AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘oqlf

Paging Galganov! Canada’s Got a New Native Language Police!

with 78 comments

In a move sure to confuse the hell out of some self-righteous language activists in Canada who try to justify their opposition to Québec’s language laws by claiming to be fighting for the rights of native canadians, Nunavut’s lawmakers unanimously adopted their own version of bill 101 yesterday.

The citizens of Nunavut adopted a Language Law inspired by Québec’s French Language Charter in order to protect the rights of the citizens of the booming territory to live and work in their own language.

The law, Bill 7, will make Inuktitut mandatory in all schools and it will become the language of work in the public service by 2011.

The law includes the creation of the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit a.k.a. the Inuit Language Authority and of a Language Commissioner.  This commissioner will have “investigative tools for securing the compliance of the public and private sector organizations that have not had Inuit Language duties in the past”, including taking matters to the courts.

Unlike the Office Québécois de la Langue Française which can only act upon citizen complaints, the Nunavut Language Commissioner will have the power to initiate investigations.  Fines for violators of the law could be as high as 5 000$ for individuals and 25 000$ for organizations.

From now on all signs, inclusing those of a commercial nature, will have to be in Inuktitut and the Inuktitut will have to be of at least equal size to any other language used.  Businesses will also be legally required to be able to serve all customers who demand it in the Inuit language.

According to the Canadian Press, although 91% of Inuit said they could speak the Inuit language, only 64% used it at home, a dramatic 10% drop in only 12 years.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

September 19, 2008 at 9:09 pm

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

Ireland’s bill 101

with 41 comments

Irish sign Montreal

A vast majority of Irish people support the adoption of legislation to protect the rights of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland.

Sixty-eight percent of some 11, 000 responders to a consultation by Northern Ireland’s government published last October responded favorably to a draft of the proposed Irish Language Act.

The proposed Irish law would use a rights-based approach. That is the same philosophy behind Québec’s language law.

Among the proposed modalities of the law is the creation of a Language commissioner who would have the power to “investigate complaints, and if necessary initiate a review, where there is failure to act on the rights of Irish speakers under the Act or any other enactment that deals with the use or status of the Irish language.”

The law would also stipulate that “Private individuals must have the right to make complaints and have court remedy if necessary.”

In 2005 the Republic of Ireland removed the legal status the English-language name of 2,000 towns, villages and roads in the Gaeltacht region of western Ireland and made the Gaelic version the only one that could be used by governement and public bodies.

Happy St-Patrick’s Day!

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 15, 2008 at 9:27 pm

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