AngryFrenchGuy

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 justin.ca, 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 boffeyautosales.com. 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:

Hi

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.

Georges

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 http://www.lespac.com 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
Boffeyautosal

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

Easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Clicked here: www.olf.gouv.qc.ca/francisation/respect/plainte.html, 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. ignorance? I suppose bill 101 in Quebec isn’t ignorant? Right it’s not. It’s racist.

    Sean McAllister

    September 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm

  2. Note to RoryBellows:

    Sean McAllister… now that’s a real angryphone!

    Acajack

    September 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  3. ” Now, it is increasingly (though not quite there yet) seen as “a province like all the others” (une province comme les autres), and the fact that it’s mainly French doesn’t scare people off so much.”

    Good post. doesn’t scare me (Quebec) as much as others I know. Maybe I will buy one of the nice lakefront properties in the Laurentides…Very nice and very affordable. Guess I could rent it out to the Americans who come to ski in the winter:)

    On Sean Mc…everyone is entitled to your opinion…However, before you criticize so much perhaps you should take some time to learn about what things are about in Quebec…hell, you might find out like others its not such a bad place and that the people are not all that different from anyone else in this country….also that the language is kind of nice. Unless it threatens you because of you feel intimadated by it due to fact you don’t “parlez le francais”…Don’t worry buddy, neither do I, very well.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 12:52 am

  4. I have nothing against Quebec, or French as a language. What I have the problem with is the double standard, and the arrogance. The fact that this man CAN speak english but reported a business for operating without french. I thought this was a free country? See the arrogance? They demand everywhere offer french in Canada, except in Quebec. See the double standard? Thats were I have issues.

    Sean McAllister

    September 12, 2008 at 12:39 pm

  5. “Very poor question indeed. As we have explained to you many times ABP, nobody ever expected every Canadian to be billingual.”

    Then why do we spend so much money on the concept of bilingualism??…If its not expected, then why are we bothering with it at all if its not to just appease the majority francos in Quebec. Lets cut out the program, the french CBC etc etc and we can divy up the money amongst the provinces. Too late, they have already mortgaged the farm on all our behalves.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 2:07 pm

  6. “Lets cut out the program, the french CBC etc etc and we can divy up the money amongst the provinces.”

    The French CBC, at least, would definitely stay. At least in Quebec, where it is a viable operation and the vast majority of its budget is spent (and ad revenue collected). Cutting out the small local CBC French operations in most areas of the ROC (where frankly, next to no one watches it) won’t make a big dent in all the money devoted to the various CBC networks (English and French).

    And as I am fond of pointing out like a broken record, the CBC’s French TV network (because of Quebec) is actually the only operation in the entire family that brings in enough advertising revenue to allow it to aspire to cost-recovery status.

    Acajack

    September 12, 2008 at 3:24 pm

  7. “And as I am fond of pointing out like a broken record, the CBC’s French TV network (because of Quebec) is actually the only operation in the entire family that brings in enough advertising revenue to allow it to aspire to cost-recovery status.”

    The CBC is one of the things in Canada I have a problem with as it is for the most part fundamentally publicly funded. This being said, they do produce some good programming on both the english and french networks. There are those that advocate privatizing the CBC….all except for Radio Canada which is by and large non-commercial.

    You have television broadcasters who have to compete against their own tax dollars….which are used to subsidize an organization that is for the most part competition to them.

    I am thinking this might be one of the conservatives back burner issues.

    Anyways, I was just making a point that if in fact the program is not to make Canada bilingual (as AGF pointed out) as an expectation then why are we spending so much on the program…when most are not expecting results.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 3:50 pm

  8. BTW, I am not advocating dropping CBC French in Quebec or perhaps Moncton. Just in the other provinces where as you say there are few, if any listeners or viewers. Transmitters and network service plus announce staff are expensive not to mention maintenance costs and that associated with power consumption. Gosh, theres a plan for Dion…cut our the services to conserve energy, it could be viewed as a Green issue ;)Interesting, I spoke to a freind of mine who works in technical services for CBC and told him that the audio on the local French AM station was a bit noisy and distorted. He gave me a funny look and then indicated that I must be their only listener!!

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 4:02 pm

  9. “BTW, I am not advocating dropping CBC French in Quebec or perhaps Moncton. Just in the other provinces where as you say there are few, if any listeners or viewers. ”

    The problem with that plan is justifying the wall-to-wall CBC coverage Anglos get all over Québec while Francos would only get some coverage in Québec and Moncton.

    “why we bothering with it at all if its not to just appease the majority francos in Quebec.”

    Actually it’s not for the Francos of Québec at all, as we are quite satisfied with our Radio-Canada and french-language federal services IN QUÉBEC. The governement provides services in French accross Canada because it’s the only way to justify the services ANGLOS receive IN QUÉBEC.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 12, 2008 at 5:43 pm

  10. oh let`s talk about all the frenchys crossing the river everyday into Canada to work. Laughs, funny how would that affect the province when you seperatists get your way. Cant work for a government of a country you dont belong to. Bu bye

    Sean McAllister

    September 12, 2008 at 8:23 pm

  11. “Actually it’s not for the Francos of Québec at all, as we are quite satisfied with our Radio-Canada and french-language federal services IN QUÉBEC. The governement provides services in French accross Canada because it’s the only way to justify the services ANGLOS receive IN QUÉBEC.”

    Yes, but there are 10% anglos in quebec. Other than NB the percentages are far below this in the other provinces. With this high a percentage the anglo programming in quebec is rational. In SK..we have a couple of percent, similar in other provinces I have looked at. This small percentage does not likely justify the french service.

    Politics and optics again and not sound fiscal responsibility.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 9:06 pm

  12. Further, if the CBC were privatized, then you would have CBC french and CBC English…if in Quebec the french service could live without taxpayers money and flourish as a business then so be it…I am doubting however, that the private Radio Canada or RDI in Quebec would want to provide service outside of Quebec as there would likely be little revenue (but much expense) to be gained from such services where there would be litte consumption of the product and thus advertising revenue.

    If in Quebec, the English service could be maintained and it would stand on its feet from an economic standpoint then it would be continued…If not, the operators would pull the pin as there would be no return on investment.

    Currently with public money involved all is skewed.

    I note that the english radio operators in Quebec seem to do quite well with the small pure english population. Perhaps there are many Quebecers who listen to English commercial radio.

    Its really this simple, privatization would solve the issue and would rationalize the markets in both Quebec and in the ROC.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 12, 2008 at 9:14 pm

  13. “Actually it’s not for the Francos of Québec at all, as we are quite satisfied with our Radio-Canada and french-language federal services IN QUÉBEC. The governement provides services in French accross Canada because it’s the only way to justify the services ANGLOS receive IN QUÉBEC.”

    Sad to say it but bilingualism in Canada has historically always been about finding a way to ensure that the English-speaking minority in Quebec isn’t “inconvenienced” by the fact that it’s surrounded by millions of French speakers. The English population of Quebec has always been considered by many to be an outpost of “true Canadian-ness” in the sea of un-Canadian-ness that is francophone Quebec.

    It even started at Confederation, when Quebec was made de facto bilingual and New Brunswick was made English only, in spite of the fact that NB’s francophone population was proportionately far greater than the anglo population of Quebec.

    It was only with the rise of the separatist movement in Quebec in the 60s that people started to take notice of how unfairly imbalanced the situation was, and that rights for francophones were slowly extended in the ROC, most generously in NB (where they are 1/3 of the population) and to a lesser degree in Ontario.

    Acajack

    September 12, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  14. “If in Quebec, the English service could be maintained and it would stand on its feet from an economic standpoint then it would be continued…If not, the operators would pull the pin as there would be no return on investment.”

    The English CBC services (especially the TV) in Quebec are no more commercially viable than they are in Saskatchewan or Ontario. Which is to say that they are not. Angl0-Quebecers generally watch U.S. programming most of the time just like people in the ROC, perhaps even moreso because virtually none of the poorly-viewed (inside and outside Quebec actually) CBC dramas or comedies are ever set in Montreal.

    Acajack

    September 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm

  15. “You have television broadcasters who have to compete against their own tax dollars….which are used to subsidize an organization that is for the most part competition to them.”

    Yes, the private TVA network in Quebec complains bitterly of this as well. Especially when the French CBC picks off some of TVA’s top stars by offering them multi-six-figure salaries (like they have sometimes done in the past).

    Acajack

    September 12, 2008 at 10:31 pm

  16. “The CBC is one of the things in Canada I have a problem with as it is for the most part fundamentally publicly funded. This being said, they do produce some good programming on both the english and french networks. There are those that advocate privatizing the CBC….all except for Radio Canada which is by and large non-commercial.”

    It is not abnormal for a country to have a state-run broadcaster. In fact, the vast majority of countries in the world have one or even several. It is true that the U.S. does not have one. Now I am not anti-American but I hope to God that this is not going to be our only model for everything we do.

    Acajack

    September 12, 2008 at 10:37 pm

  17. What about PBS/NPR?

    angryfrenchguy

    September 12, 2008 at 11:12 pm

  18. “Yes, but there are 10% anglos in quebec. Other than NB the percentages are far below this in the other provinces. With this high a percentage the anglo programming in quebec is rational”

    How many Anglos would stay in Montreal if there were no Anglo hospitals, no McGill, no Concordia, no subsidized private schools, no CBC, no local English news, TV and radio?

    About as many as there are Francos in Toronto…

    Ah, the chicken or the egg…

    angryfrenchguy

    September 12, 2008 at 11:15 pm

  19. “How many Anglos would stay in Montreal if there were no Anglo hospitals, no McGill, no Concordia, no subsidized private schools, no CBC, no local English news, TV and radio?”

    I dont know what this has to do with what I have been saying about french services including the CBC outside of Quebec. In Quebec there is a strong contingent of anglos. Also same for NB.
    There are substantial numbers to rationalize the cost of the services.

    Outside of Quebec the numbers are in most cases less than 1 or 2%. Does this small number of people rationalize the expense of providing the services in the french language. I dont think so…it’s expensive and is not all that necessary as for the most part the french in English canada are functionally bilingual and don’t require french only services.

    This whole issue of minority language rights should be re-assessed to determine its absolute value vs cost. If there were 10% francos in SK I wouldnt have a problem with it. As it is, with only 0.4% of the population speaking french in the home which is the real yardstick…I have a problem with it and so should you, in the event you are a taxpayer, which I am assuming you are.

    Now if you tell me that it should be provided in these provinces I can only assume you are one of the ones wanting to force french imperatives upon the anglos of Canada. You, AGF, have said before this is not your intention.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm

  20. What is it you don’t understand about supply and demand ABP?

    Although I agree with you 100% in principle, as long as I’m subsidizing your kids education at McGill you better bet you’re going to be paying for Radio-Canada in Saskatchewan!

    And you have nothing to complain about. What French services in SK cost is but a fraction of what we in Québec pay for Anglo institutions.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm

  21. “Although I agree with you 100% in principle, as long as I’m subsidizing your kids education at McGill you better bet you’re going to be paying for Radio-Canada in Saskatchewan!

    She pays the full tuition AGF…plus contributes many dollars to the economy (well, as much as a mother with two kids can)…I pay property taxes in Quebec as well. Question, do only anglos attend McGill and Concordia?? or is there a significant number of both English and French Quebecois attending these universities.?? I doubt all the Quebecois attend only the U of M and Laval.

    Again, there is 10% anglos in Quebec, the services are rationilized by numbers. SK 0.4%, AB 0.7%, BC 0.4%, MB etc etc etc.

    Supply and demand…quite a bit higher demand for services in English in Quebec than in the other provinces…Perhaps it is you who does not understand.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 13, 2008 at 6:55 pm

  22. “Supply and demand…quite a bit higher demand for services in English in Quebec than in the other provinces…Perhaps it is you who does not understand.”

    Thats should be a higher demand for services in English in Quebec than for french in other provinces…

    Je suis desole.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 13, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  23. There is DEMAND because there is an OFFER!

    You are surprisingly slow on basic economic principles for someone who lecturing everyone on equalization everyday…

    If there were 3 French universities in Regina, there would be a few more Frenchys out there, don’t you think?

    And by the way, your daughter doesn’t come even close to paying “full” tuition. Check out harvard.edu to find out what a “full tuition” costs.

    Keep those equalization dollars coming, grandpa. You owe us big time.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 13, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  24. “And by the way, your daughter doesn’t come even close to paying “full” tuition. Check out harvard.edu to find out what a “full tuition” costs.”

    Lets see, about 5400.00 vs 1700.oo for a Quebecois student (pathetic but also extended to students from France) funded by other peoples money. Don’t lecture me about the costs of post secondary education…The costs are fairly equal across all provinces with the exception of Quebec and yes, it is subsidized in Canada as compared to the US. But, the fact is that it is “highly” subsidized in Quebec with money from other provinces.

    “If there were 3 French universities in Regina, there would be a few more Frenchys out there, don’t you think?”

    Are you on drugs??

    “Keep those equalization dollars coming, grandpa. You owe us big time.”

    Owe you for what???
    Typical response from a leftist Quebec separatiste (sorry independiste as you like to be referred). No worries, your buddy Stephen H will keep the welfare rolling in to Quebec….in exchange for you vote. :):);)

    ABP

    Anonymous

    September 14, 2008 at 9:11 am

  25. New word for you ABP, as you fancy yourself a francophile: Bouché.

    angryfrenchguy

    September 14, 2008 at 9:17 am

  26. ““If there were 3 French universities in Regina, there would be a few more Frenchys out there, don’t you think?”

    Are you on drugs??”

    I don’t think the point is that this would boost the number of francophones there today, but give Manitoba (majority French-speaking around the time of Confederation) a full-fledged francophone institutional network that’s been in place for 125 years and things might be a bit different demographically today.

    The same might be true for Ontario, which might be 10 or 15% francophone today if that community had been institutionally nurtured rather than suppressed.

    Acajack

    September 14, 2008 at 9:46 am

  27. “Lets see, about 5400.00 vs 1700.oo for a Quebecois student (pathetic but also extended to students from France) funded by other peoples money. Don’t lecture me about the costs of post secondary education…The costs are fairly equal across all provinces with the exception of Quebec and yes, it is subsidized in Canada as compared to the US. But, the fact is that it is “highly” subsidized in Quebec with money from other provinces.”

    Maybe I am getting this wrong but is the subtext here not: ABP’s daughter going to university at McGill is actually a good deal for Quebec because Saskatchewan has been paying equalization for X years (how many I am not sure. I thought SK became a “have” province only fairly recently)? So, even with this girl from SK going to McGill and taking advantage of our $7 a day daycare, Quebec is still making a net profit on ABP’s daughter because of the equalization Saskatchewan pays to Ottawa, which then gets mixed in with the equalization from Ont., BC and Alberta, and finally redistributed to the six have-not provinces (incl. QC)?

    Have I lost anybody on this one?

    Acajack

    September 14, 2008 at 10:03 am

  28. “What about PBS/NPR?”

    PBS is not considered a state-run broadcaster, and I think it only gets between 15 ans 20% of its budget from the government. This is only a fraction of what the percentage the CBC and other government broadcasters around the world get.

    Don’t know about NPR, but it might be a similar set-up to PBS.

    Acajack

    September 14, 2008 at 1:40 pm

  29. “New word for you ABP, as you fancy yourself a francophile: Bouché.”

    Really…would that be “bouche” or “boucher”..

    What else would I expect “de vous” comrade AGF.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 14, 2008 at 5:42 pm

  30. “Don’t know about NPR, but it might be a similar set-up to PBS”

    Correct on both accounts. In the US both PBS and NPR have some funding from Government but to a large extent they exist with public donations from both private citizens and corporations. Its interesting, the mainstream US broadcasters (CBS, ABC etc) actually contribute a fair amount of money to the public broadcasters.

    And their programming is quite well done….

    The problem with CBC is that they can’t decide what their mandate should be. They have lost their vision, in at least the English network…Radio TWO is a prime example. They seem to want to compete with the private sector for listeners and this is not what their mandate should be.

    They have, to some degree, lost their identity and focus which is unfortunate.

    ABP

    ABP

    September 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm


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