By Sam Allison, Special to The Gazette, April 30, 2011
MONTREAL – A good deal of ink has been spilled on Canada’s inability to form a national government. Most commentators assume that Canadians are divided, and that the election results reflect those divisions. Curiously, few seem to have noticed that Canada’s electoral system is partly responsible for our inability to form majority governments. Federal ridings are partly based on the provinces, rather than upon the demographic patterns of the nation.
Quebec is the big winner in this system of division. It has 75 out of 308 federal seats. The province has 21 per cent of the Canadian population but 24 per cent of the seats in Parliament – important in a tied Parliament. In addition, within the province, the largest ridings are the English-speaking ones.
English Canada in general and English Quebec in particular punch below their electoral weights. In an Opinion piece in The Gazette April 28, Linda Leith wrote that “anglos must make themselves heard.” But how can this happen in a skewed electoral system designed to ensure that French Canada punches above its electoral weight?