Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canada votes today

Today I have to decide in our Canada wide federal elections whether I will vote conservative, liberal, socialist (NDP), green, communist, libertarian, left nationalist (action party) or for an independent candidate, not aligned with any one political party. It is thus natural to ask today how would the incorporation of Iceland into Canada impact upon the Canadian political landscape.


As a province Iceland would retain a large amount of autonomy.

However in our federal (Canada wide) parliament Iceland would not be well represented since representation is loosely based on population. Iceland having a population that would comprise approximately 1% of Canada would be entitled to at least (at a guess) 3 or 4 representatives in a parliament of 308. This number might generously be made a little higher, given that Prince Edward Island currently has 4 representatives and Newfoundland 7. Whatever the number, Icelandic representatives would of course be valued by which ever party they belonged to because politics is all about having marginally more seats than the other parties, but they would not have a very strong voice in defending Icelandic interests unless they worked at developing one.



Iceland would have a much larger footprint in intra-provincial negotiations, conferences etc. Here there are grounds for saying that Iceland would have too much influence proportionate to its size. Iceland would have an equal seat at the table with the 10 other provinces. Geographic considerations could make this somewhat problematic.

The problem is that Canada can be roughly divided into three voting blocks. The west (British Columbia / Alberta / Saskatchewan / Manitoba), the center (Ontario / Quebec) and the maritime provinces (Prince Edward Island / New Brunswick / Nova Scotia / Newfoundland). These voting blocks are more geographic than actual. Ontario could as easily oppose Quebec as support it, and British Columbia as a marine province, could find that it was supporting the maritime provinces on some issues to the detriment of Alberta and Ontario.

But if Iceland generally found itself aligned with the maritime provinces, to the detriment of the west, the west would have grounds to feel discriminated against. For the east would then comprise a larger voting block than the west, even though the west had a much larger population. Currently the maritimes have approximately 2,500,000 people. Including Iceland that number would rise to slightly under 3,000,000 people. Quebec and Ontario have close to 20,000,000 people, while the West has approximately 9,000,000 people. I do not think this issue would be a show stopper, for the change proposed are only slight but it would have the unfortunate consequence of potentially making the existing political balance within Canada even more fragile, and further accentuating the divide between West and East.


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