SUNDAY CLOSING AND WEEKLY REST PERIODS:
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION AND CURRENT SITUATION
Pressure to liberalize Sunday closing laws, always present to some
degree since the enactment of the Lordís Day Act, intensified from the
1970s onwards. This can be ascribed to the secularization of society and,
perhaps most importantly, the desire of certain segments of the retail business
community to increase economic activity, and improve their competitiveness, by
extending weekly shopping hours.
Sunday closing laws were also challenged in court, although such challenges were initially unsuccessful. However, the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 proved to be a turning point for opponents of Sunday closing legislation. In 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal Lordís Day Act. It came to the conclusion that, by compelling all Canadians to observe the Christian Sabbath, the Act infringed the Charter guarantee of freedom of religion. It also deemed such an infringement not to be reasonable or demonstrably justified in a democratic society.