Jun 9, 2015

#BoycottTims? It’s about time.


Twitter was raging against Tim Hortons last Thursday. According to the Ottawa Sun, for much of the day the hottest trending topic in Canada was #BoycottTims.

It’s about time, I thought to myself, these allegations have been in the news for at least a couple of years.

Back in 2013, a group of Tims employees had filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The workers were Mexican citizens, working in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). They alleged that they were subjected to sub-standard and abusive working and living conditions, including racist and derogatory comments at Tims franchise locations in Dawson Creek. They also said that the mother ship — the Tim Hortons company itself — by its enthusiastic participation in the TFWP and its control over the operations of its franchisees, had created conditions under which this discrimination was possible, and even likely.

No way, I concluded at the time. #NotTims! These migrant workers are out-of-line. How dare they desecrate this sacred temple! This hockey-teaching, community pool-sponsoring, kids foundation-funding symbol of Canadiana. What a kick in the Timbits!

I was sure that the allegations were false. Until I heard about similar claims in Fernie, made by a group of Tims employees from the Phillipines.

They, too, worked for Timmys under the TFWP. And they, too, were seeking remedies from BC’s Human Rights Tribunal, in relation to mistreatment at the hands of Tims franchisees. And they, too, said that Tim Hortons Inc. had played a role in the discriminatory treatment.

Meanwhile, back in Dawson Creek, the workers had been sent back to Mexico, and Tims was resisting a tribunal order to disclose relevant evidence.

I had heard enough. Until Tims cleared its name or changed its ways, I had sipped my last Original Blend.

Fast-forward to last week — to #BoycottTims.

I rejoiced as I downed my home-brewed French press. I’m not alone! Other Canadians were also taking a stand against Tim Hortons’ alleged discriminatory practices. A movement was forming. As one thoughtful, brave, measured, balanced, credible gentleman observed, people were mobilizing:

50 real people. 18 hours notice. To protest at a beloved institution like @timhortons. On a weekday. This is real. #BoycottTims


And even the politicians were adding their voices. “I am pretty sure Tims will correct their mistake quickly, but I don’t think it’s appropriate what they have done,” said Brian Jean, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party.

Right on, Brian, I thought. Alberta politics really have changed! Now what’s the deal with that other hashtag that I keep seeing? #SupportCanadianEnergy…?

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