Thursday, September 22, 2016

Electoral Reform - A sizable proposal

This is a proposal that won't impact the way you vote at all. In fact, it's a proposal for drawing ridings. This proposal is thus only useful if we keep ridings, and as such, is best useful for either ranked ballots or FPTP.

Currently, we have laws in this country that allow northern ridings to have less people than southern ridings. One problem is that the definition of what's northern is unclear, and when it is clear, people often argue about where the line should be.

As such I've developed a solution. My solution fixes that. When it comes time to decide Federal ridings, we shall follow all the steps we do now, right up until you divide all the ridings within each province. Instead of simply dividing all ridings within a province to be equal in terms of population, you make it equal in terms of population and size; by making every 10 SQ KM of physical size, equal to a single voter. The current exceptions would continue in some way. Most ridings would be expected to be within 10% of the average population. Geography can create some weird situations, so as many as 1/10th of every riding in the province can be as much as 20% off the average. Lastly, should any single riding be in "extraordinary circumstances" in a province, the commission redrawing the boundaries may set that riding as much as 50% off from average. Remember though, all those averages include the 'phantom electors' that are added due to the size of the riding.

You may think that this means that urban ridings will be crowded while rural ridings in farming areas will only have a few dozen voters, but that does not properly understand the size differences in ridings.

Flamborough—Glanbrook which is #21 on the map, is 941 SQ KM in size. This means 94 'voters' would be added to the riding before calculating if it's the proper population, or if it is too large or small. Compare this to #61, Toronto Centre, which is under 10 SQ KM, meaning only 1 'voter' gets added. For Flamborough, this would increase the population of that riding from 97,081 to 97,175, or a change of 0.1%

Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, #12 on the above map, is under 9,000 SQ KM in size. If you had added this as a population would add 900 residents, which would bump the quote from 3.74% above the average to 4.51%, a very minor change. Compare this to the Algoma riding, #01, which is over 100,000 KM SQ in size, which would add 10,000 people to the population of the riding, or the Kenora riding, #16, that would add 32,000 voters due to it's size.

Compare as well to provinces elsewhere. In Manitoba the Churchill riding, on it's current population and it's new area population, would have ranked at 134,000 people, and as such, been very over-populated. This means northern communities like this would be far better represented.

In general, as a result of this, you'll only see a minor shift northward of ridings. Most provinces already properly under-populate their northern ridings. Where this will matter is in parts of Northern Ontario. The native communities in Northern Ontario often feel under-represented, and this is, in part, because areas like Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie, are comparatively over-represented. This proposal would shift ridings within Northern Ontario further north, while pushing ridings in areas like Sudbury slightly to the south. Northern Quebec would also see a massive change; while most ridings in the province wouldn't see a change, the massive northern riding would be split in two. This is important, again, for the native community, as they are spread over the massive area of this riding, and, would get their own riding. Contrast this with the current riding, where the majority of voters live in the southern 'bulb' hanging off the south end of the riding.

Not as well that I still give the option to go as low as 50% or as high as 150% due to extraordinary circumstances. Part of the reason for this is that Labrador, even with the area adjustment, would be beyond 25% of the quota. I see no reason, at this time, to remove Labrador as it's own seat.

This is based on an idea from Australia, where rather than 1 person being added for every 10 SQ KM in size, the state of Queensland adds 1 person for every 50KM in size, and only if the seat is over 100,000 SQ KM in size. Canada is much more willing to allow it's physically larger ridings to be smaller in terms of population, and part of the reason for this is due to our friend Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the manner in which he over-represented rural farming areas as a method to stay in office.

I feel that this proposal is a fair and simple way to enshrine in law a current regulation that is unclear, and a simple way to ensure that such representation principles are less associated with any 'where is the line' controversy that may erupt.

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