The move by some Quebec towns to ask trick-or-treaters to hold off until the day after Halloween is proving to be a divisive one, with the debate raging on social media Thursday even as the rain came as forecast.
A few dozen communities began making the call Wednesday to postpone the annual candy collection, as weather forecasters predicted heavy rains and high winds for Thursday evening.
The trend culminated with Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante tweeting that the nasty forecast was enough to ask parents and kids to wait one night to collect their candy, citing public safety.
As criticism mounted on social media under the hashtag #Halloweengate, Plante fired back, summing up the issue in a tweet: “Damn(ed) if you do, damn(ed) if you don’t.”
“Criticized if we do it, criticized if we don’t,” Plante tweeted in French, replying to a critical tweet from popstar Ariane Moffatt, who said she pictured Plante doing a “rain dance” in her office.
Some parents in the province said they were happy to stay indoors given the unpredictable weather, while others countered that messing with the annual trick-or-treat tradition amounts to sacrilege.
“Oct. 31 is Halloween, period,” said Julie Roy, on her lunch break in Old Montreal before the rains began. “You wouldn’t move other holidays because of weather.”
That said, Roy added she’d wait and see before deciding whether to go out despite the weather.
Laura Hodges, a mother of three from Boucherville, Que., said she doesn’t agree with towns ordering the Halloween halt, noting kids are used to going out in all sorts of weather.
“Explain to your kids that it’s Halloween tonight and you’re not allowed to trick-or-treat,” Hodges said. “They don’t mind if we went out in rain – it’s only the adults that care.”
Environment Canada reported that between 50 to 80 millimetres of rain was expected to fall in Montreal by Friday morning.
The weather wasn’t looking much better for Friday, however, with heavy winds of 90 kilometres per hour expected in the morning and colder temperatures in the evening.
Hodges said the last-minute postponement caused scheduling snafus for events that had already been moved to Friday because of Halloween.
“It’s not up to the town to dictate when Halloween is: if we want to go out, we go out, if we don’t, that’s on us,” Hodges said. “They don’t need to tell us.”
The issue also ignited confusion as not all communities agreed on when ghosts and goblins should take to the streets.
While Montreal, Trois-Rivieres and Longueuil were among several dozen towns and cities electing to bump trick-or-treating activities, others such as Laval and Quebec City decided against.
In Kirkland, Que., a town on Montreal’s West Island, officials said they would leave it up to townsfolk to figure it all out.
“The Town of Kirkland is confident that residents will give out candy to all the little monsters who will knock on their door on either night,” the town said in a statement.
At the national assembly, provincial politicians said they couldn’t understand the fuss.
“I can’t believe this is the most important debate in Quebec,” said Sylvain Gaudreault, a longtime Parti Quebecois member of the legislature.
“For me, it’s the responsibility of the parents. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d look at the weather and say am I going to do one street, two streets or the entire neighbourhood?”
“I don’t think it’s up to municipal politicians to decide for parents,” Gaudreault said.
For his part, Quebec Premier Francois Legault steered clear of the discord, telling reporters he’d let municipalities decide how best to deal with the matter.
“The most important thing is there is a night for our little monsters,” Legault said.
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