Does the Charter Mandate One Person, One Vote


  • F. L. Morton
  • Rainer Knopff



Since the inception of the Constitution Act, 1982, a myriad of issues and challenges have been evolving, one of which has been the recent "one person, one vote" challenges to the existing electoral distribution laws. This paper presents background evidence prepared for the recent legal challenge to Alberta's electoral law, and entered into evidence in the Supreme Court's consideration of Saskatchewan's law. Together with the accompanying response by Allan Tupper, which also arises out of the Alberta litigation, it makes more widely available the full scope of the debate our courts were asked to arbitrate. The authors explore the policies which shaped the principles embodied in the electoral distribution laws existing in Canada today. They compare the Canadian situation to both the British and the American experiences. The authors then discuss factors inherent in Canadian society, such as the Crown, bicameralism, federalism, Constitutional supremacy, and the Charter, which tend towards rejection of the "pure democratic" model. They conclude that the Charter does not prevent legislatures from relying on non-population factors to protect "communities of interest" in constructing electoral systems. The Charter does not, in short, mandate "one person, one vote."