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The Seat Shortage: Changing Demographics and Representation in the House of Commons


  • Ben Tomlin

    (C.D. Howe Institute)


The principle of equal representation by population in Canada, while never perfect in practice, is under increasing duress. To ensure that each province’s representation in the House of Commons reflects its population, Canada’s Constitution requires that the number of seats allocated to each province be recalculated after each decennial census — the next being 2011. Census data and a formula determine how many seats each province receives. However, as it stands, the formula does not account for the provinces’ very different population growth rates and, if it is applied after the next census, the result will be a continued erosion of the voting power of citizens in Canada’s fastest growing provinces: Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Tomlin, 2007. "The Seat Shortage: Changing Demographics and Representation in the House of Commons," e-briefs 45, C.D. Howe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdh:ebrief:45

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    governance and public institutions; equal representation;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations


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