The Suburban Newspaper, August 6th, 2014
The Sûreté du Québec’s policy of issuing messages on Twitter to the general public in French only is “ludicrous,” says Côte St. Luc Councillor Glenn Nashen.
Nashen, who has also complained about the lack of English on the Montreal fire department’s website, displayed a Twitter conversation he had with the SQ on his blog.
In response to a French SQ general Twitter message about safety during the vacation period, Nashen asked if the SQ shouldn’t also be wishing English-speaking Quebecers a safe vacation as well.
The SQ responded, in English, that it wishes everyone a safe vacation.
“The account is in French only, but we respond in English to English tweets,” the SQ message adds, in English.
Nashen then asked if the SQ has an English-language Twitter account.
The SQ responded in English that the SQ only has a French-language Twitter account for now, “but thank you for the suggestion!”
Nashen was not satisfied.
“How ludicrous it is that the provincial police will not communicate with hundreds of thousands of English-speaking Quebecers plus hundreds of thousands more tourists and visitors unless they are asked a question in English?” the councillor wrote on his blog. “This nonsense has gone unchecked for far too long and it’s high time that the Liberal government correct the overzealous policies of its departments that are nothing short of mean-spirited, disrespectful and counter-productive in the dispensing of public safety and public service messages.
“The Sûreté du Québec / Quebec Police Force have a mandate to serve all who live in or visit Quebec,” he added. “They have an obligation to communicate with the people they serve, through various means, including social media. Yet, their policy on use of English on Twitter, as indicated above, shows a blatant disregard for all English-speaking Quebecers and English-speaking visitors. Public safety messages are broadcast in French only. To hell with English, they’ll only reply to specific questions in that other language.”
Nashen also wrote that Premier Philippe Couillard “made it clear in the election campaign, barely four months ago, that English is not a disease and English-speaking Quebecers are not the enemy here. Our language does not diminish the French language at all. He said not a single Quebec parent doesn’t want their children to be bilingual. It’s time to prove he meant what he said and to loosen the stranglehold that Bill 101 has on every public agency, department and service under the Quebec government. Then, even the SQ could wish us all a happy and safe vacation.”
The Suburban contacted the SQ. An official told us that the Quebec government determines that the SQ’s Twitter messages are in French, “because French is the official language of Quebec.”
The official added that English will be tweeted in case of emergencies, in case of a life in danger and if an anglophone is involved.
“We will then do it in English, exceptionally,” the official said.