Target insists controversial poppy policy was a misunderstanding
Target Canada and the national leadership of the Royal Canadian Legion are trying to calm the storm after news spread that veterans would only be allowed to sell poppies outside of Target locations.
The retail giant and Dominion Command say there has simply been a miscommunication but some veterans aren’t buying it.
On Monday, the company said Target officials had met with Dominion Command and came to a joint decision about this year’s poppy campaign.
“We agreed that outside the front doors would be ideal and obviously if the weather is inclement or they prefer they are welcome to stand inside the double doors as well,” said company spokesperson Lisa Gibson in a statement.
The news spread quickly on social media, with many users expressing anger over the decision.
NDP Veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer also weighed in, saying he hoped the company would change its mind.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in Canada, it’s cold, and the reality is it’s a bonus to Target to let these veterans into their stores, set up their tables and sell the poppies as they’ve always done,” said the Nova Scotia NDP MP on Monday.
“I would encourage Target to allow them to come into the store at all times.”
When Stoffer called the company, he was told Dominion Command and Target were going to have another discussion on the matter.
However, Dominion Command said Tuesday that the issue is a misunderstanding and that the legion and Target have been in agreement over the poppy campaign since February.
They said a new information package prepared jointly with Target is being sent to legion branches and that the new package makes it clear veterans won’t have to sit outside in the cold.
“They state one thing and then do a 180 and yeah, I think they’re saving face,” says Second World War veteran Paul Bramwell.
“Their flip-flop does not impress me,” says Korean War veteran John O’Reilly. “Most of us old guys, we’re in our high 80s. I’m going on 82 and there’s no way I can stand out in the cold.”
Stoffer says he is glad Target Canada has changed its position. He also hopes the retail giant keeps this experience in mind when the Salvation Army looks to set up its kettles later this fall.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw