Kenney says daylight saving time and equalization referendum questions will be on fall ballot

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Albertans will go to the polls in the fall on whether to ditch daylight saving time and try to reform federal equalization, but not on the long-debated creation of a provincial pension plan and police force.

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On October 18, Albertans will vote on senate nominees and the two referendum questions when they elect school board trustees and municipal governments. Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish noted a government survey in 2019 that showed overwhelming support for ending the practice and keeping summer hours year round.

“It is clear that Albertans are passionate about this, and a change on this matter should not be taken lightly. How Albertans calculate time effects literally everyone in this province, as well as others beyond our borders,” said Glubish, adding that changing the way the province observes time could negatively affect aviation and tourism industries, as well as broadcast sports. 

He said the government needed to prioritize its COVID-19 pandemic response beginning in March last year.

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In March 2020, the Yukon stopped changing their clocks, British Columbia and Ontario have passed similar legislation but not enacted it, while Saskatchewan does not change its clocks from Central Standard Time.

On equalization payments, Premier Jason Kenney said it is important for voters to voice their opinion to maximize Alberta’s leverage with the federal government.

“Our government was elected on a commitment to let Albertans say yes to a fair deal,” said Kenney.

The referendum will be non-binding, since equalization payments are set by Ottawa. Making changes would require approval from the House of Commons, the Senate, and at least two-thirds of the provincial legislative assemblies and come with legal and political consequences, the province’s Fair Deal panel reported.

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The results of the senate vote are similarly non-binding, but Alberta will provide its top two senate nominees to the prime minister to consider.

Kenney said creating an Alberta pension plan and police force are complex issues that need more analysis. He said third-party reports on both pensions and policing would be released at the “appropriate time.”

“We have significant research that’s ongoing,” he said. When it comes to a provincial police force, Kenney said the government needs to do more consultation with First Nations and with municipalities that would be affected.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said that withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and creating a provincial alternative is a complex issue.

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“It’s critically important that we do our work to ensure that Albertans are well-informed so that they can make a well informed choice when we take this to referendum,” said Toews, although he did not indicate when a future referendum might be considered.

Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said the issue of a provincial police force is not being ignored, but the province would not rush into implementation.

“We are taking a serious look at this, although this is a unique opportunity to improve our provincial policing,” said Madu.

Despite both the pension plan and police force being recommended by the Fair Deal Panel, the majority of people surveyed as part of the panel’s report don’t support the ideas.

The official results of the referendums and senate elections are slated to be announced October 26.

More to come…

-With files from Ashley Joannou

lijohnson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/reportrix

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