There is no such thing as the Québec Language Police

with 103 comments

When it comes to negative branding, opponents of Québec’s language legislation hit a home run when they coined the term Language Police to designate the governement bureaucrats charged with enforcing the French Language Charter. Probably the only thing that could do worse damage to your international public image than a Language Police is footage of your citizens hitting baby seals on the head with harpoons…

The nickname, however, was not even their own idea. The best the most clever Angryphone of them all, Mordecai Richler, could come up with was Tongue Trooper. It is Morley Safer of CBS’s 60 Minutes who is said to have been the first to use the term Language Police.

There is, of course, no such thing as a Language Police in Québec.

The general objective of Québec’s French Language Charter is to protect the right of every citizen of Québec to work and receive services and information in French in Québec, something that has often been problematic, especially in Montreal, even though French-speakers are the majority of the population.

To acheive that goal it made it mandatory that all businesses in Québec be able to serve their customers in French, both verbally and in writing, whether it be through menus, posters, telephone customer service, advertizing, on the internet or in person.

If a citizen felt his right to service in French was not honored, he could make a complaint to the Office de Protection de la Langue Française, the governement agency in charge of the Charter’s application. The agency would then send a agent to investigate if the complaint was justified, and if it was, to inform the business in question that there had been a complaint and assist him in correcting the situation.

If, and only if, the business in questions refused or failed to make the corrections the OQLF could forward the complaint to the Minister of Justice, who has the power to impose a fine.

In 2006-2007 there were 3873 complaints. Only 72 of those were eventually forwarded to the minister.

The OQLF agents are no more a police force than food inspectors or workplace safety agents, but Language Police is a powerful image and through endless repetition by less thorough reporters than Mr. Safer who couldn’t spell hyperbole, the idea that Québec has an actual Language Police has taken on a life all it’s own and otherwise informed visitors fully expect to see them patrolling the streets of Montreal in uniform.

The myth of the Language Police has hurt Québec and Montreal’s image, but it’s to late to do anything about it. The image is there and the name stuck.

In such situations the only thing left to do is embrace image. Québec could make the agents of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française actual constables of an actual Language Police, give them uniforms, badges, governement issue tape-measures and taser guns.

This change of terminology, however, will cause changes accross Canada as other pencil-pushing civil servants will also want to be called police officers. You see, cops earn more money and have way more luck with the ladies than white collar bureaucrats.

Employees of the CRTC, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, will be become the Thought Police, to reflect their power to decide who has the right to broadcast, what they can broadcast, and how much they can charge for it. The bureaucrats in charge of monitoring the 35% of Canadian music radio stations are required to broadcast by law will be known as the Rock n’ Roll Police and those found guilty of not playing enough Bryan Adams will be sent to a jail in Newfoundland known as the Jailhouse Rock.

Workers at Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal who investigate complaints of discrimination against visible minorities and women in the workplace will be renamed the Race and Sex Police.

City zoning officials in Saskatoon, whose job includes inforcement of a city bylaw that legally requires residents of the Hughes Drive developement to use a minimum of four colors on the facade of their houses and that “the selected colors should match the range of Benjamin Moore “Historical Colors”, will be known as the Royal Canadian Color Police.

Soccer moms in Saskatoon risk heavy fines if they should fail to coordinate with their neighbours, but that is nothing compared to the plight of homeowners in Edmonton where the Veranda Police will patrols the streets of Spruce Village on the lookout for violators of the “covered porch” architectural guidelines.

Well, the decision whether or not to turn any little government employee into a police officer is one Alberta and Saskatchewan will have to make for itself.

As for Québec, the world already asumes we have a language police so there will be nothing lost in getting one. In fact, it would be a unique opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

An actual Québec Language Police could play the role Mounties play in the rest of Canada. Language cops in crisp blue uniforms and funny hats could be posted arround Montreal and Québec, tourists would line up to be photographed with them and a paraphenelia deal could be struck with Disney Corporation.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 5, 2008 at 9:43 am

103 Responses

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  1. End note- While the English were pounding on the French in the pre-modern world in Canada, (eg. Acadians, Manitoba, Ontario ect…). Their French brothers in the same period where dominating and pounding on other countries, like Algeria ect..30 other countries. Shoving their language down other countries throats, starting wars, expelling others who did not conform to their ways. The English and French were both not innocent in the same time period and anyone who thinks they were should go to the library.

    This brings us to the modern times after 1960’s Arguments before then hold no water everyone and anyone treated the others like rats all over the world.


    August 11, 2008 at 7:53 am

  2. As for Toronto, RoryBellows sure there is crime you think their is no crime in Montreal. Try flying a Canadian flag outside your home and you will get a rock thrown through your window. You think that isn’t a crime??? Go check out the statistcs in regards to crime per capita in both cities it may shock you. You think walking out on your last months rent is not a crime, it happens all the time in MTL yet it is not counted. Toronto is not perfect but it’s better then Quebec in terms of treated the tiny 48,000 French speaking comunity that lives there. the city of TO is designated provincialy a bilingual city.


    August 11, 2008 at 8:00 am

  3. As for the liar who claims they got a menu in English by a French waitress in MTL i challange you to name me that place where this happened. After 40 years in MTL I have yet to see one place that has a menu in only English. Your a liar and you know it.


    August 11, 2008 at 8:04 am

  4. AM,

    Oh, yeah. I thought you were referring to Amerindien languages and not Amerindien decended people who speak English in Quebec. I would consider English speaking Amerindiens, old stock anglophone Montrealers, and any new Anglophones in Quebec to be in the same group, roughly.

    My original argument was about those who defend dead or near-dead Amerindien languages in order to put down French. Salut.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    August 11, 2008 at 9:11 am

  5. Angryphone,

    I want Quebec to separate from Canada. Then a lot of these things we are talking about would become loads less important. Things like

    “Canada is a territory that is majority English Quebec is a terrirtory that is majority French and Beaconsfield and 20 plus cities in Quebec the majority is English. The logical solution and fair solution is to provide services in regards to language in according to cities population. The rest of the world does this at 10% minority language per territory Quebec does the same at a 50%????” seem to disregard all of the solid arguments made on this blogue.

    I believe it has been argued countless times that when an immigrant sees bilingual signs, they are being told that everything is translated into English, so there is no reason to learn French. Learning French needs to be valued and bilingual signs hurt that.

    A lot of people say that French is here to stay in Quebec because it’s too strong to disappear. I read somewhere else on this blogue where AFG wrote that Franco-Americans in Maine and Louisiana francophones were all assimilated into the English speaking society, which is true. Why do people think that won’t happen in Quebec as well? I talked to a guy this weekend who said that if French dies out in Quebec, so what? That’s the way the world and linguistic situations work. I don’t agree.

    There’s an arrogant attachement that English speakers have to English that speakers of other languages don’t have because living in anglophone dominated N America affords them that luxury. They go on and on about language rights when what they are REALLY saying is they have the right to speak English anywhere they please.

    I watched the special features of the Criterion Collection edition of Mon Oncle Antoine this weekend and Claude Jutra was talking about identity in Quebec being something that a lot of Anglophones didn’t have for themselves, which is what he thought was worth fighting for (well, that was my interpretation). Of course many will disagree with that. But when I heard it, it made sense in a way I have a hard time explaining.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    August 11, 2008 at 9:32 am

  6. Really I think that the Quebec nationalist super arrogant. WOW the French language is threatend in North America, big deal!!! Do French people care if Italian or any other langauge is threatend in North America? No so why should we care if French is? 300,000,000 people speak French in the world. Globally French is doing pretty good compared to hundreds of other languages. Stop crying

    I can be a baby too and want a country. Who Doesn’t want a country???

    The only reason Quebec nationalits want a country is so that they can be racists and not have to worry about everyone taking them to court over their racist laws. No other reason Face it QN do not want to live or care to live with anyone else unless we all talk and look like them. Quebec is the most decentralized terriroty what other reason could there be????

    Quebeckers should have more French white babies-Bouchard

    Money and ethnic votes- Parizeau

    The solution is to grow up and love thy neighbour get along.


    August 11, 2008 at 10:37 am

  7. “The solution is to grow up and love thy neighbour get along.”

    Yep! And the nicest thing is that you can still do it while being independentist!


    August 11, 2008 at 10:58 am

  8. All of this has nothing to do with skin color, so would stop already with the word “racist” . . .

    t’es un connard.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    August 11, 2008 at 11:29 am

  9. One people, one race ,one nation, whatever. Le Quebec aux Quebecois. Screw the rest.

    Name me one good reason why Quebec needs to separate……. anyone.???

    I’ll give you one, the main reason no one wants to talk about your admit, the Quebec chosen special people want to invoke discriminatory laws and get away with it….Point finale


    August 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm

  10. Quote: “I read somewhere else on this blogue where AFG wrote that Franco-Americans in Maine and Louisiana francophones were all assimilated into the English speaking society, which is true.”

    And they don’t seem angry about it, do they?

    I’m curious about why none of the separatists denied my earlier post:
    Quote: ““Do you think the Quebecois really give a shit if the people in Red Deer Alberta or Prince Albert, SK..speak french. ”
    I don’t know why I have the feeling that if the rest of Canada became unilingual French most separatists will stop fighting for independence.”

    Anonymous #5

    August 11, 2008 at 6:27 pm

  11. “Quote: “I read somewhere else on this blogue where AFG wrote that Franco-Americans in Maine and Louisiana francophones were all assimilated into the English speaking society, which is true.””

    I will relate a story…about Maine…..I called to talk to an engineer at a company…His last name is Pelletier…so I asked to speak to him using the francais pronunciation….the secretary then asked….WHO…..we dont have any one by that name. Understanding the situation I asked for Mr. Pel le ti er…..No problem with this. Another one on another time…Mr. Beaucauge…I had to aske for Mr. Bo Cage… worked that time.

    Both of these gentlemen dont seem like angry or distressed people….so there you have it.

    “I don’t know why I have the feeling that if the rest of Canada became unilingual French most separatists will stop fighting for independence.””

    Well, I doubt this will every happen….in the end, from what I can see the french imperatives in Canada are trying to make this happen,,,which will be a failure as the OLA and other expensive programs have proven to be when it comes to linguistics. Quit beating a dead horse.

    After all, Canada is not a bilingual country…after many billions of dollars being spent to try and make it so…..Alas, the anglos of the country are just condemded to what was it “A lifetime of job immobility as Pierre Trudeau stated years ago”‘ or “offering only their mediocrity as former GG Jeanne Sauve agreed with when she gave a literary award to a Quebecois author… Nice talk….

    A bilingual Canada…

    Bonne chance avec ca.



    August 11, 2008 at 8:09 pm

  12. As a quick footnote to the last post…about the uniligual french canada and the separatiste.

    We dont want them to quit fighting for indpendence. In the end the both the balance of Canada and Quebec itself would be better off with Quebec out of the Canadian picture.

    Lets unite to a common front and make it a reality…



    August 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm

  13. I understand the impossibility of the scenario, but my question was directed to separatists:
    If, after cows start flying, Canada became unilingual French, would you still want to separate?

    Anonymous #5

    August 12, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  14. “If, after cows start flying, Canada became unilingual French, would you still want to separate?”

    Of course they would…they would invent another excuse as in the past ( to continue the blackamail) ..As I have stated before, again and again…Canada would be better without the welfare state of Quebec….and Quebec would be better because they would have to chart their own destiny without huge subsidies from the ROC. They would finally have to grow up and be fiscally responsible.



    August 12, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  15. ABP is not right. How we Quebers can survive without welfare? No way! We understand that BS comes from the ROC! We stay! We stay forever! But we will separate forever also! To protect our language and culture, wise culture – how to get more BS money.


    August 16, 2008 at 5:20 am

  16. “ABP is not right. How we Quebers can survive without welfare? No way! We understand that BS comes from the ROC! We stay! We stay forever! But we will separate forever also! To protect our language and culture, wise culture – how to get more BS money.”

    Really, give your head a shake you idiot…you take money like a thief in the night…you want your one culture and language…the leave…get the f**k out…I am looking forward to a better standard of living without the “soc cause du quebec”

    Get the facts are on welfare…

    How does it feel.



    August 16, 2008 at 11:27 pm

  17. Yes! I am on welfare!


    August 22, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  18. Feel very good! Because I am learning French, you arrogant Englishman!


    August 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm

  19. […] OQLF’s jurisdiction, I can only guess that my complaint is one of the 1000’s that the Imperial Guardians of the Language just delete every […]

  20. Here Quebec people really have no idea what’s like to live against so many discrimination as a minority.
    Even in government offices, hospitals, wherever you go, it’s just impossible to avoid.
    They treat other races as foreigners.
    I am a proud Canadian but here won’t let me.
    It really hurts.
    Bill 101, language police, separatists, etc, all these aren’t just about language and Quebec’s culture, I can tell that much.
    Peace to you all.


    September 2, 2008 at 11:09 pm

  21. I had traveled in BC, AB, and ON, and I was well familiar with the mandatory bi-lingual signs and menus eveywhere. Sad to say, the bi-lingual signs lulled me into thinking I would fare well as a tourist when I visited Quebec. I expected to find English written everywhere accompanying French, but NOTHING was in English. Upon my return to OK, USA, my readings enlightened me that Quebec imposes heavy fines for businesses that communicate in English, or in any non-French language. Not only is there no protection of minorities in Quebec, there is literally prosecution of businesses who attempt to communicate in their minority language. The claim of “protecting the majority” is a weak excuse for policing the language when it is the minority that is suffering.
    Now that I’m familiar with the Quebecans’ insistence on communicating solely in French, I’ll be better prepared for my next visit. Hoevever, for those I know that plan on visiting Quebec, I’m telling them to eat, buy gas, and shop outside of Quebec before venturing there so as to avoid unpleasant experiences. Other than that, Quebec is a lovely and enjoyable place to visit. Still, the rigid suppression of minority languages can only be viewed as a police action. The term “language police” clearly applies. I would hope that Quebec changes its abusive “protection of the majority” and instead adopts a policy of “protection of the minority”.

    Tourist from Oklahoma, USA

    February 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm

  22. Hahaha Quebec seperate from canada,then answer this fuckface where will they get any money??? They will be getting fucked two ways between english america and english canada,plus half their population is on welfare.I live in quebec and I’ll tell you firsthand F.T.F fuck the french.Too much celine dion and poutines but at least the french girls are slutty and love english accents.

    steve french

    March 13, 2009 at 7:23 am

  23. The Language Laws of the Province of Quebec like Bill 101 (Charter of the French Language)and Bill 22 (Official Language Act of Quebec) will not save the French Language in the Province of Quebec from dying out and becoming extinct. North America is a sea of over 300 Million English speakers and there are only about 6-7 Million French speakers in Quebec, who do you think is going to come out on top. The Quebecois will realise that someday they will have to become bilingual at the least or total English speakers at the most to survive in the North American continent. The French speakers of Louisiana are nearly assimiliated and will be assimiliated very soon, the Quebecois will follow suit.

    I consider the French Language in Quebec on life support. The Life Support machine is Bill 101 (Charter of the French Language), Bill 22 (Official Language Act of Quebec), etc and once these laws get repealed by either the Quebec Government or by the Canadian Government then the French Language will start to die. These laws can’t save the French Language from dying in Quebec, but can only slow it’s death down. You can tell when a language is in trouble when they need to have the oppressive laws like Bill 101 and Bill 22 to prop it up.


    Face the Fact that the English Language is the Language of the Present and the Future and that French is the Language of the past. Get over it and once you become assimiliated and adopt English as your first language you will be alot happier in the long run. The Province of Quebec can still retain it’s French Culutre like the State of Louisiana does.

    One of these days cities like Montreal and even Quebec City will become Anglicised and English will be supreme in these cities. Resistance is futile. The French Belgians managed to transform the City of Brussels in 1830 in which was 85% Dutch and 15% French to Brussels of the Present in which it is now 57% French and 7% Dutch. The same will happen to both Quebec City and Montreal and like it or not they will become majority English Speaking Cities one day and you can’t stop it.

    Frenchification of Brussels

    Demographcis of Brussels

    57% French
    16% Neither French or Dutch
    11% French and Non-Dutch
    9% French and Dutch
    7% Dutch



    May 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

  24. Eille, Toi ta un esti de probleme en.Dit toi que 30% de la langue anglaise provient de la langue francaise et non le contrair Ne te pensse pas supérieur petit criss de cave retourne dans ton canada streat pi écoeure don pas le bopn monde .


    July 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  25. Hey Iam Québecois and you’re so stupid do you think i love celine dion NO i hate celine dion and the poutine , we don’t eat that everydays. You, do you eat everyday hamburger NO. And the Québecoise like you say are not slutty they are just no streat like yours and they don’t love *english accents* me my girls friend and sister when we see english peaple speakink we laugh of them and if we separate of Canada we won’t have any money. The quebec is protect. yes we are alone in north america who speak french but since 400 year we spaek french in quebec and that will continued


    July 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm

  26. “I don’t know why I have the feeling that if the rest of Canada became unilingual French most separatists will stop fighting for independence.”

    And I have the feeling that if I give a magical poney and a pot of gold under a rainbow to all Canadians, they will elect me as PM despite the fact that I have no political experience.

    Making baseless and, frankly, ridiculous, hypothesises do not make your point more relevant.


    July 24, 2009 at 8:11 am

  27. A secret society exist where we have been using the french in quebec for creating enormous wealth in the past 30 years, by simply voting in the pq and then vote no on the question of separation.
    History has shown us how the pq screws up with economics, real estate can be purchsed at undervalued prices, we then get ride of the pq, prices return to normal and gain. They eat hot dogs and poutin, we eat rib steak
    Join the club simply by following the above instruction and get rich. Where else will we find another ideal place like this?


    September 8, 2009 at 9:58 am

  28. Well. To publish everything from soup to nuts in both languages makes Canada less competative. When the top three languages worldwide are Manderine, Spanish and English I guess I have to leave canada and learn Manderine rather than dealing with this stupidity or hope Quebec seperates before I do !!


    December 22, 2009 at 3:02 pm

  29. Jerry…I join you in yor wish for Quebec sovereignty…good riddance to bad rubbish.


    February 26, 2010 at 2:54 am

  30. If I saw English “peaple speakink” I might laugh too.


    February 26, 2010 at 2:58 am

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