Monday, November 26, 2007

"Small Man" Finds An Ally

The problem with many of the Conservatives policies, the lack of independent confirmation, to demonstrate that the ideas have merit. Whether it be the Conservative's disingenuous claims for their GHG emissions plan, the folly of a GST cut or most recently Bill C-22, the government doesn't seem to find any backing from "experts". Electoral reform expert Peter Aucoin weighs in on C-22, and the analysis isn't kind:
"We have to have over-representation and under-representation because of the territories and four Atlantic provinces because of the Constitution," said Dalhousie University political science professor Peter Aucoin, who served as the research director on the Lortie Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. "What that means is that there has to be under-representation elsewhere or at least in some other places. The formula that's being proposed doesn't do it adequately, because it penalizes one province with no principle for penalizing it. It's just the way the formula works. So Ontario's case is absolutely correct. The notion that Ontario's getting more seats is irrelevant. It's not a good formula."

Aucoin lays out the numbers, effectively supporting Ontario's position:
In addition, while the new formula would move Alberta and British Columbia closer to being represented by population, over the years, Ontario would continue to be under represented. Prof. Aucoin said under the new formula, Ontario would be worse off going forward, because it is currently under represented by 3.6 per cent, while the new formula would increase the under representation to 4.3 per cent after the 2011 census, to 4.8 per cent after the 2021 census and to 5.3 per cent after the 2031 census. This is in contrast to Alberta, which is currently under represented by 0.8 per cent. If the bill passes, Alberta's under representation would decrease to 0.3 per cent after 2011, 0.2 per cent after 2021, and zero per cent after 2031.

"The government's proposal flies in the face of representation by population. It has Ontario carrying the whole load and that's not fair," Prof. Aucoin said. "They're getting more seats, but they're underrepresented. Every body's going to be close on the basis of representation by population except Ontario. It's going to be worse off than it is now. ... They're going to carry the whole load. That's the problem."

Van Loan argues that the Bill achieves much in lowering under-representation, a far cry better than the current formula. What Aucoin demonstrates, under the Conservative plan, we effectively institutionalize a formula which ensures a growing disparity, for Ontario alone. Fundamentally unfair, which makes Van Loan's bombastic rhetoric all the more distasteful. I suppose one could argue, that the reason the Conservatives like to play "hardball", is the hope that the noise masks the lack of independent support for their policies. If Van Loan is correct, then those within the discipline should be applauding his initiative, not panning it so fundamentally as Aucoin does above.


Anonymous said...

With McGuinty, Charest, Doer, Duceppe and Dion all speaking out against the new formula, it likely won't fly. Only Layton has been silent.

Steve V said...

True enough catherine.