Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-20, the fair representation act, as it would provide much fairer representation for my home province of Ontario. What the bill addresses is the serious and increasing under-representation of our fastest growing provinces, especially Ontario.
This under-representation is a serious problem that requires an immediate solution. Something must be done. This problem is only going to get worse if we keep the status quo. Happily, we have a solution to fix this problem and a government that is interested in fixing it, not just using the problem to score political points.
Our government is committed to addressing this problem with the fair representation act. Bill C-20 provides a principled update to the formula allocating House of Commons seats that is fair for all provinces. This is an important point. Increasing representation for the faster growing provinces should not be done at the cost of pitting region against region, or Canadian against Canadian. What we have seen from the opposition parties on this issue is quite the opposite. Their proposals, both in their own way, compromise the democratic representation of some Canadians in the name of making political statements.
The NDP, on the one hand, would guarantee a province a fixed percentage of seats in the House regardless of its share of the population. That is not in keeping with our formula that moves all provinces closer to representation by population. The fact is the NDP proposal would introduce a new factor that would cause further under-representation of the faster growing provinces, like Ontario, provinces that we need to treat more fairly. The change proposed by the NDP is not something this House and our Parliament can do on its own.
The Liberals, on the other hand, present a proposal that would be a recipe for provincial anger and conflict. The Liberals propose taking seats away from the smaller, slower growing provinces and giving those seats to the larger, faster growing provinces.
We make no apologies for addressing the significant and increasing under-representation of ordinary Canadians. Our bill does that, just as we promised it would. We also make no apologies for believing that this problem should not be fixed by inflicting seat losses on other provinces.
Just as we are ensuring that no province can move from being overrepresented to under-represented as a result of this formula, we are also ensuring that no province would lose seats through this formula. That is why we made three distinct promises on House of Commons representation in the last election to ensure that any update to the formula would be fair for all Canadians in all provinces. First, we said we would increase the number of seats now and in the future to better reflect population growth in places like British Columbia, my home province of Ontario, and Alberta. Second, we would protect the number of seats for smaller provinces. Third, we would protect the proportional representation of Quebec according to its population.
We would have to move away from those promises in order to implement either of the opposition parties' proposals. We are not going to do that.
Our government received a very strong mandate in the last federal election to deliver on the commitments we made, and we are doing exactly that with the fair representation act. It is important that these three commitments be taken together. When taken together, the update to the formula allocating House of Commons seats would be fair across the country. The practical result of Bill C-20 is that every single Canadian moves closer to representation by population.
Our first commitment is the importance of introducing a seat allocation formula that is more responsive to population size and trends. This legislation would move the House closer to fair representation for Canadians living in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, while maintaining the number of seats for slower growing provinces, and ensuring Quebec's representation is equal to its population. By introducing a seat allocation formula that is more responsive to population size and trends, the fair representation act would move the House closer to representation by population both now and well into the future.
The practical effect is that Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta would be entitled to new seats under the fair representation act. Ontario, with the largest population, would receive 15 new seats. Historically, we have always been under-represented in the House. I believe my residents deserve equal voice in the House. Alberta would receive six new seats rather than only three. British Columbia would receive six new seats rather than only one. Quebec's representation which will equal its population means that it will receive three new seats.
This is the best formula to move all provinces toward representation by population in a principled manner. This fair representation would have a direct effect on my riding in Mississauga and on the greater Toronto area as a whole. Canadians, especially new Canadians and visible minorities, would be much more fairly represented than they are now. Ontario residents are entitled to fair representation, and the populations of our ridings would be much more manageable.
Our second commitment is that the government will address under-representation in a way that respects the representation of smaller provinces. This is a long-standing commitment of our government and our party. Canadians have given us a strong mandate to deliver in this regard.
The fair representation act is fair for all Canadians, not just for some provinces. It is a measured investment that brings every single Canadian closer to representation by population. We have committed to protect the seat counts of the smaller provinces and we will keep that promise.
Finally, our third commitment under the fair representation act also provides that the seat allocation formula would apply a representation rule. If a province becomes under-represented as a result of the application of the updated formula, additional seats would be allocated to that province so that its representation would equal its share of the population. Based on population estimates, Quebec would be the first province to receive new seats in order not to become under-represented by the application of the updated formula.
Quebec has 23% of the provincial population and will have 23% of the provincial seats in the House of Commons. My colleagues have said that before and I will repeat that again. Quebec would be fairly represented under this bill. That said, the representation rule is nationally applicable and applies equally to every single province in the country that enters the scenario.
This representation rule is a principled measure that ensures smaller and low-growth provinces would not become under-represented in the future. They would maintain representation that is in line with their share of the population. That is fair as well.
In conclusion, this bill, the fair representation act, is the best formula to address the under-representation of Canadians living in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia without causing undue conflict. It is reasonable. It is principled. It is nationally applicable. Most importantly, it is fair to all Canadians. It will achieve better representation for Canadians living in faster growing provinces while maintaining representation for smaller and slower growing provinces. It is eminently more fair for Ontario. It brings every single Canadian closer to representation by population. It delivers on our government's long-standing commitment to move toward fair representation in the House of Commons.
The fair representation act is principled and reasonable legislation that needs to be passed as quickly as possible. I encourage the opposition to work with us on this important piece of legislation for Ontario and for all Canadians.