“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.
Democratic Reform critic Carolyn Bennett, from Toronto, said her party was not ready to support the bill “without robust consultation with the provinces.”
“This is no way to run a federation,” she said. “Where is the consultation? Where is the first ministers’ meeting? Where is any understanding of how this country is supposed to work?”
When asked whether she was concerned about the underrepresentation of visible minorities, Dr. Bennett said it is equally important to “make the rest of Canada more inclusive for people choosing to come to Canada.”
In Canada, a Liberal is at his or her best in power. In opposition, they equivocate. Imagine Pierre Trudeau not being able to decide whether Members of the House of Commons should be elected on the basis of representation by population. One sure reason Dr. Bennett was attracted to the Liberal Party, back when it was in power, was that it had a leader who could make decisions without the permission of the provinces. Indeed, Trudeau threatened on numerous occasions to patriate from Great Britain Canada’s federal Constitution, without the consent of the provinces.
Today, Liberal Party that won majorities branding their opponents as lackeys of the provinces can’t seem decide where to stand on the basis of a simple liberal principle—each vote should count equally—without provincial consultation.
There is no precedent or common-sense basis to ask the provinces to agree on how the House of Commons should fairly represent the shifting citizenry of Canada.
The brutal choice for Dr. Bennett and her partisans is to be guided by the liberal logic of representation-by-population or let the loudest voices take more than their proper share of House of Commons seats.