Thursday, December 02, 2010

I'm sorry, but too many people live in your province, so we'll have to reduce the value of your votes

I'd like to have something more pithy to say about the fact that apparently the major parties in Parliament have agreed to scrap a Bill C-18, which would have addressed voting inequalities that mean that Ontario, BC and Alberta are all underrepresented in the House of Commons. But at the moment all I can say is that I'm disgusted at just how broken our parliamentary system is.

It's bad enough that we don't have a proportional representation system. But the fact that now it appears federal leaders are too gutless to defend the principle of representation-by-population in the House of Commons is beyond the pale. The House was always intended to be the rep-by-pop house - regional or provincial balance is supposed to be the province of the Senate, and the Senate was deliberately created as a weaker body for that reason. It almost makes one want to consider moving to the Maritimes or Manitoba or Saskatchewan where your vote can be worth at least twice as much. Frankly, I'm amazed that Harper thinks his base in Alberta and BC is going to let him get away with continuing to stand in the way of democratic reform that would reflect the changing demographic trends in the country. Of course, their votes aren't worth as much, so maybe he's counting on it not hurting all that much! But I'm particularly disappointed by the quote from Carolyn Bennett, who indicated that the Liberal party wanted "robust provincial consultation" on the bill. About what, pray tell? To find out which ones wanted their citizens' votes to be worth more in the House of Commons? Rep-by-pop isn't that difficult. And if we're in a country that has decided to abandon this principle then, to paraphrase the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, this country is passing through a constitutional crisis without even being aware of it.

Bah humbug - this isn't getting me into the Christmas spirit.

UPDATE 3 Dec 11:15 AM: Interesting. A series of press releases, including one from the Conservative Party, are emerging to deny the details of Ibbitson's story. Was it originally true, but then leaks to the press changed people's and party's attitudes? I'd certainly be pleased to learn that this latest example of parliamentary reform dysfunction was not true, or at least being rectified.

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At 9:56 pm, Blogger ADHR said...

But which parties did what? The Cons clearly aren't bringing the bill up for a vote. And the BQ are unwilling to vote for it, if it does come up. But the Libs are only reported as being worried about its effects on their votes, and the NDP are reported as split but tentatively in favour. So... who engineered what?

At 9:28 am, Blogger Jae/Jennie said...

I may have this wrong, as I'm not paying as much attention to politics today as I used to, but wasn't that particular bill just a horribly inadequate way of addressing the problem? I seem to remember that Alberta and B.C. got the right number of new seats, while Ontario got about half the number of new seats that they actually would need in order to be equal. (Thereby making the likelihood of a new majority for the Conservatives that much higher, without endangering it with wildcard Ontario seats.)

If I'm remembering that correctly, it was probably a good thing that this particular version of the bill be scrapped until they can come up with something better.

At 9:30 am, Blogger Matt said...

Jennie. No, this was a revised version of the bill that actually gave Ontario its fair share of the seats. The old version was scotched when McGuinty raised hell about it.

At 9:41 am, Anonymous Carolyn Bennett MP said...

We have always said that it should go to Committee ... Have no idea where the Kill Bill rumour came from ....


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