A Day of Wrest
October 17, 2004 7:16 AM   Subscribe

No Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia (apparently some were for and against).
posted by boost ventilator (26 comments total)
Any other examples from around the world? I was able to google-up a story on Germany. Thankfully, there is nothing about blogging in the bible.
posted by boost ventilator at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2004

Most place used to have Blue Laws--thankfully, they've realized that with most adults working, there's not much time other than the weekends to shop.
posted by amberglow at 7:28 AM on October 17, 2004

I wonder if that Canadian case listed in that wiki can be used to eliminate them in Nova Scotia?
posted by amberglow at 7:30 AM on October 17, 2004

Amber: provinces have their own laws for the most part, unless it's a human rights problem it's hard to change it federally.

As for sunday shopping, growing up it was also banned on Prince Edward Island and I knew more than a few kids who's mother or father worked in retail but they were always able to do things as a family on weekends because they didn't hvae to work.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:39 AM on October 17, 2004

Sunday shopping was illegal in England and Wales until 1994 (apart from exceptions such as newsagents). I also remember how controversial an issue this was for years up till then - as Space Coyote says, someone has to sit behind the counter or the till, and getting another job may not be an option for them.
posted by plep at 7:52 AM on October 17, 2004

I was secretly rooting for both sides. I wanted NS to vote it down because here in Prince Edward Island it would be another sign of our stubborn backwardness if we were the last jurisdiction in North America to ban Sunday shopping (can anyone in the states confirm that?) I wanted them to vote "Yes" so that if I found myself in Nova Scotia on a weekend, I wouldn't have to play the "Does the drugstore have that?" shopping game.
posted by will at 7:55 AM on October 17, 2004

Interesting piece on the decline of Blue Laws, including the recent development of allowing liquor sales on Sundays (we started it here in NY in '03)

It's not like it's mandatory that stores have to open on Sundays--owners always have the choice not to if they wish.
posted by amberglow at 8:01 AM on October 17, 2004

Liquor stores and bars are closed in Indiana on Sunday, and grocers that sell liquor won't sell it on Sundays. (Only exception with bars is if they serve food, then they can get a Sunday license.) I live right on the Illinois border and there is nothing but liquor stores on the border where booms every Sunday. Car dealerships are closed on Sundays as well but I've heard that's because the banks are closed.
posted by AstroGuy at 8:11 AM on October 17, 2004

Amber: provinces have their own laws for the most part, unless it's a human rights problem it's hard to change it federally.
It seems that violating the Canadian Charter would be a national thing, no?

will, we still have tons of municipalities down here that have Blue Laws. The Supreme Court said in 1961 that they were allowed.
posted by amberglow at 8:13 AM on October 17, 2004

I'm a big fan of being able to shop 24/7 so when I moved to Texas I had to get used to the fact I couldn't buy a bottle of whiskey at 8am on a Sunday morning [not that I ever had or needed to in the past, but I loved the comfort knowing I could if I wanted to].

If a business wants to be closed on Sunday. That should be thier choice. Like Chick-fil-a. Sunday is probably a big day for fast food but the owner decided to skip the $ and give its employees off for religious reasons. Good for them. There's another cheesy bar/restaurant in Austin called Cool River that is also closed on Sunday. During football season they are giving up a lot of business so their familes can be together. But it is their choice.
posted by birdherder at 8:28 AM on October 17, 2004

I grew up in Windsor Ontario, when I was young stores were closed on Sunday's except for grocery stores. In fact I remember the introduction of one of those mega-all-in-one stores that had both an extensive grocery and a department store. They had to drape non-grocery items in plastic and cordon off the department store section. At least we could get gasoline on a Sunday though. I remember my folks driving to Toronto for vacation and having a hard time finding an open gas station on a Sunday in Toronto.

One of the last things to open for business on Sunday were car dealers. A few wanted to and even tried but they'd come in Monday after closing and find extensive vandalism had been done. In other words: We don't want to open on Sundays and we really think you shouldn't either.

I think it's still illegal to open on Christmas day. I know it was in the past but the main mall in Windsor opened on Christmas anyway. The money they made more than offset the fines involved.

I don't agree with Blue laws, it should be up to the business owners themselves. Of course you'll lose business to your competitors who open on Sunday but you can always embrace your religious obligations at the expense of your capitalistic desires.
posted by substrate at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2004

As a New Brunswicker living in Austin, I've always found it funny that my home province had problems with Sunday shopping, compared to Texas where the religious zealotry is a lot, lot more intense and in your face. Sure Texas has prohibitions against selling booze, but every Sunday is consumer paradise just like every other day of the week. Says something, I think.
posted by picea at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2004

I wanted NS to vote it down because here in Prince Edward Island it would be another sign of our stubborn backwardness if we were the last jurisdiction in North America to ban Sunday shopping.

PEI wouldn't be the last one -- North Dakota opened Sunday afternoon sales in 1991, but stores can't be open from Saturday midnight to Sunday noon [see North Dakota Century Code 12.1-30 [pdf]]. Minnesota and North dakota both have other bans on Sunday sales -- no liquor or cars can be sold in Minnesota on Sunday (most people don't think of this as Puritanism any more so much as industries who don't want change).

But anyway, as weird non-drinking teenagers, our fun was always cut short on Saturdays thanks to ND blue laws -- when we were bored, we'd go to Wal-Mart at like 2AM, but we never could on Saturday nights, because they had to close at Midnight.
posted by another test at 9:03 AM on October 17, 2004

One of the biggest culture shocks when I moved from Cali to the Bible belt 4 years ago was discovering the remnants of the Blue Laws. Although the laws have for the most part been repealed, many stores and restaurants still close on Sunday. I just discovered a great little nursery in downtown Raleigh that closes on Sunday. This seems so odd to me. Who knew that buying pansies after church on Sunday was so sinful?

But what never fails to tick me off is the ABC store hours. No liquor sales from 9:00 PM Saturday until 11:00 AM Monday. You can go to a bar or a restaurant and order a drink, but you can't decide at the last minute to buy a bottle of Cognac for your Sunday dinner aperitif.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:43 AM on October 17, 2004

What are you guys, new?

Growing up in New Jersey, we had to deal with Blue Laws all the time.

And you still can't buy alcohol in Massachussetts on Sunday (unless it's in a bar, oh, that's just fine then). There are a couple of very small exceptions (alcohol-sale zones) to this rule that are just before the state borders, aimed directly at preventing all the stores on the highway in New Hampshire from making a killing off our stupid rules.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:24 AM on October 17, 2004

Growing up, Sunday shopping was illegal in Ontario (I was in Toronto). I remember when the law switched. I was surprised anyone was against it, actually.

I think it's still illegal to open on Christmas day.

Hmm. Not that I know of. When I was wee, I worked at Burger King. We were open Christmas. Also, every video store I ever worked at was open Christmas.

What IS illegal, though, is forcing an employee to work on Christmas. So, if you own a store and none of your staff want to work on Christmas, you can't do anything about it. However, if you're Jewish, it's a great way to make double time and a half.
posted by dobbs at 11:28 AM on October 17, 2004

With all due respect, fuck your invisible friends, and give me my goddamn whiskey.
posted by majcher at 11:53 AM on October 17, 2004

I think in the Toronto/Ontario case (as substrate and dobbs were talking about), stores in certain tourist areas and certain kinds of stores were allowed to be open, but eventually all stores were allowed. (One of the last were liquor stores, but that wasn't for Blue Law reasons - the worker's union didn't like the idea.)

Things are open Christmas - I think you cannot force an employee to work unless they are in the three month probationary period, or you work in something like a tourist industry, but in reality most employees just don't have the choice, no matter how long they have been there - if your boss says you are working, you work, no questions. I worked at a donut shop for a couple of years - someone had to work Christmas night, whether they wanted to or not. I actually worked it, because I was young and had no children - I had a deal with the other night clerk (who did have children) that I would do Christmas and she would do New Years.

What I wish is that the law would be passed that you could not expect people to work seven days a week, only to a maximum of 6. That way the purpose of the law - to have a day of rest - is respected, without dictating what day that is. Overtime laws sometimes protect you from too many hours (though they have been gutted recently in Ontario - I don't understand how they work anymore), but they don't protect people, especially in service industries, from being called in for a couple of hours seven days a week. (Before I started working at that donut shop, the night clerk had been working 7 nights a week, 6 hours a night - for a few months).
posted by jb at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2004

Wow, this discussion has reached a near "ask metafilter" level of usefulness for me ;)

The funny thing I find about the Nova Scotia brand of blue laws is the hypocracy of "family values" and the reality of what actually happens on Sunday. You can buy or spend money on:

* alcohol (in bars/restaurants or at the Cold Beer Store in Dartmouth)
* cigarettes (convience stores)
* prescription and over-the-counter drugs (pharmacy)
* pornography (video stores and news stands)
* dildos (porn video stores)
* gambling (VLTs and casinos)
* strippers (strip clubs)

Why the hell can't I buy chick peas at a grocery store? Or a wife-beater at Wal-Mart? Or batteries for a dildo at Radio-Shack? Personally, I don't think we need more opportunities to spend money and over-comsume, but the logic behind this law still baffles me.

I guess people think they can (and have to) legislate something like "family time" but the truth is this Sunday shopping law eliminates choice for consumers and businesses by creating a family time for a portion of the public (a nice F.U. to bartenders, waiters and popcorn makers). You can forget about cashing in on family time if you work in a pharmacy, hospital, restaurant, gas station, movie theatre, video store, casino, etc. Or even shift workers. I understand "essential services" but what is essential about Blockbuster? We should just legislate "fish only" Fridays at restaurants while we are at it.

If you have issues with working retail, that is really a seperate labour discussion which is long overdue. Why aren't the politicians and religious leaders up in arms about minimum wage, overtime and health benefits for workers? If Nova Scotia were in the reverse situation (no Sunday shopping and trying to ban it), there would be no logic to hang such a law on without blurring the lines of religion and state. I idea of keeping the ban is a "well, we just have always done it this way so it must be right" type of argument that has no place in law.
posted by boost ventilator at 2:47 PM on October 17, 2004

One of the odd things about the government mandated Blue Laws when they existed is that Windsor is a blue collar town. Lots of people work weekends, in fact I grew up with many people where both parents worked most Saturdays and Sundays. Nobody every tried to force Ford, G.M. or Chrysler to stop building engine blocks or minivans on Sundays.
posted by substrate at 4:46 PM on October 17, 2004

Hey, good point sub.

And Ford's Windsor 427 block is one of my favorite engines. Just sayin'.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:58 PM on October 17, 2004

Weird connection alert: Nova Scotians are sometimes referred to as bluenosers.
posted by boost ventilator at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2004

This won't survive a charter challenge.

It is semi-legal to open christmas day. In fact, it is legal to open *ANY* religious holiday in Canada. The one day of contention that was deemed ok to force people to close on (that was eventually revoked) was Boxing day, because "Boxing" has nothing to do with religion.

Closing on Sundays is an archaic judeo-christian-catholic idea that will probably be challenged again (succesfully) by any competent atheist or muslim (or other religion).

If you don't like sunday shopping... DON'T SHOP ON SUNDAYS!

The 1961 ruling, BTW, predates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And, furthermore, precedence in the case can be established from Ontario's Retail Business Holidays Act, which clearly states that a store which is religious may choose any day of the week to close, and, quite specifically, suggests Sunday is religious.

Yes, oddly enough, a corporation may have a religion in Ontario. And, yes, Ontario has some stupid laws which would be repealed if it actually paid to open those days (Good Friday, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday < -- rofl that it says sunday, too, yet further in the law it says you don't have to follow sunday laws). for a modern interpretation of the law, see a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Her_Majesty_The_Queen_in_Right_of_Canada_v._Big_M_Drug_Mart_Ltd.">this. And that, my friends, applies to all of Canada, not just Nova Scotia.

I expect to hear this quoted in court:

Any law... ...which denies non-Christians the right to work on Sunday denies them the right to practise their religion and infringes their religious freedom.

Nova Scotians, quit wasting Canada's money. Please.
posted by shepd at 8:58 PM on October 17, 2004

(btw, I close my store on Sunday, anyways, because nobody shops on Sundays... that's the "right" way to enforce your religion on others... if there is a "right" way).
posted by shepd at 9:07 PM on October 17, 2004

"batteries for a dildo at Radio-Shack"

I do not think "dildo" means what you think it means.

In any case, I'm with majcher: With all due respect, someone's invisible friends don't get to say what someone else should or shouldn't do, including but not limited to the purchase of whiskey, chick peas, shirts, and vibrator batteries.

Community standards are one thing. Codifying a particular religious morality in law is entirely another. One, acceptable; the other, reprehensible.
posted by majick at 7:29 AM on October 18, 2004

shepd, unfortunately I don't think the Charter is applicable in this case.

Stores aren't closed on Sunday in Nova Scotia due to any religious reasons. There is no "Lord's Day Act" here any longer. No, no sir, religion has nothing to do with this.

It just happens that Sunday is the day picked to be a uniform store closing day. The current law is available here if you're interested. Notice there's no reference to religion or intent or anything, so there's no grounds for a charter appeal.

I debated this issue with one of the MLAs, who also happened to be a minister or some such religious figure as well. He had a semi-regular column in a local paper, and wrote about the Sunday shopping issue. His basic argument was not religious, because that would be illegal, but simply that Nova Scotians want, need, and deserve a day of rest, a day to spend with their families. So I wrote to the paper, demanding an end to the heinous practice of Wednesday shopping, which I believe should be outlawed. I used all the arguments I had heard against Sunday shopping, but applied them to Wednesday instead. It actually got published, too. The minister MLA and I wrote back and forth on the issue. He agreed that it did not matter what the specific day was, as long as there was at least one guaranteed day of rest. Oh, and as long as it was Sunday.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:44 AM on October 18, 2004

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