Alberta politician tables petition against daylight saving time

While it’s common practice to complain about the twice-annual ritual of changing clocks, an Alberta politician is now taking the complaint one step further.

For nearly a century, we’ve been paying the price [for] trying to conquer Germany,' expert says

Daylight saving time is not used everywhere in the world, not even in all parts of Canada. Saskatchewan and some parts of B.C. do not adjust their clocks in the spring and fall. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

While it’s common practise to complain about the twice-annual ritual of changing clocks, an Alberta politician is now taking the complaint one step further.

MLA Jacquie Fenske, who represents Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, has tabled a petition in the Alberta legislature asking the government to repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act.

The petition, which was started by 82-year-old Ruby Kassian, has already gathered about 3,000 signatures.

Kassian says that even a week into daylight saving time, her body is still working to catch up with the changed clock.

“My own circadian rhythm is disturbed and, as a matter of fact, I think I still feel funny to this day ... because I want to go to bed so early.”

While Kassian said the fall change isn’t so bad, springing forward each March leaves many, particularly children and seniors, scrambling to adjust.

And for what? That’s the question Matthew Rozsa is asking.

Rozsa, a Ph.D. student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., has made a study of the history and effectiveness of daylight saving time and has concluded that it does more harm than good.

The controversial clock-turning had its start in ancient Rome, where water clocks were set using different scales to coordinate with the sun, Rozsa said.

Then, in 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay extolling the productivity spike of farmers when the clocks were set to match the sun.

“However, it’s worth noting that the essay was written in semi-comical tone and most scholars don’t think Franklin intended to be taken seriously,” cautioned Rozsa.

In North America, daylight saving time was not formally adopted until the First World War, said Rozsa and even then, it was only put in place to match Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm’s decision to instigate the changing clock.

Now, Rozsa says, it continues as "an absurd ritual" North Americans perform twice a year “for the sole reason that we are accustomed to performing it.”

While there are some who credit daylight saving time for increasing tourist spending and helping farmers get the most of out their day, Rozsa argues it actually causes more problems than it solves including exacerbating health conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and complicating global financial transactions.

In this map, areas that use Daylight Saving Time are marked in blue. Those that used it in the past, but have stopped are in orange, and those that never did are in red. (Paul Eggert/Wikipedia)
“Only 70 countries in the world observe this practice and we live in a globalized economy, for better or for worse,” he said.

As an example of “worse,” Rozsa cited a $147-million loss by airlines in 2007 when flight schedules were thrown into a state of confusion for a month due to countries adjusting to local time changes.

“For nearly a century, we’ve been paying the price of our antecedents who were trying to conquer Germany and the kaiser,” Rozsa said.

“If I was a resident in Alberta I would support the petition … I would certainly love it very much if Alberta pulled this off.”


  • A previous version this story stated that Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay about Daylight Saving Time in 1874. The essay was actually published in 1784. The story has been changed to reflect this.
    Mar 16, 2015 5:55 PM MT