A look at Alberta’s referen-dumbs

Election day in Alberta is Monday, Oct. 18. Wait, you may be saying, didn’t we just have an election?

Very observant of you. Yes, we did have an election, but of the federal kind. This one is the civic election, and it is in many ways much more important than a federal vote. Whereas your MP runs off to Ottawa, perhaps never to be heard from again (or at least until the next election), civic elections choose people from your community, who work in your community, and can actually make changes for the good (or otherwise) in your community. Arguably, it is the most important elected position. 

But I am not going to weigh in on the vote; civic elections are mercifully mostly free of party affiliations (although the Alberta NDP is trying to change that), therefore much more dependant on individual policies. (I had a council candidate actually come to my door for a chat, which was enough to get my vote.) But thanks to Jason Kenney and his Make Alberta Grate Again agenda, we have referendum questions on our ballots. Two of the three are utterly pointless, and you can safely ignore them or spoil your ballot if you’re in a mischievous mood. One question is not. 

First, the trivial. We are being asked to vote on senate candidates. 

There are two problems with this question. 1) We don’t choose senators, the prime minister does; and 2) nobody cares. Even the candidates don’t care. Have you seen one campaign sign for a senator?

There are 13 names on the ballot. There is one familiar name (former PC cabinet minister Doug Horner) and 12 people unfamiliar to anyone other than family members. It’s a pointless exercise in political posturing, so feel free to toss this ballot. (But for laughs, vote for the deliberately hilarious Chad Jett Thunders Saunders – votethunders.ca – an “air guitarist”. I also like Duncan Kinney, because his whole platform is that the Senate election is a Jason Kenney political ploy and a sham.)

Second, there is a question about equalization payments, (which, at its most basic, takes money from ‘have’ provinces and gives them to ‘have not’ provinces), which reads as follows: “Should section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 – Parliament and the government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments – be removed from the constitution?” 

What Kenney is really saying is: “Do you want to stop giving Quebec billions of OUR dollars?”, but that would be too brazen. But again, it’s pointless vote, since it is non-binding and designed only to give the UCP an election issue that is not about their bungling of the COVID crisis, and another reason to hate on Eastern Canada. Toss this ballot as well.

The only vote that matters is the daylight saving time question, which the UCP has – surprise! – bungled. As opposed to the other referendum questions, this one has real consequences.

(Historical aside: Daylight time was first enacted anywhere in the world in Port Arthur, Ont. – today’s Thunder Bay – on July 1, 1908.  Long ago, keeping time was so different everywhere that a city could be on one time, the outlying areas on a different time. Alberta adopted daylight time after a referendum in 1971. )

The referendum question asks: “Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is summer hours, eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year?”

Time change is a complex issue, but the UCP pinheads have reduced a multi-headed question with far reaching complications to a simple yes or no. For example, what about the argument that we should dump daylight time and stay with standard time year round?

If we stick with daylight time year round, our winter mornings will have an extra hour of darkness just when you need that sunlight to boost your system. Experts on what is called our circadian rhythm say the extra darkness can cause circadian disruption in our brains, something commonly experienced by shift workers. With permanent daylight time, in Edmonton the sun won’t rise in December until about 9:30 a.m., and in northern Alberta even later!   

Most importantly, a referendum question has been posed to Albertans with no input from anyone. No campaigns, no brochures explaining the impact of time change, no ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’ debates, no justification for the vote. And by the way, unlike the other pointless questions, this one is binding: a yes vote means permanent daylight time. 

My advice? Vote no on the daylight time question (who wants 10 a.m. sunrise?), and vote for Chad Jett Thunders Saunders. 

By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

1 comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: