A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

21 new Mps for Ontario?

Impolitical , one of the best political commentary blogs on the net, has a great piece on this recent announcement which I will reproduce here in its entirety…

Political machinations during prorogation: "Ontario to get 21 more seats in Commons: McGuinty." A refresher on recent trends in Ontario:
Conservative share of vote in Ontario in 2006: 35.1% = 40 seats.
Conservative share of vote in Ontario in 2008: 39.2% = 51 seats.
We are now in a parliamentary position where 12 additional seats are necessary for a Harper majority. Not that circumstances will be in any way easier for Mr. Harper next time out given that his Liberal opponent has changed. And he's provided conclusive evidence of late that he is not to be trusted with a majority. And he may very well lose seats in Quebec. But the number of citizens who were prepared to buy into the "coup" rhetoric was disturbing. So for the Harper team, hope remains ever eternal. So we get word today from Dalton McGuinty that yes, Ontario will get the seats it deserves as the House of Commons makeup is updated. A proposition that should have been a no-brainer when the matter was first raised. Instead, at the time, we had Harper minister Van Loan calling McGuinty the "small man of confederation" for having the audacity to make the justified 21 seat request. Now McGuinty says Harper agreed to the proper Ontario seat distribution last week (Friday). Is it any coincidence that Harper suddenly gets on side with the basic democratic proposition as he mulls an election in the next six months or so, a possibility made all the more real by events of the last month? As he weighs his political future? Now that it may be politically advantageous for Harper to add those seats in Ontario, of course it's happening. The timing says it all.Watch for this to become a legislative priority for the Harper Conservatives in the new year if the budget passes.

Apart from the timing of this which, coming from Harper at this time looks suspiciously like trying to appease Ontario voters and MPs prior to a possible confidence vote in January, I have very mixed feelings about it. As a rural resident I must recognize that the additional MPs will represent mostly urban centers and thus reduce our already overwhelmed rural voice. On the other hand I support a more equitable representation by population and a more equitable selection of said representatives by population. I also recognize that less populated provinces may well feel like I do as a rural citizen and have a hard time making themselves heard above the majority. In advocating for representation and selection by population we must be careful to maintain the check and balances to ensure that the minorities of all kinds do not get forgotten, ignored or pushed aside without consideration by the majority. For that reason, if no other, I support a strong, non partisan senate as the house of sober second thought regarding all legislation. I do agree with Harper (Oh my god that?s hard to write!) that our method of selecting senators needs reforming but an not sure that election by the general populous is the answer. That would reflect too closely the parliament of the day and accomplish little. I have proposed before that the Provincial parliaments (not the provincial ruling party or premier) either select or recommend new senators, this would seem to be the best of both worlds without expensive and, no doubt, spin filled general election of same would ensue. The Timing of these two announcements from a PM that said he would not do either and during a period when governments must join the rest of us in practicing restraint still stinks though!!

Lets see, 22 new seats in HoC and 18 replacement Senators = MINIMUM of 3M + 2.3M salaries + expenses (typically around 50,000 each MP) per year makes around $15 MILLION plus per year. Not the best time to announce this I would have thought.

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