Should Alberta scrap daylight saving time? PC leadership hopeful wants a referendum

PC leadership candidate Richard Starke thinks it’s time to change the way Alberta watches the clock. The MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster is asking the province to stick with Mountain Daylight Time year round.

'It's obviously struck a chord amongst Albertans,' says MLA Richard Starke

Repealing the Daylight Saving Act would put Alberta on standard time around the clock. (Andreas Gebert/EPA)

Richard Starke thinks it's time to change the way Alberta watches the clock.

The MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster wants the province to stick with Mountain Daylight Time year-round. The PC leadership candidate tabled a petition with 800 signatures in the legislature Tuesday, asking the NDP government to repeal the Daylight Saving Act.

If the changes are approved, Alberta would be on the same time as Saskatchewan — the only province that doesn't observe the time change.

"Most [petitions] are filed with little notice, but this one has taken a great deal of notice," Starke said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "It's obviously struck a chord amongst Albertans.

Starke said people don't seem to prefer one time over another, but don't like switching back and forth.

Since he filed the petition, Starke said he has received calls from many constituents who support the petition. But not everyone is keen to turn back the clock on the decades-old policy.

"I wouldn't say it's something that's a burning issue," Starke said. "I want to be clear, there has been criticism since this all broke. I've had a few people say, 'Really? Don't you have more important issues to deal with?'

"And of course we have many more important issues to deal with. But one of my jobs as an MLA is to report the concerns of my constituents, and one of the things we do regularly is file petitions."

The petition originated in Starke's riding, where residents in border towns like Lloydminster straddle two time zones.

Life between two time zones 

Cindy Trigg lives in Lloydminster and works in Saskatchewan. During the winter months, her home is one hour ahead of her workplace. But during daylight saving time things sync up. All in all, it can make things confusing.

'"Lloydminster is Canada's only border city. We do, indeed, have the provincial boundary running right through the middle of the city," said Trigg, who recently described the confusion caused in a recent interview with CBC Radio show, Cross Country Checkup.

"In the city, we're OK with having to do the time change. But I work for a company in Saskatchewan, where all of our head offices are located. So, when I go into work at eight o'clock, may co-workers in Saskatchewan have been there since seven o'clock in the morning. Likewise, when they leave work at five o'clock Saskatchewan time, we're still at work at four o'clock our time."

With Starke's petition tabled on the final day of the fall sitting, the next step is to see if any MLA has enough interest to table a private member's bill.

Starke does not have a slot in the private member's lottery, so it's unclear if or when the recommendation would come up for debate.

Eventually, Starke would like to see a referendum.

"Daylight saving time was brought in as a result of a referendum in 1971," he said. "We could certainly have another at our next provincial election, so it wouldn't have many extra costs.

"We haven't had one since 1971. It would be ironic that the next one would be on removing daylight saving time.

"It's not a common thing, generally speaking, but it's a fairly straightforward issue, yes or no."