Province staying out of Sunday shopping debate

Darrell Cole
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HALIFAX - While Amherst considers a request to limit Sunday shopping hours, the province has no interest whatsoever in reopening what was a controversial and divisive issue several years ago.

"No government is going to be in the business of trying to set store hours on any day," Premier Darrell Dexter said in a phone interview prior to entering the legislature for Question Period on Tuesday. "To say we're not against Sunday shopping, but only want it for certain hours is an extraordinary request on government."

Dexter's comments come a day after a pair of Amherst retail workers urged Amherst town council to pass a bylaw restricting Sunday openings from noon to 5 p.m.

In a letter to council, Brian Wood and Paula Bacon said retailers are pushing the limit on Sunday openings, suggesting that when the province threw the doors open three years ago stores opened from noon to 6 p.m.

The petitioners contend the hours were later extended by many stores from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and now many stores are open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In their letter to the town, Bacon and Wood said extended Sunday hours are impacting family life among retail workers while they also feel it runs against reducing the carbon footprint by retailers.

Dexter said Sunday shopping was previously legislated through the Uniform Closing Act, but there were many loopholes around the legislation that retailers took full advantage of.

"It's not an issue that's going to be revisited. There were significant difficulties with the manner in which it was being administered. Even without Sunday shopping there were still lots of stores that were open on Sundays," the premier said.

After refusing for years to allow Sunday shopping, the former Conservative administration of Rodney MacDonald walked away from the issue in late 2006 after the Nova Scotia Supreme Court struck down legislation restricting Sunday openings.

Organizations: Amherst town council, Nova Scotia Supreme Court

Geographic location: Amherst, HALIFAX

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Recent comments

  • Davos
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    You guys actually called the premier over this story? Why is it that a letter - one letter - to council is getting so much attention? If me and a friend each write a letter about something, that'll be two altogether - will we get the headline story? Perhaps you'll call Harper for his take on it...

  • AmherstGirl
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Let's see,hospitality industries such as hotels,motels and hospitals are a 24/7 industry, shall we shut them all down on Sundays also so that those people can spend time with their families as well?

    Welcome to 2009 people we are headed to a 24/7 operations in all aspects, its time to adjust and accept

    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    As for you comments know it all, corner stores sell stamps, banking can be done on line, as well as paying your bills, and there are newpapers for Sunday!! Maybe you should get out once in a while.

  • russian princess
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I don't think any form of government should get involved in this issue. As the province did a few years ago, step back from it.

    I love that the stores are open on Sundays. Working during the week and then spending Saturday with family, it's nice to be able to pick things up Sunday if needed, which I've done numerous times.

    If you don't want to work on a Sunday, find a job that doesn't require it. Or talk to your boss. Don't go running to the town to get them to try and do something about it.

    I work in a profession that even requires someone to work on Christmas Day. I haven't actually had to work it yet, but my time is coming. For almost a year, I was working on Sundays. It's part of the job that I'm in. But I spoke to my boss about getting off the Sunday shift and he was able to accommodate my request.

  • Jules
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Our town is incapable of making decisions. The mall should return to full hours on Saturdays and all stores should be closed on Sundays. It is unfair that only certain members of society get a day off on Sundays and others do not. Everyone deserves time off to spend with their families and relax.

  • sparky00
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Let me get this straight, two people have caused all of this in a town of approximately 9500 people? What a waste of the time and money. I am so tired of a minority trying to dictate to the majority in this province.
    p.s- i'll never get back the time that it took to read this article.

  • somegirl
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I have to agree with the russian princess if you don't want to work on Sunday's then find another job, wake up people it's 2009 not 1965. You go to any other place or city and guess what, stores are open on Sunday. I think it's a great opportunity for students to get extra hours, and a chance for people who work all week to pick up things they need.

  • know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    ok for all the you sunday shoppers - I want to do my banking on sunday , I want to buy a stamp at the post office on sunday , I want to go to town hall and pay my water bill on sunday , I want my phone fixed on sunday , I want the town crew to fix that pothole on sunday , I want a amherst daily paper on sunday , I want my cable fixed on sunday . If some have to work sunday then everyone should have to work sunday - FAIR IS FAIR

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    In response to Monday's article, Tony Lohnes from Blockhouse, Nova Scotia wrote: The best and only solution is to ban Sunday shopping period. I can not understand why other people get to decide when retail workers get to chose there family day? Can we chose yours?

    Tony, the last time I checked it was my employer, my industry and the market that my employer operates in that determined the schedule that I work. by allowing Sunday shopping and removing government interference you are essentially allowing retaliers to do exactly the same thing.

    When governments place restrictions on a businesses ability to set their own hours of operation, especially when those restrictions are not in line with those placed on the businesses competitors, those businesses suffer from a competitive disadvantage and are effectively prohibited from meeting their constumers needs ... the core purpose of any business.

    As has been mentioned in other posts, even without what symbolically call Sunday shopping, there are multitudes of businesses (restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, etc) that have and will always be open on Sundays. So I ask you,realistically, what's the difference?