Elections Canada announced Friday that Canada will gain four seats in the House of Commons as early as 2024, but at the cost of one seat in Quebec. The seat increase reflects Canada's growing population, wherein Alberta will gain three seats, and Ontario and British Columbia one each.
"The new electoral map is expected to be officially completed in October 2023 but will not take effect immediately," said Elections Canada in a statement. The new boundary limits will become official at the first dissolution of Parliament that comes at least seven months after the date of the proclamation, giving Elections Canada, political parties, candidates and sitting MPs time to prepare accordingly.
The Constitution requires ridings to be redefined every ten years after the census to reflect population changes. Allocation of extra seats typically occurs in areas experiencing population growth. Alberta, which now has 34 seats, will get 37. British Columbia will go to 43 seats from 42, and Ontario will get an extra seat, to 122 from 121.
Quebec's population growth rate is lower than the average rate for the other provinces. Hence, Election's Canada will reduce Quebec's 78 MPs to 77, marking the first time since 1966 that a province lost a seat during an electoral map reconfiguration, reported CP24.
Starting February 2022, Election's Canada will also review the shape and size of each riding. In the past, political parties have sharply challenged boundary changes if they think a tweak could lose them a seat. Boundary changes can shift communities into neighbouring ridings and influence who is elected to Parliament.
Some parties have also complained that proposed ridings are too large and mean MPs would have too much territory to cover to meet their constituents. Election's Canada will establish ten independent electoral boundary commissions across the country to redraw ridings and consult on their proposals.
The independent commissions drawing the new electoral boundaries will be composed of a judge appointed by the province's chief justice and two other members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The commissions will look at issues such as average population, the nature of communities in each riding and the overall size of the seat.
The new electoral map is being designed for the next general election, and Elections Canada says it does not expect the changes to be implemented until April 2024. They will also conduct public hearings to hear what residents think about possible changes.
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