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Saskatchewan’s Oil-Driven Population Boom

Submitted by on February 15, 2012 – 9:11 pm 3 Comments |  
Canadian news sources have been proudly announcing the fact that the province of Saskatchewan posted a population growth rate of 6.7 percent over the past five years, after having declined by a 1.1 percent rate between 2001 and 2006. Reports emphasize the international origin of many of Saskatchewan’s new residents, with China, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines figuring prominently. The province, boosters claim, “is becoming increasingly diverse, dynamic and cosmopolitan.” Many newcomers do, however, report difficulties adjusting to the winter climate.

Saskatchewan’s recent growth represents a major departure from historical patterns. As can be seen in the paired graphs, the province has experienced relative demographic stability for decades, much in contrast to neighboring, oil-rich Alberta. But Saskatchewan is now riding the energy boom as well. Although Alberta’s famous (or infamous) oil sands do not extend into the province, the Bakken Formation, usually associated with North Dakota, does. Until recently, the massive oil deposits in the Bakken were not economically recoverable. Now they are, thanks the environmentally problematic fracking techniques more commonly associated with natural gas.

  It will be interesting to see what the oil boom does to the political culture of Saskatchewan. The province has a long heritage of social democracy, rooted in agrarian populism, although its voting patterns have been trending in a more conservative direction in recent year. But Saskatchewan still has a very different political culture from that of neighboring Alberta, as can be seen on the map. Alberta is by far the most conservative Canadian province, as reflected in its nickname, “the Texas of Canada.” An increasingly energy-based economy in Saskatchewan may generate more conservative attitudes there as well, although such tendencies may be counteracted by the province’s increasing cosmopolitanism.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/johnwcowan John Cowan

    Another production issue, this one general: when I enlarge any posting page, the text remains small and therefore unreadable to my middle-aged eyes.  Please fix this, or I will have to give up reading this blog.  (Currently I have to copy and paste the text into Notepad, which is really annoying.)

    • http://kevinmorton.me Kevin Morton

      Hi John, Not sure what you mean. When I enlarge a post (using Firefox on a Mac), the whole page gets bigger, including the text. You can also click the Print/PDF button at the start of every post and specify the font size. If you give me what type of browser and computer you’re using, I may be able to run a test and give you some advice.

    • http://kevinmorton.me Kevin Morton

      Hi John, I was able to replicate your zoom problem in Safari–it looks like it is just an issue in that browser. Is it Safari you’re using?

      In any case, I increased the font size of the entire site a couple points. I hope that helps make things easier on the eyes. I’ll be making sure the larger font size works with the various design elements of the site over the next few days. For additionally larger font, I recommend using a different browser or using the Print/PDF feature by clicking the button found at the start of each article. Happy reading.