Making a Complaint to the OQLF for (and because of) Idiots

with 251 comments

As part of my mission to demystify the strange and scary place called Québec, today, boys and girls, I’m going to initiate you to the most vile and hateful ritual that we separatists have been known to partake in. Grab your garlic and keep one browser window on, we’re going deep into the bowels of evil French Brotherhood. For you, the inquisitive readers of AngryFrenchGuy, I will renounce the anonymous protection bestowed on me by my brethren and take you through my very first complaint to the Ordre de la Langue Française du Québec.

…or Office de la Langue Française. Whatever.

Growing up in NDG-by-the-Décarie, I’ve always been keenly aware of the difficulty a Francophone can have in obtaining service in French in some parts of Montreal. That said, on the whole, most people were in good faith and you just avoided the stores run by the others. Things had this way of working themselves out.

I had never made a complaint to the OQLF and never expected that would be something I would do. I’ve never been a strong supporter of defending French through legislation – except when it comes to the language of education – and I have always prefered to let my money do the activism.

I came back to Montreal after spending a few years living mainly in Ontario and the contrast hit me in the face like like a STM bus rear-view mirror. Whereas shopkeepers in Toronto were friendly helpful people who seemed to value the service aspect of their profession, in Downtown Montreal I was confronted with aggressive and resentful assholes who made no attempts to hide their sighs of exasperation when I asked to be served in French. Worse, the random NDG dinosaurs who would simply refuse to serve you in French were franchising all the way east on Saint-Denis and beyond.

It was while I was struggling with this increasing frustration and disgust that I came across the nice people at Boffey Auto Sales.

I was looking for a car on the Internet and found one I liked on I looked for the phone number on the page and I noticed it was all in English. I looked for a Français button, or something. There was none.

I decided to send the company an email. I’m not thinking of bill 101 or of the OQLF at this point. I’m talking about the good old fashioned free market. I sent the shopkeeper my grievance and hoped this would eventually influence him to change his approach. Here’s the copy/paste of my missive:


I was going to visit your business to look for my next vehicle but a quick visit to your website made me understand you are not interested in my business.

Hint: Only 17% of Montrealers have english as their mother tongue. Maybe some service in the language the est of us speak would help sales!

Meilleure chance la prochaine fois.


A bit of a wise-ass, but nevertheless polite.

Now here is the response I got from the good people at Boffey:

Hi George, (your name with the correct spelling!)

You seem to be able to communicate quite well in english. It really is too bad that you are so ignorant that you would let language stand in the way of getting a great deal!

Most of the traffic our website sees is from ebay, which you are probably aware, is in english. We advertise on in the language you prefer, and are fluent in both english and french. We have a large french speaking customer base who are interested in getting a deal, not in bickering over language.

The cost to put together the website you see was 2,300$. It seems expensive, but vehicles can be uploaded, and listings modified by a child it is so simple. It would have cost an additional 1,000$ to have it translated. Seeing as most of our online business is conducted in the 9 other provinces that make up our COUNTRY, we decided to save a few dollars. To date you are the only one who has been insulted.

I am actually happy that you made the decision to avoid our lot. Dealing with pigheaded fools such as yourself rarely leads to any profitable business.

Be sure to take a trip on by Encan Direct H. Gregoire, MTL Autoprix or Corporatif Renaud, just to name a few, where you will be catered to in the language of your choice, and will also pay the price for it!!

Hint: The mother tongue of 88% of CANADIANS is english.

Bonne Chance!

Ian Weir

That’s the day I made my first complaint to the OQLF.

Easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Clicked here:, filled the form in 5 minutes and emailed it back. Got a message from the OQLF a week later saying they’d received my complaint. That’s the last I’ve ever heard of it.

As the website is still only in English even though the courts have ruled that ecommerce is absolutely within the 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 year.

And you know what? At the end of the day I’d rather they go after Best Buy and Coach Canada than a poor chump selling used cars on ebay.

In fact, I actually could’ve accepted Mr. Weir’s explanation that the website is only for business outside Québec, had he told me politely. But that day, all I could think was that either he was going to have pay 1000$ to translate his website or he was going to have to pay a 1000$ fine. Busted.

Perhaps this is an illustration of how the system makes it to easy for people to make impulsive complaints about trivial problems.

On the the other hand, it is also a good example of how many business people bring problems upon themselves by being first-class twits.

Re-reading that email a year later, I feel I just might file a second complaint right now…

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm

251 Responses

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  1. In my experience, it is so rare to not be able to be served in French in Montreal. The problem here is not that you can’t get served in French, it’s that others are being served in English – Heaven forbid!

    We have people in Quebec society that find this to be so disgusting that they claim falsely that they themselves could not be served in French. These individuals feel uncomfortable hearing the English language, and are often reacting to the widespread ideology in Quebec that the English language is like a disease that is spreading.

    English is not a disease. But it is culturally rich, and it is spreading.


    September 16, 2008 at 8:06 pm

  2. “English is not a disease. But it is culturally rich, and it is spreading.”

    You are correct…and also, there is nothing wrong with the French language or any other language…they all have a strong cultural background which is really a good thing and learning it extends your understanding of others…That’s why I am trying to learn french at an older age…not easy but nothing worthwhile is easily attained.



    September 16, 2008 at 10:16 pm

  3. Just in case anyone still cares –

    I am a fluently bilingual Anglophone who has been educated in both languages. I have purchased 3 cars from Mr. Weir over the past 10 years and I have referred the “Anglo Car Dealer” to numerous potential car buyers whether they have been anglos, allos or francophones. The 1st time I stepped foot on the car lot I was approached in french. The whole transaction was done in the official language until the documents were filled out and at that point the conversation changed to english.
    In the end the only things that should matter are service, honesty and reliability. All of which Mr. Weir has.

    Two Mountains

    December 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm

  4. Silly Quebecers, Trix are for kids.

    I never went to Montreal and kind of wish I did

    February 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm

  5. The problem here is not with Mr. Weir, but with an ignorant, self absorbed hardcore seperatist who thinks that the world revolves around him. This is the type of person that runs crying to the language police like a small child running to their mother when they feel they have been wronged. The only person that is being wronged here is Mr. Weir. He gave you a perfectly good expanation as to why his site is in english, and you being a smart ass, who has way to much time on his hands, turned it into another reason for Quebecers to want out of confederation. If you want to get screwed by going to someone else that has a french web site, be my guest. But you let the fact that you let a knee-jerk reaction in reality cost you the chance to buy a good used vehicle from an honest person. Whos the idiot now. Mr.Weir has delt with many french customers, who obviously liked the service they got. I think you were looking for a fight here, not a used car. Get a life. Grow up . Stop asking the government to fight your battles. Live and let live. Quebec would better off without people like you. French and english can get along just fine. The only thing that stands in the way is your self absorbed attitude. Grow up !

    shawn murray

    March 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  6. Why send an email if you were going to shop there. Just don’t shop there.. You are the problem with Quebec and why companies do not like to business there..

    You're a dolt..

    May 10, 2009 at 2:53 pm

  7. “…the audio on the local French AM station was a bit noisy and distorted.”

    You must confused it with the audio of the CFRA (English Ottawa station)that is noisy and distorted. Audio of aLl French Ottawa-Gatineau stations is flawless.



    May 13, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  8. ABP,

    Actually, there are 13% Anglos in Quebec (Stats Canada 2006)- not 10% as you posted.



    May 13, 2009 at 5:49 pm

  9. No one should mandate businesses to run a certain way and that includes language. It’s just good business to serve your customers in whatever language they want. You have to know your market(s) period. Maybe instead of the OQLF this should be regulated by the Better Business Bureau.

    I do agree with a point made in a comment above: some people, mostly dinosaurs from another era, just cannot stand the sight and sound of English.


    May 23, 2009 at 11:30 pm

  10. Your initial e-mail was somewhat less than courteous. I have dealt with Ian from Boffey and never found him to be impolite or rude, even though my purchasing demands were quite exacting. He went to impressive lengths to make me a happy customer, and I would suggest that courtesy and consideration breed after their own kind.


    May 25, 2009 at 3:11 pm

  11. Don’t bother. The OQLF is an organization devoted to driving english-speaking businesses out of Quebec. Think of the requirements for Genocide:
    Quebec is currently participating in #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (“morality” laws), 8 and 10. That’s 8 out of 10 warning signs. If they don’t stop, we’re on our way to being viewed as another Rawanda or Germany. As a public figure I ask that you please take steps to stem this before we score 10/10.


    February 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

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