When you think of "drama" between people and the government in Quebec, Montreal is probably the place that first pops up in your mind. A small town like St-Lazare is likely the last, but it's time to shake up that mindset.
Sticking it to the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), St-Lazare has symbolically said "f*ck you" to the Language Police, in a pretty classy yet still biting way.
Following the forced removal of English from the town's welcome sign, the St-Lazare government wasn't happy with being told what to do by the OQLF. So, instead of letting the OQLF have their way, St-Lazare isn't just removing "welcome" from their town's sign, but “vous accueille” too.
No English means no French either, with St-Lazare's signage lacking any language/writing at all.
“The [OQLF] will not be able to tell us if we’re doing something right or wrong, and that’s the way it should be,” commented St-Lazare's Mayor Robert Grimaudo, a quote pulled from the National Post.
This might seem like a fairly extreme position for a town in Quebec, a province where the official language is French, but the language demographics of St-Lazare back up the mayor's opinion. About 36.5% of St-Lazare residents are reported to be Anglophones, with 53.3% being native French speakers.
According to residents of the town, speaking in French or English is a choice made by the individual citizen, and no one has a problem either way. As such, they see the Language Police's imposition on the town's inherent bilingualism as incredibly unjustified.
St-Lazare believes they should be allowed to choose what languages are used for municipal matters, though that isn't a likely reality with the Language Police on the prowl. That's why, in the case of road signs, they're doing away with language altogether.
That isn't to say all the town's signs are going to be strangely blank. Instead, St-Lazare will use pictures and symbols on signs, rather than French (or English) words.
For example, a sign for a park will feature a “pictorial depicting that it is a park.”
Seems like a pretty solid compromise, especially since it's a way for the town to maintain its unique bilingual makeup while not giving into the OQLF.