The latest House of Commons seat distribution plan is becoming a test of federalism, as well as the basic notion of representation by population. Canada already has a unseemly Senate, wherein a British Columbian Senator represents more than twice as many people as a Quebec Senator, almost ten times that of a New Brunswick Senator. The Senate seat allocation is an affront on many levels, one can fully understand how the "west" in particular feels slighted. However, there is some underlying regional rationalization, but the makeup is forever an unbalanced presentation. Therefore, at the very LEAST, Canadians should expect their elected House of Commons to try and mirror the population distribution of the country. It is for this reason, that the Harper government can't back down and unfairly compensate Quebec to maintain some pre-determined seat percentage.
Initially, I favoured some appeasement for Quebec, because this country is about compromise, recognizing minority interests, ensuring that we have a viable francophone entity within the larger state. But, this sentiment confronts a fundamental unfairness, when weighted with other regional inequalities, it is almost imperative that the government gets this distribution right. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario deserve more representation, by the most objective measure imaginable. If Quebec's population growth is waning, then perhaps the concern over diminished representation should address the underlying reasons, not look for artificial props to maintain undeserved influence.
If the government decides to accommodate Quebec's "threshold" demand of 24% representation in the Parliament, they effectively "screw" other provinces. This desire isn't so much even an Ontario question, many of us in this province could accept lower population representation, in the name of national unity and accommodation. However, when it comes to the western provinces, it's high time that the federation recognize certain inequalities and give deserved clout. Western alienation must be addressed for the federation to function in the future, a seat distribution reform that raises the federal presence, a healthy progression.
In the end, the government faces a very delicate balancing act. Certain interests will use whatever decision for political advantage, but really the questions facing the government are quite simple and clear. Canadians are represented by their MP's, the distribution of which should reflect regional population, a system that attempts to make every vote of equal weight, no matter the address. A federal Parliament which already has a asinine Senate, MUST have a House of Commons that is representative, mirrors the population and accurately reflects the realities on the ground.