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Representation Formula Unfair to Alberta

The current representation formula has two adjustments, which alter the seats provinces have in the House of Commons. The first clause, the Senate Clause, ensures that no province has fewer Members of Parliament than it has Senators. This ensures additional seats for each of the Maritime Provinces. The second clause is the Grandfather Clause, which ensures that no province will have fewer Members of Parliament than it had in the 33rd Parliament. This results in additional seats for Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia.

The net effect of this is that Alberta is underrepresented in the House of Commons. Both clauses have the effect of holding on to the status quo. Quebec has 75 MPs in Parliament, while Alberta has 28.Suppose that things were reversed, and that Alberta suddenly had representation on a per person basis as Quebec does, and that Quebec suddenly had representation as Alberta does. Quebec would have 68 MPs and Alberta would have 31 MPs. Obviously, something is amiss here.

Representation Doesn't Matter

The Alberta presence in the House of Commons has been nearly meaningless. Alberta's voice, for the most part, has been muted. Let's revisit the past 12 elections in Canada:

Election Actual Result
Result with No Alberta
Votes Counted
1968 Liberal Majority
Liberal Majority
1972 Liberal Minority Liberal Minority
1974 Liberal Majority Liberal Majority
1979 PC Minority PC Minority
1980 Liberal Majority Liberal Majority
1984 PC Majority PC Majority
1988 PC Majority PC Majority
1993 Liberal Majority Liberal Majority
1997 Liberal Majority Liberal Majority
2000 Liberal Majority Liberal Majority
2004 Liberal Minority Liberal Minority
2005 Conservative Minority Liberal Minority

With one exception, Alberta's input into federal elections over the past 38 years has been meaningless. We have no input into the Canadian system. We are taxed without representation. We are regulated without representation. We simply aren't being represented federally, and federal legislation reflects that.

Canadian Political System Encourages Regional Abuses

It is naive to think that creating the Reform Party, or the watered-down Canadian Alliance, or the almost entirely watered-down Conservative Party will make any difference. Look at the results: Albertans have barely made a difference in any election in the past 38 years. Either Canada rejects the alternative presented by Alberta, or Canada takes over the alternative, as has been done in the past. Real reform is impossible, because it depends on those who have all the political power to give it up without anything in exchange.

In short, in order for a political party to become capable of winning a federal majority, it needs to change its policies in order to become more attractive to Eastern Canada - in other words, less attractive to Western Canada, specifically Alberta. We have seen this with the Mulroney government, pandering to Quebec with Meech Lake. And now we are seeing it with the Conservative Party. Instead of Meech Lake, the Conservatives are pandering to Quebec with favorable motions conferring nationhood. In order to transfer wealth from Alberta, income trusts are being taxed and equalization is becoming ever-harmful to Alberta.

Why do such transformations occur? Simply because Alberta does not have enough population to attract sufficient interest from political parties once those parties feel they can gain a majority in the House of Commons. While other federations like the U.S. or Australia have effective regional representation, there is none in Canada. Hence, certain regions can become subject to unfavorable legislation to curry favor with other regions. Tiny Rhode Island has as many Senators as California, which helps prevent any abusive legislation that originates in Congress.