Ontario to get 21 more seats in Parliament
Published Wednesday, December 17, 2008 4:49PM EST
Ontario will now have 21 more seats in the House of Commons as the federal government quietly agreed to give in to the province's demand for greater representation.
Originally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Ontario would receive 10 seats in the House under a revamped distribution plan meant to reflect a growing population in the province as well as Alberta and British Columbia.
However, on Wednesday, Premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters that he and Harper had come to an understanding when they met in Ottawa last Friday.
"I spoke with him about that and I think we've fixed it," McGuinty said when he was asked if the seat issue had come up during their meeting.
McGuinty said Harper agreed to the extra seats without asking Ontario to give up anything in return.
"I think there was a sense that it was the right thing to do," he said.
McGuinty had voiced his concern over the redistribution plan that would have given Canada's most populous province one MP for every 115,000 residents. He said other key provinces had better representation with one MP for every 105,000 citizens.
At one point, the issue caused a deep tension between Ottawa and Ontario. Peter Van Loan, the Conservative government house leader, called McGuinty the "small man of Confederation" for his demands.
McGuinty insisted he just wanted fairness and shot down accusations he was acting un-Canadian for wanting the most for Ontario.
The premier said that during his meeting with Harper, the prime minister argued that Ontario was better off because of the redistribution plan. Harper pointed out that under the old formula, Ontario would have only received four additional seats.
"I said 'yeah, that's true, but that's not the point," McGuinty explained. "The point is we should be working towards fairness, and over time we would have continued to fall behind."
Ottawa's concession is the latest move on the federal government's part to show a unified front with the Ontario Liberals as both governments try to hammer out a rescue package for the auto sector.
With files from The Canadian Press