NDP walks fine line on B.C. seats

Federal NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp walked into controversy over the allocation of seven new MP seats for B.C. Thursday.

Federal NDP president Brian Topp (third from right) is flanked by MLAs supporting his bid for the leadership of the national party Thursday.

VICTORIA – Federal NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp picked up more supporters on a visit to the B.C. legislature Thursday, and walked into a controversy over the allocation of six new MP seats for B.C.

The federal government revealed its bill to add 30 House of Commons seats Thursday, including six each for B.C. and Alberta, 15 for Ontario and three for Quebec. Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James, on hand to endorse Topp’s leadership bid, said based on population, B.C. should have nine more seats.

Topp is running to lead a federal party now dominated by Quebec MPs, and he avoided taking a position.

“The good news in the announcement today, if there’s any of it, is that we’re making progress,” Topp said. “Western Canada and Ontario should get more seats. And it’s the federal party’s job to look at the details and listen to the voices at speak up across the country, and to come to a judgment about what they think about the proposal.”

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix issued a statement calling the seat decision unfair, saying it favours Alberta and Quebec at the expense of B.C. He said he will write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking that B.C. get more seats.

B.C. Liberal MLA John Les accused Topp of supporting an increase that would keep the ratio of seats the same in Quebec and other provinces, as western provinces have grown faster.

Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair also brought his leadership candidacy to B.C. this week, reflecting the province’s importance as the home of one third of party members.

Topp, the federal party president, added six MLA endorsements Thursday. In addition to James, Vancouver Island MLAs Scott Fraser, Doug Routley, Bill Routley, John Horgan and Maurine Karagianis endorsed Topp.

On an earlier visit, Topp was endorsed by Surrey MLAs Sue Hammell, Bruce Ralston, Harry Bains and Jagrup Brar.