After backlash from Canadians and politicians, U.S.-based Whole Foods has backtracked and will now allow employees to wear poppies at work.
Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay confirmed the change on Twitter, saying he was glad to hear the company changed course.
The Whole Foods uniform is an apron, coat or vest, along with a hat and name badge.
“With the exception of those items required by law, our dress code policy prohibits any additions to our standard uniform,” a spokesperson previously said in a statement to HuffPost Canada.
The company, owned by Amazon, will observe a moment of silence in all of its Canadian stores on Nov. 11 and is donating to the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign, the spokesperson said.
“Our intention was never to single out the poppy or to suggest a lack of support for Remembrance Day and the heroes who have bravely served their country,” the spokesperson said later in the day. “We appreciate the thoughtful feedback we have received from our customers.”
WATCH: House of Commons honours veterans ahead of Remembrance Day. Story continues below.
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An employee at an Ottawa Whole Foods told CBC News that a supervisor said wearing a poppy could be seen as “supporting a cause.”
Danny Martin, director of corporate services at the legion’s national headquarters, said in a statement to HuffPost the legion encourages people to wear poppies at all times unless there are safety concerns.
Canadian politicians called for Whole Foods to overturn its rule Friday morning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the company made a “silly mistake” that he hoped they would quickly correct.
“This is something we see every year almost. Some company, some organization, some retail store makes a mistake around support for the legions or the wearing of poppies and it is quickly corrected due to public outcry,” Trudeau said. “I think that is certainly what I hope will happen in the coming days.”
The House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion Friday for the CEO of Whole Foods to appear before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the decision “disgusting and disgraceful.”
“We will always stand with our veterans,” he wrote on Twitter. “Whole Foods should apologize and immediately reverse this decision.”
Ford said Ontario will introduce legislation to prevent any employer from banning staff from wearing a poppy during “Remembrance Week.”
MacAulay, the veterans affairs minister, weighed in on Twitter.
“This is absolutely unacceptable — the poppy is an important symbol of remembrance, and it’s more important than ever that everyone support the [Royal Canadian Legion’s] Poppy Campaign this year,” he said, tagging the veterans’ group in his tweet.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said Whole Foods’ actions are “shameful” and “frankly un-Canadian.”
“To those of us who have proudly served our country, to those still serving, to the fallen who have paid the ultimate sacrifice – this is not a cause,” he said in a statement.
“Let’s tell Whole Foods to stop trying to be Woke Foods. The poppy is a sign of respect.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said it’s wrong for the company to ban the poppy, comparing it to when Whole Foods sent home workers who wore Black Lives Matter face masks.
“Canadians shouldn’t lose the right to honour the sacrifices of veterans when they go to work,” Singh said on Twitter.
Nujma Bond, the legion’s communications manager, previously told HuffPost the organization anticipates Canadians will be “just as generous” this year amid the pandemic as in previous years.
The legion typically raises almost $20 million from its annual poppy campaign, which provides fundings to veterans through emergency assistance, social programming and other initiatives.
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