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.