B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal takes questions from reporters at the B.C. legislature, 2009. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. VIEWS: Get up earlier, Americans control your clock too

B.C. must wait for Trump to decide on Daylight Saving Time

So how was “spring forward” for you this year? The annual ritual of giving back the hour you borrowed from the green gods of time last fall isn’t popular, especially with parents.

As the Associated Press reported last spring, it’s not popular with cows either. Dairy farmer Katie Dotterer-Pyle and her husband David Pyle milk 350 cows on their Maryland farm, and she says they are also creatures of routine: “A few of them are just a little confused about what’s going on.”

I cite an American source for a reason. Just as U.S.-backed environmentalists decide our aquaculture and oil and gas policies for us, and their lumber barons keep our forest industry on a short leash, American governments control our time too.

Premier John Horgan confirmed this again last week, sending letters to the governors of California, Oregon and his anti-pipeline pal Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, asking them to keep him in the loop on their efforts to move to daylight saving time all year around.

B.C. could do it tomorrow on its own, but U.S. states are subject to federal law. The three western states have legislation in process to seek an exemption from the Donald Trump administration to adopt Pacific Daylight Time permanently.

“We have too many economic ties, too many social and cultural ties to have one or two jurisdictions out of sync with the others,” Horgan said.

READ MORE: B.C. offers to work with U.S. states on daylight saving time

READ MORE: B.C. MLA pushes for elimination of annual time shift

The Americans decided to move “spring forward” backward in 2005. B.C.’s then-attorney general Wally Oppal surrendered to the American will, moving “spring forward” from April to the second Sunday in March effective in 2007.

Oppal said he would consult the public mood first, but with Ontario and Manitoba already saluting to the south, there wasn’t much he could do. He was concerned about kids going to school in the dark, though. He feels you, as Horgan does today, and that means exactly what it usually means.

Daylight saving time was first proposed in 1907, when British builder William Willit circulated a pamphlet called “A Waste of Daylight.” It was first implemented during World War I to save fuel. But critics argue it’s a false economy, costing more in the morning.

One prominent critic in 2005 was UBC professor Stanley Coren, an expert in sleep effects. His study of Canadian traffic accidents in 1991 and 1992 found an eight per cent jump on the Monday after clocks were moved ahead. Coren’s research suggested that time change effects on sleep can persist for up to five days.

Regular readers will know I am not a fan of Americans controlling our politics and culture. It is now almost 50 years since a fellow named Pierre Trudeau decided Canada should get with modern times and adopt the metric system.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that this has failed. Our ever-vigilant national media, for example, have given up even trying to use metric. We all talk American now, which is fine, because as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has explained, Canada is the world’s first “post-national state.”

I have this on the authority of The New York Times Magazine, which lovingly profiled our prime minister in 2016.

So you can forget this idea of setting our own clocks (barring of course the stubborn autonomous regions of the East Kootenay and the territory around my former home town of Dawson Creek.)

Get up and get the kids to school in the dark, until Trump says differently.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


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