How can you tell it’s summer?

There are many ways you can tell it’s summer. Here’s how.
• The federal parliament isn’t sitting and neither is the legislature in Winnipeg, but there are politicians at every barbecue, at the Calgary Stampede and at local events everywhere. That’s not being cynical, the summer BBQ season is the time when you can get a few minutes of uninterrupted time with your politicians. It’s a good thing. Make use of it, politicians are there to listen and most do actually listen to the people. Whenever you get frustrated with politics in Canada, just think how much better it is in Canada than it is in other countries.
• It’s  also a slow news time so there’s no one topic to dominate a publisher’s column.
• Sunday shopping is back in the news. Nothing like Sunday shopping to stir up a few opinions. It really shouldn’t be an issue. Why the government has any control over shopping hours is a bit of a mystery.
And why churches would even get upset about it in this day and age is even more of a mystery. The Christian church, centuries ago, wandered away from their original example and mandate. The earliest church met daily, prayed daily, met needs daily, were in the community constantly and thereby, many times, gained respect. Today, the official church huddles in their corners for an hour every Sunday morning and demands that stores stay closed. The “real” church is out in the community 24-7 doing what they are called to do.
• The province has jurisdiction rules over Sunday shopping and has recently expanded the legal hours. The local town council has the authority to expand to the provincial level, expand part way to the provincial level or leave things as they are. Not many councils in small towns are anxious to change shopping hours.
• As stated above, why are there shopping rules anyway? The marketplace will decide what works and what doesn’t work. 
• Laws restricting hours of business are a waste of time. If you have a business with less than four employees on duty, you are basically exempt. Hospitals are 24-7, so are care homes, many factories, lots of places. Farmers work 16 hour days many times. I talked to man who worked 16 hour days for 21 days straight in the oil and gas fields. I talked to a man who worked 12 hour days for 121 days straight, also in a gas and oil-related business.
The marketplace decides and if we let that happen, it would be a lot simpler.
• The farm fields (as of Tuesday morning) are starting to look a bit dry in this area. Meanwhile some areas have had more rain than they can handle. It’s pretty much a normal summer with heat in July taxing the soil’s moisture to its limit and in some cases, storms are causing severe damage and even flooding. We need to pray for our farmers and our food supply. Without farmers, the grocery stores wouldn’t have any reason to be open, Sunday or not.
• If people get upset that stores are closed when they pull up to them at what they consider off-hours, how much more so should we be upset when churches are closed? Put another way, and by way of a small example, the local Immigration and Settlement Services office adjusted their hours a few years back. There was no use being open when the newcomers were at work but it was smart to be open after 5 p.m. when the workers were available to come to the office. Makes sense to me. The office wisely let the need or demand dictate the hours.
• In our newspaper business, we keep hours that make business sense and we are also available 24-7 by way of voice mail, email, internet access and, in Neepawa, we even have an old-fashioned drop-off box. If our business merited being open longer, we would be open longer. If it merited or needed to be open Saturday and Sunday, we would do that. We are also out and about after regular hours, on weekends and holidays. That’s the nature of the newspaper business and we don’t need a government regulation to tell us how to run it. The market place does it quite nicely.
• The over riding theme of this summer column is: may the crops grow, may business grow, may people grow, may the rains and blessings come. And keep the politicians at the barbecues, they make fewer rules when they are there than when they are in session.

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