In these days of COVID it’s interesting to see what legislation different elected people decide to continue to pursue. There are always different kinds of hobby horse bills floating around, on niche issues that some really want to see happen. They’re issues that always seem to stick around but never go away. Well yesterday we saw one of those issues pop up at Queen’s Park in Toronto, with the introduction of a piece of private members legislation that speaks directly to one of those hobby horse topics:

Yes, the “movement” to eliminate Daylight Savings Time has come to Ontario thanks to Conservative MPP for Ottawa West  – Nepean Jeremy Roberts. He brought forward a bill to do what others have suggested for the longest time; get rid of changing clocks twice a year. Honestly, this isn’t one of those issues that bothers me. Yeah, I hate losing the hour of sleep in the Spring, but I love getting the extra hour in the Fall, so for me it’s all a wash. I could live with it one way or another.

But when making a change like this there are potential knock on effects, which requires some good drafting of the bill and some forethought about what problems this new legislation could be created by trying to “fix a problem”. It would be a mess to create a much bigger problem than the one that they are purportedly trying to fix. That was why I found this little detail about the bill so interesting and at the same time, disturbing:

As someone from Northwestern Ontario, this piece of proposed legislation really just pissed me off and really reeks of the worst kind of stuff we see all of the time from too many politicians from Southern Ontario. For far too many of them, Northern Ontario is a complete after thought or no thought at all. They think that Ontario ends at Barrie and that vast 2000-kilometre-wide stretch from there Manitoba is nothing except a place to extract bucks from mining royalties and stumpage fees to pay for subways and transit in Toronto. It’s a tale as old as time in Ontario, and we’ve seen numerous examples of this crap for decades.

So I stood up and noticed the news example of this in this piece of legislation from MPP Roberts. In Bill 214, there is a clause in it that states that the change to daylights savings time would not happen until Quebec and New York State past similar legislation. That’s a clause that makes sense because there are serious problems for people who live on a border with someone else when you mess with something as substantial as time zones. In the National Capital Region, people normally live on one side and work on the other. If you added different time zones into that mix, it would create a much bigger inconvenience than the one Roberts is proposing to solve. The same is true with New York State. As someone who lives on that border, in normal times people cross it regularly for work, shopping, lots of things, so it makes sense to take that into account to.

But for some reason that makes no sense, that sensible accommodation is only being allowed for those in Southern and Eastern Ontario. Ontario is a huge province and borders on not just Quebec and New York. It also borders on Michigan, Minnesota and Manitoba, in two different time zones no less. For those folks there, this bill is completely mute and makes no accommodation for them. Being from Kenora, that’s a huge bloody problem. In Northwestern Ontario, most people depend on Winnipeg and Manitoba for many important services daily, like important health care services. People work and live on both sides of that border too, same thing with Minnesota and Michigan. Yet for them, they are completely ignored in this bill.

This is a prime example of this decades long problem that I spoke about at the start. The legit concerns of Southern Ontario are remembered and accounted for, but for the North? Forget about it, no need to worry about how this move might turn their lives upside down and hurt those who live there. It’s ignorant and arrogant, yet so bloody typical. What makes it even worse for me is that it’s such a simple thing to have avoided at the start. All Roberts had to do was include those three jurisdictions in that same clause, adding a total of four words. That’s it, that’s all. So either Roberts was so oblivious to the geography or needs of all Ontarians (he didn’t do his homework) or he knew it and ignored it all together.

Whatever the case, Roberts took a relatively unimportant piece of potential legislation that fixes what is, at best, a nuisance to most, and managed to create a real problem, much larger than the one it wanted to fix. It’s bad bill writing, terrible politics and yet, exactly the kind of thing we’ve been seeing for the longest time. We’ll see if Roberts actually fixes this or if he tries to bowl ahead with this regardless of what it means for 75% of the geography of the province and those who live there. In the meantime, let this be held up as an example of bad legislative work that effectively makes a mountain of consequence out of a molehill that no one truly cared about.