Canada

Ford government to introduce legislation to protect poppy wearing

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The Ford government is tabling legislation Thursday which will protect the ability of employees to wear a poppy at work in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

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The move comes after a backlash last year when Whole Foods told employees that poppies were forbidden on the job.

That decision, later reversed, was denounced across the political spectrum.

“Whoever at Whole Foods made this decision isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer … about as sharp as a butter knife,” Premier Doug Ford said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the move a “silly mistake” at the time.

Now the Ford government wants to make sure no employer makes the same “silly mistake” in the future.

“It’s an issue we see now and then with the odd employer, we saw it with Whole Foods,” said Ontario Citizenship Minister Parm Gill.

Gill will introduce an amendment to the Remembrance Week Act that was passed in 2016. That act, which lays out Remembrance Week as Nov. 5-11, will be changed to ensure no one is denied the ability to wear a poppy at work during that time period.

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“Our appreciation and our gratitude for the men and women who have served is why we need to make sure every employee can wear a poppy,” Gill said.

He is hoping that the opposition does not object to passing the short piece of legislation quickly and that it can be enacted before Nov. 5.

“We will be in communication with all the legions, chambers of commerce to make sure that their members are aware of the changes,” Gill said.

Gill rejected any suggestion that Remembrance Day is not an inclusive day in an increasingly diverse Canada.

“I’m a visible minority. I’m always proud to see lots of members of visible minority communities attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and wear poppies,” Gill said.

Gill, who was born in India and is a Sikh, noted the recent commemoration of Pte. Bukkan Singh’s grave in Kitchener to dispel the idea that Remembrance Day is exclusionary. Singh was one of a handful of Sikhs who served in the Canadian military during the First World War.

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