Ontario lawmakers have passed a bill to ban garment manufacturers from producing clothing with poppy symbols that violate the country’s first laws of Remembrance Day.
The anti- poppies legislation was approved in the Ontario legislature Friday afternoon on its second reading by a vote of 63 to 24, at the invitation of Premier Doug Ford.
The bill comes as poppy motifs are hugely popular in Canada this year.
The federal Conservative government officially recognized Remembrance Day as a national day of remembrance for the war dead on Friday, calling the date “a day to pause and honour those Canadians who have served and are serving in our brave armed forces.”
Veterans and first-time visitors to Canada are being encouraged to “pray silently for Canada’s boys and girls in uniform” on this Remembrance Day.
In addition, veterans, first-time visitors and tourists are being urged to “pray silently for Canada’s boys and girls in uniform” on this Remembrance Day.
But its popularity threatens to encroach on the rights of workers to wear their own Remembrance Day clothing and accessories, as Mr Ford warned in his second reading speech.
Ontario’s provincial law does protect workers wearing poppies as part of a “symbolic dress code” and it is illegal to misuse poppy symbols as “graffiti, decorative graffiti, or on private property for commercial purposes”, but the Bill is seeking to prohibit the sale of military or police-themed clothes with poppy symbols.
Restrictions have already been made on poppy sales, with Victoria’s Secret and similar high-end stores banning poppy-themed apparel as “point of sale” advertising. But poppy sale has for years been an optional activity in the manufacturing industries that set their own dress codes, mainly in the apparel retail industry.
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Similar legislation in a city in B.C. also prohibited sales of poppy accessories in a potential government challenge of the law.
After the bill’s second reading, Simon Fraser University’s law student Kyle Howden tweeted that his own research “found no credible evidence” that manufacturers and customers who felt offended by the ruling “had a real concern about the safety or reputation of their employer.”
Mr Howden also added that, “No one would gain by outlawing poppy-logo clothing and accessories, just like no one would gain from banning the marketing of items promoting female empowerment or patriotism”.
Following the Ontario vote on Friday, election campaign videos in favour of the ban started to appear in social media posts.