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Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page 506

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-they-don't-require-german dept.
New submitter wassomeyob writes "In Canada, the province of Quebec has their Official Language Act of 1974 (aka Bill 22) which makes French their sole official language. It has famously been used to force business owners to modify signage to give French pre-eminance over other languages. Now, the Quebec language police seem to be extending their reach to Facebook. Eva Cooper owns Delilah in the Parc — a shop in Chelsea, Quebec near the Quebec/Ontario border. She received a letter from the language office telling her to translate everything posted on her store's Facebook page into French."
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Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page

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  • by Huntr (951770) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:22PM (#46358341)

    "Language Police"

    Anything after that is kind of irrelevant.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:22PM (#46358345)

    Ok, its a stupid law, and I'm not going to defend it.

    But if the Quebec based store is maintaining a website, it needs to have a french translation, and a company's facebook page is little different than a geocities site from 1998, and is just another form of advertising for the company so this is entirely consistent with how the law has been enforced in the past.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:28PM (#46358435) Homepage Journal

    Should it really, though? If you run a store on a border town, where the majority don't actually speak french, should some demi-nationalists be able to dictate your areas culture?

    It'd be like the rest of Canada forcing the Quebecois to have English everywhere.

  • Typical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kimomaru (2579489) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:28PM (#46358447)
    Quebec has some bizarre sensibilities, they're definitely not into this whole people-can-decide-what's-best-for-themselves crap. If you think that's bad, you should see their tax rate - believe it or not, taxes go to supporting these bizarre laws. Anyone under the age of 30 who wants to make a life for themselves, in my oppinion, should live anywhere else in Canada.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:29PM (#46358459) Homepage Journal

    If you run a store on a border town

    Then lease or buy land on the other side of the border.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:35PM (#46358545) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure your solution is

    A. Retarded, because having land in multiple provinces doesn't exempt you from their laws
    B. Highly impractical, because a border town doesn't necessarily straddle a border
    C. Obviously meant as an stupidly elaborate work-around for an unnecessary situation.

  • by INT_QRK (1043164) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:40PM (#46358625)
    Canada is a democracy. They make their own laws and govern themselves. It is none of my business as an American what they decide to do inside their own borders any more than it's my business what happens in the privacy of my neighbor own home as long as it stays inside their home. Privacy, mmmmkay?
  • by SeeSchloss (886510) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:41PM (#46358631) Homepage
    Your solution, on the other hand, would be... to not observe some laws near borders? That's not how legal systems work.
  • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:45PM (#46358701)

    we all know english people won't make any efforts to learn french even if the live in france directly

    A shit-ton of French students in high schools and colleges across the U.S. would beg to differ, Monsieur.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:47PM (#46358731)

    Quebec isn't a country. French or otherwise.

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:50PM (#46358767) Homepage
    It's one thing for the government to have to serve the people in a certain language, it's another thing entirely to force business owners to operate their business in a specific language. If people don't speak the languages offered by the business, then the business either won't survive, due to lack of customers, or it will survive, because there are enough people who speak the language, in which case, they serve their customers just fine. It's amazing that in a multicultural city like Montreal, that it's completely fine for businesses to operate to not speak any English, but against the law for them to not speak French.
  • by Zeromous (668365) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:54PM (#46358855) Homepage

    Facebook is an American storefront, not a Quebec one. I did not read the article but this seems very wrong indeed.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:55PM (#46358879) Homepage Journal

    No, to get rid of laws enforcing cultural hegemonies, which tend to be short-sighted, ineffective, and harmful.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:05PM (#46359049)

    Near a border is a an irrelevant legal distinction. You're in one region or the other. And you have to comply with the laws of that region. And yes, you should have to.

    Even if those laws are morally wrong or economically stupid? Just because it is a law doesn't make it a good idea nor does it mean that you should automatically comply with a stupid and pointless law. Fight the good fight if it is worth fighting. I know plenty of businessmen (including some of my family) who refuse to do business in France because of the burden of this language law.

    They want to defend their culture against the cultural imperialism of the US and their use of the English language.

    Passing laws like this will not "defend their culture". It merely hurts them economically, makes them look stupid to the rest of the world, and at best delays the inevitable changes that will occur. Furthermore, the VAST majority of Canada (you know, the country they are part of) speaks English as their primary language so your argument that this has anything to do with the US is bogus on the face of it. Just because you speak a different or additional language doesn't mean your culture has to change in any significant way. They can still speak French all they want. But if people want to speak or otherwise communicate in a different language then that should be their prerogative. Not much of a democracy if you can't speak in your own voice with your own language.

  • by kbdd (823155) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:20PM (#46359277) Homepage
    As an immigrant who started learning English in school, I have no objection to anyone using the language of their choice for whatever private purpose they want to. However, I have an issue with the government (local, state or federal) spending taxpayer's money to make government services available in languages other than English. It seems to be common courtesy that if you want to move in and live in a country, you learn the local language as a courtesy to the locals you are invading as a mark of respect.

    Similarly, I am very offended when I call a bank or any other local business and the first thin I am asked is if I speak Spanish, to press '9'.

    Now, I also recognize that "speaking English" is not a strict definition. Many natives don't do that very well.

  • by kifter (3526797) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:23PM (#46359305)
    I'm really surprised to see such lacking arguments on this post. I have come to see slashdot as a place where reasoned argument rules and the sort of ambiguous attacks displayed in much of these comments are driven down.

    Here are some useful links. Canada is a bi-lingual country, and we embrace that fact: [] Quebec has laws in-place to protect its heritage which the citizens believe are necessary: []

    Sure these laws seem strange to outsiders, but there is a large segment of the Quebec population that take seriously that their land continue to reflect their culture. And to the people that use business as the ultimate barometer of a laws efficacy, remember that there are some people who hold other things higher than cash and they have every right to do so. I'm sure the Quebec people understand the negative effect that these laws have on their economy, but can balance the sting by appreciating the positive effect they have on their lands and people.
    Personally I would like to live there and experience these Canadian peoples way of life.
  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm&icebalm,com> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:26PM (#46359359)

    shut the fuck up asshole. we all know english people won't make any efforts to learn french even if the live in france directly.

    I am Canadian, I live in Ontario, I am an anglophone, and I went to french immersion school for 4 years, with about 90 other students in my class, and studied with Rosetta Stone for two, but I live in an almost exclusively english area.

    I can read french pretty well, but I can't really speak it well due to lack of practice. So anyways, english people do make efforts to learn french. It's usually the French people who put us off of it with attitudes like yours.

  • by cream wobbly (1102689) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:26PM (#46359373)

    Dégagé, con! Les français jamais pris la peine de parler anglais, même quand ils le savent. Et ils prétendent ne pas comprendre juste pour être maladroit, enculés.

  • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:33PM (#46359473)

    It depends on what your definition of society is.

    Some people view society as little more than a financial transaction with the government. I pay my tax. I get these services.

    Others view society as sharing common values and culture. And this is a feedback loop. Government influences culture and values and people influence government.

    I don't understand the attachment to language, but I know people do. I'm of Indian descent and there are lots of Indians who have a strong attachment to language. Many will say, we need to keep our language. The kids will learn English in school anyways. So I have plenty of exposure to this French way of thinking.

    Quebec, for whatever reason wishes to maintain its culture, which includes the French Language. I think that is a valid goal even if I don't agree with it. But I acknowledge I'm an odd person who doesn't get attached to symbols and I'm a live and let live person.

    Believe it or not, I think white people have a right to their culture as much as all other cultures on Earth. I don't get why white people are so keen on making sure immigrants get to keep their culture while doing nothing to support their own. But whatever... that is a side rant.

    Does it go too far? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't live in Quebec. I live in the evil Toronto. But I certainly don't think invalid for a country/province/area to try and enforce its culture. Maybe it is a losing fight. I happen to think so. I'd much rather try and push culture positively by having quality French based media, controlling immigration... than punitive things like this.

    But I think it is a strange day when people don't think a government has a role in culture of the society it governments.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:46PM (#46359663)

    Alright... how about a business that discriminates against blacks? Or the disabled?

    if the trash is completely on the stores property

    Will the extra rats the trash attracts also stay on the stores property?

    the market will likely take care of it.

    How so? A restaurant can maintain a presentable dining room whilst maintaining a disgustingly unsanitary kitchen and food storage areas. The market might take care of it eventually, but how many people need to get sick (even die) before the 'market' catches on.

    again, if the chemicals get off the property then we have a problem. if the chemicals stay on the property, not your / our / my problem.

    Even if they are harmful to the employees?

    the deal worked out between the person selling labor and the person buying labor is between those parties, and not your / our / my business.

    So locking them in at night so they can't escape a fire is ok, or working with hazardous chemicals without adequate safety equipment is fine too (as above) as long they were desperate enough for food to feed their family to agree to those terms?

    The market has long track record of ensuring the wealthy capitalist who owns the property and the means of production doesn't take advantage or abuse the fact that he tends to have a massive advantage* when negotiating wages and working conditions right?

    That advantage being that he can generally easily afford not to hire someone today; and his business will continue to run and earn him money. Whilst a potential employee needs to eat and provide himself shelter each day, whether he works or not. Its only when employees band together into some sort of 'united front' that they can negotiate on the same level... but these united fronts for negotiation, or 'unions' are the root of all evil I'm sure.

  • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @02:31PM (#46360333)

    ...almost all the rest of North America is English

    There's a little country south of the U.S. that might disagree with that...

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @02:56PM (#46360685) Homepage

    English does have some nice features. For example it's one of the few languages that doesn't arbitaraily assign genders to non-gendered words. If you want to talk about a table, you don't have to memorize whether someone thousands of years ago decided tables are male or female for no logical reason.

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:12PM (#46360895)

    this is Canada, not France

    When it comes to Quebec, what's the difference?

    When in France, you are much more likely to find shopkeepers who will actually speak to you
    in English BEFORE you open your wallet showing US currency.

    In Quebec, they don't speak English, unless you have a $10 US bill in your hand, looking
    like you might spend it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2014 @05:03PM (#46362019)

    Universal health care is a Canadian value, and enshrined in Canadian law by the Medicare act of 1966. Quebec is simply a part of Canada and not an island unto itself in this regard.

    As an anglophone, while I live in Quebec and have for about 10 years, I would never contemplate working in Quebec nor hanging out a shingle for a business here. Even a task as simple as getting your driver's license renewed here is painful. Not a language thing, per say, just the dark shadow cast by a large, creaky, byzantine civil service. I don't think that the province has ever (or maybe will ever) recover from exodus in 1976. Lots of potential here, but also a lot of fear and navel gazing that holds people back. Fear of losing the Quebec culture, and general fear of 'the other'. I suppose it used to be fear of the Church, but since the quiet revolution this has been co-opted now by the secularists currently running the province. Most of the smart and ambitious leave (be they Francophone or Anglophone) - I know of a number that are respected leaders in Silicon Valley.

    Stuff like this is also a convenient political distraction and wedge issue.

    Instead of levelling with people and mobilizing to solve the real problems of Quebec, the current government prefers the peeps to focus on 'fear of the other'.

    If polls are to be believed, this tried and true strategy is working brilliantly and they will get a majority in the coming spring election.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.