More businesses want to scrap Quebec’s language law

Global Business

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The city of Montreal is second only to Paris in its number of French speakers. But critics warn the policy, and its enforcement, are scaring away potentially new businesses as well as old ones.

A growing number of small business owners in Montreal are urging for the nearly 40-year-old “language law,” promoting French over English, to be scrapped.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from Montreal.

More businesses want to scrap Quebec’s language law

More businesses want to scrap Quebec’s language law

A growing number of small business owners in Montreal say a nearly 40-year-old law promoting French over English needs to be scrapped. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reports from Montreal.

The Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) often dubbed ‘the language police,’ is the provincial government’s agency tasked with promoting and protecting the French language in accordance with Quebec law. The agency said it receives more than 3,000 complaints each year.

“People see signage or ads only in English, and they say ‘Oh, it should be also in French,’ so we go there, and talk to the people,” said Jean-Pierre Le Blanc from Quebec Office for the French Language. “And often the matter is settled in cooperation with the businesses.”

Earlier this month, when a popular American eatery, The Halal Guys, opened its first Canadian franchise in Montreal and put up an English-only ‘Coming Soon’ sign provided by its headquarters, it had to comply with the language norm and reprint the menu, stickers bags and cups in French also.

Non-compliance fines can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. The OQLF said this year the number of fines has actually gone down. But it’s not because the agency has become complacent. Some would say that it’s because the stores just want to have peace and so comply with the law.

Some also argue that the whole approach needs to be modernized.

  • ReneeEdwardh

    The problem is that anglos feel abandonned by their franco brothers, as if they do not belong here anymore. Already 300,000 have left since 1971.

    Quebec was built by both of us and the anglos should be treated as equals. I am a francophone and I am outraged that more and more businesses do not bother printing English on their products or their advertising as if anglos do not exist anymore, specially in Montreal where the highest pourcentage of anglos reside. Bill 101 has encouraged language discrimination and divided its citizens. It is time for it to find other ways to protect French.

    It would also be most courteous to offer service in English for our American tourists. Our leaders stubbornly refuse to encourage bilingualism. A shameful way of keeping its young unable to speak English in the province forever. Without English, they cannot leave the province to seek work elsewhere in Canada.

    Quebec needs to evolve and close l’Offiice de la Police de la Langue. It must recognize that we live in North America where English is THE language. There must be plenty of other creative methods to protect the French language without trying to erase English all together. I am for an officially declared bilingual Montreal and for making all of our school totally bilingual!

  • Whatthe???

    “People see signage or ads only in English, and they say ‘Oh, it should be also in French,’ so we go there, and talk to the people,” said Jean-Pierre Le Blanc from Quebec Office for the French Language. “And often the matter is settled in cooperation with the businesses.”
    That is not how it works here in Montreal. More like ‘get the hell out Anglo!’

  • The Ban

    Having companies print and advertise in both French and English hardly seems like a major imposition. The language law has been abused before (they tried to make a deli called Schwartz’s rename to Chez Schwartz), but as long as it simply mandates that French be used on printed materials, that seems very reasonable.

  • Allan Finkelstein

    Any and ALL Languages laws are Bigoted in a Democracy with Free Speech!!! I repeat for those denying enablers having a problem understanding this >>>
    BIGOTRY is the ONLY reason for Language laws!!!

  • Alex

    Its normal that they adapt for the french people there ! It is the beauty of Montreal after all