Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bill C-12 - Representation in the Federal Parliament

Better representation for BC, Alberta and Ontario is in the cards again via Bill C-12. It is frankly the only interesting thing I have seen out of Ottawa in months.

Others have commented on it

We will not know the exact implication of C-12 till sometime after the 2011 Canadian Census.

Estimates for increased seats are the following:
  • Ontario 14-21
  • BC 6-7
  • Alberta 5-8
  • TOTAL 25-36

I am going to work with the estimate of 6 for Alberta, 7 for BC and 18 for Ontario.

The implications of the new seats is to continue the shift in electoral power to BC, Alberta and Ontario that has been occurring over the last generation. It means that the relative weight of the other seven provinces has been falling. In 1984 51.1 of the seats in Canada were in BC, Alberta and Ontario. With the C-12 change, this will shift to 59.3% of the seats.

With the changes, BC and Alberta will have more seats than Quebec. Winning in Canada used to mean being able to win in Ontario and Quebec, with the new seats it will be more crucial to win in the west than in Quebec. In 1984 Quebec had 75 seats and the west had 77. Quebec is the same and the west will have 105 seats.

This means that the roughly 50 seats that are realistically Bloc are losing their weight nationally. The loss of the relative weight of the Bloc seats means the odds of a majority government are more likely in future elections. The 93, 97 and 2000 majorities happened because of the split between the Reform Party and the PCs. Without this split we would likely have seen minority governments. The minorities in the 1960s were caused in part because of having 4 parties elected.

In the past the Liberal party was the natural governing party of Canada because they were able to win a large majority of the seats in Quebec. In many ways in the Liberals came into elections with 50-70 seats in hand before the vote was counted because of Quebec.

With the rise of seats in the west, there is an emerging solid Conservative bloc of seats. Before an election is called the Conservatives are sitting on 70-75 seats from the west. With 339 seats, you need 170 seats for a majority. With the seats from the west, the Conservatives only need to win 95-100 of the other 265 seats in the country.

80 seats in the west is a realistic result for the Conservatives in the west. 60 seats is achievable in Ontario. This means Harper would need to find 30 more seats, currently they hold 21.

Meanwhile the Liberals come into an election with a much smaller solid set of seats. They have Toronto and Newfoundland. They start much, much further behind the Conservatives. The Liberals need to either regain dominance in Quebec or they need to become a party of Western Canada.

In 1984 Quebec and Ontario had 3/5s of the seats in Canada, after the new seats BC, Alberta and Ontario will have 3/5s of the seats. That is what is the important fact coming of C-12.

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