The Liberal Party wants Quebec to get two or three extra seats if the House of Commons passes legislation to increase representation in three other provinces.
The Liberals’ Quebec caucus is pushing to increase seats in their province, and are gaining traction within the party. Their goal is to ensure that Quebec’s share of the seats in the House reflects the fact that the province has 23.1 per cent of the Canadian population. Quebec would be left with 75 seats under the Conservative plan.
“The principle for us is that it can’t be below the province’s share of the population,” the official said of the party’s position on Quebec.
He added the party is in favour of adding seats in other provinces, too.
It is factually correct, that Quebec will be slightly under represented under the government's new seat allocation plan. With this dynamic in mind, the Liberal pledge goes beyond simply pandering, because it addresses the simple concept of fair representation. For this reason, when you couple the seat gains elsewhere, I see little potential for resentment in other parts of the country, while the Liberals position themselves as protecting Quebec's interest.
We are only talking about about a couple of seats, which looks decidedly paltry compared with the large seat gains elsewhere in the country. If the Conservative plan still under-represents other provinces, then really the solution they've offered isn't a fair fix, a fact reasonable people will understand. The Liberals are really offering a simple premise, rep by pop, which plays no favorites. I would submit the only areas of the country that would resent the Liberal pledge are beyond realistic electoral considerations, so any "blow back" potential is truly minimal.
I don't assume the Liberals defending Quebec's status in Parliament is a game changer in the province, but it does send a practical signal that the Liberals will defend Quebec's place in the federation. This policy position could help the party in Quebec, particularly if they are the only federalist option pushing the issue. The Liberals also neutralize the Bloc's hysterics somewhat, undercutting their sole defender arguments.
I think this a shrewd move, because the position is based on the fair and factual. Any small increase for Quebec is offset by much larger gains in other provinces, which lessens the favoritism political risk. Any reward remains to be seen, but it could well prove an important symbolic presentation in Quebec, that the Liberals have volunteered these changes.