Toronto the shafted: when it comes to MPs, cities are getting ripped off

Toronto the shafted: when it comes to MPs, cities are getting ripped off

House of ill compute (Image: Tania Liu) 

A report released this week reminded Canadians that the current makeup of Parliament is designed to skew whiter, older and more rural than their country actually is. The Globe and Mail reports that Canadians’ votes are more unequal than ever and that the House of Commons is less representative than other federations in the developed world:

In practice, Canadians have accepted that some parts of the country should be entitled to representation above what their numbers warrant—that, for example, each of the territories should be represented by a Member of Parliament, despite their slender populations.

But constitutional provisions and various promises and laws have skewed the House to the point where Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta are seriously under-represented in the House of Commons. Quebec is appropriately represented, and all other provinces are over-represented, some egregiously.

How bad is the skew? The average riding in Alberta is now three times the size of the average riding in P.E.I.

But what we want to know is, how under-represented is Toronto? We did the math, and it turns out that what’s true in Canada is also true in Ontario: urban ridings have less representation than rural ridings. Beaches–East York, a core downtown Toronto riding, has 25 per cent more citizens than Timmins–James Bay. The city of Toronto has 22 MPs representing approximately 2.5 million people. If our city had the same ratio of MPs to people as Timmins–James Bay, Toronto would have seven more MPs. If it had the same ratio as P.E.I., Toronto would have 70 or more.

Of course, if that were true, Canada would have nearly 900 MPs, and that’s simply too many people to make fun of. For now, we’ll have to settle for the PM’s promise in the Throne Speech that he’ll address this problem before he next prorogues Parliament.

• Unequal votes threatening Canadian democracy, study finds [Globe and Mail]

• Some are More Equal than Others: Canadian Political Representation in Comparative Context [Mowat Centre – PDF]