Ontario premier moves to outlaw Whole Foods poppy policy

·2 min read
Ontario premier moves to outlaw Whole Foods poppy policy
  • After this story was published, Whole Foods backed down on banning poppies at work.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he'll make it illegal for businesses in the province to prohibit employees from wearing poppies after grocery store chain Whole Foods said it has no plans to reverse the policy, even as Remembrance Day approaches.

"I find it absolutely disgraceful. I find it disgusting," he told reporters in Ottawa on Friday.

"So we're going to introduce legislation immediately that permits any employee, any employee no matter where you work ... to wear a poppy, and making sure that no employer can force someone not to wear a poppy."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the grocery chain is making a "silly mistake."

WATCH | Prime minister hopes Whole Foods will change course on poppy policy:

Trudeau also retweeted a message from Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay that called the move "absolutely unacceptable."

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said in a statement the decision is "stupid" and "shameful."

"To those of us who have proudly served our country, to those still serving, to the fallen who have paid the ultimate sacrifice — this is not a cause."

During question period Friday, Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre called on shoppers to boycott Whole Foods.

MPs also voted unanimously to call on all employers to allow staff to wear poppies Nov. 5-11, and to invite Whole Foods CEO John Mackey to appear before the standing committee on veterans affairs.

WATCH | The Whole Foods poppy controversy discussed in House of Commons:

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also spoke out against the chain's poppy policy, calling on the company to reverse what he called an "idiotic decision" and urging them to apologize to Canada's veterans.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Twitter referred to another Whole Foods dress code policy that's currently the subject of a lawsuit in the United States, saying it is also wrong to ban the wearing of poppies.

"Canadians shouldn't lose the right to honour the sacrifices of veterans when they go to work," he tweeted.

The policy garnered near-unanimous condemnation on Twitter, both toward Whole Foods and its parent company, Amazon.

Whole Foods did not explain its decision to CBC.

An employee of the sole Whole Foods location in Ottawa told CBC she was told by a supervisor that wearing the poppy would be seen as "supporting a cause."

Poppies are offered in exchange for donations to the Royal Canadian Legion, then worn as a sign of support and respect for the men and women who have died fighting for Canada. Traditionally, they're removed after 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.