Before reading the rest of this post, ask yourself: when we say 'One person = One vote', what should we mean by person? Do we mean:
a) resident of a constituency;
b) eligible voter; or
c) actual voter?
In the debate about seat distribution, it has been assumed that the first definition is the one to use. It is indeed the current basis for seat allocation at the federal level. But is it fair that a citizen's vote counts more just because he lives next to more people that can't vote (e.g. immigrants, children)?
I suspect that at least a few of you believe definitions b) and c) make more sense. Even if you don't, I hope that you agree that they are not crazy.
So let's take a look at the Conservative redistribution bill (C-12), which will likely be reintroduced and passed in the new House, under the lens of definitions b) and c).
We know that under Bill C-12, Ontario will likely have at least 119 seats, Alberta 34, and BC 41. (These numbers could be as high as 122, 35 and 42, but let's just take the low numbers, since they work against the argument I'm making here.) Here is the number of electors per riding:
And here's the number of valid 2011 votes per riding:
As you can see, Bill C-12 is extremely unfair to Québec voters, singling them out for unfavourable treatment. Québec voters would be worth 9% less than voters in any other province.
The reason for this inequity is simple: Bill C-12 reduces Québec's weight in the House, but Québec votes and voters are already undervalued! Indeed, in the 2011 election, Quebecers accounted for 25.5% of the country's eligible voters, and 25.8% of actual valid votes. Yet, Québec's weight in the House is only 24.4%, and would be reduced to 22.3-22.6%. That's below even its population share of 23.2%.
Now, look at our current system. Here's the number of valid votes per riding in the 2011 election:
Compare these to the numbers above. Which are more equitable?
The Albertan self-righteousness in this debate would put Duceppe to shame.