Business interests win Alberta's Daylight Saving debate
Bill to stay on DST year-round defeated in legislature on Monday
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Despite the best efforts of Edmonton South-West MLA Thomas Dang, Albertans will be turning their clocks back one hour this weekend.
The decision to kill Dang’s bill — which would’ve seen Alberta stay on Daylight Saving Time year-round — was made Monday evening in the legislature, with a vote of 46 to 6.
And while this weekend is the “good” switch where you get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday, it still goes against what most citizens were telling the NDP government when they asked Albertans if they wanted to stop changing their clocks.
In March, the NDP released the results of a survey that asked over 26,000 Albertans how they felt about Daylight Saving Time.
In that survey, 82 per cent said they would prefer not to change their clocks, and 62 per cent suggested a preference for keeping summer hours year round, meaning more hours of daylight in the evening.
That change would also mean Alberta would have two hours difference from British Columbia for much of the year.
Businesses such as WestJet and Alberta’s two NHL teams raised flags about what that time difference could mean for their businesses.
Dang said the decision to kill the bill was an example of democracy in action.
“We had some really healthy debate on it,” he said. “We needed to find a balanced plan that included what Albertans wanted, but also understood our business interests and business concerns.”
Dang said while a majority of Albertans were on side, the government also had to take into account how a change would affect businesses and the economy as a whole.
Calgarian Dave Matthews was one of the proponents who first brought Daylight Saving Time to Alberta in 1971. He was in favour of Dang’s bill and was disappointed to see it die.
“I think they’ve all been scared to some extent by the business aspect,” he said.
He said the will of the people was overruled by business interests in this instance.
“And I think people will resent it eventually, saying, ‘We’re changing our clocks because of WestJet, or because of the hockey teams,’” said Matthews.
He said in 1967, the first movement to get Daylight Saving Time in Alberta was also hampered by commercial interests — drive-in movie theatre owners.
“They didn’t want evening lightness — they wanted evening darkness,” said Matthews. “But you know what happened to drive-in movies.”
Dang said the province is still eager to move forward with a single time year round, but will only do it in unison with other jurisdictions such as British Columbia.