Under an outdated law based on the Bible, a Canadian store owner was fined $10,000 for being open on Good Friday.
Munther Zeid, the owner of several Foodfare grocery stores in Winnipeg, is fighting the fine in court. He’s also calling on the local government to put an end to the archaic law.
Zeid knowingly broke Manitoba law when he opened the store. The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act prevents stores from operating on holidays defined in the act, including Good Friday.
But there are several exceptions to the act, which allow pharmacies, gas stations and cannabis stores to be open, for example.
The latter put Zeid over the edge on April 19 — Good Friday. He said when he found out a pot store was open, he decided to keep his doors open too, even after police came to his store on April 19 to warn him that what he was doing was illegal.
He adds he’s been open on holidays for 20 years and never been fined before.
Under what grounds can a pot store be open on Good Friday but not a grocery store? Good luck figuring that out. But that’s not even a debate people should be having since there’s no reason anyone should be punished for choosing to be open on a Christian holiday.
The hypocrisy doesn’t stop there, either.
Zeid doesn’t think it’s fair the government can make money by opening casinos on holidays, but he can’t sell milk or bread.
“So what are we promoting? Let’s have a family day by going to the casino, lose our money. Then we’ll get drunk to forget about it and maybe get high too at the same time.
“I think that’s kind of ridiculous.”
That’s an understatement.
Zeid doesn’t necessarily say he’s against this measure for personal religious reasons, but it appears the government is at least aware that some citizens don’t want to be forced to observe a specifically religious day when it’s not even one they celebrate.
A press secretary for Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Blaine Pedersen didn’t say if the current Progressive Conservative government has plans to change the law.
“We recognize Manitobans have diverse opinions about the rules for holiday openings for retail businesses,” David von Meyenfeldt said in an email.
“There are a number of different views on the topic and we’ll continue to listen to what Manitobans have to say, including small business owners and employees.”
That’s a start. But even common sense would dictate that Zeid’s fine be rescinded while government officials work to change this bizarre law as soon as possible.
(Thanks to @RealColBatGuano for the link)