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Calling out a case of racial injustice at Shoppers Drug Mart

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There are still many unanswered questions about what Shandell McNamara calls "the most humiliating experience of my life."

McNamara, a 27-year-old woman of mixed race, went to the Fenwick Street Shoppers Drug Mart last Monday night to pick up a package. Instead, she was confronted by the associate-owner, who claimed the store had video footage showing her stealing earrings. She was banned for life, he informed her in front of other customers and staff, and she would be charged with trespassing if she dared cross its threshold again.

"I was so confused, I couldn't even be angry," she told Metro's Haley Ryan.

McNamara, who insists she didn't steal anything, says she asked to view the video, or get a written copy of her ban. The owner refused.

She called Shoppers head office. Someone there told her there was nothing it could do; such decisions belonged to the operator.

A police spokesperson told Ryan stores are private property. Nothing they could do either.

Really?

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act says it's illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race in "the provision of or access to services." The Anti-Racism Resource Centre says "singling out an individual for greater scrutiny for no other reason other than their race" is an example of prohibited behaviour.

Yet the police didn't think to suggest McNamara take her concerns to the Human Rights Commission?

Shoppers later released an official email response claiming -- without specifying -- Metro's account was "inaccurate." It backed its associate-owner's claim about the incident, apparently only on his say-so. Its statement added the associate-owner "did not press charges but certainly could have..."

He should now. Then the video can be presented in court, and we can all get some answers.

***

I'd promised myself I wouldn't write anything more about Andrew Younger. And I wouldn't... except there's inevitably another, more unbelievable twist to this slippery soap opera.

Last week's almost latest: Premier McNeil has refused to let his chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, publicly explain a 43-second audio clip in which he appears to offer Younger's wife a government job.

McNeil says he wants to hear the full recording first.

Why? Surely his chief of staff knows what he said, and why. Let him speak.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Julep67/flickr

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