Mutiny over time
Municipalities say they won't change clocks

Maria Canton and Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Oct 18/99) - The clock hit the fan last week when the Government of Nunavut met resistance from communities about the proposed time change that will see residents set their watches to central time on Halloween.

But despite recent motions passed by some municipal councils advocating that their residents refuse to follow government legislation, the GN plans to hold fast on their decision to amend the time.

"We're exercising our legislative authority and we're proceeding with this," said Premier Paul Okalik.

Adding that the proposed change had already received both federal and territorial official nods of approval and was therefore legally binding, Okalik said the municipal mutiny would in no way put an end to cabinet's move to unify the three regions of Nunavut.

"It's unfortunate, but (the municipal councils) don't have legislative authority over time zones. They can pretend that it's 9:30 when it's 8:30 ... (but) if you want a doctor or a nurse, or if you have to go to court or need access to any government services, you have to go by the legal time," said Okalik.

Both the territorial capital and the hamlet of Iglulik took a stance on the contentious issue earlier this month and declared they will remain on Eastern Standard Time and not move their clocks back the extra hour on Oct. 31.

Three councillors were absent during the Iqaluit meeting where the motion raised by councillor Doug Lem and seconded by deputy mayor Ben Ell.

Before it passed three-to-two, Ell maintained that he was opposed to the change because it detrimentally affected hunters, but he was under the impression that it took effect in the year 2000. Upon learning that the change was in two weeks, he immediately seconded it.

It's confusion like Ell's that Okalik said is at the root of the problem.

"There seems to be a lot of confusion and people think we're going back two hours. There are all kinds of horror stories coming out about losing daylight and hunters not being able to go out. We're not doing any of that," said Okalik.

Iqaluit town councillor Matthew Spence cautioned council to remember that as a capital, Iqaluit had to take more into consideration than just the residents because their actions would be setting an example for the entire territory.

"I think we'll be creating a chaotic relationship," said Spence.

As for Iglulik, where six pages of signatures oppose the change, the motion to remain on EST passed unanimously.

Mayor Aime Panimera said that even though he was personally happy about Okalik's decision to uphold the change -- in an attempt to improve east-west relations -- the council would follow through on their motion unless otherwise amended. Council is scheduled to meet tonight.