Well, looks like overreach on behalf of Mississauga City Council may have reared it’s unpleasant head once again. The city is looking into banning door to door sales, ending the practice of selling products right at people’s doorsteps. AM 640 had a call-in segment that provided some excellent insight into this issue. This proposed by-law seems very broad in scope and doesn’t take in other considerations.

First of all, banning door to door sales wouldn’t stop something like cold calling? Cold calling is the practice of calling people you don’t know, to promote your products and boost sales, exactly what door to door does. I had a real estate agent call me the other day, asking me if I was interested in selling my condo, to which I answered with an empathic, clear NO. We can stop real estate agents, insurance salespeople, and guys/girls who sell knives door to door from coming, but they still have telephones. If we are to address door to door sales, then we have to address cold calls as well.

Secondly, door to door sales is not the same as door to door solicitations, as the caller in the phone in show mentioned. Several non profit organizations and charities still do door to door solicitations. Are we looking to ban girl guides from selling cookies, or kids selling chocolate in their neighbourhoods to raise money for new after school programs? That sounds rather harsh. Also, I am concerned there is a slight issue of violation of religious liberty when it comes to this proposed ban. Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t my cup of tea, but they should not be banned from spreading their message in communities door-to-door, and I would say that for any other religion that seeks to spread a message. They are not selling anything for profit, and nether are girl guides. We need to look at exemptions on door to door solicitation apart from door to door sales.

Finally, I just wonder how this by-law would be enforced? In a way, I have some personal experience with this, as I have door knocked for political candidates. Some people have no solicitation signs on their doors, but as canvassers you have to go up anyway in order to do your duty to promote the democratic process. Are we going to have people patrol the streets to monitor them for door to door salespeople? I will tell you this right now, the vast majority of political volunteers knock on every door, regardless of whether there is a sign requesting no solicitations or not. Also, even if people are dropping off flyers they’re not going to stop just because you have a sign asking them not to leave anything. They don’t see themselves as selling anything for profit, so they have no incentive to acquiesce to your request because they’re not harming any potential client base. If you’re not going to vote, you’re not going to vote.

I would suggest Mississauga City Council, Councillor Karen Ras in particular, to look at this issue carefully, recognize the distinction between sales and solicitation, and address also how this would affect election campaign activities during election time.