CONGRATULATION to our newly re-elected Member of Parliament, Conservative Cathy McLeod, who won the riding for the fourth time with 44.7 per cent of the votes in the Oct. 21 federal election.
And thanks to all of the other candidates who campaigned hard to give us all the choice. From second place Liberal candidate Terry Lake at 27.3 per cent, to third NDP candidate Cynthia Egli at 13.7 per cent, and fourth place finisher, Iain Currie, the Green candidate, at 12.1, thousands of people showed their support for the ideas and leaders of the parties they represented.
Thanks also to the final three candidates: Ken Finlayson of the People’s Party of Canada, Kira Cheeseborough of the Animal Protection Party, and Peter Kerek of the Communist Party of Canada.
Though their support was small, with less than 2.2 per cent of the total votes combined, they each brought a perspective to the campaign that no other candidate covered.
Now that the votes have been counted, the perennial call for proportional representation has begun.
Across the country, the Liberals garnered 33 per cent of the votes but captured 46 per cent of the seats. The Conservatives had 34 per cent of the votes but only obtained 36 per cent of the seats. Cold comfort to win the popular vote but not the seat count.
The Bloc Québécois had eight per cent of the vote but gained nine per cent of the seats, while the New Democrats had 17 per cent of the vote, but received only seven per cent of the seats. Greens had six per cent of the popular vote, but only one per cent of the seats.
Conservatives, New Democrats, and Greens supporters aren’t usually on the same song sheet, but today, there are calls from the right and left for proportional representation.
But is it really proportional representation we need, or a complete overhaul of how ridings are allocated in Canada?
The Atlantic provinces have a population of just over 2.3 million. Between Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, there are 32 MPs.
Meanwhile, as of 2016, Alberta had a population of over 4.1 million but gets just 34 MPs. Close to double the population as Atlantic Canada, with a similar number of seats as Atlantic Canada.
In B.C., we’re comparable with 4.6 million in 2016, and 42 MPs.
Another way to look at it is that Prince Edward Island has four seats, for a population of 157,000. Meanwhile, the riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo has a population of 119,000. So Prince Edward Island is just over 30 per cent larger as our Kamloops riding but gets four times the number of seats.
There are historical reasons that the Atlantic provinces have a larger number of ridings compared to their population. But when confederation was conceived, the Prairie provinces weren’t part of the partnership.
While Western Canada continues to grow, Atlantic Canada is shrinking. Alberta grew 11.6 per cent from 2011 to 2016 alone. B.C. grew 5.6 per cent, Saskatchewan 6.3 per cent, and Manitoba 5.8 per cent.
But the Atlantic provinces grew 1.0 per cent or less in the same time period. New Brunswick actually lost populations from 2011 to 2016.
So every year the imbalance for representation grows. Every year, the chance for voices to be heard from Western Canada shrinks.
There’s a lot to be said for proportional representation. However, it won’t solve all our problems. Western perspectives will be lessened in government if the regional discrepancies because of strong population growth in Western Canada, coupled with a shrinking Atlantic Canada are not addressed. It’s time for ridings to reflect what we have become, and that is a country which is shifting west.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.