It is erroneously believed by some that the original U.S. constitution had a clause decreeing that a black man was "worth" only 60% of a white man. The three-fifths compromise, rather, was a mechanism for determining how slaves (not blacks, though in the 1770s only 8% of the black population were 'free', so there was little difference) should be counted in determining how many representatives each state received in the House.
Canada's electoral system, however, does inadvertently make the votes from voters of some races worth less than others.
- There are 13 ridings where 10% of the population is "Black"
- There are 13 ridings where 20% of the population is "Chinese"
- There are 13 ridings where 20% of the population is "West Asian"
The 13 figure was a coincidence, but a happy one. For each group, I examined the average population, measured in 2006, of the 13 ridings vs. the population of the 295 ridings that did not meet the cut-off. Here are the results.
- Avg. Population of a "Black" Ridings: 119,772
- Avg. Population of a "Non-Black" Ridings: 101,884
- Value of a Vote in a "Black" Riding vs. a "Non-Black" Riding: 90%
- Avg. Population of a "Chinese" Riding: 123,320
- Avg. Population of a "Non-Chinese" Riding: 101,728
- Value of a Vote in a "Chinese" Riding vs. a "Non-Chinese" Riding: 82%
"West Asian" Ridings
- Avg. Population of a "West Asian" Riding: 127,521
- Avg. Population of a "Non-West Asian" Riding: 101,543
- Value of a Vote in a "West Asian" Riding vs. a "Non-West Asian" Riding: 80%
These are admittedly crude measures - a more accurate measure of the worth of a "Black Vote" rather than "The Vote of Someone Living in a Black Riding" may yield slightly different results. I believe these figures understate the problem, as the population measures are from 2006, and it is safe to say the population of these ridings is growing faster than the Canadian average.
Measures by the Conservatives to add more seats to B.C., Alberta and Ontario would reduce but not eliminate the disparity, as some provinces will still be over-represented in Parliament (none of the ridings for the 3 groups are in PEI), and rural ridings are made to have smaller populations than urban ones (all the ridings for our 3 groups are urban). As well, there is talk of giving Quebec more seats; none of the "West Asian" or "Chinese" ridings are in Quebec, though some "Black" ridings are.
Updated to Add
I figured out how to navigate Pundits Guide a bit better, so I was able to collect more data to make a more robust determination.
I wanted to determine how many MPs different groups were electing, versus how many they actually were. If a riding was 1/8th "Chinese", they can be thought of as electing 1/8th of an MP. Visually think of it as if each ethnic group were it's own province. How many ridings does that province get now, and how many does it get by rep-by-pop. Not surprisingly, the results are quite similar to above.
I'll add other census groups in the next couple of days.
My question to you is: Given the other tensions the electoral system needs to consider, how much under-representation is acceptable? Is it acceptable for the vote from a "West Asian" be worth 95% of an average Canadian? 90%? 80%? 70%? Where is the cut-off?