MONTREAL — The Stars of David are back up over the Passover food section at the Metro supermarket in Westmount after numerous people expressed disappointment at their removal.
Last week, the chain’s head office admitted it made a mistake in directing the store’s franchisee to remove the stars – three blue ornaments hanging from the ceiling – after one anonymous complaint.
On April 3, a person visiting the store objected to such religious symbols being on public view, took photographs and then went to the French-language media, some of whom ran the story the following day.
The longtime manager, Graham Fletcher, refused to accede to the unidentified man’s complaint, but he did take down the stars April 4 after the order from his superiors.
Marie-Claude Bacon, director of corporate affairs for Metro, told The CJN that the head office takes full responsibility for the hasty decision to remove the stars and that it now regrets it.
However, she characterized it as having been a temporary measure and that it was recognized early on to have been wrong.
“We were not as familiar as Mr. Fletcher with how important that symbol is at this time of year for the Jewish community. We just wanted to have time to look into this and see what was the appropriate thing to do.”
After at least a dozen phone calls from Jewish people, she said, the chain realized it had erred. “Some were angry, some were just voicing their opinion. It was very informative for us.”
Within 12 hours of the three stars being taken down, one of the stars was put back up over the Passover display, Bacon said, which also includes blue and white balloons. When complaints continued to be received that things should be restored to the way they were, Metro agreed to let all three stars shine once again.
In previous years, the Sherbrooke Street store has decorated the Passover section with one smaller star, and there were never any complaints, Bacon said, adding that Metro doesn’t know the name or contact information of the man who complained this year.
“We never, never, never meant to offend anybody. We have an important Jewish clientele that we want to serve… The star is appropriate. We don’t think it is offensive to anybody. We should have listened to Mr. Fletcher,” she said.
Fletcher, a 43-year veteran of the grocery industry, also apologized, saying he regrets not having stood up more firmly against the order from head office.