Toronto Council Keeps Ban on Holiday Retail Operation

The council of Canada's largest city voted this past week to hold off on deciding whether or not to lift a ban on the operation of retail stores during holidays, and won't likely make a decision until after the Oct. 25 elections.

Currently, Toronto law bans retail stores from opening on public holidays including New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Family Day. The law, Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 510 Holiday Shopping, traces to a 1677 English law that made Sunday a Christian holy day and barred profane activities.

"I think God's law has to be talked about," said Catholic city council member Giorgio Mammoliti, who opposed the recommendation to end the ban, arguing in defense of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Sunday as sacred days.

"It's part of our history. We've lived with religion for a long time," he said, according to the Toronto Sun.

The recommendation to end the ban came from a research report on the law by Toronto's Economic Development Committee, which cited the "diverse, multi-cultural" nature of the city before recommending that stores be allowed to choose whether or not they wish to open on holidays.

The recommendation has been supported by large shopping malls that feel the law creates an unfair disadvantage for their stores.

City Councillor Kyle Rae also backed the proposed change, claiming that the other council members' "pathetic, personal religious beliefs" were interfering with city council affairs.

Among those backing the ban, meanwhile, are figures including the archbishop of Toronto, who sent a letter to the City Council in support of the law.

Following Wednesday's 35-7 vote, the recommendation was sent back to the committee for further review.