A Whole Foods policy banning employees from wearing poppies while on shift has triggered a social media firestorm of angry responses.
In an emailed statement to Victoria Buzz, a Whole Foods Market spokesperson said that the company dress code “prohibits any additions to our standard uniform.”
They added that Whole Foods supports Remembrance Day with a moment of silence on November 11 and by donating to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund.
As the news broke on Thursday afternoon and into Friday morning, a slew of angry responses emerged online, including from prominent politicians and local leaders.
Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole posted a video slamming the policy, calling it “stupid” and said he wanted “Whole Foods to stop trying to be Woke Foods.”
— Erin O'Toole (@erinotoole) November 6, 2020
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out that this is not the first time Whole Foods’ strict adherence to a dress code has courted controversy.
Singh said that it was also wrong when the company banned staff from expressing support for Black Lives Matter.
It was wrong when they banned staff expressing support for Black Lives Matter and it’s wrong to ban the Poppy.
Canadians shouldn't lose the right to honour the sacrifices of veterans when they go to work.https://t.co/3hEfXgASwS
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) November 6, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not personally express an opinion online, but he retweeted Federal Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who called the decision “absolutely unacceptable.”
This is absolutely unacceptable — the poppy is an important symbol of remembrance, and it’s more important than ever that everyone support the @RoyalCdnLegion’s Poppy Campaign this year. #CanadaRemembers https://t.co/bpSRcDP7zD
— Lawrence MacAulay (@L_MacAulay) November 6, 2020
Premier John Horgan said Whole Foods needed to “give your heads a shake” over the decision.
C’mon @WholeFoods. Wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day and Aboriginal Veterans Day is about honouring people who have given so much in service to others. Give your heads a shake. #LestWeForgethttps://t.co/nEsVixhJ6X
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) November 6, 2020
In Victoria, Oak Bay Police Chief Ray Bernoties said Whole Foods “don’t deserve our business” while also talking about a time he personally visited Afghanistan during Canada’s military engagement.
Is Whole Foods changing its name to A**whole Foods? 😡If you can't honour our vets, you don't deserve our business. I visited Afghanistan & was so impressed w/ our military women & men. Sadly, four were killed in a single attack during my brief visit.💔#Shame on Whole Foods. pic.twitter.com/GmMXCL8HZe
— Ray Bernoties (Police Chief – Oak Bay Police Dept) (@ray_oak) November 6, 2020
Friday morning, the House of Commons passed a unanimous motion condemning Whole Foods, and calling on the company to both rescind the decision and to appear before a Veteran Affairs committee.
Whole Foods was purchased by U.S. tech giant Amazon in 2017, and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.