Canada's electoral history from 1867 to today

Canada's legislative assemblies

by Maurice Y. Michaud (he/him)

ISpeaker's Chair — Canadian House of Commonsn addition to the federal Parliament in Ottawa, each province and territory has its own legislative assembly, for a total of thirteen. There is also an assembly in the autonomous region of Nunatsiavut in Newfoundland and Labrador but it is outside the scope of this database.

All assemblies are partisan except those in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories which operate a consensus form of government. That said, in those non-partisan assemblies, the individuals named in the ministerial cabinet are de facto considered forming the government while the role of the remaining members consists of holding ministers accountable, thereby serving as a form of opposition.

Elections and referendums or plebiscites held in each jurisdiction are conducted by a non-partisan agency named "Elections [Jurisdiction Name]."

In this section of this website, you can explore not only the composition of the legislatures today but also all their previous compositions from the time they joined Confederation. Occasionally, an assembly might have begun with a given party at the head of government but changed to another party due to a vote of non-confidence that occurred soon after a general election. Such a switch has not happened often — you probably have enough fingers to count them all — but, interestingly, it has already occurred twice in the 21st century, namely in British Columbia in 2017 and New Brunswick in 2018. The last time it happened federally was nearly a century before that, in 1926, in what became known as the King-Byng Affair.

A more common situation is having a government hover between majority and minority status as a result of floor crossings or by-elections. For instance, the Progressive Conservative Party in Prince Edward Island initially formed a minority government in May 2019 but achieved majority status following a by-election in Charlottetown-Winsloe in November 2020. Also, a party might achieve a de facto majority through a confidence-and-supply agreement — a degree lower than a formal coalition — with a party holding the balance of power in the legislature, as happened in British Columbia in 2017 (between the NDP and the Greens) or federally in 2022 (between the Liberals and the NDP).

The size of today's legislative assemblies

The legislative assemblies vary considerably in size from one jurisdiction to another. Although one should make a distinction between eligible voters and overall population, this table nonetheless provides some perspective on these variations by listing each jurisdiction with its population according to the 2021 census and the average number of people represented by one member. However, it is important to remember how that average number conceals how some jurisdictions may have:

  • protected seats such as the traditional Acadian ridings of Argyle, Clare and Richmond in Nova Scotia as well as Preston, a riding designed to encourage more African-Nova Scotian participation, and
  • large rural ridings in which the population is much smaller than the jurisdiction's average, such as the Ontario ridings of Kiiwetinoong (which is 68% Indigenous) and Mushkegowuk—James Bay (which is 27% indigenous and 60% francophone). Together they cover slighly more than half of Ontario's territory but have less than 0.5% of the province's population whereas, speaking strictly in mathematical terms, a single riding in Ontario would be expected to have, on average, about 0.8% of the province's population.
Also, the population in some ridings might be noticeably higher than average if it includes many young families but the number of persons 18 years or over who are eligible to vote in those ridings could be in line with the jurisdiction's average.

Legend } p/s: Average population/seat
Jurisdiction Federal Prov/Terr General Elections
Details Capital city Largest city Population Seats p/s Seats p/s Last Next*

Legend } p/s: Average population/seat
Jurisdiction Federal Prov/Terr General Elections
Details Capital city Largest city Population Seats p/s Seats p/s Last Next*
1 CA Canada Canada Ottawa Toronto 36,991,981 338 109,444 2021-09-20 2025-10-20

© 2022 Maurice Y. Michaud ::
Pub.:  6 Jun 2022 00:35
Rev.: 10 Jun 2022 11:42