The Trudeau government tabled a bill on Thursday to ensure that Quebec and the smaller provinces do not lose any seats in Parliament, but which rules out the establishment of a minimum threshold of proportional representation.
In its current form, Bill C-14 would not prevent the decline of Quebec’s relative weight in the House of Commons. It would, however, have the effect of slowing it down in its downward trajectory.
The most recent redrawing of the electoral map proposed by Elections Canada would give three new seats to Alberta, one to British Columbia and one to Ontario.
Quebec would be the only province to lose a seat, going from 78 to 77 seats, according to this scenario. Proportionally, this would give Quebec 22.71% proportional representation, compared to the current 23.28%.
A Liberal source explains that the purpose of the bill is “to go about it in the least complicated and most efficient way possible” so that Quebec maintains its 78 seats.
“By proceeding in this way, we come to protect the principle of representation by population, while ensuring that we protect the smallest provinces and Quebec,” it was explained.
At the same time, the Bloc Québécois tabled a bill on the subject, but which aims to include in the law a minimum weight of 25% for Quebec in the House of Commons.
Such an initiative would require the support of at least seven provinces during a constitutional amendment process, according to this source.
At this point, all the provinces “will have their own demands”, and the process would risk opening the constitutional pandora’s box, which Ottawa fears more than anything.
The parliamentary leader of the Bloc Québécois brushed aside this assertion out of hand since he believes that the constitution gives Parliament the right to proceed in this way.
“The only way for Quebec to protect its political weight is to have a calculation that is established as a percentage. It is essential”, declared Alain Therrien.
He adds that “it is perhaps a roundabout way of reducing the political weight of Quebec over time,” he said.
The latter accuses the Trudeau government of not following up on his words with gestures.
At the beginning of March, Liberals, New Democrats and about half of the Conservatives voted in favor of a Bloc motion asking the government to rule out “any scenario of redrawing the federal electoral map that would have the effect of losing one or more ridings to the Quebec or to diminish the political weight of Quebec in the House of Commons”.
Debates surrounding the issue began today in the Commons.