The Alliance became one of the most effective lobbies of the early 20th century. It gained the crucial support of the French Canadian Catholic hierarchy and, with its promise of a legislated weekly rest day, of organized labour. In 1906, this combination of forces and the Alliance's sophisticated lobbying techniques persuaded Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid LAURIER to introduce a Lord's Day Act. Although strong opposition existed among the transportation and manufacturing concerns and among French Canadians, the Act became law in March 1907 aiming to restrict Sunday trade, labour and recreation.
The Alliance then struggled to secure enforcement: because the Act required provincial authorization for each prosecution, the Alliance battled in many arenas, with varying success. The Sunday shopping issue still provokes intense debate, uniting labour, retail merchants, churches and the People for Sunday Association in opposition. Canadians' pursuit of Sunday pleasure has doubtless defeated the association's main aim - Sunday is primarily a holiday and only partly a holy day.
See also SUNDAY SHOPPING.
Author SHARON P. MEEN