Ottawa Journal (May 03 – May 07, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)
In the Speech from the Throne, delivered by Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, on March 03, 2010, our Government committed to improving Canada’s democratic institutions. We are delivering on this commitment to Canadians by introducing two bills into the House of Commons – the Democratic Representation Act and the Increasing Voter Participation Act, to ensure Canadians are fairly represented across Canada and given every opportunity to be involved in the democratic process.
On April 1st, the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Democratic Reform) together with Steven Blaney, Member of Parliament for Levis-Bellechasse, introduced the Democratic Representation Act into the House of Commons, to address the under-representation of faster-growing provinces, such as Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario in the House of Commons, while protecting the seat counts of provinces with slower-growing populations.
The representation of the provinces in the House of Commons is updated following each decennial census according to a formula established in the Constitution. The current formula, established in 1985, was designed to temper the overall growth of the size of the House of Commons. However, under this formula, faster-growing provinces are becoming unfairly represented in the House of Commons relative to their populations. If passed, the legislation would update the formula, to ensure that future readjustments will improve representational equality among all Canadians. For example, it is projected that Ontario would receive 18 new seats (instead of four under the current formula), Alberta would receive five new seats (instead of one), and British Columbia would receive seven new seats (instead of two), and the remaining provinces’ seat count would remain unchanged. Once the bill has passed and taking into account all steps in the readjustment process, the new seats would likely not be available until approximately 2014. Our Government believes that to the greatest extent possible, each Canadian’s vote should carry equal weight and this bill responds to this aim.
The other democratic reform recently introduced by Minister Fletcher and the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, and Minister for La Francophonie, is the Increasing Voter Participation Act. This bill was introduced on April 26th and reaffirms our Government’s commitment to increase voter participation by providing Canadians with more opportunities to vote during Federal elections.
Our Government recognizes that getting to the polls is becoming more and more difficult for Canadians, as their schedules are becoming busier with commitments at home, work, and in the community. The Increasing Voter Participation Act will give Canadian voters two additional advance polling days during the campaign period, including the Sunday before Election Day, when all polling stations across the country will be open. By adding these additional advance polling days, Canadians will be provided with more opportunities to vote and will, thus, lead to increased voter turnout. Furthermore, this will be especially helpful to Canadians who live in rural areas who often must travel long distances to vote.
Voter participation and fair representation are the cornerstones of our democracy and our Government will continue to work towards strengthening and improving these institutions through measures like the Democratic Representation Act and the Increasing Voter Participation Act. This is something we’ve been doing since 2006 and will continue to do, to ensure each Canadian is provided with every opportunity to participate in our democratic processes.