Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Commons sense

With 7 seats out of 308 in the House of Commons, NL’s voice is but a whisper.

Give it time: that whisper may fade to a pin drop.

In the March 3rd Throne Speech, the Harper government promised legislation to address the under-representation of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta in the Commons.

The promise is backed up by a report to be released today by the Mowat Centre, a think tank dedicated to Ontario issues.

According to The Globe, which obtained a copy of the report, if Ontario was properly represented in the House, it would have 117 seats, rather than the current 106. British Columbia would jump to 40 from 36, while Alberta would have 31 rather than 28.

If that configuration is adopted, the House of Commons would have 326 seats.

And we’d still have 7.


Hear that?

That’s the NL pin dropping in the House of Commons.

I accept the argument that provinces like Ontario, B.C. and Alberta are under-represented.

The average riding in Alberta, for example, is now three times the size of the average riding in PEI.

Fair enough, but giving certain provinces more seats would lessen the relative influence of provinces like NL (that’s the whisper I talked about) — and regions like Atlantic Canada.

NL may have a small population, but our interests are just as important as larger provinces like Quebec or Ontario, B.C. or Alberta.

How do we protect our unique minority interests?

How do we make it so that the NL pin is more like a bong.

We can elect larger-than-life premiers like Danny Williams.

That’s one way to make waves across Canada.

The other way is Senate reform.

Which is taking place around the world.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed abolishing the 700-year-old House of Lords and replacing it with a U.S.-style elected Senate.

If that happens Canada would be among the few nations of the world with a completely appointed upper legislative chamber.

The way it works in the U.S. is that all states are represented equally in the Senate by two senators.

That’s in contrast to the House of Representatives, where a state's representation is in proportion to the size of the state's population.

No doubt about it, Canada needs work.

Solely increasing the number of seats in the House of Commons won’t treat what ails us.


D'Arcy Butler said...

I agree! Any attempt at reforming or reconfiguring the number of seats in the house should be coupled with Senate reform.

While we are at it, why not take aim at the first-past-the-post system currently in place. While the citizenry of the country are not equally represented depending on provincial population counts, the same could be said based on the number of votes that individual parties receive. Parties like the Bloc are over-represented based on the population of the country, while the NDP does not hold as many seats as its vote totals should reflect.

It is time that we start addressing some of these very important issues, and hopefully in the process the citizenry will be reinvigorated, returning to the poles once again.

Sean Williams said...

If you reform the Senate, then the question is do you make them elected by the people as currently happens in the States or by the State Government (as was originally intended)