Grocer, Sensible BC petitioners at odds

Ferraro Foods offers online apology after incident

Ferraro Foods is offering an apology to customers and canvassers who may have felt uncomfortable following an incident in front of its store on Saturday.

Petitioners for the Sensible BC campaign were near the store collecting signatures for its petition for the Sensible Policing Act to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Ferraro Foods asked the canvassers to move off of its property when customers made complaints about the canvassing.

A video on Sensible BC’s Facebook page and YouTube captures storeowner Danny Ferraro saying “we’re asking everybody to ignore them” while he greets customers, in some instances standing between the customers and a canvasser.

Now Sensible BC is looking into pursuing legal action.

“I think that when it comes to the Recall and Initiative Act there were some laws broken,” said Sensible BC Kootenay West campaign organizer Susan Yurychuk. “I mean you can’t persuade or compel an individual to vote or refrain from voting for and against an initiative and he was standing there asking people to ignore us and Danny is so entitled to his opinion but this is an Elections BC initiative and you can’t do that, it’s against the law.”

Yurychuk said the organization is not trying to start a war or drive customers away but what occurred simply isn’t right.

“We don’t want this to happen,” she added. “Ferraro Foods is a great store, it’s been in Trail forever, it’s one of the better stores you can go to. . .

“This is not the first place and this isn’t the worst place that things have happened,” said Yurychuk. “It’s just an uneducated, unawareness problem that exists and if people really took the time to look into it they would see that it’s a good thing.”

Via its Facebook page, the grocer states that everyone has the right to their freedom of speech but the grocer’s affiliations remain with the community, “not in political or religious arenas.”

The note included an apology to its customers for making anyone feel uncomfortable and states that Danny would like to apologize to the canvassers in person. Volunteers were back at it again on Monday, when Ferraro’s in Trail offered up tea and cookies as nice gesture.

“We respect and encourage our customers to comment good and bad, allowing us to continually strive forward providing our customers with the highest standard of service,” noted David Ferraro. “Ferraro Foods is a second-generation grocer that have community roots dating as far back as 70 years ago and have remained committed to our communities throughout.”

The RCMP, said Yurychuk, have also received a complaint for an officer’s conduct that day.

Trail RCMP Cpl. Dave Johnson said police made two separate stops at Ferraro’s “to keep the peace.”

“We attended just to ensure that both parties were abiding by what they needed to do and that Sensible BC were in fact on public property, on the sidewalk, which is fine and (acted) more as a stand by,” he said.

Yurychuk said intimidation is happening all across the province and Sensible BC is responsible for notifying Elections BC, which determines whether legal action should follow.

The Kootenay West riding is nearing its goal of 3,200 signatures, with approximately 300-500 more to get, though numbers aren’t stacking up the same across the province.

If the organization collects over 400,000 signatures from all across B.C. by Dec. 5, then there will be a provincial referendum to decriminalize marijuana possession in 2014.

Sensible BC is also calling upon the B.C. government to pass the Sensible Policing Act, which will stop police from searching or arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for possession of marijuana.

The act also demands the federal government repeal marijuana prohibition, and mandates the B.C. government to figure out the rules needed for a legal marijuana system provincially.