Philippe Couillard’s arrival as Premier of all Quebecers came as a relief to most English-speaking citizens and to a majority of voters. He seems like a level-headed, sensible, no-nonsense character to fill the highest office after a miserable 18 months in Quebec politics.
First disappointment with the new Liberal Government
May 10, 2014
So it comes as more than surprising, actually disappointing, when the nascent government announced they would appeal last month’s Quebec Superior Court ruling that large retailers including Gap, Best Buy, Costco, Walmart and Old Navy are not obliged to add French generic words to their internationally recognized brand names.
Does any Quebecer require Costco Wholesale to add a French language generic term like “Les entrepots” to clarify what store they’re going into? Will a unilingual French-speaker enter a Gap store thinking it’s a café if they don’t add “Le magasin de vetements” on their store signs? Does such petty symbolism do anything to protect the French language? Give me a break.
This is ridiculous and petty strategic policy on the part of the Liberal Government whose members haven’t had enough time to move into their offices yet, let alone take such a sensitive and ill-advised decision to seek appeal.
French-speaking Quebecers are well served by signage and employees in their language throughout Quebec. They are not being disrespected. They have more safeguards to protect their language than any other jurisdiction in the world. They are not inconvenienced. French letters and words on signage are twice as large or twice as numerous as compared to English. They are not marginalized. Store staff speak to them in their own language.
Let’s be honest. English-speaking Quebecers are the ones who are disrespected, poorly served, inconvenienced and marginalized by oppressive government policy, discriminatory language laws and overzealous language police.
Dr. Couillard, you inspired tens of thousands of Quebecers during the election campaign by indicating that it was a great benefit to be bilingual, that the English-speaking Quebecers are not enemies, that we are all Quebecers. Please be true to your convictions and vision and make us all feel like respected, equal citizens.