(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Whole Foods reverses poppy ban for workers following heavy criticism

Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay tweeted that Whole Foods’ policy is ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Grocery chain Whole Foods Market reversed a policy Friday that forbid employees from wearing poppies — a rule the prime minister described as a “silly mistake.”

The U.S.-based Whole Foods had defended the rule earlier, saying it was part of a blanket ban on anything other than the retailer’s basic uniform. It said later, however, that feedback it received was helpful.

“Our intention was never to single out the poppy or suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day and the heroes who have bravely served their country,” a company spokeswoman said.

“Given the learnings of today, we are welcoming team members to wear the poppy pin in honour of Remembrance Day.”

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said he had spoken to the company’s chief operating officer and welcomed the reversal.

“Employees will now be able to wear their poppies at work,” MacAulay said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Glad to hear they’re changing course.”

Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that MacAulay was actively working on the issue.

“Whole Foods has made a silly mistake that I’m hoping will be corrected very quickly,” Trudeau had said.

The House of Commons also adopted a motion by unanimous consent calling on all Canadian employers to allow their staff to wear poppies during Veterans Week, which began Thursday.

Meanwhile Ontario’s premier vowed to introduce legislation that would allow everyone to wear a poppy while at work in the week leading up to Remembrance Day.

Doug Ford had said he found the Whole Foods policy “absolutely disgraceful.”

His office said later Friday that the government still planned to proceed with the legislation.

Whole Foods had said earlier that it updated its dress-code policy last month to specify the ban on anything other than the standard uniform in an effort to clarify the rules for employees.

It also noted that it planned to observe a moment of silence on Remembrance Day and donate to the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign.

Several politicians condemned the policy before the reversal on the poppy issue was announced.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who is a veteran, had said that the past sacrifices of Canadian soldiers “provides the freedom for a U.S. grocery chain to be stupid today.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had said the poppy policy was part of a broader issue at Whole Foods.

“It was wrong when they banned staff expressing support for Black Lives Matter and it’s wrong to ban the poppy,” he said, referencing an ongoing lawsuit in the United States.

A federal lawsuit filed in Boston on July 20 alleges that the supermarket chain disciplined, intimidated and retaliated against workers who wore Black Lives Matter face coverings earlier this year.

According to that lawsuit, store managers cited the company dress code, which prohibits slogans or logos not affiliated with the company, as the reason for prohibiting Black Lives Matter messages.

Other grocery chains took the opportunity Friday to highlight their own policies that embrace poppy-wearing.

“Our store teammates are finding unique ways to keep the spirit of Remembrance Day alive in this unprecedented year,” Sobeys tweeted, along with photos of prominent poppy displays, and a staff member wearing one of the pins.

Loblaws, meanwhile, was more direct.

“We allow and encourage our colleagues across the country to wear poppies. We have supported our veterans through poppy sales for years, and are making a donation to the Royal Canadian Legion,” the company tweeted.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Remembrance Day

Just Posted

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

Historian and longtime Citizen columnist T.W. Paterson photographs the historical wreckage of a plane on Mount Benson. Paterson recently won an award from the British Columbia Historical Foundation. (Submitted)
Cowichan’s Tom W. Paterson wins award for historical writing

British Columbia Historical Federation hands Recognition Award to local writer

This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)
Editorial: New electric school bus good place to start

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read