The Issue With Election Ridings

The 2021 Canadian Federal election has just concluded with the Liberals winning another minority government. In fact, when you look at how many ridings they ended up winning, I wouldn’t be surprised if your would come to the conclusion that they had won by at least a bit more of the votes than then the rest of the parties. Surprisingly, or not if you already know how our election system works, the conservatives actually won the popular vote with 33.87% of the vote where as the liberals only got 32.29% of the votes. This actually happened to the NDP as well, with that party getting 17.7% of the votes but somehow the Bloc Québécois got 9 more seats than them yet only had 7.81% of the votes.

It’s something that you would think only happens in the US with how much we hear about their messed up electoral system but our own system has some of it’s own downfalls, specifically with how ridings are drawn. Now I could go into all the logistics of how ridings are drawn and reviewed every ten years with the census to make sure that ridings represent the Canadian population but that would be extremely boring. Instead I’d like to show how the way these riding are drawn can greatly effect the vote.

 

In the pictures above you can see how greatly the outcome can change just based on which riding people are placed in. Now, you may be worried about how this could be used by politicians to rig votes. That practice is called Gerrymandering and luckily for us the way our system is set up it makes this practice much more difficult to actually take part in. But that doesn’t mean that we’re immune to ridings that make no sense or even straight up Gerrymandering. The most well known example of this is actually a riding in West Vancouver that is nicknamed “Gracie’s Finger” after the politician Grace McCarthy how allegedly interfered in the redrawing of the riding lines that would help ensure her electoral success.

However, this is where I would like to move further away from actual facts and info and into more of my own opinions on how ridings should be drawn and one riding in particular. You see, when they redraw the riding lines one of the main things they look at is the numbers, which makes sense since you don’t want one riding that has about 100,000 people within it and one with only about 60,000 people but both still have the same amount of power in the government. And yet, if you look at the population per riding throughout Canada, somehow the Maritime provinces have ridings with a population ranging from 27,000 to 72,000. With Western Canada averaging 100,000 people per riding.

Another problem that can occur from this system is it can lead to ridings that encompasses an area that in no other context would ever even go together.

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The riding that I think fits this criteria really well is Burnaby-North Seymour, I mean just the name itself shows what I mean. What’s even worse is that we happen to be the only riding in metro Vancouver that crosses the water so blatantly, it should be so obvious of the differences of culture and views between the two areas.  It just doesn’t make sense for it to be a riding when there are so many other ways it could have been drawn that didn’t add two totally different places together in one riding. 

To end this post I’d like to turn your attention back to the election results and how unbalanced some of these ridings are based on the seats vs. popular vote. Obviously something needs to change. Between nonsensical riding lines and total riding populations being completely skewed, the way our electoral districts are set up now just doesn’t no give fair representation. Although I am no expert in how drawing riding lines work, in my opinion, the least the federal government could do to work to solve this issue is to review what defines an electoral district and how much geography and population should play a role in the drawing of these lines.

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