Fair Representation Act

An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Tim Uppal  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the rules in the Constitution Act, 1867 for readjusting the number of members of the House of Commons and the representation of the provinces in that House.

It amends the time periods in several provisions of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and requires that electronic versions of maps be provided to registered parties.

It also amends the Canada Elections Act to permit a returning officer to be appointed for a new term of office in certain circumstances.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Dec. 13, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Dec. 12, 2011 Passed That Bill C-20, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Dec. 12, 2011 Failed That Bill C-20 be amended by deleting Clause 8.
Dec. 12, 2011 Failed That Bill C-20 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
Dec. 7, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Nov. 3, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Nov. 3, 2011 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-20, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech given by the minister for democratic reform.

Clearly, taking a first step towards rebalancing the political weight and representation in the House is a good thing. However, given that there is a risk that the debate will be cut short again, I am very worried because we have some proposals to make. The minister just reached out, asked us for suggestions and proposed working together, but I have to wonder under what conditions we might be working.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this offer was merely for show, merely to look good in the eyes of the public. How could we possibly get the government to listen to us and hope to move this bill forward in co-operation with the provinces under the conditions imposed on us?

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, this is a formula that is principled and applicable to the entire country. It is fair for the entire country as it brings every province closer to representation by population. There has been debate about this in the House. There will be further debate about this in the House of Commons. Then there will be opportunities to speak about it further in committee.

What Canadians want us to do is to move forward. This government received a strong mandate to bring fairness in representation and to bring every province closer to representation by population. We are moving forward on that. We have made this commitment and we will follow through on that commitment.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Madam Speaker, I agree with the minister's conclusion that Canadians want to have proportional representation in the House that would be fair for every province.

I will say to the minister that the bill he tabled is much better than the two other attempts by his government. I think we are much closer now. However, I reiterate my point that we may achieve it without adding one seat in the House.

If the minister has heard Canadians say that they want more MPs or more politicians, he should tell me because I have not heard one Canadian say that. Canadians think the system is fair with 308 seats. That is enough. We could achieve the same percentage by province that he has mentioned by staying at 308.

It is true that my province of Quebec would have fewer seats but our representation would be as good as it is in the bill. To have 70 seats in Quebec out of, let us say, 250 would be better than 78 out of 338. I am sure it would be the same for all my colleagues in all provinces. What is important is the representation of a province, not the number of seats.

Could the minister tell us if, after working with experts, he came back with another scenario of 308 seats, what that would mean for fair representation?

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, the fact is we live in a very large country with varying populations. Along with that, to complicate the issues, we have constitutional guarantees of seats for certain provinces, for provinces that have slower growing populations and populations that have moved to other parts of the country.

We made a commitment in the campaign that we would protect the seats of those smaller provinces. We made a commitment in the campaign that we would bring the provinces of Alberta, B.C. and Ontario closer to representation by population. It is only fair that the people living in those provinces have their vote counted, to the greatest extent possible, equally, just like the other provinces. We are moving forward on that commitment by bringing every province closer to representation by population.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, following on the question from the Liberals, I have had difficulty with this. We saw two incarnations of this legislation in previous Parliaments, neither of which had an increased number seats for the province of Quebec. As much as the government members may think I do not have much intelligence, I think I have a reasonable knowledge of how this system works, but I have no comprehension whatsoever as to how they came to the number of three additional seats for the province of Quebec.

With regard to that, I want to take some credit for my party for having pressed the government into recognizing all the various considerations that go into increasing the number of seats in this House. The Conservatives' responsibility as government in proposing this type of legislation is to take into account the historical rights that the province of Quebec has in terms of an equilibrium of seats and its right to have fair representation in the House. I congratulate the Conservatives for finally moving on that and I take some credit on behalf of my party for seeing them do that.

I come back to my basic question. How did they come to the three seats? I have no way of understanding that.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to answer the question.

That fact is we committed that Quebec would have representation equal to its population. The numbers work out like this: Quebec has 23% of the population and it will have 23% of the seats in the House of Commons, which would require it to get three additional seats. That is where those three seats come from.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Madam Speaker, I am enjoying this discussion with the minister. I want to tell him how important it is for me that we agree at the end of the day. We are all democrats and it would be good to agree.

I am sure Canadians would prefer 308 seats rather than 338 seats. No one is asking for more MPs. We do not need that many in Canada. The United States has 435 seats for ten times the population that Canada has. We do not need to add any seats. We could achieve the same goals that are in the bill by keeping the same number of seats. I know Quebec would have fewer than 75 seats, but the representation for Quebec would be the same. This is what is key for Quebeckers.

I am telling the minister that we have the constitutional power to do it. We need to keep the Senate floor rule clause, and it is good, but the grandfather clause can be changed by Parliament alone. We do not need to have a long constitutional discussion about that. It would be much better for Canada.

I am asking the minister, when would we stop adding seats? When would we say there are enough seats?

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member's proposal would have us change some legislation and not change the Senate floor rule, which would actually leave some provinces overrepresented and other provinces continue to be under-represented.

What we have done is to bring forward a principled formula that brings every province closer to representation by population. At the end of the day, the Liberal proposal would have us open up the Constitution and get into long drawn-out constitutional battles that no Canadian wants. What Canadians want is to be fairly represented in the House of Commons. Further to that, they want this government to continue to work on the economy and work on jobs and not get into the long drawn-out constitutional battles that the Liberals want.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, my question has to do with the comments made by the minister just now.

I am a bit concerned that he thinks Canadians do not want a debate on this issue. I do think that Canadians want a debate on this issue because we are talking about a constitutional amendment. That is huge.

I would like the minister to reconsider his comments. I would also like him to talk about the fact that the government decided to limit discussion on this issue.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, the fact is, yes, Canadians want to hear debate. There is debate on this bill and there will be more debate on this bill as there is on every bill. We give more than enough time to debate bills in the House of Commons. What Canadians really want is action. Canadians gave this government a strong mandate to move forward and that is what we are doing.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there have been extensive discussions on this topic and I believe we finally have agreement. If you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion: That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs that it travel for the purpose of meeting with veterans as part of its hearings into the impact of the recent decision by the Conservative government to cut over $200 million from the Veterans Affairs department, that it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to hold hearings in each province and territory, and that in relation to this study, the 12 members of the Veterans Affairs committee be authorized to travel within Canada no later than December 16, 2011, and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Second ReadingFair Representation ActGovernment Orders

November 2nd, 2011 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, since there is no use going into the topic itself in that short period of time, let me make a few comments about the government moving time allocation.

This will now be the sixth time in about 40 sitting days that the government has moved time allocation. It is fast approaching matching the former Liberal government in its 2000 to 2004 term of office with the number of time allocation motions it moved, although the Conservatives are way ahead of the Liberals in terms of the period of time within which they did it. It took the Liberal government of the day about 130 sitting days to move time allocation on nine different occasions. The Conservatives are up to six time allocation motions already in a little over 30 days.

We have seen incarnations of this bill twice in previous Parliaments and each time there is a difference in the numbers. There appears to be a different rationale each time.