Government by online poll?

The CBC reports that Pat Binns thinks “[r]esidents of P.E.I. support changing daylight time to stay in synch with the United States.” Mr. Binns knows this, the article says, because:

The P.E.I. government conducted an online poll to gauge how Islanders feel about changing daylight time, and Binns revealed that the results were overwhelmingly in favour of adopting the same system as the U.S.

Since when did we agree that it was okay for the government to make policy decisions based on the results of an “online poll?”


alexander o'neill's picture
alexander o'neill on August 12, 2005 - 07:30 Permalink

People need their TV to be on when they expect it, I’m not surprised.

Nils's picture
Nils on August 12, 2005 - 12:53 Permalink

Is it fair for say they made a decision based on an online poll … or is it possibly more accurate to say that in making the decision, one of the many factors considered would be the opinions of Islanders, both as captured anecdotally within their contituencies and in an unscientific online poll?

I’m personally OK with this government — or any government — taking into consideration as many arguments for and against an issue as possible before making a decision. I don’t think I want my government representatives using online polls as a replacement for their own good judgement — but there is absolutely zero evidence this is the case here.

An analogy: if you say to me “I’m going to try (whatever) operating system. It was rated number one by PC World,” I don’t assume the editors of PC World are making your decisions for you — merely that their opinion solidifies and strengthens your argument for that particular system.

There are lots of places where it’s fair game to take a run at any government. “Getting more information before making a decision” doesn’t seem to be the most biting criticism, to me.

Ann's picture
Ann on August 12, 2005 - 13:48 Permalink

I’m confused by this post. I assume you agree that governments should consult the public before making decisions. I was just polled (by telephone) by the federal government on measures to deal with terrorism and I was happy to be asked and happy to make my opinions known.
Is it the online nature of the poll? That would surprise me even more.
I’m curious to know more about what aspect of this you object to.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 12, 2005 - 14:27 Permalink

You can’t get representative results from an online poll because you’re polling a non-random collection of people. Therefore the results are meaningless and shouldn’t be used by anyone to make decisions.

Dave's picture
Dave on August 12, 2005 - 15:16 Permalink

I’m fairly certain the province would’ve collected a few more opinions than the web poll; it’s just a flashy way to market their support. I don’t think that their decision to explore the idea was created solely by a couple hundred web poll voters; this place is, after all, the capital of actually being able to knock on your local representative’s door and talk about issues with them. I think it’s fairly naive to think that the web poll is the extent of their research with Islanders.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on August 12, 2005 - 15:38 Permalink

No argument here. Online polls are meaningless. They get swarmed and manipulated by interest groups regularly. With regard to daylight savings time, I’ll be happy shorten by a month that time of the year when it’s dark at 4pm, as long as it doesn’t mean there will be a time when the sun doesn’t come up until 9 o’clock in the morning. That would be weird.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on August 13, 2005 - 17:44 Permalink

If I may, a comment on Daylight Saving Time as opposed to the issue of consultations with the public taking place in a medium where most Islanders don’t live:

Our species has evolved in an environment created by the sun, moon, and to a much lesser extent — the stars. Our earliest ancestors coded their lives according to natural clocks. Daylight Saving Time, like time scheduling itself, is an aberration imposed by the global (or at least regional) enforcement of structure (essentially, “my power is greater than your power, type of thinking).

I believe it cannot be physically or mentally healthy to “move” the sun a full hour in the sky twice a year — the energy saving argument is completely baffling to me, factor in the pleasure of being waken by the sun (which disappears when clocks “fall back”) and toss in a bunch of short-thinking US hegemony which will frig with it even further (leaving no care or concern for those of us who live in more Northern lattitudes than the majority of US-Americans), and we end up with a global (perhaps continental) effect similar to noise and light pollution which is proving to be much more important to everyday lives than we ever thought.

And so, not only is DST as it is a bad thing, it can only be worse to move it to a longer period. Saskatchewan has it right; ignore the whole thing and stay on God’s clock year round. After all, no daylight is “saved” it’s just frigged with.

And if I may: How much energy is saved by forcing winter lighting to come on an hour earlier and stay on for an hour longer? It all makes no sense — recently our premier seemed to be cozying up to Jeb; that’s just a triffle closer to W having a direct affect here in PEI. Imagine, a man who wouldn’t be elected as Mayor in a small Canadian backwater having such influence over our lives! A liar, a cheat, and a war criminal (according to his own constitution), and some of us can’t get enough of him and all this seems to penetrate down to the most mundane issues of how we set our clocks. I’m astonished; I really am. When this bunch were first elected I had such high hopes but they seem to be growing wool and little else.