Language laws are always a hot topic in Montreal, and one of the things that gets the most amount of attention are the signage laws.
This however is not a post about that. I'm not going to talk about the laws or the recent changes made to the signage policies.
I'm just going to play a game that we enjoy around the office.
We're going to imagine what Montreal businesses would be named if the tables were turned.
What if every shop in Montreal had to have an English name, what would these francophone businesses be called?
Here are few of the ones we came up with:
Bureau En Gros = Fat In Desk
Initially I was going to make this "Fat Desk". But then I realized there would be nowhere to put the O with the pencil in it.
Complexe Desjardins = Complexe of the Gardens
Now the Complexe Desjardins sounds like some kind of Game of Thrones reference. Meet Daenerys of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals, Protector of the Realm, Complexe of the Gardens, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.
In a meeting of Parliament's Standing Committee on Official Languages on Wednesday, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau was unanimously invited to share his thoughts on the importance of speaking French.
Conservative Quebec MP Joël Godin first presented the motion to invite Rousseau to speak to the committee at a two-hour meeting "on the place and importance of official languages" at the airline.
In November, Rousseau was under fire from all sides of the linguistic divide after boasting about how he didn't learn any French after living in Montreal for over a decade.
"I've been able to live in Montreal without speaking French and I think that's a testament to the City of Montreal," he told reporters.
His comments triggered swift criticism from politicians and pundits from across the country.
Quebec Minister of the French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette called Rousseau's comment "unworthy of the position he holds." Premier François Legault called it "insulting." Provincial Liberal party leader Dominique Anglade said it was "appalling and disrespectful."
In a statement after the incident, the Air Canada CEO apologized for the remark, saying he wanted to "make it clear" that he didn't intend to "show disrespect for Quebecers and francophones across the country."
"I pledge today to improve my French, an official language of Canada and the common language of Quebec, while tackling the serious commercial challenges facing Air Canada as we move from surviving the pandemic to rebuilding to normalcy."
"I reiterate Air Canada's commitment to show respect for French and, as a leader, I will set the tone."
Ah, the OQLF, the Quebec agency charged with promoting the French language and enforcing laws that protect it.
In addition to providing resources for French learners and launching campaigns to encourage its use, the office also investigates possible violations of the Charter of the French Language, or Bill 101. Commonly referred to as the collection of the province's "language laws," Bill 101 establishes rules for the use of French in commercial activity.
On its website, the OQLF publishes the names of businesses its investigations found violated the Charter. If found guilty, these businesses could be liable to a fine imposed by a Quebec court.
Here are the Montreal businesses that have been slapped with a fine for violating language laws in 2021.
Qiang Zhong Inc. Real Estate
In October, a $1,500 fine went to Qiang Zhong Inc., a real estate company in Montreal.
The OQLF cited a violation of section 52 of the Charter, which states that "catalogues, brochures, folders, commercial directories and any similar publications must be drawn up in French."
According to the OQLF, the company posted advertising on Facebook that wasn't translated to French.
Dress 2 Impress/Agence D2I
Earlier in October, this modelling agency was fined $600, also for violating section 52.
The OQLF said in its announcement that the company "was accused of having a website (www.d2i-agency.com) with content that was not in French."
Guy LaRue Notary
In May, this notary business in Verdun was slapped with a $600 fine after the owner pleaded guilty to violating section 58 of the French language charter, according to the OQLF.
Section 58 states that "public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in French" or French and another language so long as the French is "markedly predominant."
The office says the notary business had signs on which French was not predominant.
In April, this company in Saint-Laurent was given a $1,500 fine after pleading guilty to a Charter section 52 violation.
The OQLF says that a complaint was issued in 2019 because the company's website didn't have a French translation.
Le Marché Fooderie
In April, Le Marché Fooderie was fined $1,500 for a violation of section 52 of the Charter of the French Language. We're seeing a theme on this list.
In what looks like a classic situation, the OQLF says the business was accused of not having French content on its website.
Diebold Nixdorf Canada, Limited
Diebold Nixdorf Canada, Limited paid a $1,500 fine in April for violating section 140 of the Charter, according to the language watchdog.
Section 140 stipulates that the OQLF can order a business to "adopt a francization program" if it finds that "the use of French is not generalized at all levels of the enterprise." The business then has six months to send its program plan to the office for approval.
The OQLF says Diebold Nixdorf was accused of not sending in a plan on time.
The OQLF is working to keep French as the language of business. The office announced that on October 21, a Quebec court fined a Montreal-based real estate broker $1,500 for violating the language law on ads and publications.
Qiang Zhong Inc., a real estate broker, was accused of "not having written in French the commercial publications posted on its Facebook page," according to a press release. The accusation followed a complaint.
The OQLF recorded the infraction on October 23, 2019.
The office explained Zhong was in violation of Article 52 of the Charter of the French Language, which states that "catalogues, brochures, folders, commercial directories and any similar publications must be drawn up in French."
According to the OQLF, "This includes posts of this nature disseminated on websites and social media."
In its press release, the OQLF reiterated that its job is to ensure "that French is the normal and usual language of work, communication, commerce, business and administration."
MTL Blog reached out to Zhong for comment and will update this article when we get a response.
The OQLF was under a lot of pressure during the height of the pandemic, with calls to abolish the organization after a series of high-profile incidents involving Montreal-area businesses.
Meanwhile, the CAQ government has committed to expanding the organization, opening new offices in Laval, Longueuil and Drummondville so that it can "intervene more effectively where its presence in francization is a necessity," according to a September 2020 press release.
The new offices will also give the Montreal office room to "focus solely on the metropolis," the government said.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
The campaign, entitled Partage ton français, targeted teens aged 13 to 17 and included posters offering French alternatives to common internet lingo like selfie (égoportrait), binge-watching (visionnement en rafale) and newsfeed (fil d'actualité), among other casual terms relating to fashion, sports and video games.
The OQLF also designed shareable social media stickers on Giphy encouraging students to "partage ton amour," "partage ton exploit," "partage ton humour," "partage ton œuvre" and "partage ton escapade."
High school teachers could also find workshops that challenged students to think about the language they use on social media.