Facinga stream of Liberal criticism, government House leader Peter Van Loan stood by hisremarks that accused the Ontario premierof being a"small man of Confederation"forhis criticism of a plan to redistribute federal seats.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion led off question period in the House of Commons demanding Van Loan apologize for the comment directed at Dalton McGuinty.

Van Loan and McGuinty arebickering overa proposed federal bill to increase the number of Commons seats to reflect growing populations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.McGuinty wants Ontario to receive 21 more seats in the House, 11 more than currently proposed.

"It's a provision that's going to give them more seats, more new seats than any other province," Van Loan said Wednesday. "And what did[McGuinty] do? He complained about it.

"That's whatI mean whenI talk about the small man of confederation. More seats, more for his province, and he complains."

Ontario would get one MP for every 115,000 residents under the proposed changes, but McGuinty said all provinces should be on what he calls "the Quebec standard" — one MP for every 105,000 people.

Alberta will get five additional seats in Parliament under the proposed changes while B.C. will get seven more.

Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff defended McGuinty, saying the premier was only protesting a "gross piece of political gerrymandering which will harm the citizens of Ontario."

Ignatieffinsisted Van Loan acknowledge that his comments were "out of order, out of control."

But Van Loan refused and insteadpraisedthe proposedlegislation for bringing "fairness"to the provinces.

As for Ontario, Van Loan said it is getting more new seats than any other province, adding that it already has the most seats in the House of Commons.

"But traditional supporters of Confederation realize that we want to see every province, every region treated fairlyand not this cloaked effort to suppress the West that we seefrom the Liberal party," Van Loan said.

With files from the Canadian Press