McGuinty Seeks Fairness For Ontario



    Federal Legislation Would Weaken Ontario Representation In House Of
    Commons

    QUEEN'S PARK, Nov. 14 /CNW/ - Premier McGuinty released the following
statement in response to federal legislation that would weaken Ontario's
representation in the House of Commons:
    "Today, the federal government introduced legislation that would change
the number of seats in the House of Commons.
    This legislation is of great concern to me, to my government and to all
Ontarians.
    It will weaken democratic representation for Canadians living in Ontario
by granting us fewer seats than we are entitled to in the House of Commons. It
will undermine some of our most cherished democratic rights: representation by
population; one person, one vote; equality under the law and effective
representation.
    When important national decisions are made, Ontarians will not have the
same right to have their voices heard, or their views count compared to
Canadians living in B.C., Alberta or Quebec. In fact, Ontarians will have
weaker representation in the federal Parliament than Canadians living anywhere
else in Canada.
    Given Ontario's growing population, the proposed legislation makes little
sense. Under these changes, both Alberta and B.C. will get a new seat in the
readjustment following the 2011 Census for every increase of approximately
100,000 people. However, Ontario will get only one new seat for roughly every
200,000 people. As time goes by, Ontarians would become increasingly
under-represented with each new readjustment following a census.
    For more than a decade, the governments of Canada's three fastest-growing
provinces - B.C., Alberta and Ontario - have stood together and asked the
federal government to restore the principle of representation by population.
In 2006, the federal government promised to do so.
    The legislation introduced today breaks that commitment. It would benefit
Canadians living in B.C. and Alberta, but not Ontarians.
    Ontarians are proudly Canadian. Yet for 20 years, we have seen our
federal representation decline even as our population has grown rapidly.
    We must have fair and equal standing in the House of Commons. Equal
representation is the best safeguard to ensure that laws debated and passed by
the national Parliament properly reflect the will of the people and are viewed
as legitimate by Canadians from all regions of the country.
    Ontarians accept that Canadians in smaller provinces or those with slower
population growth may need protection for their existing number of seats in
the federal Parliament. However, providing citizens in Ontario with less
representation than citizens in Alberta or B.C. is unjust.
    All Canadians should oppose the federal government's plan to entrench in
the Constitution a gradual disenfranchisement of the citizens of any province.
    The Ontario government is surprised and disappointed that the federal
government has chosen to weaken the voting rights of Ontarians. That is why
our government will take all necessary measures to halt this constitutional
amendment.
    We also believe that changes to the Senate as proposed in new federal
legislation cannot be undertaken unilaterally by the federal government. Such
changes require the consent of the provinces as outlined in the general
amending formula of the Canadian Constitution.
    Now is not the time to thrust the country into a lengthy constitutional
process of Senate reform. Ontarians do not support reopening the constitution
at this time, and we again urge the federal government to refrain from
embarking on this risky and distracting path.
    If the federal government insists on pursuing Senate reform, our
preference is abolition.
    During my first mandate, I fought hard to ensure that Ontario received
fair treatment from the federal government in fiscal transfers. After decades
of being short-changed fiscally, we have made real progress. But there is
still more work to be done, and I will continue to stand up for fiscal
fairness.
    As Premier, I also have a responsibility to protect the fundamental
democratic rights of Ontarians.
    I will stand up for fair and equal treatment under the constitution for
all Ontarians - and will not stand by while those rights are eroded."

    
    Disponible en français

                           www.ontario.ca/premier
    





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