N.S. Sunday shopping ban overturned

By  Sara Loftson, Catholic Register
  • October 13, 2006
TRURO, N.S. - Nova Scotians now have the option to shop on Sundays as of Thanksgiving weekend.

Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald said Oct. 4 that all retailers would be allowed to open seven days a week, starting Oct. 8. 

"I voted against Sunday shopping," said Diana Maguire as she gathered her three children and packed up her things after Mass Oct. 8 at Immaculate Conception parish in Truro.

"We knew it was going to come, but everything is so secular.... It's all so market driven. My husband worries about mom and pop shops" that won't be able to compete with big box stores, said Maguire.

The majority of Nova Scotians voted in a 2004 plebiscite to keep stores larger than 4,000 square feet closed on Sunday, but grocery chains Sobeys and Atlantic Super Store challenged this legislation. They were unhappy with loopholes in the legislation that allowed certain stores to open. Pete Luckett, owner of Pete's Frootique, skirted the Sunday shopping ruling in 1999 when he registered his two specialty grocery stores as separate smaller corporations that shared a common location. Sobeys and Atlantic Super Store followed suit and began opening several of their stores.

Halifax Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was disappointed the courts and provincial government didn't take into account the results of the 2004 plebiscite when making their decision.

"While neither the court decision nor the premier's decision change the importance of Sunday, they will prompt a gradual change in our culture and way of life here in Nova Scotia," said Prendergast. 

The archbishop urges Catholics to keep the Lord's Day holy, special, sacred and continue not to shop, but he said outside influences will make one's own personal conviction  increasingly difficult to uphold.  

"Despite the church's efforts in recent decades to place responsibility for an informed and active faith on one's own shoulders, without outside guidance from laws and norms we all fall short." 

Nova Scotians had mixed reactions.

"It's time Nova Scotia catches up with the rest of the provinces," said Denise Parker, a nurse who's worked on Sundays for the past seven years.

"I think it's great for people who work long hours in the week," said Art Faulkner, a construction worker, his shopping cart full of groceries. 

But, he said he recognized this ruling doesn't benefit everyone.

"It's not good for people who have to work on Sunday," he said.

"It's all right but I'd rather be golfing," said Terry Seeton, who works for Atlantic Super Store in Truro.

"I don't like it because people are going to be forced to work," said Anna Vautour.  

Vautour said when New Brunswick amended its Sunday shopping legislation at first workers were given a choice whether they wanted to work, but eventually they weren't given a choice. 

"People are going to be busier. It takes away from family life," said Vautour's husband Andre. 

Anna Vautour added Sunday shopping is not just a religious issue, but a family day and it will be increasingly difficult for families to match up their schedules. The couple plans to continue to stock up on groceries on Saturday, leaving their Sundays open.

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