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Winds of Change: Saskatchewan’s attitudes on Energy, Environment and Oil

As the second largest oil-producer in the country and home to a government that has vigorously promoted the oil industry and firmly opposed carbon pricing, one might assume that the Saskatchewan public is relatively united in their support for fossil fuel extraction. Winds of Change: Public Opinion on Energy Politics in Saskatchewan by Andrea Olive, Emily Eaton and Randy Besco demonstrates that the Saskatchewan public may not be as wedded to a future with fossil fuels as we might think. This report presents some surprising results of public opinion polling of 500 adult Saskatchewan residents on issues of oil extraction, environment, and climate change in the province. The results show that people living in Saskatchewan support a transition away from fossil fuels and agree that the government should invest more in solar and wind power while strengthening environmental regulations. The results of this study indicate that there is more room in the province for discussion around energy issues than is often assumed. Opinions could be changing in the province and politicians would be smart to invest in long-term strategic thinking about a transition to alternative energy.

Andrea Olive is an associate professor of political science and geography at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is the author of two books, Land, Stewardship and Legitimacy: Endangered Species Policy in Canada and the United States and The Canadian Environment in Political Context. Her main areas of research include wildlife conservation, Canada-US environmental policy, and the environment-energy nexus.

Emily Eaton is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina. She is the author of two books, Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy (with photographer Valerie Zink) and Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat. Her main areas of research include natural resource economies, especially oil and agriculture, and ecology.

Randy Besco is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He is the author of a forthcoming book entitled Interests and Identities in Racialized Voting. His main areas of research are elections and public opinion.

Click to read the report.