Saturday, September 26, 2009

Drivel watch: the Globe on rep-by-pop

We never had a debate and said that new Canadians, visible minorities, people who live in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area], Calgary, Edmonton and the Lower Mainland [of British Columbia], young people, gays and lesbians - that they should all have less representation," observes Matthew Mendelsohn, director of the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation.
No, we did not. Fortunately we did not need one.

Somehow John Ibbitson of the Globe took a routine announcement about the potential decennial adjustment of House of Commons seats to reflect census changes in the size and distribution of the Canadian population -- and evoked some kind of looming race-war gotterdammerung. Okay, people like Mendelson aided and abetted, but the whole Globe&Mail story is full of this kind of nonsense.

Fortunately, at least one letter to the editor has argued for a rational analysis.
It is highly spurious to insinuate that the new proposed seat distribution for the House of Commons falls along racial lines or pits minorities against whites (Catching Up To The New Canada: Ottawa Wants To Add More Seats – front page, Sept. 25). The proposal is colour-blind, and is only about population counts. The fact that the demographics may show these new seats will be populated by a more diverse ethnic population is merely coincidence.
Thanks, J.D.M. Stewart, we needed that.

There seems to be something about the principle of representation by population that has always driven political scientists a bit bonkers. But this one is extreme.

The Mowat Centre is a recently launched thingee at the University of Toronto, according to a university press release. This seems like an inauspicious start. Mendelsohn, the panic-monger on this story,:
a former professor of political science at Queen's University, comes to U of T fresh from his term at Queen's Park. He served as deputy minister for intergovernmental affairs, the Democratic Renewal Secretariat and the Office of International Relations and Protocol in Ontario from 2004 to 2007, making him a natural to teach students how to be effective practitioners and leaders in public policy.
Maybe that explains it.

Update, September 28: Steven Michael MacLean comments:
I just have one question for the Globe’s editorial board: What would George Brown think?
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