You may recall that in November 2020, U.S.-based Whole Foods inexplicably banned its Canadian employees from wearing poppies.
The CBC broke the story, quoting an anonymous Whole Foods employee in Ottawa.
The employee said:
I was basically told … if they allowed this one particular cause, then it would open up the door so that they would have to allow or consider allowing other causes. I was in shock. I was appalled. I couldn't believe it… We're talking about people who have sacrificed their lives and families, people who have lost you know, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters… People have died for our country to keep it safe and to keep it free and this is the one time of year we get to honour them and say 'Thank you. Thank you for everything you have done.’
The Ottawa employee was not the only one outraged. Once news broke regarding the Whole Foods Remembrance Day policy, anger from coast to coast reached tsunami-like levels.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the policy as did Ontario Premier Doug Ford and other premiers. In fact, MPs voted unanimously to call on all employers to allow staff to wear poppies from Nov. 5-11.
Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, soon bent its knee and reversed its poppy policy.
Of note, during a visit to the north Toronto location of Whole Foods on Nov. 10, we noticed the store was displaying a poppy donation box. That is odd since the store was not accepting donations; customers are permitted to take a poppy and are then asked to donate to the Royal Canadian Legion online.
We reached out to the media relations department of Whole Foods for further clarification, but we never heard back.
Before we were frog-marched out the store, we estimated that there were about 70 customers and staffers. Only two were wearing the poppy.
In any event, this does make for a good news story. Which is to say, even when dealing with a censorious Silicon Valley tech giant that embraces cancel culture, if enough people voice their outrage, positive change can be achieved. As Whole Foods learned the hard way regarding Remembrance Day: don’t get sloppy when it comes to the iconic poppy.