Mind-bending debate on time change strains Weaver-Horgan ties

The clock is ticking on the warm working relationship between Premier John Horgan and B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Horgan and Weaver are on the same page on confidence votes in the legislature, but it turns out they are out of synch on the time-change issue.

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The NDP government made much of the overwhelming public support it says it got for halting the twice-yearly time change. “Biggest public engagement in B.C.’s history” was the claim, after more than 200,000 people responded to an online survey and registered 93 per cent support for staying on daylight time permanently.

But you can count Weaver out of the consensus, based on his speech this week.

Weaver delivered a mind-bending speech on time shifting that puts him at odds with the government.

He’s a standard timer. The NDP is in the daylight-time camp. They’re only an hour apart, but it’s a night and day difference.

Will the government fall over this? No. The bill isn’t a confidence issue and the Opposition Liberals are equally keen to stop resetting clocks.

They opened debate with a stirring endorsement of the bill, saying the time changes mess with people’s lives.

It looked for a moment like everybody was in agreement, which isn’t something you see every day in the legislature.

Then Weaver got up and things got complicated.

Right away, he cast doubts on the overwhelming support the NDP claims to have for the move.

The timing of the time-change question was slanted in favour of daylight time, he said, leaving standard time fans in the dark, as it were.

“The fundamental reason this process is flawed is that you don’t ask British Columbians in the height of summer, when they’re sitting on their patios sipping their piña coladas and margaritas, saying, ‘Oh, isn’t it glorious to have this evening sunshine,’ when they’re not actually thinking at the same time, ‘What about that loss of morning sunshine?’ because it’s sunny all the time. … You don’t ask them: ‘Do you want to stay on daylight savings or not?’ ”

He said staying on standard time wasn’t presented as an option, “the option that makes sense in terms of the solar altitude being overhead at noon in as many jurisdictions as possible.”

On Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, for example: “Noon in Victoria will occur at 12:11, coinciding with maximum solar altitude.

“If we stayed on daylight time, it would be the high sun at 13:12, an hour later, which is inconsistent with our own internal body clocks.”

And the winter-solstice sunrise will be at 8:02 a.m., but 9:02 a.m. if B.C. stays on daylight time.

Which is why other jurisdictions where this was tried gave it up, he said. Because daylight time doesn’t match the solar clock with people’s internal clocks.

“I look forward to three years from now, if this bill passes … saying: ‘Look. I told you so.’

“Everyone is complaining now because Johnny and Jill going to school at eight in the morning are going through in pitch-black, walking around, and their first accidents are happening. The public outcry is going to be there.”

By coincidence, comic Steve Patterson of CBC’s The Debaters was in the public gallery. If he was looking for absurdity, he came to the right place – regardless of the bill.

As Liberal MLA Tom Shypitka (Kootenay East) pointed out, with Pacific and Mountain time zones and varying standard and daylight zones: “I can travel 40 minutes and drive through three time zones in B.C.”

He’s anti-time change partly because: “Even my dog has a hard time. In the fall, he’s looking for his meal at seven o’clock. He’s going to have to wait another hour, and he’s drooling all over the floor.”

Weaver managed to convince his two caucus colleagues to oppose the bill, but the daylight-time people won the day.

Now all they have to do is get the entire Pacific coast on the same page.


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