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House of Commons | Ottawa ensures that Quebec will not lose a seat

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(Ottawa) The federal government is preparing to act so that Quebec does not lose a seat during the redrawing of the Canadian electoral map.

According to a source, a number of ministries are currently working on proposals aimed at protecting the political weight of Quebec, which would lose a seat in the Commons in an upcoming redrawing of the electoral map which would be strictly based on population.

The House of Commons adopted a motion this week, tabled by the Bloc Québécois, rejecting the redistricting proposal presented by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and asking the government to change the formula for allocating seats.

Last year, the DGE developed a project to redraw the Canadian electoral map based on a mathematical model applied to demography. Under this proposal, the total number of seats in the House of Commons would increase by four, to 342 MPs.

Alberta would gain three seats, Ontario and British Columbia would each get one more, but Quebec would lose one — its representation would drop from 78 to 77. It would be the first time since 1966 that a province would lose a seat in the Commons during a redistribution.

The Bloc Québécois asserts that this DGE proposal does not take into account the recognition that Quebecers form a nation within Canada and that it would in fact reduce the political weight of Quebecers in Parliament. Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet believes that Quebec should instead get one more seat.

Jean-Sébastien Comeau, press secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, says the government rejects any scenario that would see Quebec lose a seat in the Commons, and that it is working on a way to avoid it. “We are carefully considering the next steps on the redistribution of seats in the House of Commons and we will have more to say in due course,” he said.

Fair Representation Act


BLAIR GABLE PHOTO, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez

The office of Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal lieutenant in Quebec, is among those working on ways to protect the province’s representation in the Commons. A source in his cabinet, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to comment, said there were currently “discussions” to ensure the political clout of the Quebec is not shrinking.

According to this source, the government is examining in particular the Fair Representation Act, 2011, which proposes ways to maintain the number of MPs in the slower growing provinces. The federal government is also examining the formula used by Elections Canada to allocate seats to provinces based on population — and whether that formula can be changed to protect Quebec without collateral consequences.

The government will likely present its proposal this month, before a Bloc Québécois private member’s bill is put to a vote in the House. This bill would aim to guarantee that Quebec’s representation in the Commons never drops below 25% of seats.

Wednesday’s Bloc motion provided that the House of Commons reject “any scenario of redrawing the federal electoral map that would have the effect of causing the loss of one or more electoral districts in Quebec or of reducing the political weight of Quebec in the House of Commons” .

The motion won the support of almost all Liberal MPs, almost half of the Conservatives, all New Democrats and the two Green MPs in the House. A total of 262 deputies voted for the motion, and 66 against.

A spokeswoman for Elections Canada recalled that the CEO calculated the number of seats in the Commons for each province using population estimates provided by Statistics Canada and a formula established in the Constitution. “This process is purely administrative on the part of the Chief Electoral Officer and is done in an independent, neutral and non-partisan manner, in accordance with applicable laws,” said Natasha Gauthier.

The new electoral map is expected to be completed in October 2023 and could come into effect in April 2024.

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