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HALIFAX, N.S. -- Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald said last week that the Canadian province's law against stores opening on Sundays would be changed to stop some grocery stores from finding loopholes that allow them to operate.
As the law currently stands, most retailers can't operate on Sundays and holidays, but grocery stores smaller than 4,000 square feet may open their doors. MacDonald proposes that only grocery stores that regularly operated on Sundays before June 1 will be able to remain open on that day.
Additionally, MacDonald wants to hold a second plebiscite on Sunday shopping, timed to the province's 2008 municipal elections. A 2004 vote defeated Sunday openings by a narrow margin.
The proposed changes seem to be a response to big Canadian retailers Sobeys and Atlantic Superstore, which were able to circumvent the law by either physically or corporately subdividing their stores after June 1.
For its part, Sobeys expressed dismay over the announcement.
"We are shocked by the regressive steps taken today by Premier MacDonald and his government, which provide other businesses favorable treatment denied to Sobeys and which disadvantages our business, our employees, and our ability to serve our customers," said Bill McEwan, president and c.e.o. of Sobeys, Inc.
Headquartered in Stellarton, N.S., Sobeys owns or franchises approximately 1,300 stores in all 10 Canadian provinces under retail banners including Sobeys, IGA extra, IGA, and Price Chopper.