Monday, November 11, 2013

Will it matter in Canadian Politics when more people live in Alberta than BC?

According to Statistics Canada, as of July 1 2013 the population of Alberta was only 556,904 less than that of BC, this is a dramatic change from the 2011 Census when BC lead Alberta by 754,800 people.   In only two years Alberta may have gained 200,000 people on BC.    The growth of Alberta has been significantly higher than that of BC for some years now.   If this higher rate continues Alberta will pass BC in population and that will likely have impacts on the politics of the country.

One thing that should be noted is that the data between the Census and the population estimates by Stats Can are different, in the case of the 2011 Census, the estimates for 2011 for the whole country was one million more than the Census.   The biggest differences were in over estimates for Ontario, BC and Alberta.  The relative difference between Alberta and BC populations is the same in the 2011 estimate and the 2011 Census

Date             BC      Alberta  Difference
July 2013 est 4,581,978 4,025,074   556,904
2011 Census   4,400.057 3,645,257   754,800
July 2011 est 4,529,500 3,723,800   805,700
2006 Census   4,113,487 3,290,350   823,137
2001 Census   3,907,738 2,974,807   932,931
1996 Census   3,724,500 2,696,826 1,027,674
1991 Census   3,282,061 2,545,553   736,508

The current trends indicate there is a  chance that Alberta's population will surpass BC's within five to to ten years and that will have an impact of the politics of the country.

The last time one province passed another in population was Manitoba passing Saskatchewan in the 1966 census, but the relative populations of Manitoba and Saskatchewan have remained close to each other since the 1911 census.   Manitoba passing Saskatchewan's population was mainly a statistical event and little more.

The last time a province significantly changed their relative population weight in Canada was BC when it jumped from sixth to third in the 1941 census.

Being able to claim to be the #3 province in terms of population in Canada will increase the stature of Alberta in the country.  There will be an expectation of more political power.  The premier of the province will hold a more senior positioning in the media and the public's mind.   Alberta will expect to have more House of Commons seats than BC.

Alberta politics are very different than BC.  The rise of Alberta and decline of BC will mean the Alberta political mindset will matter more in Ottawa than that of BC.

Success tends to breed more success.  The shift from 4th to 3rd in provincial populations will likely accelerate the successes of Alberta.   Alberta will likely attract more people, more businesses, more of the brightest and best.   BC will likely attract more pensioners.

Alberta may not pass BC if there is a serious downturn in the oil and gas sector.  Even if there is I think the changed nature of the Alberta economy means they will be able to withstand it and still continue to gain population and likely still as fast or faster than BC.


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