It looks like we are in for another session of whining from Quebec NDP members, this time over the number of seats Quebec will have in the House of Commons after the next redistribution of seats.
Right now Quebec has 24 per cent of the seats, representing approximately 23 per cent of Canada's population. From my point of view that is a pretty good balance.
However, the Canadian population has been shifting westward. B.C. and Alberta are under-represented, as is Ontario which remains a favourite destination for many new immigrants. The Conservatives plan to introduce legislation that adjusts the number of seats in the House of Commons to correct this situation.
If the Conservative proposal is the same as they introduced in 2010, it would add 18 seats to Ontario bringing its total up to 124 MPs. British Columbia would increase from 36 seats to 43 and Alberta would go from 28 MPs to 33.
Even interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel had to concede that these provinces are under-represented and this needs to be fixed. Yet according to the interim NDP leader, "The approach of the Harper government is really divisive right now. It's not constructive, it's not nation-building," At this point it looks like the NDP will revert back to the old Bloc rallying cry... we are being unfair to Quebec!
It is worth noting that "Layton, in a letter to then-Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe in 2010, countered with a proposal that denounced the Harper government's attempts to 'marginalize the Quebec nation.' Layton called on Harper to drop any legislative step "that would lead to the reduction of Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons." (Postmedia, August 18, 2011)
The NDP argument is pretty weak if Quebec and other provinces don't lose any of their existing seats with this redistribution or further down the road when adjustments are made in the decades ahead. If in the case of the Quebec numbers, the number of seats you have accurately represents your population you aren't being marginalized. If you don't lose seats, you aren't being marginalized. Is it more divisive to support adequate representation or to whine that you are being treated unfairly and that you want special consideration?
As for reducing Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons, the NDP managed to do that when they forced an unnecessary election and handed the Conservatives a majority government which was elected with virtually no Conservative MPs from Quebec.
It would be interesting to know how NDP MPs who represent provinces other than Quebec feel about a party policy that insists that Quebec get more than its share of influence in the House of Commons. They should try to explain that one to their constituents in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
Is the NDP becoming the new Bloc? Time will tell.
Keith Beardsley's political blog can be found at www.atory01.com.