Posted by: Jennifer | August 12, 2006

so much for police backup

You have to feel a little bit sorry for the provincial government of Nova Scotia. They have gone to such lengths to make it impossible to shop anywhere on a Sunday. They’ve introduced laws and legislation up the ying-yang, they have encouraged grass-roots organizations to take up the mantel, and they have fought and kicked and screamed about family values and religion. And when that failed, they called the cops.

And then the cops let them down.

In completing their investigation, Halifax Regional Police said yesterday they will not lay charges against the grocers that opened their doors to shoppers on Sundays.

[…]”Based on the manner in which Superstore and Sobeys are incorporated, and the nature of the retail business and the floor space involved in this complaint, the police are satisfied that the current openings are within the law,” Const. Tanya Chambers of the Halifax Regional Police said yesterday.

The changes made by the province on June 28 to tighten existing loopholes include exceptions for different food businesses, said Peter Craig of the special prosecution section of the Public Prosecution Service.

Fishmarkets, canteens and delis, for instance, can open on Sundays – as can other types of food businesses.

Grocery businesses less than 4,000 sq. feet in size are also permitted to open. If the grocery business falls under size limitations, and the rest of the businesses under the same roof can open, it’s legal.

“In each retail outlet, there was only one grocery store operating and then there were things like fishmarkets, canteens, fruit and vegetable stands and things of that nature. By configuring their business this way, they were technically complying with what the regulations allowed,” explained Craig.

…Excuse me while I laugh for a moment.

Of course, the battle is not over. There is a court case coming up at the end of the month between the government and Sobeys, to direct challenge the existing law. Sobeys’ hope is that the law will be declared unconstitutional once and for all. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: if you don’t support Sunday shopping, then don’t shop on Sundays. But let the rest of us have the option.

In the meantime, feel free to go pick up some groceries tomorrow. Select Sobeys and Atlantic Superstore locations will be open until they are forced to close. And judging from the police response, that will not be happening any time soon.



  1. I can not wait for the court case to begin. The government has no valid argument for the most recent regulations stating that if a company was not open on Sundays prior to June 1st 2006 then they can not open in the future. This was a clear abuse of power that specifically targeted Sobey’s and Atlantic Superstore even though they were operating within the law.
    I personally could care less if Sunday shopping existed or not but in either case the laws need to be changed. Either let ever store open during the hours they choose, or close everything except emergency operations (Police, Hospitals, etc…) and make it a TRUE day of rest.

  2. I agree…the option should be there for those who would like to shop on a Sunday. Not everyone has a family and not everyone is so devoutly religious that they will opt to just attend church and then stay in all day.

  3. Our government even lacks the competence to ban Sunday shopping properly.

  4. I’m on the other side of the issue. I choose to live in Nova Scotia, and I choose to vote against Sunday shopping. I choose not to shop on Sundays when I am in Ontario or any other province that permits it.

    I work in retail, and work with some of the most poorly paid and underappreciated people in our workforce. I believe that there should be a day, be it Thursday, Tuesday, or Sunday, that all retail outlets should be closed. I personally believe that the people who end up ‘voluntarily’ forced to work Sundays are those who can least afford to spend the time away from their families.

    Honestly, with 24 hour Sobey’s, and most retail outlets in Halifax open until at least 9pm, who CAN’T get their shopping done in 6 days?

    But I agree that the gov’t messed up…they can’t ban it properly. And it’s criminal to try and implement rules retroactively. They WILL lose the court case. And ambivalence will lose our legislated day of rest in the next plebiscite.

    Great blog! Sorry to hijack your comments!

  5. Sadie:

    I appreciate your feelings about not wanting to shop or work on Sundays, but no one is forcing you to. No one is infringing on your rights by forcing you to do these things. Those who want to shop on Sunday are being denied the opportunity to.

    I also take issue with the “don’t force people to work on Sunday argument”. People in Nova Scotia work on Sundays. Bartenders, waiters, hotel staff, pharmacy employees, lawyers, doctors, etc. work on Sundays. Besides, the new law passed by the government (which neither the Liberals or NDP opposed) makes it illegal to force retail employees to work on Sunday.

    If Sunday shopping were allowed your life would not change one bit. You could stay at home, go to the beach (where the lifeguards would be working by the way) or do whatever you want. Without Sunday shopping, people are forbidden from buying groceries. Many of these people work six days a week or work long hours and prefer to do other things with their Saturdays.

    The bottom line is that absolutely no harm occurs from Sunday shopping.

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