Langley is being split into two for federal election purposes, and it would be very hard to find one Langley resident who thinks that will lead to better representation of this community’s concerns in Ottawa.
But that doesn’t matter to the Electoral Boundaries Commission of B.C., whose only mandate is to ensure “fairness,” which in the minds of the commission members means that each federal riding have about 100,000 people in it, based on the 2011 census.
For that reason, B.C. will have 42 MPs after the next election in 2015. Will that lead to better representation? Not likely. Adding another 30 MPs to the 308 who already sit in the House of Commons is mainly a matter of sending more tame seals to Ottawa, where they will do as their party leaders demand.
When they stray, ever so slightly, from the script, as Langley MP Mark Warawa did with a private member’s bill, they are disciplined. This is usually done in subtle ways, but sometimes quite dramatically. Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber decided to leave the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent after his private member’s bill was all but destroyed by the prime minister’s office.
Ottawa would be better with fewer MPs, not more. Warawa has done a good job in representing this constituency, and could easily represent 125,000 or 150,000 people in Ottawa. It would save taxpayers’ dollars, and each MP would be that much more powerful, as there would be fewer voices to compete with.
However, the federal government is reluctant to open up the constitution and undo current laws about representation. In 1985, it passed a law that ensured that no province could lose MPs, even if the population shrinks. Thus Prince Edward Island, with about the same population as the Langleys, has four MPs in perpetuity.
This same unwillingness to deal with the constitution keeps Canadians paying for the Senate, which has been proven in recent months to be a repository for people who want someone else to pay their bills. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed more than 50 Senators, and asked most of them to limit their stay to eight years, in the name of reform.
Let’s see what happens when they reach their eight-year mark. It’s highly unlikely that any of them will voluntarily resign from the unending gravy train.
Our federal political system has some serious representation and accountability problems, and no one is doing anything about them.