Electoral redistricting | The political weight of Quebec will be protected, votes the House of Commons

The political weight of Quebec will be protected in the electoral redistricting in sight in Canada. A large majority of federal elected officials positioned themselves Wednesday in favor of a motion demanding that Quebec not lose any ridings.

Posted at 3:48 p.m.
Updated at 4:12 p.m.

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The Press

Some 261 elected officials, out of 324 who took part in the vote, spoke in favor of the motion tabled by the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, stating that “any scenario of redrawing the federal electoral map which would have the effect of losing one or more ridings in Quebec or reducing the political weight of Quebec in the House of Commons must be rejected”.

All elected Liberals voted in favor except for one, Ontario MP for Scarborough-Guildwood, John McKay. The motion also strongly divides the Conservative caucus: most Quebec elected officials voted in favor, but a good number of MPs from Western Canada opposed it. The New Democrats present all voted in favour.

“This is clearly a gain for Quebec. It was adopted in a heavy way, by a very majority, ”reacted Mr. Blanchet in a press briefing, shortly after. “It does not end the debate, it opens the discussion”, he however nuanced, saying he hoped “to be able to advance further” his bill on the question, tabled in early February.

His motion came on the heels of a recent proposal by Elections Canada, for which the number of seats in the Commons should increase from 338 to 342 by 2024 to take into account changes in the population. Ontario and British Columbia, which hold 121 and 42 seats, are expected to get 1 more each. Alberta, which has 34 seats, should get 3 more. Quebec should in principle lose 1 of its 78 seats, because its population is growing at a slower rate.

In recent months, this new distribution of seats had provoked strong reactions. The Legault government had stepped up, while Justin Trudeau was content to say that it was only a recommendation.

“No province should lose seats. The Conservatives will continue to defend the interests of Quebecers and Canadians,” promised Conservative Deputy Leader and Quebec Lieutenant Luc Berthold, who tabled a very similar motion on the province’s political weight on Wednesday, but failed to obtain of consent.

A “legislation” in sight?

Before the vote on Wednesday, several elected Quebec Liberals had opened the door to the revision of the legal framework. “What is very important is to keep 78 seats for Quebec. And for the rest, we will see with Elections Canada how we can do this legally and that it is done well, ”illustrated the deputy for Argenteuil–La-Petite-Nation, Stéphane Lauzon.

The MNA for Brossard–Saint-Lambert, Alexandre Mendès, also estimated that there will be work of “rebalancing” to be done. “Nor can we constantly increase the House of Commons. […] All of this will be measured in eventual legislation that will be proposed, ”she said, promising however for her part to support the Bloc motion.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne, elected in Saint-Maurice–Champlain, for his part judged that the political weight of Quebec “is an important issue for the entire Liberal caucus”. “All the people here want Quebec to have a special place. And we want to continue in this vision, ”he noted, cautiously. “Obviously, there are changes in the Canadian population, and any democracy must take this into account. But it is also clear that we must be overly sensitive to the French fact and to the situation in Quebec,” finally explained Gatineau MP Steven MacKinnon.

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