‘Contradiction there:’ Manitoba eyes looser holiday shopping rules

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is considering whether to loosen a law that limits holiday store openings and says he agrees with one business owner who has complained that some shops shouldn’t be forced to close while casinos and liquor outlets stay open.

“There’s a contradiction there, for sure,” Pallister said Thursday.

“I know there’s discussion going on right now at various levels in the government and departmentally about this issue. In my view, this would be a decision best made by municipalities.”

A Winnipeg family that owns five small grocery stores was ticketed this year for opening on Good Friday and is expecting to be penalized again for opening on Canada Day.

Ramsey Zeid, who manages one of the Food Fare grocery stores, said he and his relatives plan to continue opening on holidays in defiance of the law, which he calls among the strictest in Canada.

“There are customers that come into the city that have family here — that can’t believe that this law still exists here — from Ontario, from Alberta, from British Columbia, from Quebec,” said Zeid.

“They’re always like, ‘Seriously, you can’t open?’”

The Manitoba law is complex. Tourism outlets, restaurants, liquor and cannabis stores, pharmacies and casinos can open on holidays, as can any store that normally operates with four or fewer workers at a time.

Other businesses, including grocers that have more than four employees working, can open on some holidays such as Victoria Day.

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