Represention by population is one of those big ideas every Canadian school child learns about in social studies.
Roughly, rep-by-pop means that in a parliamentary democracy, every elector's vote should have the same influence in electing his or her representative. To this end, each constituency in the country should have about the same size population, and each province should send a number of MPs to Ottawa that corresponds to that province's share of the national population. It is not an exact science, nor a simple one, but that is the general idea.
The Mowat Centre, an Ontario think tank, has just published an interesting report that shows how far Canada strays from this fundamental principle.
BC, for instance, with 13 percent of the national population, has 36 seats in Parliament, which is just 11.69 percent of the House of Commons. In other words, we are under-represented by about four seats. According to the report, Ontario and Alberta are under-represented as well, though not quite as badly as BC, and naturally several provinces are over-represented.
The report goes on to compare Canada unfavourably to several other parliamentary democracies around the world and concludes that "our system is no longer compatible with internationally accepted democratic norms." It is all here.