Electoral Districts in Canada : 5 New Ridings

Samprity Mondal
Sampritymondal Politics
14 Min Read
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The electoral districts in Canada consist of a vast network of districts that shape the political representations of Canada.

A federal electoral district represents a particular area or place that a Canadian House of Commons member represents. Following the 2021 census, the process of redistribution of territories began in 2021. Canada’s next federal election will be fought on a new political battlefield now that the process of reshaping boundaries has entered its final stages.

The House of Commons has been expanded from 338  to 343 seats. The seat count will remain the same for most provinces. However, Alberta stands to gain the most ridings (districts), while Quebec will lose a seat.

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Here are the updated seats for the House of Commons:

  • British Columbia – gains 1 and has a total of 43 seats
  • Alberta – gains 3 and has a total of 37 seats
  • Saskatchewan – stays at 14 seats
  • Manitoba – stays at 14 seats
  • Ontario – gains 1 seat
  • Quebec – lost 1 seat
  • New Brunswick – remains at 10 seats
  • Prince Edward Island – stays at 4 seats
  • Newfoundland stays at 7 seats
  • Labrador stays at 7 seats
  •  Nova Scotia also stays at 11 seats

1. Provinces with Changes in Electoral Districts in Canada 

These changes may play a key role in determining the next winner of the next election.

1.1 British Columbia 

It is a province located in the westernmost part of Canada. It is known for its diverse geography, vibrant cities, and natural beauty. With 42 seats, they have 12.54 % of the total provincial seats. With adding one seat, the percentage will rise to 12.68 %.

legislative assembly bc
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1.2 Alberta 

It is another province in western Canada. Columbia borders it in the west and Saskatchewan in the east.

Alberta has 11.66 percent of the total Canadian population with 34 seats. They have around 10.15 percent of the seats. Adding the remaining three seats, the percentage will rise to 10.91 percent.

It is known for its diverse landscape, such as rocky mountains in the west and boreal forests in the north. It is also the home to several national parks, such as Banff and Jasper. These parks attract tourists from all over the world.

1.3 Ontario 

Located in east-central Canada, it is the most populous province in Canada, with a rich history and numerous attractions. Ontario had 36.12% of the provincial seats. After adding the new seat, the percentage rose to 36.99 %.

Ontario is bordered by Quebec in the east and shares northwest territories with Manitoba. The United States lies to its south, with the Great Lakes forming its southern boundaries.

This state is known for its diverse geographic features and over 250,000 lakes. Ontario is also known for its diverse economy covering various industries such as manufacturing automobiles, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and technologies.

Toronto, its provincial capital, is also Canada’s financial and business hub.

Ontario also produces dairy and domestic products such as fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

1.4 Quebec 

It is also a province in eastern Canada known for its rich history. It is also famous for of its distinct cities, breathtaking landscape, and delicious cuisine. After losing one seat, Quebec’s percentage changed from 23.28% to 22.71 %.

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You can check out CBC News for more information.

2. Readjusting the Boundaries 

Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Stephane Perrault, announced these changes in the federal electoral districts as Elections Canada begins the ten years-long process of seat redistribution.

2.1 Representation by Population 

The new calculation of the number of seats in the Canadian House happens every ten years, and it mainly depends on the change in the population of Canada.

This calculation is done using population estimates provided by the chief statistician of Canada and a constitutional-set formula. It depends on factors like the history of the riding, cultural or economic ties between the communities, size, and impact of the boundary change on Indigenous representation.

2.2 Independent Commissions 

Every province has to form a three-member independent commission before 1st November. The provincial chief justice appoints each commission, and the speaker of the House of Commons appoints the members.

When redrawing the boundaries, several factors are taken into consideration. These include population size, geographic features, community interest, and historical and cultural affiliations.

2.3 Recommendation and Approval 

The commissions are responsible for gathering feedback from the public and the representatives. Many drafts of the new boundary map are taken into consideration before the new map is finalized.

Several meetings are held by the commons committee on Procedure and House Affairs. These meetings formally hear objections from MPs displeased by the change in their ridings.

canada flag
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2.4 Implementation and Elections 

The committee considers this the last step before the new riding map is finalized. Once the new boundaries are approved, they are implemented. Voters are assigned accordingly based on the revised boundaries.

This new map is to be used for the next election as long as that campaign takes place seven months prior to the announcement of the new maps.

This entire process of ridings aims to ensure that representation in the House of Commons is based on the current population changes. The entire process is necessary for a fair and equitable representation of all Canadians.

How do Canadian elections work? | CBC Kids News

It promotes the democratic principle of striving for equal representation. It considers the ever-changing demographic landscape of the country in the present decade.

Elections Canada in a statement, stated that the new electoral map is expected to be completed officially by October 2023. However, it will take effect after a period.

At the first dissolution of parliament, the new limits will become official. This will be after seven months of the proclamation. This will give Elections Canada, political parties, and candidates enough time to prepare accordingly.

3. Impact of Changes to Riding Boundaries 

Changes in electoral district boundaries in Canada significantly affect the quality of representations and electoral outcomes.

  • Altering the electoral district boundaries can affect the electorate’s composition within each riding. If the changes are significant, certain communities and groups may lose their representation.
  • Changes can also influence the overall fairness and proportionality of the electoral system. For the most part, riding boundaries aim to ensure that each riding has a similar number of eligible voters. But if drawn based on favors, it can cause disadvantages to certain political parties and ideologies.
  • If new boundaries create safe seats for a particular party, it can reduce the incentive for candidates to campaign vigorously or for the non-majority parties to contest for those seats.
canada parliament
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4. Concerns of Rural Representation 

The rural regions of Canada have often faced concerns regarding their representation in the House of Commons because of their unique characteristics and needs.

  • The rural regions are spread over vast stretches of land. This makes the communities far from each other. It is, therefore, challenging for the residents to access their elected representatives or government services.
  • Typically rural regions have small populations compared to urban regions. As a result, they may need greater political control and representation in the decision-making process for their well-being. The priorities and interests of higher-populated, urban districts often overshadow the concerns of rural populations.
  • Rural regions often rely on industries such as agriculture, forestry, and natural extraction. The issues related to land use, resource management, and infrastructural development are of grave importance to them. Therefore they must seek representation that understands their unique economic challenges and opportunities.

How likely is a Canadian federal election in 2023?

5. Conclusion

To conclude, federal electoral boundaries in Canada have significant implications on representation and electoral outcomes.

The redrawing of the boundaries on the electoral district maps can also greatly impact the quality of representation as it influences voter demographics, fairness, and competitiveness.

It can also affect the voter engagement and legitimacy of the democratic state.

Therefore to ensure a fair and equitable electoral system, it is very important to ensure that the boundary changes are done with transparency, impartiality, and consideration of fair representation.

Engaging local communities and stakeholders contributes to effective and proper representation in the House of Commons in Canada.

6. FAQs

6.1. What type of electoral system does Canada have?

Canada has always followed a mixed electoral system. This combines the first-past-the-post system and the single-member district system. The FPTP system means the candidate with the most votes in every electoral district will get a seat, promoting a winner-takes-all approach.

The party that captures the most seats becomes the governing party, and its leader becomes the prime minister. Even though this system favors larger parties, the seat allotment has proportional representation elements.

parliament canada
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6.2. What is meant by the Electoral Boundaries Act in Canada?

The Electoral Districts Boundaries Act in Canada is a federal legislation that ensures the fair process of redrawing the electoral district boundaries.

It establishes the basic framework of the readjustment of the boundaries to ensure the proper representation of the population. This act also outlines the composition and the appointment of the independent commission, which is responsible for reviewing the changes in the riding boundaries.

The factors to be included are also stated in the act. The main aim of the act is to maintain equitable representation. It also aims to promote democratic principal and ensure that the ridings represent an equal number of people.

6.3. What is meant by electoral quotients?

The electoral quotient is calculated by dividing the number of valid votes cast in a particular election by the provided seats.

It shows the minimum number of votes that any party or candidate needs to get at least one seat in the House. The electoral quotient helps determine the initial allocation of the seats to parties and candidates based on their vote results.

Any party that crosses the electoral quotient gets the seat. However, those who fall behind or need help to reach the electoral quotient must meet other requirements to get representation.

electoral districts in Canada
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The electoral quotient is important because it helps achieve proportional representation transparently.

6.4. How many federal ridings with one elected Member of Parliament are in Canada?

In Canada, the total number of seats currently is 343. This implies a total of 343 federal ridings, each electing one Member of the Parliament or MP for the House of Commons.

These ridings are also known as federal electoral districts. They spread across the country and are aimed to represent the same number of people. Several factors, such as population, geographic areas, and the principle of representation, determine the number of ridings.

Each federal electoral district represents a specific geographic area with electoral boundaries. It changes every ten years depending on the population changes.

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  • The comprehensive overview of the electoral changes and their implications in Canada provides a solid foundation for understanding the upcoming political landscape and the importance of fair representation in the House of Commons.

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