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Feds table bill to protect the number of Quebec seats

OTTAWA — The federal government has tabled legislation to ensure Quebec does not lose a seat when Canada's electoral map is redrawn.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period, Thursday, March 24, 2022 in Ottawa. Rodriguez has tabled a bill to protect Quebec's voice in Parliament after it faced losing a seat in an upcoming redistribution of seats based on population. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The federal government has tabled legislation to ensure Quebec does not lose a seat when Canada's electoral map is redrawn.

It presented a bill Thursday to protect Quebec's voice in Parliament after it faced losing a seat in an upcoming redistribution based on population.

The bill would prevent Quebec's number of seats dropping to 77 from its current tally of 78.

The legislation comes days after a commitment by the Liberal government to protect the number of Commons seats in Quebec in the text of a deal with the NDP.

If approved by Parliament, the bill amending the Constitution Act would make sure that the number of MPs from each province does not drop below the number they had before the last election. 

Because Quebec’s population has declined, it stood to lose an MP in the upcoming redistribution of seats, while other provinces with growing populations, including Alberta, would gain MPs. The last time a province lost a seat in a redistribution was in 1966.

The move follows a motion tabled by the Bloc Québécois rejecting the proposal to redraw the electoral map in a way that reduces the province’s political weight in the House of Commons.

A number of government departments worked on the text of the bill, but it will be championed through Parliament by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

"The seat allocation and the electoral boundaries readjustment process is an important part of our democracy. It ensures the House of Commons reflects the changing nature of Canada's demographic profile and that all Canadians' voices are effectively heard," said LeBlanc.

On Thursday, Pablo Rodriguez, the government’s Quebec lieutenant, said the bill is "realistic" and would "solve the problem today, right now in the most practicable way possible for Quebec."

Ten independent electoral boundaries commissions will report on any changes needed to electoral districts following the seat allocation. The commissions will hold public hearings later this year before submitting their reports on new electoral districts to Parliament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24 2022. 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press