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Premier Rodney gets all Lockian on Sunday shopping

Rodney MacDonald has opted to twiddle his thumbs while the Sunday shopping issue solved itself by saying that his government is examining whether Sobey's and the Atlantic Superstore have stayed within the law in their recent Sunday openings.

For those that are unaware of the law here in Bluenoseland, Sunday shopping laws are loosely based on (Christian) scriptual stipulations but are really designed to protect small businesses by forcing large stores to remain closed save for pharmacies and the like. This is accomplished in the law by putting a maximum 4000 square foot limit on the size of stores that can be open on Sunday.

A decade ago, Pete Luckett opened Pete's Frootique in Bedford and incorporated the larger store into separate virtual "stores" to leverage this area loophole. For the shopper, there is no way to know that they are walking from one "store" to another, as they are not demarcated in any way and they all lead to the same checkout counters. Sobey's and Superstore have now followed suit by dividing up some of their stores partly to cash in on the Sunday shopper crowd and, I'm certain, partly to challenge the government into changing these silly laws.

So what does our glorious leader have to say about this mess? Ultimately he confuses the concepts of the word and the spirit of the law to such an extent that I'm convinced he has no idea what he is talking about:
I’ve always said from Day 1 that if you’re following the law and the spirit of the law, then we have no problem with it, but if you’re not, then we’ll make sure that the law is being followed.

If everything I've read on the topic is not totally wrong, Pete's Frootique, Sobey's, and Superstore have exploited a loophole in the law, which by definition means that they are obeying the word of the it (i.e. the law is being followed), but are not honouring the spirit of it (i.e. people are sinfully working on Sunday or the mom-and-pop shops are not being protected). In any case, unless the government wants to change the law, Sunday shopping is here to stay.

And if this is an example of the legal, political, and intellectual effectiveness of our newly-mandated premier, heaven help us. That is, unless He isn't too sore about the Sabbath thing.

I don't think 'violating the spirit of the law' would make for a successful prosecution strategy - if Rodney really wants businesses to adhere to the 'spirit' of the law, he should call on someone to change the law to more accurately reflect that 'spirit' - oh wait, that'd be him. Never mind.

Which 'mom and pop' businesses are being threatened? The only convencience stores I see nowadays are either part of a chain (Needs, Green Gables, etc.) or they're serving an specialty such as organic, East Indian, Chinese and their customers are probably not going to change their shopping habits just because Sobey's is open.

I'd like to see them enforce the 'spirit' of the law - It'll be hard to convince the ghost of Clarence Darrow to get on board for the prosecution...

You're absolutely right - if the intention (spirit) of the law is not actually written into it, then it is unenforceable.

I don't get it - how can stores with separate licences not have their own cash registers?

Well, Mark, I'm fairly certain there's nothing in the regs that specifically says that a licensed business has to have a cash register as part of it's physical location.

Mark,
That's a really good question - it surprised me the first time I went in as well. As Dan suggests, there is probably no detailed description of what defines a store or place of business or whatever in the regulations. Just one of those things that makes this mess so intractable as it stands.

I suspect that all items are inventoried differently. Produce "belongs" to one business, meat products to another, etc., etc. The first time I went to Pete's (back in the days when the Bedford Pete's was the only place open on Sundays), I was surprised at the set up. I expected to see dividers and separate cash registers, but the setup was open and free flowing. Mr. Luckett is very savvy, in my estimation.

There is something called the 'letter' of the law and yes, something called the 'spirit' of the law. If the courts have a problem with pin-pointing the actual law as it was meant to be read and adhered to, they will ask the question, " What is the spirit of the law? "
The spirit part has nothing to do with sinful behaviour and the Sabbath day. (very funny idea, though.)
By the way, the Sabbath has always been on Saturday, even for Christians - it was changed long(very long) ago by the Catholic church - not God.

It's the retail workers that are pushing for this law to be upheld, no matter what the effects or how silly it is. I don't believe all the Christians in Nova Scotia are the power behind this madness.

Well, Elf, the original law before it was struck down was called the Lord's Day Act and one of the primary leaders behind the 'vote no' movement in the last plebescite is a Reverend, so I'd say Christians are a large part of the movement to ban Sunday Shopping. As for those retail workers - let me ask, what do they do on their day off? Take the family to MacDonalds? Go to Tim Hortons for a large Double-Double? Go to the drugstore to pick up some cough medicine, or the corner store for some cigarettes, or do they go to the gas station to fill up the SUV? Why is it okay to force those workers to work on a Sunday for their convenience, but it's wrong to make them work at Sobeys on a Sunday for the convenience of other people? And if we're going to talk about upholding 'the spirit of the law' why is it that drugstores and gas stations are allowed to open on a Sunday as supermarkets in all but name?

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