Ontario court hears HBC’s request for review of regulations keeping stores closed

A lawyer for the Hudson’s Bay Co. says Ontario’s regulations forcing some retailers to close while others with similar merchandise remain open are “irrational and arbitrary.”

Jonathan Lisus told a video hearing with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Thursday that the province’s regulations make no “rational distinction” between the department store and some of the big box and discount retailers that are allowed to remain open.

He says there are hundreds of chain retail stores open for business that look “just like HBC” with the sole distinction that they sell an unspecified, undefined amount of “so-called” groceries.

Lisus notes, for example, that large swaths of Walmart and Costco sell very similar products to HBC, while discount retailer Dollarama sells substantially non-essential goods with its food offerings consisting mostly of candies, sweets and some canned goods — but no fresh groceries.

HBC is asking the court to review the province’s decision to temporarily close non-essential retailers in Toronto, Peel and more recently York and Windsor-Essex.

Hudson’s Bay has 16 stores closed in the impacted regions.

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