Quebec waiting on its neighbours before scrapping semi-annual time changes

Click to play video: 'Quebec is counting on neighbours to keep Daylight Saving Time'
Quebec is counting on neighbours to keep Daylight Saving Time
WATCH: There's a growing movement to make bi-annual time changes a thing of the past. Quebec's government isn't opposed to sticking to Daylight Saving Time, but as Global’s Benson Cook reports it will take the support of our neighbours for the movement to become a reality – Nov 3, 2020

Time is on everyone’s minds at this time of year, as our bodies — and daily routines — adjust to the clocks falling back to standard time.

As is common every time this change happens, in November and again in March, there are plenty of people debating whether we should keep doing this.

That’s why Alison Usher-Jones is launching a petition to Quebec’s National Assembly asking MNAs to vote on making Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent.

Calling the petition a “really cool way to exercise our democracy,” Usher-Jones said she most considered our semi-annual time change an unchangeable fact of life until this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and all the stress and uncertainty it has brought with it, changed her view, she says. Now she’s adamant that the only thing the move to and from DST accomplishes is creating stress for people.

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“When we change the clocks, we spend 92 days when the sun is setting before 5 p.m.,” she explained to Global News, “and if we did not change the clocks, we would spend zero days a year where the sun would set before 5 p.m.”

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Quebec Premier François Legault, for his part, has indicated that he isn’t a proponent of ditching the twice-a-year ritual of changing our clocks.

When Global News asked him about it on Monday, it didn’t sound like he’s changed his mind.

“It’s darker at night, but it’s less darker in the morning,” he reasoned during a press conference. “So we’re looking at the different scenarios, but so far we don’t expect to change that.”

A few minutes later, however, an aide to Legualt explained that the government isn’t opposed in principle to making DST permanent year-round. But, he said, they’d need “our neighbouring provinces” to make the change, too.

As it happens, an MPP from suburban Ottawa has introduced a bill in Ontario’s legislature that would do just that.

Jeremy Roberts, a Progressive Conservative representing Ottawa West—Nepean, said in an interview he hoped the bill could put Ontario and its neighbours “at the forefront” of getting rid of a practice he called “outdated.”

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The bill passed first and second reading with all-party support, but Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s support of it seems somewhat tepid. A statement his office emailed to Global News said only that “this is not currently our government’s priority.”

Even if the bill did pass and become law, however, Ontario would only move to year-round DST if its two largest neighbours did the same. That means not just Quebec, but also the state of New York.

A New York state senator, Republican Joe Griffo, recently introduced a bill that would make DST permanent in the Empire State. It’s unclear whether it has support from Democrats, who control a majority in both houses of the state’s legislature, as well as the governor’s mansion.

Even if New York did pass a law mandating year-round DST, it couldn’t take effect right away. That’s because the U.S. Congress would have to change American federal law regulating the use of time zones. Right now, it’s not legal for a state to stay in Daylight time all year.

Advocates like Alison Usher-Jones say that’s a shame.

“If everyone’s just waiting for everyone else to do it, it’s never going to get done,” she said.

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— With files from Global News’s Dan Spector and Morganne Campbell.

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