Language Suicide Bombers

with 26 comments

montreal irish pub

We knew about the language crusaders and zealots who have made it a hobby of finding and reporting any and all infractions to the Charter of the French Language.

Now it seems there is a new phenomenon that will have to be addressed in Montreal: Language IEDs.

The first bomb went off last week after the Office Québécois de la Langue Française sent an inspector to McKibbin’s after one of the pub’s patron’s filed a report in which he complained about being refused service in French and English-only signs in the pub.

Québec’s language law is a complaints-based law, meaning that the OQLF only intervenes if it receives a formal complaint from a private citizen. The idea was that in small English-speaking communities like Hudson, Chelsea or Beaconsfield, no one would be bothered by the occasional English-only sign and no one would ever file a complaint. It was a way to protect the right of Québec’s French-speakers while giving different localities a way of regulating themselves, depending on their own demographic make-up.

This sensible arrangement was messed up by the rise of self-proclaimed vigilantes, Hall-monitor types who ventured deep into Anglo territory, looking for apostrophes and measuring the size of French letters on signs in Snowdon and Kirkland.

It now seems we will have to deal with another threat to harmonious cohabitation between French and English, this time coming from the other Side of the Main.

McKibbin’s Irish pub owners got the world’s media attention with two deliberate lies: that they had been told to take down vintage Irish posters and that they were told the staff spoke to much English amongst themselves. Vintage posters in English or any other language are perfectly legal and there is nothing the law can do about the language employee speak amongst themselves, unless an employee complains he was discriminated against, which wasn’t the case here. Check out the Montreal Gazette’s excellent article on the stunt.  Or read the Toronto Star.

This case is about a customer being denied service in French and English-only menus are that are not vintage in any way.

There is no way a downtown businessperson in Montreal can reasonably claim to be in good faith when French customers are refused service in French in his establishment. There is no way a downtown business person does not know that English-only signs on a Montreal street are an open invitation for complaints to the OQLF.

In fact they are traps.

Anyone who has ever gone out for a beer in the western part of downtown where the now infamous Irish pub is situated knows that, although we can’t make generalizations, many establishments can be fairly hostile territory for French-speaker. The many other pubs on Bishop street that have English-only signs and unilingual staff cannot reasonably claim a spirit of openness and tolerance towards Francophones.

Exactly like the Francophones zealots who go out looking for language law violations and picking fights with Anglo shopkeepers, Bishop street pubs had laid a bomb and patiently waited for a Francophone customer to step on it.

This week it went off. TV reporters were called in. Web sites went up. The spin was ready.

Tick, tick, tick… boom.

How appropriate that it exploded at McKibbin’s, a pub named for Albert McKibbin, an Irishman who followed English orders as a soldier in the English Army…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 17, 2008 at 12:10 pm

26 Responses

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  1. AngryFrenchGuy writes:

    “It was a way to protect the right of Québec’s French-speakers…”

    Exactly which “right of Quebec’s French-speakers” are you referring to, AngryFrenchGuy?

    Tony Kondaks

    February 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm

  2. Whether we agree or disagree this angry french guy is an excellent writer. Well done. Very entertaining indeed!

    O’Reilly, formerly known as Yvon
    (an Angry English Guy with a french name)

    Yvon Sanscartier

    February 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  3. […] Language suicide bombers Tags: Activism, Jamie Orchard, language, McKibbin’s Irish Pub, media-manipulation, OQLF Comments RSS feed |Trackback URL « Worst. Kerning. Ever. The underground city scavenger hunt » […]

  4. georges,

    pravda used to “take license” with the news.

    it was only a stunt…..

    here’s a genuine gift for you on multiculturalism: it’s truly worth watching – honest.


    February 18, 2008 at 1:56 am

  5. Just to let you know that if you were ever to walk into to McKibbins on a Wednesday night, most of the clientele is francophone. Also if you happen to be there at night from Wednesday through Saturday, you’ll also notice that most of the doorman are French speaking… you should do some research before generalize all “Bishop street pubs”

    Anglo with a franco name

    February 18, 2008 at 8:01 pm

  6. Interesting point of view.

    Marc-André Gosselin

    February 19, 2008 at 12:44 am

  7. […] AngryFrenchGuy says on this blog post here: McKibbin’s Irish pub owners got the world’s media attention with two deliberate lies: that […]

  8. do you think i should have posted this in the right comments section? pardon…

    whew! that was a close one – but it’s settled.

    tempest in a teapot after all – just some disgruntled customer.


    February 19, 2008 at 6:37 pm

  9. […] Who Is Nous? Language suicide bombers […]

  10. What happened to Don Macpherson? His article is 100% error-free and not insulting to the intelligence of his separatist readers. I have never seen that before! Did he get a new sovereignist girlfriend? ;-)

    To Tony Kondaks:

    Exactly which “right of Quebec’s French-speakers” are you referring to, AngryFrenchGuy?

    The right of Québec’s French speakers (native or adoptive) to speak their language freely somewhere on Earth.

    More specifically however,

    Article 5. “Consumers of goods and services have a right to be informed and served in French.” in Chapter II : Fundamental language rights.

    This right is one of the 5 fundamental linguistic human rights of every person in Québec. You know, those basic linguistic human rights that do not need any legal protection in Ontario because nobody is arrogant enough to tell the majority of Ontarians to speak a language other than English?

    Now that our buddy Don is on his way to win the Olivar Asselin award, maybe he will soon cover the thousands of violation of Quebecers’ rights occurring every year which the OQLF presents us in such nice statistical tables on its Website?

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    February 19, 2008 at 11:15 pm

  11. Merci Mat. Couldn’t have said it better.

    But give Don a break. If he didn’t do his occasional share of Quebec-bashing he would lose all credibility with his Gazette readers.


    February 19, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  12. Sacre bleu !
    It occurs to me that there is a lot of repressed hatred against the (dare I say it) “English” in Quebec ! If you really want a “French” nation, then be “french” Don’t use english products, don’t watch english TV, Movies, or listen to english music, (don’t translate any of them either) buy only from France! That includes your cars, washing machines, hell even your computers. They are most likely made by ( here it comes…) English comapnies ! Don’t even post on the Web in english. Just Don’t !
    Good luck ! You’ll need it !

    Guy Gadbois

    February 20, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  13. As a small minority in a big english speaking continent, we have the right to defend the french language and our culture. If you english speaking guys are not happy with that, well there’s a LOT of other places you can go to. Stop whinning and move out.


    February 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  14. “Don’t use english products, don’t watch english TV, Movies, or listen to english music, (don’t translate any of them either) buy only from France!”

    Wow! What a Great Idea! Let us favour the RECOLINIZATION of Quebec by France as a means to attain our national liberation!

    Then, we would be oppressed by foreigners who speak our own language! Then, like the Yankees, we would eventually end up being annoyed by bloody Europeans’ lack of concern for our interests and declare war on La République. Under these circumstances, Quebecers would not hesitate to hate their new oppressor publicly because their oppressor would not be a close neighbour! And it is so easy to hate the French in America! Brilliant!

    More seriously, Quebecers are to the French as the Yankees are to the English. We, Quebecers, of course want freedom for ourselves, not to be re-enslaved by some other power.

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    February 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

  15. mathieu,

    your cries for “freedom” are nationalistic rantings… that coupled with socialism becomes a dangerous cocktail.

    you make a strange champion of freedom when you imperil the liberty and rights of others.

    Bashar al-Assad lives in luxurious comfort in syria. now there’s a guy who knows how to be repressive.


    February 20, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  16. You the man !

    If you ask me, the OLF and it’s supporters sound like a bunch of insecure cry-babies who already got what they asked for in the 70’s.

    I’m tired of the whole situation and just hope future generations won’t have to deal with this language issue crap in the future!

    F.U. OLF!!

    David C.

    February 20, 2008 at 11:57 pm

  17. I saw the letter that McKibbin’s received from the OLF. It clearly states that the 12 signs on the list did not conform the charter and any signs of the same nature needed to be translated or removed, that included 4 Gaelic ones as well. Nothing about exemptions or culture. Translate or get rid of them. What was upsetting is that the initial complaint was about a chalkboard, the greeting should be french first and POSTERS! One of the posters was a Halloween party at the St-Sulpice pub! It wasn’t even a McKibbin’s promotion. The complaint was about posters, not signs. The OLF officer decided to take it uppon her self to add that to the list. I’ve been their hundreds of times, everyone can speak french. Dean even said to the TVA. “If it was about the original complaints, this would have been resolved easily. They added to the complaint something that I can’t fix. I have 250 signs!”


    February 23, 2008 at 12:54 am

  18. It’s funny how people believe everything that is written in Internet. But it’s their own business, I don’t care about them. My opinion is that it’s such a bullshit!


    April 11, 2008 at 12:49 am

  19. If someone posted an Angry English Guy in french what would happen. And in regards to that stupid caption you have in the Picture of the Irish Pub. Please study your history, the Majority of Irish People speak english historicaly not by choice. By you keeping this page alive you are stirring hatread, you are no better than Ian Paisley when he was at his worst. Renne Levesque would turn over in his Grave at what you are doing.
    Leave it go, move on please.


    July 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  20. One more thing Irelands Bill 101, unless you have studied Lingusitic Politics in depth you dont know what the hell you are talking about. Explain one thing why did the father of QC Nationalism, Rene Levesque protect English rights to a degree. Also the Native Language of Ireland is Gealic. Here in Quebec the oldest languages belong to the Natives, after all the french were just as colonial as the English.
    And to make comparison to the Irish historicaly it has its limits: The Irish Suffered alot worst, stripped of our Language/Culture/Religion. Under the British here the Church was protected and french education was prelevant. If you want to be angry be angry at Duplesis, Union National, Catholic Church.
    This Propaganda suits no purpose but to fuel your own hatread for something you truly dont understand. Take Emotions out of the Equation and use common sense and you will live a happier life.
    If the peace process in N Ireland can move ahead why cant the Quebecois Separtists, the situation here is just as segragated in many ways as Belfast is.


    July 14, 2008 at 9:04 pm

  21. “As a delegate from Ireland once addressed the League of Nations many years ago, explaining his use of French, ‘I can’t speak my own language, and I’ll be damned if I’ll speak English’ “(cited in Large, 1985, p. 195). in The Future of English, David Graddol, The British Council.

    Ps. When you try to defend English, you would be more credible if you could write it properly…


    July 14, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  22. FUC$%$^ SEPARATISTS!!! you really fucking suck!!!! a what a short memory you have…now that the shoe is on the other foot… you have no respect for Anglos & our fucking heritage… YOU should stop being known as the fucking whiny-kid of Canada – always bitching about the Anglos and how abused & forgotten you are…


    June 22, 2009 at 7:50 pm

  23. Yeah, how dare we ask to have our own language on our own land, how dare we, according to the United Nations and any human right organisation, have a perfectly legitimate political goal as a nation seeking self-government!

    Enough with the xenophobic anglo-maniac attitude : Seeking self-government is a perfectly valid political orientation, not an insult.


    December 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm

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