply with a toddler’s tantrum?
Injecting apocalyptic rhetoric right into a decision-making course of that should be pushed by the elemental democratic precept of illustration by inhabitants — and primary math — is exactly the best way to inflame prejudices, gasoline interprovincial pettiness and polarize the nation.
Blanchet, after all, is aware of this. Driving wedges wherever doable between Quebec and the remainder of Canada is essential, by definition, to the political undertaking of any diehard separatist.
Canada election: Blanchet vows to advocate for Quebec as election returns acquainted end result
So we shouldn’t be too stunned that Blanchet has zeroed in histrionically on the deliberate removing of a single Quebec seat from the Commons as if it have been an indication of the Finish Occasions. Though Elections Canada proposed the change for the benign cause that Quebec’s inhabitants just isn’t rising on the similar tempo because the populations in Alberta, Ontario or B.C. — and since Quebec is (relative to these different massive provinces) already extra pretty represented within the present parliamentary seat rely — Blanchet is invoking biblical imagery of the ultimate battle between Good and Evil.
Sonia LeBel, Quebec’s minister liable for relations with the remainder of Canada, has employed extra average language — and superior a extra compelling rationale — in urging particular concerns for the province within the newest redistribution of federal ridings.
“We’re a part of the founding peoples of Canada,” she said this week. “We’ve three seats assured on the Supreme Courtroom for judges. We’ve seats assured within the Senate, a weight that’s essential and represents far more than only a easy calculation of inhabitants.”
All of this is the reason Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and different political leaders thinking about preserving the peace in our principally peaceful kingdom must rise above Blanchet’s blatant bullying whereas discovering a smart answer to the seat-count conundrum — one which delicately balances numerical equity with different concerns endemic in a land of complexity and compromise.
Bear in mind: there’s no purely mathematical justification for granting a federal seat to every of Canada’s three territories — none of which has a inhabitants above 50,000 — when the typical variety of Canadians represented by every MP is greater than 110,000. There’s no logical cause, both, for Prince Edward Island — with a mere 0.43 per cent of the nationwide inhabitants of about 38 million — to have 4 seats representing 1.19 per cent of the elected positions in Parliament.
So there could be respectable causes to keep away from lowering Quebec’s seat rely at the moment.
In 2011, the Conservative authorities of Stephen Harper applied laws that elevated the variety of seats to 338 from 308 to replicate inhabitants adjustments. On the time, the Harper authorities — with a lot prodding from Quebec, the BQ and different opposition events — selected to inflate the general measurement of the Home of the Commons in order that the variety of Quebec seats would enhance (by three, to 78) as an alternative of remaining static at 75 — as an earlier, hotly rejected, purely mathematical proposal had known as for.
The federal government’s considering on the time was that tweaking the formulation for allocating seats in a method that will higher acknowledge Quebec’s particular standing as a nation inside the nation was politically prudent.
Meet the brand new parliament, similar because the previous parliament
It additionally occurred to maintain the province’s seat whole roughly proportional to its share of Canada’s inhabitants, at the same time as these two numbers remained unfairly out of whack for faster-growing provinces.
The Quebec-friendly adjustment wasn’t instantly embraced by Harper’s personal caucus. The extra Quebec seats, according to a Globe and Mail report on the time, “prompted consternation amongst Conservative backbenchers, who have been involved that Canada’s French-speaking province was benefiting from a invoice meant to handle under-representation within the three giant and fast-growing anglophone provinces” — Alberta, Ontario and B.C.
The Conservative caucus was in the end satisfied by Harper to just accept the plan for the sake of nationwide unity. However regardless of the Quebec-friendly compromise, the pre-Blanchet Bloc Québécois nonetheless slammed the 2011 reconfiguration of the Home as falling in need of true recognition of the province’s “distinctive standing with regard to its political weight.”
You may’t please everybody. As then-B.C. premier Christy Clark, who supported the 2011 adjustments, stated on the time: “Perfection in these items is unimaginable as a result of it’s a giant and complex nation.”
A decade later, the state of affairs confronting Elections Canada, the federal authorities and the provinces is far the identical. And perhaps just a little massaging of the numbers to mollify Quebec is warranted but once more.
Wouldn’t it be so unhealthy if Quebec saved its 78 seats and we had 343 federal ridings as an alternative of 342? That may symbolize about 22.7 per cent of the seats within the Home for a province with about 22.6 per cent of Canada’s inhabitants. (In the meantime, Ontario’s proposed 122 seats would then account for 35.6 per cent of 343 seats for a province with nearly 39 per cent of the nation’s inhabitants.)
However Blanchet’s bluster about unleashing the “fires of hell” dangers torching the great will required for the remainder of Canada to grant Quebec some latitude in its allotment of seats within the nationwide legislature. It’s the form of discuss that’s extra more likely to unleash cynicism and stinginess.
And finally, if inhabitants tendencies proceed within the present path, sustaining Quebec’s current share of federal seats as its inhabitants drifts in the direction of one-fifth of Canada’s whole will turn out to be untenable from a democratic standpoint — Blanchet’s fires of hell however.
Randy Boswell is a Carleton College journalism professor and former Postmedia Information nationwide author.
https://globalnews.ca/information/8289530/bloc-quebecois-quebec-parliament-seat-proposal/ | COMMENTARY: Bloc chief’s menace to unleash ‘fires of hell’ over Quebec seat proposal may simply backfire – Nationwide