Grocery stores continue to defy Sunday closing law
By The Times-Journal
and Canadian Press
Three St. Thomas grocery stores opened for business and were charged with contravening the Ontario Retail Business Holidays Act by City Police.
A and P Food Store, 780 Talbot Street, and Loblaws Superstore Food Warehouse, 295 Wellington Street, have each been charged under the act three consecutive Sundays while IGA Foodliner at Homedale Plaza has been charged the last two.
While local church groups continue to oppose Sunday openings there were no organized protests in St. Thomas Sunday, although church spokesmen said the matter would be up for discussion soon.
The Freedom Party of Ontario, on the other hand, was handing out pamphlets to A and P shoppers encouraging the freedom to choose to shop or not to shop on Sundays.
Ray Monteith of St. Thomas said he was at the store about six hours, handed out about 300 pamphlets and received supportive responses.
"They (Sunday shoppers) don't like government interference with our way of life," Mr. Monteith said, adding he expects pamphlets will be handed out at all three stores next week.
Mr. Monteith said the store was "fairly busy" and about 98 per cent of those he spoke with favored Sunday openings.
Mr. Monteith said "religion needs freedom to operate properly" and the church-and-state combination historically doesn't work, so churches shouldn't be involved in the issue.
Elsewhere, shoppers have finally had their say in the great controversy over Sunday opening - they're all for it.
In Dartmouth, N.S., and Halifax - which one retailer said was "completely open" Sunday - police reported that shopping mall parking lots were packed.
Martin Herschorn, of the Nova Scotia Attorney General's department, said police were instructed to focus on stores that had threatened employees with penalties if they refused to work Sunday, and on mall owners who had threatened to penalize owners of individual stores who kept their doors closed.
Dartmouth and Halifax police said Sunday that no charges had been laid.
In Toronto, more than 60 businesses in 250 locations advertised in Sunday newspapers that they would be open for Sunday shoppers.
Eighty-one stores in that city were charged with an infraction of the Retail Business Holidays Act, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000.
About 80 more stores - including some in the A&P and Loblaws grocery chains - were charged in other Ontario cities.
One of those charged in Toronto was furrier Paul Magder who estimates he has been charged more than 250 times under the act.
Magder, who received what he said he hoped was his "second-last" charge, is an appellant in a Supreme Court of Canada case which will decide whether the act is legal. A decision is expected Dec. 18.
Ontario's major department stores avoided charges by remaining closed. Several stores announced late last week they would close Sundays until the Supreme Court case was completed, reversing an earlier decision to defy the law.
last updated on April 28, 2002