A man who owns a chain of independent grocery stores in Winnipeg says he was fined $10,000 for opening one of his stores on Good Friday.
Munther Zeid, who owns several Food Fare locations in the city, was handed the ticket on Tuesday by a pair of Winnipeg police officers in his store, he said. Provincial law forbids most stores from opening on statutory holidays.
“Its very unfair,” he said. “It’s a stat holiday, a general holiday, and yet this morning I looked on the website after getting the ticket, the general holiday also shows Victoria Day, which just happened a week or so ago.
“A lot of businesses were open and nobody said boo. I don’t get it.”
Zeid said the only justification he could find for being allowed to open on Victoria Day but not Good Friday is that it’s a religious holiday.
However, cannabis stores and the local casinos were allowed to open on Good Friday, something many religions object to, he said.
“When I found out that the weed stores were allowed to open, I opened up one of my stores, so it’s just the principle of it,” he said.
“Why can a weed store [open], on a religious holiday that both levels of government are afraid to make a change on … you can open up a weed store, a casino, and sell liquor.”
Zeid claims he had city councillors, MLAs and MPs all shopping at his store on Good Friday, although he wouldn’t name names.
“Since 1999 or 2000, at this particular store, we’ve been opening up on various holidays and nobody’s come around. Why now?”
When it comes to when local businesses are allowed to open, The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said their stance is “it should be up to the owners.”
“With the current rules its not only very confusing but it’s also very restrictive for a lot of businesses that may want to be open and ultimately this should be a business decision,” said Jonathan Alward with the CFIB.
The Retail Council of Canada believes Manitoba is out of step with other provinces in Canada and is calling for an update to its rules.
“In some provinces decisions are based at a municipal level, so if Manitoba’s the case maybe Winnipeg (stores) would open on those days but Steinbach would remain closed on those days. It would be up to each municipality,” Retail Council of Canada, Director John Graham said.
The ticket will be fought, Zeid added.
“I guarantee you this: I don’t go down very easily,” he said.
“I will fight it and I challenge anyone — politician or not — to stand in my way … I’m going to fight it even if it costs me a hundred grand.”
-With files from Alison MacKinnon