Feds flip flop on Christmas decoration ban
MONTREAL - Festive lights, mistletoes and Christmas trees will again be permitted in a federally-owned downtown Montreal office building.
A holiday kerfuffle was averted late Friday afternoon as administrators of the federal Guy Favreau building were told in an email from the Human Resources Minister that they, "can celebrate Christmas or the holidays as they please."
Complexe Guy Favreau, which houses Service Canada, sent out a memo three weeks ago banning Christmas decorations.
Employees who work in the building were instructed to limit their holiday decorations at their own desk, and then only if they did not deal with the public.
The memo said the rationale is not to offend people who do not celebrate Christmas.
The issue caused an instant uproar in the House of Commons on Friday with the opposition demanding the order be revoked.
"Somebody put their good decision making switch to ‘OFF,' it should be ‘On,'" said Liberal MP Denis Coderre.
The MP targeted by the attacks denied issuing Grinch-like orders.
"We have a 30 foot tree at head office, so we enjoy celebrating Christmas," said Diane Finley, Human Resources Minister.
A representative for Diane Finley, federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, later sent out revised instructions indicating that holiday decorations would be permitted inside federal buildings.
Earlier Finley had said she would not interfere with the order from Marc Simoneau, the head of Service Canada for Quebec.
The Canada Employment and Immigration Union, which represents Service Canada workers, supported the ban, saying it will cut down on complaints.
Meanwhile the ban was not being uniformly applied across Canada.
Prior to the revision, Finley sent an email to CTVNews.ca saying only that "there is no national directive regarding holiday decorations in Service Canada Centres."
Some don't even consider Christmas decorations to be particularly religious.
"I don't think tinsel has anything to do with religious affiliation whatsoever, neither does a glass Christmas ornament," said Eric Pierce of Noel Eternel.
Even a religious Jewish community leader confessed to be partial for the symbols of Christmas.
"As an Orthodox Rabbi, I'm not supposed to admit this but yes i find it a beautiful time to visit be in Montreal or visit New York to see Christmas decorations. Who would be against that?" asked Rabbi Reuben Poupko.