The Guelph establishment of the Mandarin restaurant chain is for the first time offering a free buffet to any Canadian citizen on Canada Day, but there has been some backlash as those that do not have identity documents will not be able to eat for free.

The free offer has been advertised leading up to July 1 but proof of identification will be required at the door and all those without a passport or other form of ID will have to pay the regular price of the meal, according to a Mandarin press release. The event is part of its 40th anniversary celebrations.

“I’m disappointed, I think what was supposed to be a generous offer celebrating Canadian citizenship will backfire and become a catalyst for xenophobia,” Coun. Phil Allt told The Post on Thursday night.

“The comments identifying that land immigrants and refugees who have selected Canada are unnecessarily excluded are quite valid,” the councillor added, referring to posts on social media published in a Guelph Mercury story.

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Responding to a question over the controversy after a town hall Thursday night, Green Party MP candidate Steve Dyck said that “it sounds like an incredibility generous offer” but wanted to know more about the process behind the decision to have only Canadian citizens before commenting further.

Allt added that some individuals who are Canadians may not be able to produce identification because “they just don’t have it”, such as his 97-year-old mother.

“I hope the restaurant reconsiders and permits all to celebrate Canada – without showing ID in a spirit of generosity and love of country.”

Federal NDP candidate Aisha Jahangir told The Post “I appreciate the kind and generous spirit in which the restaurant owners are making this offer” and added that “it demonstrates their great pride in Canada.”

“I hope they will decide to extend the offer to everyone; people such as refugees and migrant workers might especially appreciate the opportunity to celebrate with all of us.”

The Post has reached out a variety of individuals across Guelph for further comment, including the candidates for the Conservatives, Liberals and People’s Party of Canada.

According to a survey commissioned by Mandarin, the majority of Canadians plan to celebrate the nation’s birthday by sharing a meal with family and friends, some 52 per cent. This number increases in Ontario to 58 per cent.

The survey also found that 90 per cent of Canadians believe they have better opportunities living in Canada than if they lived somewhere else in the world.

In announcing the free buffet, the Mandarin said the sentiment is shared by the founders, who immigrated to Canada over thirty years ago to start a small à la carte restaurant in Brampton in 1979.

Doors open for the free buffet at 12 p.m. on July 1 and close at 8:30 p.m., with customers receiving complimentary soft drinks, tea and coffee.

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