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Toronto a target of Sunday closing law

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``Toronto the Good'' - as Canadians often refer to this church-oriented city - seems set to keep its old nickname, for a while anyway. After an unsuccessful battle waged by shop owners, stores have been ordered to keep their doors shut on Sundays.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently upheld Ontario's law forcing most stores to close on Sunday. It had been challenged by a number of store owners who stayed open in defiance of the law (which carries with it a maximum fine of $10,000).

The Toronto police force hands out as many as 200 citations to store owners on a typical Sunday.

Last month, the Ontario government, under Attorney General Ian Scott, warned large store owners not to open on Sunday in the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. Big chains such as Eatons and The Bay planned to test the Sunday law but backed off after the government said it meant business about prosecuting offenders.

Although recent public opinion polls show Canadians want Sunday shopping, until there is new legislation the Ontario government plans to continue enforcing the Sunday closing rule.

Of Canada's 10 provinces, only Alberta and British Columbia allow extensive Sunday shopping. In other provinces - including Ontario and Quebec, the two biggest - exceptions are allowed.

Convenience shops can open on Sundays, as can stores in special tourist areas. On a recent December Sunday in Vancouver, grocery stores, children's stores, drugstores, and others were open.

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