Friday, December 03, 2010

Is There Anything More Fundamental?

Although there seems to be some denials from the government, the thrust of Ibbitson's piece is supported by the inaction, the real time nothingness. I must say, while one can understand the potential emotional blow back, the fact that such an intrinsically logical and fair bill can't muster any resolve, puts our entire system into question.

The added seats for Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are long overdue, there is simply no rational reason to abandon this bill, obvious self interest aside. If the parties are worried about losing seats in Quebec, then fast track the changes, so the new seat gains easily offset any potential losses. That's a strategic response, but really, once and for all, it would nice for a federal party to champion basic democracy, rather than cowering at the first sign of trouble.

If this bill does die, I think it such an indictment that it might be time for federation rethink. I can just imagine the reaction in Alberta, and I can't blame for a second, it's a sellout of the highest order. I suppose the cute and quiet"die on the vine" approach will curb visceral reaction, but eventually it will sink in the west is being SCREWED once again, and this time it will be rightfully so, no question. Representation by population, growing regions having their voice suppressed to placate an increasing minority. That scenario just doesn't wash, and while you understand Quebec's concerns, this is one issue where we require leadership to do the right thing. Anything less, this almost gutless process, and you're left with the conclusion that this country, in its current makeup, just doesn't function properly, a pretty mirage that disappears with the slightest inspection.

I don't buy my party position:
Liberal 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?”

Where is the understanding? This is just an elementary reform, it doesn't require a first ministers' meeting, all it requires is a commitment to representation by population, or at least some move closer to this reality. Why do we need to consult the provinces, when we know FULL well that those who want more will argue just that, and those whose who's percentage will decline will vehemently oppose. Sounds like a recipe for exasperating the situation, no where near a solution. We already have an entrenched Senate which handicaps certain regions, over inflates others, so the naysayers can take comfort in this non-representative body, not demand we do the same in our other house.

We already have a situation in this country where our Parliament is held hostage by people who support the nation's destruction. A now permanent fixture, no federal party has the resolve to make the case, instead it's become a who can out pander each other, with little impact anyways. This reality cemented, we now must endure further insult- no one brave enough to dare address fundamental inequalities, basically giving the west the bird, telling Ontario to once again accept compromise for the greater good, just a complete sham of a federation no matter how you slice it. Maybe it's time for a sober debate, maybe this failure tells us that the federation doesn't work and we need reform or we need a new arrangement. I'm a staunch supporter of a strong central government, but it is rendered useless when it can't mandate the most basic respresentation.

Canada doesn't work, it just doesn't. Something has to give...


Carter Apps, dabbler of stuff said...

I don't see this problem being anywhere near as unfair as the FPTP system itself.

The lack of a fair voting system is a much bigger problem in my books.

Steve V said...

Well, that's another debate, but I think we can all agree on this notion of equality of ridings, a vote having the same worth (no matter the system entrenched) in every region of the country.

Chrystal Ocean said...

Thank you for this post, Steve. The worse-than-molasses 'progress' of Bill C-12 has only further embittered this British Columbian about the farce that is now the Canadian federation.

Tof KW said...

silver bug, some examples. My vote in Kitchener-Waterloo riding is worth 65% of a vote versus someone who lives in Lac-M├ęgantic, QC. It is worth close to half a vote compared to someone in Maidstone, SK. It is worth a quarter of a vote compared to someone living in Summerside PEI.

This bill that will now probably die addresses this disparity. Alberta, BC and Ontario are all getting screwed because our mutual MPs from the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all gutless wonders versus the Bloc & the PQ.

Steve, an excellent post and I absolutely, wholeheartedly, 100% agree with you.

Steve V said...

A tweet from Carolyn Bennett:

#HofC #Cdnpoli #qp planted CON question on C-12.If they believe in it- bring it to the House so we can get it to Committee.Bring it on!

Sounds good, but if the ultimate road leads to requiring a first minister conference, call me confounded by what amounts to a jurisdictional sellout.

Steve V said...

Susan Delacourt has a neat slant, which is quite telling:

Tof KW said...

Sounds good, but if the ultimate road leads to requiring a first minister conference, call me confounded by what amounts to a jurisdictional sellout.

Might be all that's needed to bring about the death of the Charest government and a new breathe of fresh air to the separatist cause. That's what the Pequists are counting on and why our federalist MPs are hoping this dies quietly.

Washing their hands of bill C-12 to a First Ministers conference is a good way to have a PQ majority hold another referendum.

Steve V said...

That solution would just reduce the whole debate to posturing, and we'd see the provinces arguing, casing more tension.

I remember the Libs initially offered a broad counter, which would have given Quebec 1 or 2 more seats, but nothing ever came of it. Now our position seems to be we neither support or oppose this bill, but require further consultations in committee and with the provinces. In other words, we have no intention of pushing this initiative, and we'll wait to see if the government forces our hand. That's how I read it, sorry to say...

Kirk said...

Even within provinces there's an imbalance between rural and urban ridings and I bet no one wanted to address this either.

This is also about Maritime MPs, too, according to the report on

After all, there two groups of provinces when you look at the size of ridings. ON, BC, AB and Quebec have 100,000 plus on average while the other 6 are 50 - 60,000 or less on average.

The Conservatives original proposal, before the 2008 election, was only to add seats to AB and BC, not ON. They changed their mind after the election, possibly after giving up on gains in QC.

It's political all around, all the parties and MPs throughout Canada.

Maybe it needs to be taken out of the hands of the politicians and someone should refer it to the Supreme Court.

Jesse said...

1) The SCC bit has been tried, they've said the won't touch it.

2) I'm wondering if Bennett is trying to act like this is a quasi-constitutional change.

3) Actually, Tof may have a point... do we really want to help elect a Pequiste government, and risk have Harper "lead" the federalist vote in Quebec?

Kirk said...

Just a word about Quebec.

Quebec has 23.1% of the country's population. Currently, Quebec has 75/308 seats or 24.4% of the seats. Under the proposed changes by the Conservatives Quebec would have 22.2% of the seats.

When the Liberals proposed adding "2 or 3 seats" for Quebec the Conservatives refused.

However, for Quebec to have a proportional number of seats to it's population, Quebec would need 4 more seats for a total of 79 in a 342 seat HoC. That would give them 23.099% of the seats. Seems fair to me.

Now go look at the comments to the article in the Globe & Mail about this:

Lots of hate there for Quebec getting any seats.

The whole thing is one big mess and reflects very poorly on Canadians as a whole.

ottlib said...

I for one have no problem with this Bill being withdrawn because politicians should not be the ones making the decisions of how many more seats should be added to the House. They cannot be trusted to put their self-interest aside for the greater good.

Those decisions should be made by an arms-length body, independent of elected politicians. Until our politicians decide to do that the number of seats in the House and their geographical distribution is just fine with me.

Mark Dowling said...

Dr Bennett:
'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.”'

What a load of bollocks. A few more series of Little Mosque and MB/SK ridings will be as populated as Ontario's?

Steve V said...


Not following you, so you disagree with the allocation, seemed completely fair. As far as the actually riding distribution, I'm with you there, no repeat of what the GOP did in Texas thanks.


If you think that's pedestrian, you should see our press release. Fluff, with a dash of magic dust.

Anonymous said...

Love all your postings Steve..great work!..added you to my list of fav blogs..hope that's ok

Steve V said...

Thanks Barb :)