Time hasn't run out on Alberta debate about twice-yearly clock changes, premier says

A legislative committee has rejected Bill 203, the Alberta Standard Time Act.

Legislative committee unanimously rejects bill, but Rachel Notley says MLAs will still get to debate

An Alberta private members' bill to stop switching clocks in spring and fall has been rejected by a legislative committee. (Charles Krupa/The Associated Press)

The great debate about changing Alberta's clocks will tick on a little longer, says Premier Rachel Notley.

On Tuesday, an all-party legislature committee unanimously rejected a private member's bill that proposed ditching the twice-yearly time change in Alberta.

But the MLA who sponsored the bill vowed he won't give up the fight.

Hours later, Notley said he won't have to, because MLAs will get another chance to debate the bill in the legislature.

"I still think there are questions to be asked and some deliberations to be done," Notley said, not long after the committee rejected the bill. "I also believe it's still a pretty open vote in the legislature, and the matter's not over yet."

Notley said most Albertans appear to be in favour of dumping the twice-yearly time change.

All-party committees typically get 150 responses from the public on a given issue, she said.

But not this time.

"I think it was about 20,000 Albertans, maybe more, who responded, and the vast majority were in favour of moving forward on it," the premier said.

Edmonton MLA Thomas Dang, who spearheaded the bill earlier this year, said he'll continue push for the legislation.

"This is something people support, and something people want, so I will continue to fight for that for them," the NDP backbencher told reporters.

The five-member committee said the bill has merits in terms of health, but decided there would be too much of an economic impact on business at a delicate time.

​WestJet told the committee that eliminating the time change would lead to economic losses. The province's two National Hockey League teams were worried about late start times.

Public consultations on the bill have shown people greatly divided on the issue.

It was revealed last week that holding a referendum on ditching the time change would cost millions.

After the committee's decision, Dang said he believes Alberta now has an opportunity to take the debate over time changes to a national audience.

"I want to look at this as an opportunity to make a broader change and make that difference that I was talking about for Albertans, because Albertans are the ones that spoke so loudly on this issue," he said. "That opportunity now exists on a nationwide scale, and I'm really looking forward to that conversation."

He said if other jurisdictions move in step with Alberta toward "one time year-round," it may happen.

"I'm looking forward to see whether other legislators reach out to me, and I can talk to some of my colleagues that I know in other jurisdictions," he said. "And just see where this conversation takes us, and where Canadians want to go with this conversation."

He said he understands that in the United States as many half of the states are currently looking at legislation to end daylight time.