Instead of Increasing Seats, Provide More Resources to Members of Parliament.

AuthorLeitch, K. Kellie

In this article, the author contends that Canadians need better supported parliamentarians, not more of them. While noting that there is no universal formula for determining the size of an assembly, many jurisdictions around the world function well with a higher per capita ratio of representatives who are adequately staffed and given the resources to be effective representatives. Suggesting that Canadians should ask whether their representatives are providing value for the taxes spent on their salaries and pensions, the author states that quality of services offered by parliamentarians should be privileged over the quantity of representatives. Using the intense research and labour required to draft legislation as an example, she notes that having enough staff to dedicate individuals to daily operations and special projects would likely offer a better return to Canadians than spreading these resources over more elected politicians whose limited resources cause them to rely on talking points from party offices.


Many people are rightly concerned about ways to improve democratic representation in Canada. I believe that those who advocate for more elected people are on the wrong track. Increasing the number of members in the House of Commons, or a provincial legislature, will not improve democratic representation. We can improve our democracy without more politicians. There are other ways to provide better service, more grassroots contact and increased accountability to Canadians.

There is no universal formula to determine the size of a legislative assembly. I believe that the focus should be on the quality of the service that members provide, not the quantity of members. Any legislature should be fair and equitable, giving some flexibility to regional and per capita differences across Canada. But we must also be cognizant of the value a legislature provides for the tax dollars it uses. Having many MPs sitting on backbenches who later collect pensions helps no one except the MPs.

I think Canadians are over-governed. We don't need more representation. If we are truly concerned about representation, then what we need are representatives to have a stronger voice for their constituents, and the resources to do their jobs in a way that is meaningful and independent of their respective leaders' offices. We need better supported Members of Parliament, not more of them.

Many other democracies operate with fewer politicians per capita in their...

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