Pay for More Politicians?

Ted Hsu
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The following was published as a letter to the Kingston Whig Standard in November, 2011

The Conservative government, with its Bill C-20, wants to add 30 MPs to the House of Commons, in response to higher population growth in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. Last week the Conservatives pushed Bill C-20 through to its second reading in the House, after less than two days of debate.

The government is in such a mad rush to enact this bill into law that I witnessed, first-hand, something truly amazing. On Nov. 2, notice was given to limit debate even before the Conservative Minister rose to speak on behalf of his own bill.

The issue for me is this: every new MP, with staff and overhead, costs taxpayers about a million dollars every year. At a time when the government is eliminating the jobs of regular public servants – such as people working in veterans affairs or environmental science – the government wants to spend more money for more MPs.

It turns out that you don’t have to add seats to the House to get representation by population, while respecting all the constitutional constraints. I’ve seen calculations that shift seats among provinces and achieve reasonable representation by population with fewer than the current 308 seats.

So we don’t need to pay for all those extra politicians.

Furthermore, other democracies (e.g. United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany) do not keep increasing the size of their legislatures as their population grows. In Canada we just keep adding MPs, but a larger House of Commons does not necesarily serve Canadians more effectively.

We’ve got to take the time and make some hard decisions to prevent seat-inflation in Ottawa. The Conservatives’ Bill C-20 does not and that’s why I have voted against it.

Ted Hsu, M.P.
Kingston and the Islands