The CBC is reporting that Ontario is to receive 21 additional seats in Canada’s Parliament as a result of population changes. The CBC quotes population figures from 105,000 (the “Quebec standard,” they call it) to 115,000 (which is what Ontario was due to receive before this increase) per federal electoral district.

The 1873 Prince Edward Island Terms of Union with Canada guaranteed Prince Edward Island four members of Parliament, one each for Prince and Kings Counties and two for Queens County. One hundred and thirty-five years later that’s exactly what we still have.

The population figures from the 1871 census were used in the Terms of Union: Canada had a population of 3,689,257 and Prince Edward Island had a population of 94,021, meaning that, on union, Islanders represented about 2.5% of the country’s population.

In the interim, according to the 2006 census, the population of Canada has grown to 31,612,897 and Prince Edward Island’s population is now 135,851. Because Canada’s population has increased since 1871 by 750% and the Island’s only by 44%, PEI now accounts for only 0.42% of the population of Canada.

One of the by-products of these population changes is that the Island’s electoral districts are now among the smallest, by population, in the country. The 2006 census by electoral district shows that only Labrador, Nunavut, and Yukon have smaller districts.

The district of Charlottetown, with a 2006 population of 32,174, is the smallest district on PEI, and the fourth smallest in the country. By comparison, the district of Brampton West has a 2006 population of 170,422, or just over five times the population.

The proposed changes in Ontario’s allotment of districts are still going to leave the province drastically under-represented when compared to the Island. With a 2006 population of 12,160,282, to achieve the same level of representation as Prince Edward Islanders — an average of 33,962 people per district — Ontarians should be alloted 358 districts rather than the 106 (they currently have) plus the 21 (they will receive).

Of course, applied across the country, this would leave us with a Parliament with 930 members rather than the current count of 308 — probably unworkable (although, by comparison, the United Kingdom has 646 constituencies).


Leo's picture
Leo on December 17, 2008 - 22:09

I think you are missing one of the aspects why Prince Edward Island has four electoral districts — we are guided by the provision that we (PEI) should have fewer seats in the House of Commons than the number of Senate seats guaranteed by the Terms of Union and the Constitution so the population question does not enter into it — our floor is those four seats and as population grows in rest of Canada , it does remain a diminishing percentage of total House of Commons seats.

Leo's picture
Leo on December 17, 2008 - 22:11

For someone who has ostensibly lost the confidence of the House and right to govern albeit for proroguation — our PM seems to be a busy beaver adding seats in Ontario where he picked up many seats as well as adding Senators.

politico's picture
politico on December 19, 2008 - 03:47

Actually we had 3 electoral districts (one per county) and 2 MPs per district.

« “Prince County” shall constitute one district, to be designated “Prince County District,” and return two members; that “Queen’s County” shall constitute one district, to be designated “Queen’s County District,” and return two members; that “King’s County” shall constitute one district, to be designated “King’s County District,” and return two members »

Somewhat similar to the way that we had 32 MLA’s for 16 districts (until 1996), electing a Councillor and an Assemblyman.

I miss the good old days of 5th Queens from the 1980s, before PEI let all those DVA people in from the mainland. Or maybe it was the comprehensive development program people in the 1970s who consolidated our 150 school districts and hospitals. Or maybe it was the 1960s when the hippies and draft dodgers were let in and bought up all the rural land and failed farms, only to subdivide them for mega-mansion cottages in the 2000s. Or maybe it was the air force people who came in from the mainland during the 1940s and 50s when the air bases were expanding in Summerside and Mt. Pleasant….

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on December 19, 2008 - 14:27

@politico Thanks for the correction; post updated.

Leo's picture
Leo on December 19, 2008 - 18:38

We had six members but through population increases elsewhere we shrank to four where we could go no further due to that is our minimum number due to number of Senators -do you think Harper would be as agreeable to additional Ontario seats if his Quebec results were better?

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