Nova Scotians speak out
Several Nova Scotians speak out about Sunday shopping. Letters to the editor Halifax Herald and the Daily News Halifax, Bridgewater Bulletin .
Waste of money
I am writing in response to A.L. Naugle's recent letter, "One final vote." It has been only one year since we had a plebiscite to decide on the issue of Sunday shopping. It would be a complete waste of taxpayers' money to revisit an issue that was decided last fall.
If Sunday shopping is brought up again, the proper question to ask is: "Would you like government and municipal offices, schools and retail stores, etc., open on Sunday? Yes or No?" This would be a fair way of deciding the issue, instead of singling out the retail sector.
As Nova Scotians, we have other important issues that need to be addressed, like high gas prices and power increases. I cannot imagine, with the high price of gas, that anyone would even want to shop another day.
I have a suggestion for those people who have a hole in their pocket: Why not help those people who have lost everything in the hurricane?
Tony Lohnes, Blockhouse
I read with some dismay Alex MacDonald's Sept. 13 letter "Let's make it clear." As far as I'm concerned, we voted and the result was clear: The majority does not want across-the-board Sunday shopping, and we shouldn't be considering the question again, if at all, for quite some time.
Would Mr. MacDonald have us vote regularly until his "side" wins?
I voted against Sunday shopping, having seen its effects in Ontario when I lived there, and, believe me, this way is better.
Ron Hall, Mahone Bay
Re: "Sunday shopping on the way" by Paul Schneidereit (April 12). I am surprised that he was actually able to let six months pass before ranting on over this issue again. He can't accept that this matter was decided by the voters of Nova Scotia last October.
Well, like it or not Paul, Sunday shopping is by no means an inevitability in this province. That topic was responsible for a larger-than-usual number of voters coming out to a municpal election. His argument that many Yes supporters stayed home, believing their side would win, is hogwash. It clearly wasn't that important an issue for many who claimed to support the cause. Also, there was a sizable number of No supporters who stayed away as well, Paul.
I've talked with many tourists over the past few years and recall none saying, "Gee, it's too bad that Sunday shopping isn't allowed here." I have heard many comments such as "Nobody seems in a rush around here" and "You've got a special place here; don't let it change."
Many factors influence a person's decision on where to relocate or, indeed, whether to remain in a place. The lack of retail outlets open on Sundays is not going to be a deciding factor. Many outsiders actually admire us Bluenoses for not "following the pack" and becoming disciples of the "rush-rush, shove-shove" society that prevails in much of the world today.
By the way, Paul, I'm sure that those other, more progressive locations would welcome you if you find that life in this backwater is just too stifling. Meanwhile, Nova Scotians will continue to find imaginative ways to spend Sundays and will do just fine. And Paul, lick your wounds and learn to accept defeat graciously.
Barry Buckman, Tiverton
No means No
In response to Paul Schneidereit's April 12 column: For the last 20 years or more, I have heard those who support Sunday shopping tell me that it is eventually coming. So is death, but are we going to stand in the middle of the road and let a car run us over? NO! Of course not. Nova Scotians turned down Sunday shopping because we value our day with our families, and the peace and quiet that others now envy.
Germany and Slovenia currently have a ban on Sunday shopping. Western Australia recently had a referendum on weeknight and Sunday shopping, and they voted No on both accounts. What would Mr. Schneidereit and others do if they lived in Western Australia?
Mr. Schneidereit should try to get government, municipal offices, dentists' offices, schools and banks to open on Sunday. Stop discriminating against retail opening on Sunday. Please include the whole province. Nova Scotians said "No," and we mean "No!"
Tony Lohnes, Blockhouse
Addicted to cause
Columnist Paul Schneidereit needs counselling for his addiction to Sunday shopping. His latest of many tirades on the topic claimed that Nova Scotia will become less competitive internationally because our young and well-educated citizens will choose to emigrate to more modern places offering Sunday shopping. Balderdash, horsefeathers and tommyrot.
I conducted a poll of 11 colleagues who are sub-boomers and who have earned one or more university degrees. I asked them, "All other opportunities being equal, would you choose to leave Halifax for a career elsewhere because the new location offered Sunday shopping?" Some laughed, and the remainder looked at me as if I had two heads. None indicated they would give it the slightest consideration.
Mr. Schneidereit has previously mentioned that he or someone else has seen Nova Scotia licence plates in a Moncton store parking lot on Sunday. I will remind him that the citizens of Amherst, the town supposedly most disadvantaged by no Sunday shopping, voted it down. Furthermore, that observation does not adequately test the idea that Nova Scotia loses business to Moncton because of no Sunday shopping. For that test, he would have to compare the number of Nova Scotia licences on Saturday and Sunday. Shoppers probably go to Moncton from northern Nova Scotia because it is the largest regional shopping area.
Mr. Schneidereit, please tell us how your quality of life in HRM is diminished by the lack of Sunday shopping.
R.J. Miller, Halifax
Paul Schneidereit's column "Sunday shopping on the way" does nothing to persuade anyone to his way of thinking; it only illustrates what a truly sore loser he is.
Poor Paul. He's still under the delusional idea that opening shops for five hours on Sunday will be the miraculous fiscal panacea that will magically transform Nova Scotia from a "have not" to a "have" province. If only it were that easy. Give it up, already! You lost Paul; move on. The rest of us have.
Personally, I am utterly fed up with Mr. Schneidereit's arrogant, smug and patronizing attitude on this and virtually every other topic he writes about for The Chronicle Herald. If no Sunday shopping irritates you so much, Paul, and you think Nova Scotia is such a backward podunk, I kindly suggest you do those of us who love Nova Scotia a huge favour and stop your incessant whining/pontificating and move to Ontario already!
Karen Davison, Halifax
Save our Sundays
People are confused about the plebiscite in question and this needs to be cleared up.
A lot of people assume if they vote "no" to Sunday shopping and avoid the last two questions the ballot will be spoiled. This is false and people need to be aware that if they vote no, they do not need to answer the last two questions.
Selfish people want more retail hours
I am a Grade 11 student and most people my age support Sunday shopping. I think these people are selfish in their way of thinking. They just see how they are going to benefit from stores being open on Sunday and not how others will suffer from it.
We don't need to have Sunday shopping because all of the necessities are available at drugstores. Some say since other provinces allow stores to open on Sunday then we should follow suit, but large provinces like Ontario, for example, do not share the same values as Nova Scotians in general. We are a province that values family and even though it may be convenient for some people to shop on Sundays it takes away the quality of life for others. Single parents who work many part-time jobs can't spend time with their children any other day of the week, if stores were to open on Sunday and their employer asks them to work, sure they can say no but they wouldn't have a job any more.
People are ignorant and forget that these people will have no choice but to work on Sunday if the store they are employed by is open. Stores are open six days of the week a nd I find it hard to believe that people can't get their shopping done in that time period. Some of us need to stop being selfish.
Working poor will be the losers
It is with shame workers who work part time do not get benefits, etc., and here again you have the working poor.
Full-time employees are a thing of the past. Let me say to all those people who want to work and shop on Sunday - stop and think.
Firstly, have all the post offices open, the banks, the government employees get to it and stay open. Only when this happens will it be fair for everybody. Until then, let's say "No" to Sunday shopping.
Can't we decide what is necessary and what is not? Tourism is not requiring stores to be open. Folks used to come here for a quiet place and rest, and enjoy the area. Why the need to depress the working poor?
Harold W. Selig
Sunday shopping: Just simply another adjustment?
There is a lot of emotion surrounding this subject and valid arguments each way. What is important is that we make our decision knowing the cost, because the costs are real and each and every one of us will pay. There are also impractical proposals surrounding this issue and these too require an understanding before we cast our votes.
Freedom to choose. For the consumer, yes - for our discretionary dollars we can decide where and when to spend them. To have greater choice at any time is more freedom. However, the government maintains they will build in other freedoms so that landlords cannot force their retail tenants to open and employers cannot force their employees to work on Sundays. Reality is that our economy is based on competitiveness and large corporations, which will open, today drive the retail market. In every other market the consumer has chosen to support them in sufficient numbers that Sunday will be their biggest sales day of the week. Can any other retailer just shrug their shoulders? The numbers at stake are considerable.
Tax revenue will rise. True, a little. It can be argued that the tourist will spend more, leave more money in Nova Scotia. Tourism is a very important industry in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians in the Amherst area that might be tempted to go to Moncton to shop on a Sunday may stay within Nova Scotia. The overall size of the pie will be a little larger. Offsetting this will be larger costs for our society. These costs will be hard to quantify and are easy to dismiss at this time.
Where do the costs come from? Given that the size of the pie does not increase nearly as much as the open hours increase, here are the costs:
Staffing costs consume about two-thirds of the gross profit of a typical retailer. Obviously it is the first area to look at for savings. The choices are twofold - spread out staff and increase the number of lower hourly cost employees. That's how the corporate retailers do it. Overall number of jobs increase because we have more part time and less full time. The overall quality of the profession therefore decreases because there is less incentive for the individual employee to be better. Training costs increase yet there is less incentive for the employer to invest in training. Service levels go down - they have to.
Holding inventory is the second largest cost. To simplify a complex argument, each and every item will be re-evaluated for performance and contribution to paying costs. There will be less ability to carry the slower moving items that retailers traditionally carry as what are called "service items." These are the items a customer rarely buys but when they need them, they want them as quickly and conveniently as possible. These items always lose money for the retailer. This works dramatically against the retailers in smaller centres. Anyone living in rural areas can easily think of many examples of items big and small that they used to be able to buy locally and no longer can. Sunday shopping takes this process further than it would otherwise go.
Prices will be higher because not all increased costs can be driven out. Everyone has to compete; everyone has to open longer for a much smaller increase in sales. To the extent that it can be studied in a statistically accurate way, prices increase between one and a half and two per cent when an entire market-place opens up to Sunday shopping.
There will be more people forced into working a jumbled schedule. This is a soft cost that is very real to the affected people and their families. It's tempting to be cynical but the fact remains that this impacts society overall and it is unhealthy. We already know we are straining our medical system and will be doing more so in the future as we collectively age. Now we are heaping on just a little more, all stress related. Treating stress is very expensive for the economy. Retail is stressful and becoming more so. Customers have a more stressful life and they demand more from those serving them today than they did yesterday. Yes, many people already work Sundays and shift work too, but very few of these people are as poorly paid as retail staff.
It's a complex subject. Nova Scotians can decide to stand fast and celebrate a way of life that is becoming unique in the world or they can decide to join the rest of the world. If we stand fast, we have to be able to market our lifestyle offering and be able to address the issues that arise from being different.
If we choose to become the same as everywhere else, we have to accept that we will have adjustments to make and that smaller centres will find this the most difficult.
For some, this will be beyond their control and these businesses will die. And we must recognize that if we vote in favour of Sunday shopping, it will be almost impossible to reverse. We must also realize that soon the pressure will come on to take the limits off opening hours and indeed, as in some jurisdictions, to do away with statutory closing days like Christmas. How far down this road do we want to go?
Can we adjust to Sunday shopping? Of course we can. Like everything in life it has its positive points but it definitely has its negative points as well. If we open for Sunday shopping we have to accept these costs and learn to live with them. Let's not kid ourselves, a vote in favour of Sunday shopping is about convenience, not choice. And the dearest price is that we pay in our society as we force more families to try to work around increasing demands from their workplace.
Think carefully before casting your vote. This is the only choice that you will have.
Open up the issue
The only people who want to have Sunday shopping are the people who are not employed in the retail industry. These people say they don't have enough time after work to take care of their needs (grocery shopping and mall crawling). These people don't want to inconvenience themselves by taking care of their errands after work; they want the retail industry to suffer so that they will not.
Maybe we should be voting on Sunday opening, not Sunday shopping. Let's make it fair for everyone. Let's mandate that law offices, banks (with tellers and loans officers), every government office, every type and size of business be open - in short, let's make sure that there is no business that is allowed to close on a Sunday. That should make it easy for those nine-to-fivers to perform their errands and take care of their families, something that they don't seem to want the retail industry workers to be able to enjoy. No, wait. Then they would be complaining that they still don't have the time to take care of their business!
Perhaps the answer to this never-ending problem is to open every type of business, office and shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Would that make it possible for these selfish people to be able to take care of their errands? Probably not.
Brian Smith, Dartmouth
Winners and losers
Too many people already have to work on Sunday; let's not add any more.
Those who will gain from Sunday shopping are: 1) big retailers; 2) newspapers like The Chronicle Herald that would obtain greater advertising revenue from the big stores; and 3) everyone who does not have to work on Sunday.
The people who will lose include: 1) poor people who have little choice but to work for big retailers for little wages, and have to work whenever Wal-Mart or Superstore wants them to work or else they don't work; 2) people who would like to spend their day of rest with their families and maybe go to church; 3) spouses, children and friends of people who will have to work; 4) convenience store owners who have to struggle as it is, without competing against giant corporations on Sundays; 5) small, owner-operated businesses, the ones actually owned by Nova Scotians who eke out meagre profits and give back to their communities; and 6) churches because some parishioners cannot get to church because they have to work.
Bill McKinnon, Eastern Passage
Issue of convenience?
During the last few months, the information campaigns (a.k.a. rhetoric) for both sides of the Sunday shopping debate have been increasing in intensity.
Both sides have valid arguments. Bob Britton has cited quality of life and time for family, while others have advocated the "right to choose."
I would like to ask a simple question: Is it truly a matter of choice or is it more a matter of convenience? We have become a society in which we can have just about anything we want almost instantaneously. I justify this statement by mentioning some of our conveniences: remote controls, microwave ovens, radios, televisions and the Internet. All of these produce instant gratification. In addition, there are the infomercials, promising quick and easy results without much effort.
Currently, stores in many areas are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week - that's 72 hours of shopping. Grocery stores, gas stations, coffee shops and some restaurants are open 24 hours a day.
Do you mean to tell me that your life is so busy that you cannot get into one of these service/product providers any other time but Sunday?
Or is it a matter of being unwilling to change schedules and feeling it is a "right" to be waited upon?
Michael Burke, Halifax
I guess I'm a hypocrite
To Mr. Ben Floyd, who wrote the letter titled "Those fighting against Sunday shopping are hypocrites." Well, sir, I must be a hypocrite because I am one who is against Sunday shopping. You must be a very busy person if you do not have the time to do your shopping between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. for your groceries, paint or even a case of beer, so you need to shop seven days a week.
Maybe you have never served the public in retail. Well, I have and still do. But for me, the best day of the week is Sunday, a day that I get to spend with my three small children and wife, who also works in retail except for Sunday. Have you ever thought why government does not sit in Parliament on Sunday, or why our roads are not being repaired on Sunday?
You also say Sunday shopping has been supported for years in this area. True, to a point. The local corner stores' busy day has always been Sunday, not having to compete with the Sobeys or Superstores.
I am also a firefighter, who is non-paid and one that is allowed to respond to calls during the work hours. A lot of stores do not allow workers to leave for fire calls such as house fires or chimney fires that could develop into house fires. You would be very upset if your chimney had caught on fire and only four or five firefighters showed up to put it out because the other 10 to 12 people that might be there on Sunday were working.
The bottom line is, I do not have the right to tell you or anyone else that you have to work on Sunday, so you should not have the right to tell me or my fellow staff members that we have to work on Sunday because you did not buy that gallon of paint or a pound of nails between Monday morning, 8 a.m. and Saturday night, 9 p.m. A sorry life you must live.
Say no in Sunday shopping vote
An article in the Bridgewater Bulletin of September 22 was very misleading and inaccurate about businesses which currently open on Sunday.
1. Gas stations, corner stores, greenhouses, hotels, restaurants … etc. The families of these businesses have already put it in their minds to work on Sunday to pay the business bills.
2. When the big box stores and the Wal-Marts of the world are allowed to open on Sunday, they are going to skew the market-place in their favour and against the small businesses. The small business people will fail to attract and serve the traditional Sunday customers, which means they will lose this source of income.
3. Talking about weekend jobs for high school and college kids is a false argument. Our students are burdened with a huge amount of financial debt so four hours of work will not pay their gas to drive to work on a Sunday.
4. In other places where Sunday shopping was allowed like in New Brunswick and even in the Valley it disturbed the market-place very much. Shopping mall parking lots were full of cars on Sunday, but on Monday and Tuesday there were no customers to be found. Merchants and their employees became very upset and asked the government to let them close on Sunday again.
5. Now there are people in Ontario who wish that they never allowed the Sunday shopping to take place since it ruined the family life of the employees in the big stores. But once the Sunday shopping is allowed, it will be impossible to go back.
6. Before you vote yes to the plebiscite just think how much damage is going to be done to the working people and their families in Nova Scotia.
Retail shopping on Sunday will be just the beginning
We feel compelled to reply to Ben Floyd's September 22 letter regarding Sunday shopping and those fighting it are hypocrites. What Mr. Floyd and others need to be aware of is that people who already work on Sundays chose to work on Sundays. No one in retail forced these people to work Sundays.
Retail workers were not hired to work Sundays, this being the big difference here in this debate. Are people like government workers, teachers, students and municipal workers hypocrites if they buy gas, go to a corner store on a Sunday? These people are off Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday shopping supporters are quick to jump on retail workers with this line of questioning but never point this to any other occupations that are off Saturdays and Sundays. He also mentions hospital employees and paramedics that work on Sunday. These people are working for an essential service. Comparing a life to buying a can of beans does not wash with us. It's not essential to have stores open on Sunday. There's just no comparison.
Speaking of essential services, dentist offices are not open on Sunday. I'm sure that on more than one occasion we've all had a severe toothache, and had to wait until Monday before a dentist would even look at it. Dentist offices are closed on Sunday, but shopping in a store is more important? Some people need to get their priorities straight.
Nova Scotians also need to be aware that if retail stores open on Sunday, it will also affect other occupations down the road once Sunday becomes a normal day. Banks in New Jersey have opened up on Sunday, and one woman was fired for refusing to work on Sunday. Perhaps we should open our banks, schools, government and municipal offices on Sunday and set an example if stores open on Sunday.
A vote for Sunday shopping could end up costing you your Sundays. On October 16 be smart and vote no to Sunday shopping.
THOMAS B. FRAUZEL
Sunday shopping will ruin our lifestyle
Let's get this straight: The Sunday shopping issue is about big business.
Big business retailers will be the ultimate winners; small retailers, the Nova Scotian public and our envied lifestyle will be the "big" losers.
I own a long-established retail store in Bridgewater that has never been open on a Sunday and probably never will be. I have too much respect for my employees and our Nova Scotian lifestyle.
Sunday closings are not just about religion anymore. It's become a day of relaxation, a day that families can call their own. A day that slows down our fast-paced society, the "weekend."
Sunday shopping will ruin a lifestyle that we are privileged to have, a lifestyle that is envied by many. Sunday shopping will mean many of us will lose our weekend. Sure we will still get time off, but the "weekend" will only belong to the privileged who are able to work Monday to Friday.
Sunday openings will not result in more good paying jobs. All the people who like being paid minimum wage, working rotten shifts without benefits, please line up here!
All you folks who think that Sunday openings will give you that extra day you desperately need to shop, don't be fooled. Sunday will soon become just another busy day when you just don't seem to have the time.
Lastly, I beg all you people who just don't care or think "it will not affect me," please take a stand for the lifestyle we now enjoy. Don't let big business tell us we are not worthy of it. Please don't let the vocal minority ruin a way of life envied around the country. Remember - once it's gone, it's gone for good.
So … get out and vote, and say "No" to Sunday shopping!
Need time off
I applaud Rev. Mark Parent and others who are opposed to Sunday shopping.
Not only do we need a day off from the "rat race" of commercialism, but I think many people still want to go to church instead of to a mall on Sunday mornings.
Philip McLean, Halifax
Gift of rest
Through the Judeo-Christian tradition, God has given us a valuable gift that has served us well over the centuries. This is the Sabbath Day of rest and worship. The Sabbath rest serves both the rural and urban societies in providing physical, mental and spiritual rest to a weary and stressed people. The fourth Commandment tells us to honour the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.
This balance between work and worship and rest and recreation contributes to health and wholeness in our society. Over the centuries, we have benefited greatly from the use of Sunday, the Lord's Day, as the national Sabbath Day. Necessary services have been made available.
Dr. Griffeth Thomas wrote: "If there is one thing to which may be attributed the blessing of God on His church and realm throughout the past centuries, it is the national observance of the Lord's Day." An evangelical minister, the late Rev. David Michell, wrote concerning Sunday: ". . . our individual, social and national life and prosperity depend upon a well-kept Sabbath."
Now, the gods of consumerism and profit are pushing for Sunday shopping. Many would lose their day of rest. We need to support existing Sunday opening laws. After the gift of Sunday, the Sabbath rest, has served us so well, can we allow consumerism and profit to rob us of this balance so needed in our hectic day and age?
Stewart Moen, Halifax
Back in June, the principle of rest on Sundays and public holidays was deemed "sacrosanct" in Germany and the country said No to Sunday shopping.
It wasn't a decision that was popular with everyone. Many people thought that Germany was behind the times and would be laughed at by the rest of the world. Well, I, for one, am not laughing.
It bothers me that we are increasingly organizing our lives according to economic interests without batting an eye. What may be progress from an economic viewpoint is a step backwards from a spiritual one.
Are we not all more than workers, more than consumers? We are members of families and communities, each with our own individual spiritual beliefs, but with similar needs for rest and recreation.
Why are so many so quick to give up some organized time during the week that currently allows for activities that can refresh and renew our bodies and souls?
Amy-Lynn Bell, Cow Bay
Right on, Marilla
Thank you, Marilla Stephenson! You got it exactly right in your Sept. 21 column. The arguments for Sunday shopping simply don't fly. Every business owner knows that it's merely spreading six days of business over seven. It's not rocket science: An extra open day won't create more shopping dollars.
Tourism? We do a most credible job in looking to the needs of visitors to our beautiful province. Tourism groups pushing for Sunday openings should rethink it. Maybe tourists come here because we are unique. We don't shop on Sunday!
There are winners and losers in this debate. The losers are retail sales people who really won't be protected, church groups, family groups that need that "pause" in their week, that pause together.
And the winners are: Wal-Mart, Sears, Costco, Home Depot, etc. And yes, Marilla, we know where they spend their profits.
Lawrence Kidd, Bedford
Keep it up, Paul
Paul Schneidereit's Sept. 21 column on Sunday shopping comes very close to being offensive. He doesn't quite call those of us who are going to vote No to Sunday shopping "backward, conservative hicks," but he comes close to it.
Frankly, I don't care if journalists in Ottawa are bemused by the quaintness of Nova Scotians or even if every other jurisdiction in Canada can shop on Sunday (which they can't). I do care about the very legitimate issue of employee choice or lack of, and don't think it can be so easily dismissed by looking to government regulation to protect workers in the event of a Yes vote. I know from personal experience that the pressure to work on Sunday is real, and choice refers to retaining a job or losing one, not a real choice at all.
I am also one of those "busybodies" that Mr. Schneidereit refers to, who thinks that six days of shopping a week is sufficient. Taking one day off from the hectic pace of our lives, if possible, to spend with our children (who are only out of school on Saturday and Sunday), family and friends continues to be important, maybe more so than ever before.
I would like to thank Mr. Schneidereit for his offensive column and hope he keeps it up. It may get more of us reactionary No voters out to the polls.
Pat Dixon, Minasville
Say no to greed
Nova Scotia is a unique province now, with so many special qualities the others don't have. One is saying No to the greed and commercialism that Sunday shopping has brought to the others.
So many times at Christmas, you hear, "I used to like Christmas, but it's become so commercialized."
Well, smarten up, people. What do you think it will be like if we allow this to happen to our Sundays, too? Another day to rush around buying what we can do without until Monday. Let's keep our beautiful province out of the grasp of greed and commercialism, and vote NO!
Ann Shankle, Italy Cross
Nova Scotians will soon head to the polls to elect new municipal leaders and to address the tired issue of Sunday shopping. While both sides have valid reasons for voting as they will, I wish to add a few thoughts.
We have all heard the arguments for freedom of choice and convenience on one side, and religious reasons, as well as the hardship of increased cost to small business on the other.
Personally, I find that having a day to unwind, the lack of traffic and the simple pleasure of a walk downtown without hordes of people rushing to increase their credit card bills very attractive. Others disagree.
I would suggest that people simply ask themselves one question: "Do I want to work on Sunday?" Then vote the same as your answer.
Mike Duffey, Halifax
Why stop at retail?
I've reserved my opinion on Sunday shopping for the polls. One thing about this issue, however, does confuse me. Why are the advocates of Sunday shopping not campaigning to have everything open on Sunday, and Saturday in some cases?
They claim that they only have time to shop on Sunday. Likewise, when I had children in school, the ideal time for me to tend to parent/teacher matters was on weekends because I worked during the week. The ideal time for me to deal with civil service matters is on Saturday and Sunday because I work during the week.
Can anyone tell me why any organization that caters to the general public shouldn't be open after hours and on weekends? Right now, if I have an issue with any organization, be it public or private, I have to take time off without pay in order to have it attended to.
Let's not stop with retail, ladies and gentlemen. Let's go for the whole nine yards and have everything open on Saturday and Sunday. Maybe that would help some people make up their minds as to whether or not it is practical.
Mac Campbell, Port Hawkesbury
Keep up good work
Well done, Nova Scotia!
You recognize the difference between humans and machines, and you don't run your people seven days a week.
You improve health of mind and body by making allowance for rest and recreation.
You see the importance of a family and friendship day for strengthening human ties, including those with seniors and shut-ins, who gain encouragement from a visit.
You provide a climate in which those who wish can come together to express their love of God in grateful worship.
You welcome visitors to the province without selling out on the values that help make the province a good place to live.
Keep up the good work by voting No to Sunday shopping on Oct. 16.
Donald Weeren, Halifax
The Sunday shopping lobby is wise to use "a matter of choice" as its slogan: It sounds commendable and implies any who disagree with the cause are narrow-minded freedom squelchers.
But will all choices be respected equally and without repercussion? Will store employees be free to choose not to work on Sunday? What about those needing retail work in the future? Last Christmas, retail help-wanted signs specified "must be willing to work Sundays." Will applicants be forced to deny personal convictions in order to eat? What about independent store owners? Will they be free to choose to remain closed when mall management decrees Sunday an open day?
After the initial flurry, I can't see people's total spending increasing. Spreading the same amount over seven days and adding extra labour costs is unwise. Maybe stores will revert to the dark ages of Halifax shopping and close most evenings to reduce overhead. How would that be for convenience?
We have a broad range of "essential" services open on Sundays. What we may choose in busyness and selfishness will have a cost for those who aren't free to choose. Let's choose responsibly and wisely, and for those so inclined, prayerfully.
Janet Sketchley, Dartmouth
Prices will rise
A vote for Sunday shopping is a vote for higher prices.
Because we can shop on Sunday doesn't mean that the disposable income of the consumer will suddenly go up as well. People will spend just as much or as little as they do now, except that the spending will be spread out over seven days instead of six. Sunday shopping means that store overhead will increase by one extra day for the same amount of sales. That cost will be passed along to the consumer in higher prices.
So, even if you don't care about the fact that most clerks would like a day off to be with family or attend church, think about the practical side of the thing and vote "no" to increased prices.
Has life in this beautiful province got so boring that people really don't know what to do with themselves if they aren't shopping? Pathetic.
Peter Ripple, Liverpool
Limit the voters
The only people entitled to vote concerning Sunday shopping are the people who will be working Sundays. The rest of us should shut our mouths. CASE CLOSED!
David Barrett, Dartmouth
Who has choice?
So, Judith Cabrita thinks Sunday shopping should be about freedom of choice (The Sunday Herald, Sept. 5). If stores do not want to open, they shouldn't have to. Yeah, right.
Does she really think that if Wal-Mart is open and Zellers stays closed, people will say, "Well, I'll come back tomorrow when Zellers is open." Not likely. The same for any store that is not open. People will not make another trip, another day. So, where is the freedom of choice? Stores will have no choice but to open.
What about management in these stores? Managers are required to be there. Where is their freedom of choice? Stores may be able to hire staff who only want to work Sundays, but it is hard to find managers who only want to work Sundays!
What about convenience stores that rely on Sunday sales? Who will shop there when they can go to a mall? Convenience stores will become inconvenient then. But of course, the people who run them can always find a job at the stores that are open Sundays, right? After all, they don't mind working Sundays; they are used to it.
I do not need or want to shop Sundays. I will have that freedom of choice. Will the people who will have to work that day have the same freedom of choice? I think not. If you wish to shop on Sundays, I agree you should have that choice. If you wish to not work on Sundays, you should also have that choice. But that is not likely to happen. Why should some people's freedom of choice be more important than others'? EVERYONE should have the same freedom to choose what to do with their Sundays.
Donna Benoit, Lower Sackville
We were in Montreal last month. Yes, they do have Sunday shopping - like every other province, except us - BUT don't bother to try to go shopping if it's a Monday evening. The stores close at 6 p.m. on Mondays. They are closed Tuesday evenings, and most are closed on Wednesday nights too.
You can also forget about crawling a mall on Saturday evenings; things close at 5 p.m.
If we adopt Sunday shopping here, be careful; we could lose hours somewhere else. There is only so much business out there.
I personally like having six evenings of open hours.
David Webber, Halifax
Not so simple
Re: John Nowlan's recent opinion article, "Sunday shopping: to each his own." I work in a retail establishment, like many others, and make far below poverty-level wages. Although my status is full-time, I am not necessarily guaranteed a 40-hour work week. However, my employer has always tried to ensure I do receive five eight-hour work days.
If retailers open on Sunday, the company I work for will participate, meaning I will automatically lose four hours worth of wages when required to work on a Sunday. Our supervisor has already stated that two people would work a four-hour overlapping shift on a Sunday, as mall hours would be either 12 to 5 or 1 to 6 p.m. If I refuse to work on Sundays, regardless of my rights, there will be consequences (there have already been hints) such as more hours being cut, as I would then be considered an unco-operative employee. It is bad enough that we are open on most holidays. Those who work retail do not get to participate in holiday events with their families.
In addition, working Sundays would mean another day that I would be unable to spend with my husband, as most of our shifts through the week conflict.
So, "to each his/her own" does not seem to apply to me and several others who are in similar positions. For the consumer, it's simply "come and shop." For the retail employee, it's not so simple; we don't have a choice. What's next, shopping on Christmas Day?
J.A. Weir, Dartmouth
Misery for all
A quote from a Sept. 4 letter to the editor: "Keep in mind that just as employees and employers will have an option to work on Sunday, so will shoppers have one to shop."
Not really true. If an employer wants their store(s) open for Sunday shopping and too many employees request not to work on Sundays, thereby not leaving enough staff to work on Sundays, then guess what? Some of those employees will be scheduled to work Sundays even if they specifically requested not to be scheduled to work on Sundays. Get it?
In a perfect world, everybody would be treated fairly. So how about we work to make this world a little more perfect by having all government offices and every other business open on weekends (Sundays and Saturdays, plus 9 to 9 all week). That way, everybody will have something less to sulk about.
Perry Gillespie, Halifax
Recent letters regarding Sunday shopping and mall tenants show a lack of understanding of how malls operate.
Legislation was passed overriding mall contracts, which required tenants to be open at whatever hours the mall sets, so now a tenant does not have to open on Sunday. But since the malls want all stores open whenever the mall is open, those tenants who choose not to open on Sunday will find that when the time comes to renew their lease, the mall will find some excuse for not doing so.
So they have no real choice if they wish to stay in business. While larger stores would be better able to cope with Sunday openings, many smaller businesses are family-operated and are already working six days a week. Sunday is their day to spend together as a family.
Also, employees who choose not to work on Sunday will be pressured to do so or get fewer hours the rest of the week.
It would be interesting, during the October plebiscite, to have a question asking voters if they'd be willing to work on Sunday if their business decided to open. I wonder how many honest answers you'd get?
Michael White, Dartmouth
No need to open on Sunday
Kinder, gentler place
You mean there really is a place in this vast country that hasn't made Sunday shopping permanently legal? A place that values time spent with friends and family? A place that knows it's the poor soul earning a minimum wage who would suffer the most from Sunday shopping? That same poor soul who would be compensated with alternate days off, but with no one else to share them with?
The pro-shopping advocates aren't the people who will have to work on Sundays, but rather those who would profit through the misfortunes of others.
We've seen the results of Sunday shopping in Ontario with the erosion of family and religious values. No time for anything that matters.
It's a no-win situation that would be tough to undo once the greed factor of Sunday shopping sets in. Stand fast and realize that Sunday shopping isn't progress in the making. Live without it and you help to retain that kinder, gentler place that is Nova Scotia.
Douglas Bradley Brown,
My congratulations to the shop owners who decline to open on Sundays in consideration of their employees and their families.
Imagine! There are still people out there who are motivated by something other than money! These are the kind of people we need in government - people with the courage to stand behind their convictions.
I would like to see a survey to determine the percentage of people who really need Sunday as their only day to shop, compared to the number of daily "addicted" shoppers. I'd be very surprised if more than 10 per cent of the Sunday shoppers had Sunday as their only day to shop.
G.J. Murphy, Halifax
Sunday shopping will be bad for Nova Scotia
I am a small businessman from the province of Ontario. It has come to my attention through friends in Nova Scotia of the raging battle over Sunday shopping.
Many Nova Scotians desire to have access to Sunday shopping without realizing what they will permanently lose as a community and most important as a family. As a businessman I am actually opposed to Sunday shopping in Ontario and, in fact, refuse to operate my business. In Ontario, the once tranquil towns on a Sunday are now filled with frenzied shop-aholics, filling the streets with noise, screeching tires and rock music.
Outdoor music from bars and patio restaurants now is heard continously in the spring, summer and fall months on Sundays instead of hearing chirping birds and the soft ringing of church bells. The once quiet towns and villages are now booming industries of business enterprise. Many people love to spend and run up their credit cards to the limit wasting their money on gifts and useless trinkets they will never use. The employees of these businesses are forced to work or eventually be terminated or called lazy for refusing to work.
These employees have lost their rights to be with their families or pursue church activities for the sake of you who can't seem to find enough time to shop in six days so you have to try for seven. The problem is poor time management.
As a businessman why must I be inconvenienced for the sake of a few dozen people? Why should I have to work when politicians, corporate heads and government officials refuse to work Sundays, using their constitutional privileges and rights?
Please reconsider what you will inherit if you have wide open Sunday shopping. Your families will suffer and so will your freedom and peace. Don't become another Ontario of capitalist greed.
Safeguard to sanity
I'm not a die-hard Sunday "Sabbath-er," but I do support the concept of the Sabbath, of resting from our work one day a week.
Regardless of your work definition, a rest from being busy ought to do. Most of us are running around getting things done all week. It's beyond me why people aren't over the moon when Sunday rolls around and they can finally resist the temptation to guilt themselves for not being "productive" (as our culture would define it), because open stores don't exist to aid in that temptation. It's like the entire country has attention deficit disorder.
People, just because we can doesn't mean we need to, nor that we should.
Sabbath is a gift to us. Our souls need it. We need time to read or to write, to play games, to garden, to knit, to tinker, to be creative, or to just simply "be." Our statistics for people with depression and anxiety should be indicative of unnecessary stress, and it's not caused by tossing and turning over not having one more day to shop.
We might do well to view keeping stores closed on Sundays as a safeguard to our sanity, an investment in our Sabbath-needy souls.
Miriam Jones, Wolfville
What's the point of Sunday shopping?
I am writing to throw my two cents in on the Nova Scotian Sunday shopping debate. I am against the idea of Sunday shopping.
The first point I would like to make is the inconvenience of having to work on Sundays. Traditionally, most workers do not have to work Sundays, and would see Sunday as the only definite day in which they would not have to go to work. I am aware that there are some exceptions to this rule, for example, nurses. However, nurses are a necessity, as sickness does not take a break for weekends.
Having retail chains open Sundays is not a necessity. We could survive just fine with only being able to shop Monday to Saturday, as we have for decades.
And what about the employees of said chains? These people may already be working routine 30-plus hour weeks, and does anyone really think that these people will jump all over the idea of having to come in Sundays on a regular basis?
I have experience in working on Sundays (even though my store was not open), and it is my experience that getting up Sunday morning and having to go to work is not a fun time.
Lastly, in some other provinces like Ontario, where Sunday shopping has existed for over a decade, they were promised that revenues would increase and create more jobs. In Ontario, it did not. All it did was rearrange workers' schedules and create a negative working environment on Sundays. And as far as the claims that it gives consumers more convenience, it really doesn't, because all it does is create one more day to spend the same amount of money. Sunday shopping will decrease sales through the week, and it is my belief that retailers will find their seven-day sales equal those of a six-day week. If these predictions come true, honestly, what's the point?
Six days enough
I feel sorry that your province is going to open for Sunday shopping. I live in Ontario, where we have had Sunday shopping for about 12 years. I worked retail, in the wine business. The government said it would create jobs and more revenue. It did neither of these things.
What it did do was rearrange the employees' schedules so that our work week extended over seven days rather than six. It was the same with the spending public. They now had seven days to spend the same amount of money. Sales dropped on a daily basis and ended up with sales by the end of seven days being the same as we did in six. Then they came up with the bright idea of opening on holidays - Boxing Day, New Year's Day.
Another drawback was the number of teenagers who used the mall as a meeting place on Sundays. Our mall had to resort to having security move these young people out; then they would congregate in the parking lot. It is still a problem.
We were also told that we would not be "let go" for refusing to work Sundays. Don't you believe it. Because you could not be fired for doing so, managers cut hours so badly that most people quit. In looking for a retail job, if you refused Sunday shifts, you were not hired.
I hope the people of Nova Scotia reconsider this proposal and have a day of family time. There are six other days to go to a mall.
Diane Harvey, Cobourg, Ont.
Don't do it
Don't do it, people of Nova Scotia! Don't vote for Sunday shopping!
I wish Sunday shopping had never started in Ontario.
Sunday is a day for family, friends, church, relaxation. It is the one day of the week you can actually get your entire family together for a meal! That will be all gone once Sunday shopping is introduced to your province.
The stores in Ontario started by opening 12-5 p.m. Then it went to 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; then the hours were extended from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Now some stores are opened 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Remember when the stores were also closed on Boxing Day? Why can't we give the people who work in retail a day to rest?
All these people who say they can't get to the stores in six days are not putting their priorities in order! I am sure they have time to go to bars or watch television.
Sundays used to have a special "feel" to them. A quiet day, the roads were always free of business traffic.
Spending money is not the most important thing. Having a day to enjoy your hard work of the past six days is more important.
I hope you vote against Sunday shopping.
Mary Clarke, Marmora, Ont.
Nail in the coffin
I wanted to thank John Hamm and the big businesses in our province for putting yet another nail in the coffin of small business. We operate our store as a family, working seven days a week.
The economics of the past few years have made life difficult for many businesses, but the hardest hit have been the small, family-operated ones. Sunday was the one day of the week when we were not competing with the major chains, the day that helped keep us afloat financially. People came from throughout the county as part of a relaxing Sunday because they like the personal service.
With the malls and grocery stores open last weekend, we were quickly forgotten, losing a large part of our regular Sunday sales on the first day. The six biggest Sundays of the year will be taken away from us and given to the "big guys," with the politicians saying we can have them back in January when sales are slower. With small convenience stores making up only about one per cent of the retail grocery market, was it really necessary to take those dollars away and give them to the multi-million-dollar companies?
Maybe if the government truly wants to make Sundays open and convenient for EVERYONE, then the post office, banks and civil offices should all operate seven days a week.
Where will politicians and CEOs spend the next few Sundays - home with their families or working alongside the minimum-wage employees?
Richard Veenhuis, Steve's Meats, Westville
Gow's is showing great leadership
I am writing this, my first ever letter to any editor, to voice my support for what I will call the "Gow's Initiative."
I applaud that retailer's decision to remain closed on Sundays. There are, I am sure, many small retailers in this province who are now struggling with this issue, probably feeling a need to open or lose sales.
I, for one, want to make public my intent to not only not shop on Sunday, but also to actively support retailers, like Gow's Home Hardware in Bridgewater, who chose to remain closed on Sundays.
It is my belief that I am not alone in this, and that there is a potential business advantage available for retailers to promote themselves as "non-Sunday" businesses. Now it is up to the rest of us here in Nova Scotia who oppose Sunday shopping to actively, and publicly, support and favour such retailers over those who decide to open on Sundays.
I will be shopping at Gow's Home Hardware from Monday to Saturday.
DAVID M. COOPER
Not a day for shopping
Hats off to Peter Gow and his decision not to join the multitude who will bring their staff to work on Sundays in the hope of garnering a few more of my dollars. It is the sense of community and family exhibited at Gow's that make it my number one shopping destination in Bridgewater.
To all those who think they gain by opening on Sunday, I would like to point out that there are only so many dollars in the budgets of myself and most of my friends. The fact that they plan to open on Sunday cannot gain them much more that I am already fitting into six days of shopping opportunities. And so your increased costs for staff, heat, lights, etc., will gain you nothing from my household, and I suspect from many more.
What, then, makes it a smart business decision to open on Sundays? While you are sitting behind your registers hoping for a sale, I will be at home enjoying a day with my family.
Who will be shopping?
From my daily perusing of the letters to the editor, I deduce that most writers are anti-Christ. Now that we have Sunday shopping six weeks prior to Dec. 25, who will be Christmas shopping? With so many people against Christ's name even being mentioned in a Christmas concert, and against His teachings, they surely won't want to be seen at the malls on the Lord's day.
Most followers of Christ will be attending His house and worshipping Him. Shopping will be far from their minds.
To you people who have voted to keep the name of Christ from being spoken at Christmas concerts: Do you have the audacity to Christmas shop, or take vacation time at Christmas and Easter? What hypocrites!
Each time you refer to the calendar and write a date, you are admitting that Christ was here on Earth. And by the way, He is coming back.
He spent much of His time on Earth with publicans and sinners; but when He returns, don't look for Him to be pushing a cart while brandishing a credit card on Sunday.
A blessed Christmas to all.
Katherine Keddy, Chester
Bad for environment
If we're really serious about Kyoto and reducing greenhouse gases, Sunday shopping isn't going to be very helpful.
Anything that incites people to race towards the malls in their gas-guzzling SUVs goes against every notion of what is needed to protect the environment.
If we're truly concerned about greenhouse gases, we would be debating a ban on Saturday shopping, not arguing the benefits of adding another day that we've managed to live without all these many years.
We've shamed Nova Scotians from their Sunday church habit; let's not ruin that success with Sunday shopping.
R.J. Wallace, Masstown
Don't open that door
Enough, already, with people saying it is their right to shop on Sunday and if you don't agree, don't shop. Would they feel the same if it was the other way around?
Why is it not OK to say we, the public, want every company and government office open on Sunday? For everyone to rotate a different day off, and be open on Sunday, so NO ONE will be inconvenienced by a store or service being closed?
Right, this would not work for one BIG reason: The ones who are OK with Sunday shopping now may have to work on Sunday. Funny that many are OK with something as long as they are not affected!
Think about it, people. Be careful what you wish for because your company may be next. No one is untouchable once the door is open!
D.T. Ritcey, Dartmouth
More to issue
The writer of an Oct. 16 letter asks, "Why is Sunday shopping such a controversial topic?" and then proceeds to give a very black and white argument. Well, this topic is controversial because there is more to it than he can see.
The issue of Sunday shopping is not just about whether you want to go to church or you want to shop. I see it as more of a social and family issue.
Our lives have become very busy; people are being pulled in many directions all the time. Sundays are the one day of the week when people are forced to pause and take a breath, to connect with family and friends. I use the word "forced" because, as sad as it may be, people need to be forced to take time out of their busy lives and enjoy life's simple pleasures.
For me, Sundays hold a different feeling than any other day of the week and with Sunday shopping, I can't help but see a week with two Saturdays and no Sunday!
I realize there is more to this controversy than the three issues covered by the first writer and myself, but this is the nearest to my heart. I am a Christian who attends church infrequently; I frequently work Sundays and I am single with no children, but I still value everything a Sunday holds.
Sandy Boutillier, Lower Sackville
My family and I are moving to Nova Scotia, along with our business, next June. Since Juan tore through the Halifax region, we have been keeping a close eye on things via the Internet and satellite TV. I must say I'm so glad to see all the wonderful things that everyone is doing for each other.
I have family living near Kentville, which is one of the reasons that I am moving from Ontario to Nova Scotia, but it's the fact that Nova Scotians are such great people that clinched it for me as a great place to move. I have yet to meet ANYONE from Nova Scotia or anywhere on the East Coast, who lives in Ontario, who has ever said that they liked Ontario over Nova Scotia!
My entire family is looking forward to moving to such a beautiful and friendly place.
One last note: Sunday shopping is NOT a great thing. Everyone needs a day of rest - just ask any Ontarian!
Allan Milton, Kitchener, Ont
As a retail worker and a Nova Scotian, I take offence to Simon L. Gaum's Sept. 18 letter "Check out crowds." I don't believe that Nova Scotia is behind the times; I think it's great that we are guaranteed one day a week to sit down and relax.
I'm guessing that Simon doesn't have to give up his nights and Saturdays like most full-timers do in the retail sector. We already give up putting our children to bed and going to Saturday soccer games. What more do you want?
I believe that "Pete's" is the exception to the rule because he has something unique going on. The majority of small business owners will just have to deal with more overhead and the same amount of sales spread over seven days instead of six. What effect do you think Sunday shopping will have on all of the corner-store owners who rely on us running out of milk and bread on Sunday afternoons?
Sunday shopping may be great for the "big guys," but it doesn't do much for the little shop owners. You don't think this is "creeping Americanism?"
Nova Scotia has a great thing happening and it's something I don't feel needs changing. Don't we already have enough latch-key children out there?
Keep Sundays for families; people can always shop between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Carole Oliver, Timberlea
Regret the change
I've recently moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario. It wasn't too long ago that Ontarians went through the same Sunday shopping discussions that Nova Scotians are going through now. It is interesting to hear the same rationales, the same pleas, the same promises.
Then, I was in favour of Sunday shopping and was glad when it became law. No half-measures - one day Sunday shopping was against the law and the next it was legal. So, now I could go to Home Depot early on a Sunday morning or shop till I dropped in the malls about town.
Sunday very quickly became just another day with all the same noise and bustle, and was just as hectic as every other day. It wasn't long before I regretted the change. I missed the quiet, reflective aspect of Sundays.
Before, Sundays had been days of rest - literally, because there wasn't really much you could do - when you would store up the energy required to face another work week. People headed off for picnics, for family dinners, or just snoozed in their backyards. There seemed to be an unwritten agreement not to mow the lawn or cut the hedges on Sundays. Sundays were days of relative quiet and peace, much as they are in Nova Scotia now.
When, and if, a plebiscite comes, I will vote against Sunday shopping and encourage others to do the same. Nova Scotia is a better place for having that one day a week off.
Ron Hall, Mahone Bay
As one who works in retail, I am opposed to Sunday shopping for several reasons: It is a day that I am/was guaranteed to have off to spend with family and friends.
The cost of having the stores up and running on Sunday would be above and beyond the amount of money brought in by the few people who desperately need to shop on Sunday. When this happens, prices tend to go up in order to make up for those expenses, resulting in more theft and complaints.
It isn't necessary: 13 hours daily, Monday to Saturday, is more than enough time for everybody to get their shopping done.
Now, for those who point out that people working at theatres and such have to work on Sundays, I'll point out that those people were aware that they'd be working on Sundays prior to getting hired, so there's no valid argument there.
If Sunday shopping gets the nod, then what do most people think of having EVERYTHING (even schools) up and running on Sunday, and why or why not? If retail people (among others) have a seven-day work week, let's have everybody else at least have a six-day work week instead of their luxurious five-day work week!
Joe Alexander Brown, Halifax
It's a big deal
Re: Linda Redden's July 31 letter about Sunday shopping.
"Win-win situation?" Apparently, she would not have to work Sunday! Not everyone is able to just work "9-5" Monday to Friday. I have worked retail (full-time) and my schedule was not fixed. It varied week to week, and included Saturdays. I'm sure there are many others in retail similarly scheduled, whose work weeks would include Sunday if their stores were open. We may not HAVE to shop on Sunday, but many WOULD have to work.
Think for a minute about shopping on Sundays from noon to 5. Say you work Sunday. You would need to get ready, commute to work, prepare the store to open, work five hours; then after all the customers are gone, closing duties need to be done: counting tills, cleaning, etc. Finally, you can commute home. This could take six to seven hours out of the middle of your day. That's a big deal.
Why should Nova Scotia do it just because other places do?
D.J. MacLean, Dartmouth
I finally have to respond regarding the Sunday shopping debate. A July 31 letter from Linda Redden was the last straw.
She boldly states that Sunday shopping has been "worldwide for years now." Has she ever been outside of North America?
Having just returned from the trip of a lifetime, six months in Europe, I can tell you this: Sunday shopping in Italy? No way. Spain? Uh, uh. Greece? Nope. Germany? Not on your life. To make matters worse, they all close their shops for three hours every afternoon and - ugh! - actually eat and nap and spend time with their families. And believe me, at 1:30, they just close the doors and you are out.
As a tourist, I grew to love the routine and when (on a Sunday), I saw something I wanted in a shop window, I was at the door at opening the next morning, happily spending my Canadian money.
Nova Scotia is lucky to have one day when the almighty dollar is not the most important thing. It makes our culture sweeter and better than any other in North America.
Ms. Redden, feel free to move to New Brunswick to Sunday shop. Five hours with your family on a Sunday would be a big deal if YOU had to work it.
Mark Martin, Halifax
For city dwellers, a walk, run, blade or bicycle on a Sunday morning is the closest thing some of us experience to the serenity of the countryside. For a city without bike paths, this is almost the only safe, satisfying option if you want to rollerblade.
Sunday shopping would permanently shift this window of quiet in the city. Consumerism will never allow that change to be rolled back.
To want Sunday shopping is to take an irrevocable step toward a noisy shopping mall and away from a peaceful stroll. Is that really what we want?
Glenn Fraser, Halifax
Give it a rest
Preserving our rest-and-relaxation Sundays in Nova Scotia, spent with families and friends, is a proposition because we have continued to do so for years, despite other provinces opening their business doors on Sunday.
Notwithstanding the religious issue around Sunday shopping, it is truly a day of rest, when just about everyone in this province can enjoy family, hobbies and the great outdoors. During the trial run a couple of years ago, I was saddened to see children being taken to the mall instead of enjoying playtime with family and friends.
Sunday shopping, in the long run, will not be of great benefit. Sure, it will provide an extra shift to employees, but I am positive that they will greatly miss being assured a day off.
Halifax is doing just fine without Sunday shopping. Halifax is magnetic. We hosted the junior championships, the Tall Ships, and so on. We are still hustling and bustling, but at least we do so only six days of the week. Please give the Sunday shopping issue, and ourselves, a rest already.
Lia Thibault, Dartmouth
More to life
The letter from D.E. Weston on May 27 said it all regarding Sunday shopping.
Why is it that people can find time to get their business done with other establishments that are not open six days and six nights a week, yet can't find time to do their shopping? These people seem to have either a time-management problem or nothing better to do with their time.
There's more to life than shopping. Why just target the retail sector for Sunday openings? If it was proposed that everything be open on Sunday, the hue and cry for Sunday shopping would soon cease.
These whiners who have too much time on their hands should direct their energies to some of the real problems we have in this province and find something useful to do with their time. Maybe even take a time-management course.
Michael White, Dartmouth
Have we all lost our common sense? Why would anyone want to have another day of dealing with stress, traffic and rushing about? For what?
Don't tell me people can't find time to get their shopping done. No one works six days and six nights. What kind of work do these people do that they are so determined to have the stores open seven days to shop? What next - 24 hours, seven days a week?
Are we prepared to pay even more than we are already paying for items? That is the way the retail sector works. You want, you pay!
Where are all the shoppers on Monday and Tuesday? Perhaps the stores could close on those days, as the shoppers are conspicuous by their absence.
Just because the stores are open in other provinces doesn't make it right. Who says they are right and are not sorry they did?
Sunday shopping! Sunday shopping! We are acting like children who harp, harp and harp. I want! I want!
We need to say ENOUGH! The answer is NO! Go read a book or find something useful to do.
In these uncertain times, we should be more concerned with spending precious time with family, loved ones and friends.
D.E. Weston, Halifax
Broke his word
I feel that we should not have Sunday shopping. John Hamm went back on his word that it would not be addressed until 2005.
Can't we get our shopping done in the six days allowed? Has anyone considered the impact it would have on the small convenience stores?
What will become of spending time with our family? Sunday is the one day that I can do that.
More consideration should be given to those who have to work six days a week, and not to government employees who work Monday to Friday.
If I have to work on Sunday, then I feel that everyone should have to. I want to be able to go to the bank or liquor store, get my car registered, and see John Hamm in his office.
I bet if this was the case, Sunday shopping wouldn't even be heard of.
Kim Hamilton, Nine Mile River
Fair is fair
It is only fair that if Sunday shopping is allowed, all provincial and municipal government agencies should be open.
I bet if it was put that way, no one would vote for Sunday shopping.
End of the story.
Mrs. Laling Tom, Halifax
Not worth it
I have worked in retail for the past 11 years. In the company I work for, any time you work on an unusual day (Sunday), you DO NOT get anything over and above your normal pay. You usually get a day off for it. So, if anyone who doesn't know retail is thinking that extra pay is involved, I am here to set you straight.
With stores open seven days a week, you may have staff on Sunday, but come back through the normal work week and you will see a lot fewer people because they cannot afford the staff hours.
If a person wishes to work Sunday, then that is certainly their right. But to push people into it is not fair. I have worked overnight, early-morning crew at 5 a.m., and other times. Grocery shopping, at least, can be done around those shifts, and other shopping on a day off. My store opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m. We have customers in there before they head to their own jobs many times.
So, please, any of you looking down your nose at us because we don't want to be forced into this, think again. It would give the newer employee a few hours they wouldn't normally have perhaps, but there will be repercussions throughout the "normal" work week. To open Sundays proved too expensive the last time Nova Scotia tried it, with extra staff hours, heat, electricity and insurance for that extra day. They still have to have management there and senior staff people on cash.
Susanne Greenwood, Lake Echo
Taking bad advice
It concerns me that Premier John Hamm is receiving such bad advice and, against his better judgment, actually taking it.
Sunday shopping is a case in point. It worries me when something so simple is handled so ineptly. It takes a rare talent to devise a strategy that irritates all of the electorate.
The pro-Sunday-shopping lobby often says that opening on Sunday would provide more retail jobs (at minimum wage). If increasing the payroll is the objective, let's keep all government offices open on the weekend.
The biggest impact of being open seven days will be on those people who have chosen retail sales as their careers. Have the pollsters ever asked these people their opinions?
If Sunday shopping is inevitable, then please do it right. Do not restrict opening hours to afternoons only. Furthermore, the premier should make it clear that public transit will operate on a daily schedule. The promised multitude of shoppers and workers must have some means of getting to the mall.
The proposed Band-Aid approach to automobile insurance is another issue that defies logic. I had just renewed my policy, so a rate freeze didn't pick up any votes in my house. However, my homeowners' policy is due, so I suppose the company will increase my rates to make up for lost revenue.
Mr. Hamm can still be re-elected, but only if he ignores the whispers of his Machiavellian advisers and follows his own instincts.
Tom Estabrooks, Dartmouth
Danny Graham would like to know what this government stands for (May 8 story). This government is acting with respect for the people. Premier John Hamm is acting as the head of a government that holds itself accountable to the people should. He has chosen to address the issue of Sunday shopping, and Mr. Graham has the nerve to tell the Hamm government to "just get on with this." Mr. Graham has forgotten about the people who work in the retail industry.
Regardless of the outcome of a plebiscite, simply addressing the concerns about Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia is a step towards putting in place the parameters for a respectful policy.
I am against Sunday shopping, but I am not writing to defend my position against it. Danny Graham reminds me of a schoolyard kid picking a fight just to fight.
Premier Hamm is addressing the issues of Sunday shopping. Clearly against it, he is governing in a respectful and responsible manner. Premier Hamm has put Nova Scotians first and is approaching with caution, so as to ensure that the rights of the public are protected.
Mr. Graham's charge-ahead attitude scares me a little. His idea of government appears to be a little totalitarian. The last time I looked out my window at this fine province, there were people living here. Maybe Mr. Graham should look out his window and be reminded of whom he represents and works for.
Peter Manuel, Tantallon
Try on our shoes
All of this talk of Sunday shopping has got me thinking about how ridiculous it actually is. Most retail stores are open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. six days a week. If you cannot get what you need in that timeframe, then you don't really need it at all.
I'm a Grade 12 student who also works part-time at a Canadian Tire store some nights during the week and most Saturdays. Sundays are the only days that I have to relax, unwind, and be with my family. I cannot simply say to my employer that I want every Sunday off, because it is just not going to happen that way.
It seems to me that most people who want this Sunday shopping either do not work in retail, or can afford not to work at all. To those people, I say: Put yourself in my shoes, or any retail worker's shoes for that matter. We are sometimes a very stressed and overworked bunch, and we would like one day a week when we know that we don't have to worry about work.
Why go shopping when you can spend a quiet day at home with loved ones?
Megan Cox, Lower Sackville
Rich get richer
I believe the Sunday shopping debate is going the wrong way. Retail workers and self-employed people are asked to give up Sunday, a day of rest, so the wealthy owners of the chain stores can make more sales. Once again, the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
Sam Said, Blockhouse
Fair rules for vote
Now we are going to have our say on Sunday shopping. Let's set down some fair and reasonable rules for the vote in 2004.
First and foremost, only those people who have attained the age of majority should be allowed to vote. This will eliminate all of the part-time employees (students) who would like to work, without affecting the permanent employees' lives.
And the only people who should be allowed to participate in this vote on Sunday shopping are those who work in the retail sector. This would eliminate all of the people who don't understand that there is enough time in a six-day week to take care of all of your shopping needs.
I would like to offer this one piece of common sense for those people who work in other occupations: If you want Sunday shopping to happen, you should be prepared to work at your jobs on Sunday as well. Nothing makes you more worthy of having a normal life than people who work in the retail sector.
Brian Smith, Dartmouth
Thanks for nothing
The jokers in Province House have decided I will work the six Sundays before Christmas and THEN we'll have a plebiscite?
This is going to put the price of everything up. People will not have more money to spend over seven days instead of six. The stores will have to have the lights, heat/air conditioners on, plus the cost of staff salaries - all coming out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, because this premier sees an election in the fall and THINKS this is what people want. If you think the Sobeys and the Irvings of this world are going to take a cut in profits, you are mistaken. The cost will be passed on to the consumer.
My family is not exactly the Waltons, but we do get together for Sunday brunch every week. That will end. I know someone from the government is going to tell me that I "do not HAVE to work on Sundays." Yeah, sure. Who do you suppose will be the first in line for any raise or promotion in that situation?
I work with a gentleman who has joint custody of his daughter. He gets to see her a day and half per week. Guess which day it is?
Could we keep schools open seven days a week and parents choose which five days they send their children? No, the all-powerful unions would put a stop to that. Maybe we could have the banks and post office join us for a little Sunday action? No, for the same reasons. Perhaps the slackers in Province House could start doing a full week's work. Again, I can't see it happening.
Thanks for nothing, Mr. Premier. See you at the polls.
Darrin M. Harvey, Lakeville
Lost two votes
Premier John Hamm must be quite concerned about the results of the next provincial election, since he has now capitulated in his own beliefs and convictions in order to garner more votes.
I would like to personally thank the premier for allowing me not to spend Sundays with my husband, who works in retail. Sundays are the only days we have to spend together and now, for the six Sundays prior to Christmas, when most families and friends get together to enjoy the time leading up to the holidays, we will be separated.
I suppose if I believed in Sunday shopping, I could visit him at work; but since I don't, that is not an option.
I have long been waffling on whether I would vote for Premier Hamm, as he has been waffling on the Sunday shopping issue. I waffle no longer. Premier Hamm, you have just lost two votes.
Cherry Gauthier, Dartmouth
Consider down sides
So, we are behind the times, are we? Well, here's something to think about. My husband and I just moved here from Ontario (where they have had Sunday shopping for a while).
Sunday shopping has its bonuses: more jobs, more income tax, better economy.
However, consider the down sides: 1) Higher stress levels, which translate into more health problems. 2) More money spent on roads (and this province seems to have its challenges when it comes to road work). 3) More cars on the road, hence higher pollution. 4) Pace becomes even more hectic because instead of planning ahead for shopping needs, we tend to leave it until the last minute. 5) More eating out (good for fast-food restaurants, bad for us). 6) More foreigners will want to come and buy properties here (this is already a problem).
I could mention hundreds (literally) more negatives for Sunday shopping.
We fell in love with Nova Scotia a few years ago when we visited family, and made a conscious choice to move to an area where people greet you on the street and smile. In the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), Sunday shopping is allowed, but nobody seems to enjoy it because it seems like just another work day.
Whatever Nova Scotia residents decide, I will have to accept; but I urge all Nova Scotians to consider the extensive cost of an extra day of shopping - there is a trade-off for everything!
Kaye Wynne, Middleton
Asking wrong question
Do you want a new car? Do you want an extra month of vacation? Do you want to be able to shop on Sunday?
Yes, yes and yes.
Do you want to work on Sundays?
Ah, just wait a minute; no, of course not.
Maybe we are asking the wrong question, or just asking the wrong people.
It is my guess that the ones who are voting for Sunday shopping aren't the people who are going to have to work Sundays.
The premier says people will be able to refuse Sunday work. I can't believe he is that naïve. This is like the "right to refuse unsafe work," which is really another way of saying "the right to refuse a paycheque."
Wade Garrison, Lunenburg
Business will survive
A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in which the mayor of Amherst told about the millions of dollars his community was losing because there is no Sunday shopping. Then, within a week, an announcement states that Wal-Mart is coming to Amherst with a store, including a large grocery.
Why would this large department store chain open business in a community where so much money is being lost? Are the people going to stop going to New Brunswick when it opens? Is it going to survive without Sunday shopping? And what about the smaller businesses in that community?
I think the addition of a Wal-Mart indicates that the business community can survive without Sunday shopping.
David J. Veinot, South Ohio
Keep laid-back image
After having read the Boston Globe editorial "Hardly ever on Sundays" on your Feb. 4 editorial page, I was prompted to pen my feelings.
I currently work in one of the major shopping malls in the HRM. Also, I have worked retail in the downtown core of the Halifax waterfront. Working on Sunday in the downtown environment from May to October, 12 noon to 5 p.m., in the retail sector makes sense, as the waterfront houses cruise ships and special summer events, and attracts people in general to the harbour.
However, working on Sunday in malls in the outskirts makes no sense at all. Have retailers actually tallied overhead versus sales during the evenings in the malls? And now they're considering extending that expense to include people "just looking" on Sunday.
Would it not make more sense for our province to pride itself in maintaining our laid-back image by remaining closed on Sundays (except the shops and services that currently exist) and use this as our continued tourism appeal?
Visitors are always impressed by our slower pace and our yielding to pedestrians.
If we lose Sunday, we will never get it back.
Paula LeBlanc, Eastern Passage
Ask fair question
Sunday shopping has become a matter of debate again in our province. Premier John Hamm proposes that the issue may be solved by a plebiscite. The problem is that the question the premier proposes is about the retail sector only. Funny how everyone in this whole province can decide what we do on a Sunday, yet where can we decide what you do on a Sunday?
Where is the democracy? It's like the whole province debating whether the premier should work on Sunday. The fair question that we propose is: "Would you like government, municipal, dentist offices, retail stores open on Sunday? Yes or No?"
It also was hinted that they may allow Sunday shopping prior to Christmas. Mr. Premier, you may also want to open the entire province before Christmas. Why don't our government officials get it? Singling out just retail workers is wrong; it does not send a proper message out to the public.
Our message to all political leaders of this province is: We want to be treated equally. So far, this is not happening.
Gabriel Porter, Peter Hare, Halifax; Bonnie Surette, Mahone Bay; Tony Lohnes, Blockhouse; Ann Shankle, Italy Cross; Margaret Roy, Marcia Hebb, Jeremy Lowe, Kerry Whynot,
Save Our Sundays: http://saveoursundays.tripod.com
Don't shop till you drop
I am a former resident of Nova Scotia, now living in New Brunswick. I am writing concerning Amherst Mayor Jerry Hallee's comments about Sunday shopping. I would like to inform him that Sunday shopping in New Brunswick could cost his citizens much more.
Any resident of Nova Scotia who requires a land ambulance in this province will have to pay $650. What is more incredible is that any non-resident of New Brunswick requiring air ambulance will be required to pay the N.B. government $6,500 (http://www.gnb.ca/0219/info-e.asp#FAQs). This is quite a bill for a little bit of shopping in New Brunswick.
This matter came to light after my mother-in-law came up to my house for a visit and required an ambulance. She is on social assistance and now has to pay $650 that she doesn't have, just because the government here can't balance its books. To add insult to injury, the ambulance got lost and was twice as long getting to my house. Talk about good service for $650!
I hope that Mayor Hallee takes this into consideration in his fight for Sunday shopping.
Lawrence Manzer, Burton, N.B.
I have taken great offence at Pamela MacDonald's Nov. 2 letter, "Let people choose."
I wonder how many people, including Ms. MacDonald, who advocate Sunday shopping would actually like to work themselves on a Sunday. I suspect not many, as that would cut down on their Sunday shopping time.
I feel very fortunate that I work Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, my husband works for a business open 24 hours a day, except Sunday. He has one day off a week, plus Sunday. He does not get many Saturdays off, so we have only Sunday to spend together. When church is over, we spend the rest of the day together. We have no desire to shop.
On Saturday, I manage to get my shopping done by noon. My husband does his errands on his day off. Even with our busy schedules, we both seem to manage this with no problem. As well, most of the stores are open until 9:30 p.m. each evening. I only have so much money to spend in the run of a week. By Sunday, it's gone.
If there was Sunday shopping, why should staff be expected to work to allow those who "can't find time" during the week to do their shopping? I have spoken to many staff people over the years and have yet to have one say, "Yes, I would like to work on Sunday."
Cherry Gauthier, Dartmouth
Keith Goudge wrote: "None of us has the right to try to impose our values on anyone else" (Jan. 3 letter). But he is trying to impose his values on everyone else. He is willing to impose Sunday work on those who do not believe in it - or force them to lose their jobs or their businesses.
If we're going to go by polls, dare I suggest we should poll only those most affected by Sunday opening - the workers who currently have Sunday off, but would have to work if retailers were open on Sunday? Or don't they count?
There is no meaningful protection for those who do not want to work on Sunday, who do not believe it right to undertake unnecessary work on the Lord's day. An employer can always find an excuse to fire them.
To all those who agree with Keith Goudge: By what right do you impose joblessness or compromise on these people? "None of us has the right to try to impose our values on anyone else," I think you said.
Don Codling, Pastor,
Bedford Presbyterian Church
Claim to fame
After reading the Jan. 3 letter by Keith Goudge, I am reminded of how much I enjoy walking and driving in Halifax and Dartmouth on Sundays. It's calmer and quieter, it smells different from other days and you can see forever. People walk and jog in groups; and in sparsely filled mall parking lots, you can see a parent teaching a child to ride a bike or someone learning the art of driving a car.
Do you know why I can see all those things? Because we don't have Sunday shopping!
I go to church on Sundays, but this debate has nothing to do with religion. This has to do with serenity and space, and my city restoring and refreshing itself to begin another week. Isn't it a pity that our society has no way to measure the value of walking on quiet streets or a day when there is kind of a collective pause? We don't have vocabulary for such things; only for goods and services bought and sold and the GNP.
Some years ago, I was in Nassau, where a young woman was presiding over an open-air market on a Sunday morning. A gentleman was asking her which stores would be opening when. This woman flashed him a smile and informed him proudly that none of the stores in Nassau were open on Sundays.
We don't need to be embarrassed because we are the only province to opt out of Sunday shopping. It can be our claim to fame, our gift to a society that has forgotten how to pause. The pursuit of a different kind of lifestyle. Something above and beyond the bottom line.
Pam Matthews, Dartmouth
Not about money
It is interesting to note that stores are closed on Sundays in Austria. There could not be a country more visited by tourists than Austria.
Some years ago, Christians in the British Isles struggled to keep Sunday a holy day, a family day, and a day of rest. They lost, and Sunday is no longer a day of rest there. When the stores first opened in Scotland, employees were told they would not be forced to work on Sunday. Now, they have to sign a contract saying they will work on Sunday, and I presume if they do not sign, they do not get the job.
Nova Scotia is unique. Tourists can come and enjoy a quiet, restful Sunday. The issue is not about making more money. It is about quality of life. If merchants have their way, we will lose something that has been very dear to Christians for centuries - and it is not money!
Bernice Logan, Tangier
I read Andrew Nussey's letter (Dec. 28) and Keith Goudge's letter (Jan. 3).
It seems to me that Mr. Goudge is not in favour of respecting the reality of pluralistic values, but rather he seems to advocate an "anything goes" attitude in which we should compromise all sense of values and morals because not every person can agree. He also seems to suggest that a majority vote in favour of Sunday shopping means that it must be inherently "good." This cannot be the truth.
I live in a province that allows Sunday shopping. If there is a majority in favour of the practice, I would suggest that those in favour are the ones who do not have to suffer. The less-fortunate, minimum-wage workers must suffer in favour of capitalistic attitudes. These workers do not work more hours, anyway; but their hours are spread over another day now - i.e., Sunday - and so they must report to work on what should be their day of rest.
Think of the individuals and the families who must suffer. If you are unable to shop in six days, I would suggest that your problem is more complicated than you might care to admit.
Michelle Jesso, Three Rock Cove, Nfld.
Liberals no change
For those of you out there who do not know, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party now supports Sunday shopping, so we have started an online petition opposing such a move.
Danny Graham, the new leader of the party, not even elected by the people of this province, wants to give the consumer what he calls choice. He wants the retail stores to open, but does not mention opening government offices, municipal offices, dentist offices, schools or anything else on a Sunday.
We have e-mailed Mr. Graham several times on this issue, but he has not answered us to date. Is this the kind of premier you want to run the province? He wants to hear from Nova Scotians, but he does not want to hear from the retail sector.
If Nova Scotians want a change, the Liberal party is not it. They are only looking for those handouts from the big corporations.
You can access our petition at http://saveoursundays.tripod.com or e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Lohnes, Blockhouse; Bonnie Surette, Mahone Bay; Margaret Roy, Jeremy Lowe, Kerry Whynot,
Bridgewater; Peter Hare, Halifax; Ann Shankle, Italy Cross; Thomas B. Frauzel, Chelsea
Premier knows best
I want to thank Janet Savary for pointing out (Dec. 18 letter) that while stores are closed on Sundays, Nova Scotians are still able to go to drinking and gambling establishments.
The logical thing we need to do is lobby the government to disallow these establishments to operate on Sundays.
Eileen Cardiff is amazed that there is no Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia (Dec. 18 letter). Perhaps we could learn a lesson from our premier who "has to take his Sunday nap." Perhaps we are underestimating our premier's good example.
I think we owe our premier some thanks for doing what is best for his people, because clearly some of us think we ought to aim for as much work and money as possible - as if we do not work hard enough in this day and age - and at the same time sacrifice the health of our bodies and souls.
I think we ought to examine our lives and discover where our priorities lie. For instance, is our priority to make as much money as possible from tourists, or do we need a day of rest more than ever in this day and age? Get with the times!
Andrew Nussey, Halifax
Sideswiping little guys
I am a small-store operator. Sunday sales are the best day of the week for me (when the big stores are closed).
Last time, when Sunday shopping was allowed before Christmas, I lost a major chunk of my sales. My customers kept on driving to the big stores or the malls just to kill time.
The amount of sales the big stores took from the small stores was like the icing on the cake for the big stores. For the small stores, it was our bread and butter.
I believe the revenue which will be gained by the big stores will mean the failure of lots of small stores and also the disappearance of jobs in the small retail sector of rural Nova Scotia.
Let us keep and save jobs in small businesses in Nova Scotia and in the rural economy, too.
Sam Said, Maitland
Where does it stop?
Sunday shopping has been an issue for the last few years, and retail workers are creating a stir to try to stop this issue from going any further. The questions people are asking in recent letters are fair: If you can get a taxi, listen to TV and radio, go to bars and restaurants, go to movies, and get your newspapers, why can't you have retail stores open to the shopping public?
I realize these people all have to work on Sunday, but this is part of what was expected of them when they chose to work in that given profession.
There are a lot of great reasons for saying no to large retail stores having the option of opening on Sunday, and I know the results of opening this door would not stop there. Why would we not want to have our drivers' licences renewed, register a business, buy a new car, have mail delivered, go to a dentist or the liquor store, etc.?
Once you open this door on Sunday shopping, how can you get this process to stop? Then, it's not only retail workers having to lose the special time with their families, but a whole new group being affected by people who can only see the added convenience and the extra money that may be created by tourism.
We have lived with this system for a long time and we have benefited by having close family ties. We can find all kinds of arguments for Sunday shopping, but where and when does it stop?
Roger LeBlanc, Dartmouth