2 December 2005

the Canadian dissensus 1

According to Elections Canada:

The number of electoral districts is based on the formula described in the amended section 51 of the Constitution Act, 1867. This formula assigns seats to provinces in proportion to their population, assuring them the minimum number of electoral districts they had prior to March 6, 1986. In addition, each of the territories is entitled to one electoral district.

The results are:

  • Canada 308
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 7
  • Prince Edward Island 4,
  • Nova Scotia 11
  • New Brunswick 10
  • Quebec 75
  • Ontario 106
  • Manitoba 14
  • Saskatchewan 14
  • Alberta 28
  • British Columbia 36
  • Yukon 1
  • Northwest Territories 1
  • Nunavut 1

Eastern and Western Canada divide at the Ontario/Manitoba border. The Northern region comprises Yukon, the Northwest territories and Nunavut. There are also significant differences within Eastern Canada which is usually divided into 3 more regions – Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes/Atlantic Canada. The best way to measure the importance of regions is to look at seats won by the two major parties in Eastern and Western Canada.

  • Total 213 Eastern ridings, 92 Western ridings, 3 Northern ridings
  • Liberal 118 Eastern ridings, 14 Western ridings, 3 Northern ridings
  • Conservatives 31 Eastern ridings, 68 Western ridings

There are 4 parties in parliament:

  • Liberal 135 seats, 36.7% popular vote
  • Conservative 99 seats, 29.6% popular vote
  • Bloc Québécois 54 seats, 12.4% popular vote
  • New Democratic Party 19 seats, 15.7% popular vote
  • Other 1 seat, 1.3% popular vote

The voting system is single member plurality. This forces tactical voting and explains why the Bloc can get less votes than the NDP and win more seats. The Bloc only contests seats in Quebec while the NDP is spread across the country. NDP voters have to choose between voting NDP and perhaps allowing the Conservatives into power, or voting Liberal and keeping the Conservatives out.

The Senate (which I describe only out of a deep-seated pedantry) is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senators serve until 75. The composition at least shows how long the Liberals have dominated the federal government. The province of Alberta once held an election for an Albertan senate vacancy but the federal government refused to appoint the elected candidate.

  • Liberal 67
  • Conservative Party 23
  • Progressive Conservative Party 5
  • New Democratic Party 1
  • Independent 5
  • Vacant 4
  • Total 105

If Paul Keating was ready to call the Australian Senate 'unrepresentative swill' and 'proof of life after death' one shudders to think what he would have said about the Canadian Senate.

Tomorrow I should have a pendulum done and I'll talk about the parties and issues.

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