Police swoop on store open on Good Friday

Police swoop on store open on Good Friday

Retail outlets in Ottawa that defy a provincial law that requires them to shut for religious holidays as well as secular ones can be heavily fined.


Oh yes. And yesterday, Whole Foods at Lansdowne had a visit from Ottawa plods acting on a complaint from someone who objected to the owners opening its doors on “No Food Friday”.

According to this report, the police confirmed the store had defied the law,  and they will now turn the case over to the district investigations unit which will follow up the violation with provincial prosecutors once they are back at work Tuesday.

It may take several days to determine whether or not Whole Foods will be fined.

The police visit has ignited a debate over whether such rules are outdated.

Retail outlets that open on prohibited days – such as Good Friday – can be fined as much as $50,000 or the total amount of gross sales for the holiday, whichever is greater. Businesses face minimum fines of $500 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence and $5,000 for a third or subsequent offence.

A worker reached at Whole Foods on Friday morning referred inquiries to the company’s corporate communications department. But store manager Lisa Slater had earlier told media the store would stay open Good Friday and Easter Sunday in order to:

Be here for our community. The community is out and about, they’re not working and we want to be able to serve the community and give them what they want.


The store was packed at mid-day. There were long lines at the checkouts and shoppers leaving with bags of groceries.

One customer, Katherine Sibun, said that she worked late Thursday and didn’t have time to pick up things for the long weekend. She came to Whole Foods knowing it was planning to open and said she’d like to see the law amended.

I don’t agree with it [the law] at all. It’s a bit religiously exclusive. Nobody has access because of a Christian holiday – I find that problematic.

But support for Whole Foods, a US retailer, was not universal.

Said Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod:

As Ontarians, we don’t get to pick and choose which laws we obey. Over the years I have heard from many law-abiding retailers who are concerned with companies like Whole Foods who thumb their nose at the rules and by extension the Legislature, in essence creating an unlevel playing field.

MacLeod said the company has never, in her four terms as an MPP, met with her to demand changes to the law, nor has she heard widespread suggestions that it needs to be changed.

Until such time the Ontario Legislature considers changing retail laws, Whole Foods should stop breaking the current ones.

Labour groups have also called on authorities to enforce the law and say people who work in the retail sector deserve a day off to rest and spend time with family.

The city has said it’s up to police to enforce the law.

Ontario’s Retail Business Holidays Act lets some businesses stay open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but also seeks to provide consumers and employees with a common day of pause.

Retail outlets that can stay open include:

• Stores that sell handicrafts
• Book or magazine stores that are less than 2,400 square feet with a maximum of three employees
• Pharmacies that are less than 7,500 square feet in size
• Nurseries, flower shops, gardening centres
• Gas stations.

Stores may also remain open in locations established as tourist areas by specific municipal bylaws.

The province requires retail businesses to close on nine specified days each year. Not all closure days – such as Labour Day, New Year’s Day and Canada Day  – are religious.

The City of Toronto has enacted a law that essentially exempts it from the province’s rules.

Incidentally, working on the correct assumption that the regular supermarkets would be shut in my part of Spain on Good Friday, I headed to an out-of-town Carrefour megastore – which remains open all year round – to stock up on some much needed booze. Oh, and a free-range, corn-fed chicken for our Sunday roast. To my utter disgust, the only birds available were not free range, and had “halal” stamped on the packaging.

Anyone up for some roast pork?

20 responses to “Police swoop on store open on Good Friday”

  1. Gindy51 says:

    They already have so many exceptions it is only a matter of time before the idiotic religious restrictions fall. Same thing happened in VA in the late 80’s.

  2. Broga says:

    This is shocking. How dare stores decide what they want to do and customers decide when they want to shop. Whether you believe the myths is irrelevant. The religious Gauleiters want to decide what you do and, by indoctrination, what you think.

  3. Newspaniard says:

    Picking and choosing which laws to obey is reserved for islamists only in the full knowledge that the police are too frightened to prosecute for fear of being called racists.

  4. Brian Jordan says:

    The Religious Policeman’s Ball(s up)
    Is Canada living totally in the past generally, though, forcing shops to close on NON-religious holidays? Have any been prosecuted for opening then, I wonder?

  5. Ivan says:

    It seems it also remains illegal in much of Germany to go clubbing over Easter:

  6. L.Long says:

    Can’t be open on religious holidazes, know why?
    This says it all….The store was packed at mid-day!!!!
    The religious BS makes them close and the non-religious are open and MAKING LOTS OF MONEY!!!! That is unfair competition.
    If the religious hypocrites REALLY cared about the jesus, they WOULD NOT have been in the open stores!!!!! This clearly shows that even the xtians could really care less for their on BS!!

  7. Angela_K says:

    How dare those godless Canadians use their freewill to open a shop and provide food, they should be in Church on their knees praying [grovelling] to their god hoping they will be forgiven [not be stoned to death]. Said no atheist ever.
    I worked at my business all day Friday, today and Monday, I have to so the Government can waste my taxes to subsidise religious bullshit.

  8. Broga says:

    On the issue of the religion trying to push their opinions on the rest of us the Archbishop of Canterbury has been throwing in his tuppence worth. 82% of the population favour assisted dying. Justin Welby, and other religious dinosaurs, don’t.

  9. Vanity Unfair says:

    Be thankful it’s just on holidays. Those of us old enough to remember Sundays before the opening regulations were relaxed will remember how bad things were one day out of seven. This is brilliantly rendered by the semi-divine Galton and Simpson in Hancock’s Half Hour. In any sane society their scripts would be a mandatory part of teaching English literature. But… it’s only comedy. Anyway, Sunday Afternoon at Home, in vintage lo-fi, can be enjoyed at Ah, the good old days.
    Note to youngsters: enjoy it before the copyright enforcers pull it.

  10. AgentCormac says:

    Back in the day, my maternal grandmother (nice enough woman, but a religious zealot) apparently marched through our home town with dozens of other placard-waving, purple-rinse god botherers to demand that UK shops should remain firmly closed each and every Sunday. (By all accounts she also brought my own christening to a halt mid-service because she didn’t think the couple my parents had chosen as god-parents were religious enough – ah, the irony!)

    Anyway, the point being, despite all that fuss and foofaraw, turns out that the vast majority of people didn’t give a flying whatsit about the sabbath or share my nan’s innate fear that society would somehow unravel before her very eyes if the ‘lord’s day’ was spent anywhere other than in church or Sunday school. And before her demise, even my nan was happy enough to be taken to the shops on a Sunday, just like everyone else.

    Having said which, here in the UK our shops and supermarkets still have to kowtow to archaic superstitious nonsense by closing early on certain so-called religious days, or even remaining closed all day. But it is utterly meaningless and I have no doubt that the time will soon come, both here and in Ottawa, when the religiots have had every last one of these superstitious impositions removed. They won’t like that – not at all. But just like my nan, I’m sure they’ll soon learn to live with it.

  11. Trevor Blake says:

    The Church of the SubGenius – a mail order mind control cult I have been a happy member of since 1982 – has a calendar of holy days in the book “The Subgenius Psychlopaedia of Slack: The Bobliographon.” Like other religions we expect paid days off on our holy days. We have 365 of them, sequentially arranged. Every leap year we put in a full day’s work lest anyone think we are entirely full of slack.


  12. Broga says:

    I think the Wee Frees, a cult located in the Western Isles of Scotland, is strong on “keeping the Sabbath holy.” They tried to stop Caledonian McBrayne ferries on Sundays. The Wee Frees – great name – seem a joyless bunch and determined to make life equally boring for anyone who is near them.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: I think you’ll find that the Christian Church beat you to it. In the Roman Catholic Calendar practically every day of the year is allocated to one of their saints, and I’m pretty sure that with the additon of saints from the Episcopal, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Lutheran Church, and so on, there can’t be many days left that haven’t been taken now!

  14. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Are you referring to the Wee Frees or the Wee Wee Frees? (I’m not joking). I can never sort them all out . Life imitating art again (Life of Brian). I know I’ve alluded before to the fact that their website has to observe the Sabbath as well , but here’s the llnk again just in case anyone should think that I’ve gone completely doolally:

  15. barriejohn says:

    Vanity Fair: I sometimes feel like the Lad Himself when on the internet. “I’ve got friends all over the world… none in this country, but friends all over the world.”

    “It is ah-not raining here also.”

  16. Daveo says:

    New Zealand laws are more restrictive. Garden Centres don’t get an exemption, but many trade anyway:

    Mind you the fine is only $1500, so for a busy garden shop selling supplies at the time when people are at home and have time to do a major spell of gardening, this is worth it.

  17. jay says:

    Well here in NJ, it appears that our local strip joints (as well as supermarkets) were alive and well on GF.

  18. Brian Jordan says:

    Meanwhile, of the four main English supermarkets making home deliveries in our area, only ASDA were delivering this Sunday. Needless to say, their limited number of slots were booked up well in advance.

  19. Stuart H. says:

    This may seem off-topic, but in I see ‘Keep Sunday Special’ making a comeback, just not with a blatantly religious agenda.
    Elsewhere, I’ve labelled such prodnosery ‘Secular Methodism’. I wonder if we should be on the lookout for it.

  20. Cali Ron says:

    Well score one for capitalism. In America everything is open on religious holidays. In fact, they target those holidays for marketing pushes knowing people are not working. As religious as America is Money is still our other god. You’ll note that Indiana didn’t change their law until business groups protested. Mustn’t mess with christ or money.