(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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pipe stringing work in Section 4. (Coastal GasLink photo/Lakes District News)
Pipe installation begins from south of Burns Lake to north of Vanderhoof

Coastal Gas Link’s November update indicates 528 additional workers

Vanderhoof Community Foundation logo.
Donate in your loved one’s name this Giving Tuesday: Vanderhoof Community Foundation

Today, Dec. 1 is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement for… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read