Fair Representation Act (C)

Mr. Speaker, this is nation building legislation. It is legislation I would like to support. I regret very much the limitation on debate, which has made it difficult for smaller parties to be part of the debate and discussion.

I would like his thoughts, though, on whether we can continually, in the future, beyond the bill, add new members to the House of Commons every time we see Canada’s population grow. At some point do we not have to bite the bullet and go back and revisit those areas with sparser populations?

Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I think there are two parts to what the hon. member is asking.

First is the issue of seats in the House. Can we keep adding members to the House of Commons? I would like to say that in other parliaments on this globe there are no seats, there are benches.

As I have mentioned earlier, the important work that members of Parliament do is not so much the speaking. I certainly do not need to have this desk. I can sit on a bench, and stand and speak. It is what we do in our ridings across the country, serving our constituents that is absolutely vital.

The important aspect of additional representation means that there are more members of Parliament to advocate strongly on behalf of their constituents. If they are not advocating on behalf of their constituents, they do not deserve to be in the House.

The second component she raises quite rightly is the issue around rural-urban representation, and certainly on this side of the House, the NDP has always seen this as a very important, careful, national building exercise.

That is why we have talked about seats for Quebec. We have talked about seats for areas like my province of British Columbia along with Alberta and Ontario. We have talked about ensuring a floor for Atlantic Canada and the territories. This is a nation building exercise and that means rural representation being adequate and effective in the House of Commons as well as urban representation in the House.