Council pushes for English signage on Quebec roads

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Free Press | Jan. 17, 2017 | Click to enlarge

Nashen touts Hydro Quebec’s new offering of English tweets

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Free Press | Sept. 27, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Invitation to participate in a questionnaire on language and identity in Quebec

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McGill University’s Dr. Ruth Kircher is conducting a questionnaire-based study to investigate the interrelation between language and identity in Quebec, and is looking for participants. The study is aimed at people 18 years of age and older, of all mother tongues, and in all regions of the province. It is not important whether participants were born in Quebec or not, as long as they are living in the province at the moment. Participation is anonymous and participants can choose whether they would like to complete the questionnaire in English or in French.

Click here to access the questionnaire

Letters: How about protecting English in Quebec, as well?


Letters, Montreal Gazette, April 22, 2014

Re: “Large retailers should add French to signage” (Editorial, April 19)

Are you kidding? Just when the Quebec Superior Court says leave things as they are, The Gazette seems to want to take a big step backward and instigate the language issues once again.

Who complained? The newly formed government has more important things to do now than revisit the signage issues. The OQLF’s time should be up! The millions saved could be spent so much better on health, education, infrastructure, etc.

Businesses need to flourish, and in the language of the consumer. The fact is, English has been so diminished that many retailers have zero English signage outside or inside their stores, fail to print circulars or sales receipts bilingually. Shame on all those corporations for disrespecting my bilingual dollar and for disrespecting me as a customer.

I must add, Toys R Us saw fit to give back respect to its customers by putting back English signage as permitted under the provisions of the Charter of the French Language. The French language is protected in Quebec; isn’t it about time that the English language be protected as well?

I am quite surprised and disappointed that The Gazette, Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, is not more vigorous in supporting the anglophone community!

Ruth Kovac


City of Côte-Saint-Luc

Letter: The Gazette should be advocating the dissolution of the OQLF


Re: “Large retailers should add French to signage” (Editorial, April 19)

Shame on The Gazette, Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, for once again letting us, the anglophone community down and for not showing us the respect we truly deserve. How disrespectful can you be by mentioning that large retailers should add French to signage? Instead of applauding the Superior Court judgment rendered by the Honourable Mr. Justice Michel Yergeau for applying the provisions of the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) and congratulating such retail chains as Best Buy, Costco Wholesale, Old Navy and others who stood up for what is right and not caving in to the useless, harassing and bullying tactics of the Office québécois de la langue française, you went out of your way to agree with what the OQLF was attempting to achieve. I guess I should not be surprised if your next moves were to encourage the OQLF to seek appeal of the Superior Court judgment and to lobby the Liberal government to amend the provisions of Bill 101.

As Montreal’s only English-language daily newspaper, it would have been a step in the right direction to not only come out and encourage all retailers in Quebec, especially those in the Montreal, Laval and South Shore areas where there are a good number of anglophones, to post signs in both French and English as allowed by Bill 101, but also to encourage the Quebec Liberal government to dissolve the OQLF and use the millions of dollars saved on such useful projects as health care, infrastructure and the economy. Remember, English has not been banned under Bill 101 and English is not a disease, it happens to be one of the two official languages of Canada.

Harold Staviss

Representative of the Office Québecois de la Langue Anglaise (OQLA)


New Toys R Us to add English to signs

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The Suburban, Nov. 20, 2013, Joel Goldenberg

Toys R Us is adding English content to its store signage at its Jean Talon and Décarie store and other Montreal-area stores in Vaudreuil and Pointe Claire, after receiving several complaints from customers.

One of those complaints was from this reporter, who approached an employee with the signage issue — I was told the decision was made by head office. And another complainant, among many, was Côte St. Luc Councillor Ruth Kovac, who called the Toronto head office.

The new store is located in close proximity to Côte St. Luc and Hampstead, both of which have majority anglophone populations. Complaints were also received about the lack of product descriptions in English, the lack of English on flyers and the lack of English versions of talking toys.

When I first entered the store, the only English in evidence was a sign saying the store was open Remembrance Day; and the English-only display leading into the video game section. According to Quebec’s language law, English is allowed on signs as long as French is predominant. There are many bilingual signs designating sections (houseware, electronics) at the neighbouring Wal-Mart store.

On Thursday, The Suburban learned from the Toronto head office that English content would be added to signs. That afternoon, Liz Macdonald, vice president of marketing and store planning at Toys R Us, confirmed this on Aaron Rand’s CJAD show.

Macdonald said on the show that the store was aware of the French predominance provision in the language law.

“In the past, what would happen is we would say to our associates, ‘here’s some English signs, please put them up throughout the store,’ but then you wouldn’t necessarily go and count every French sign and make sure there were two French signs to every English sign,” she explained. “They would be not necessarily in compliance with the law. We got caught a couple of times and we were fined for having too much English and not having the right proportion.

“So after a couple of fines and realizing, how realistic is it to ask an associate to go around and count — ‘we have 10 price match signs, now are eight of them in French and two in English’ — we overreacted a little bit, to be honest, and said ‘we’re just going to go French.’ We get inspected and looked at quite regularly.”

Macdonald said Thursday that English signs arrived at the Décarie, Pointe Claire and Vaudreuil stores that same day.

“Our policy signs are going up in English and French, our ‘hot toys’ items and signs are also going up in English, and you’ll see that throughout the store,” she added. “Some of the navigational [section] signage will have to be specifically designed to meet the requirements, and that will come in the next month or so.”

Macdonald also said an English talking toy can’t be sold in Quebec unless a French version is available, unless there’s an education exemption.

Kovac was elated at the signage news. “Toys R Us contacted me from their corporate head office,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Suburban. “They acknowledged the issues I raised and will be placing English signs not only at the new Décarie store but in others as well. They will also add English flyers to their ad campaigns. I was told I made quite a case. I am delighted to have made a difference.”


In my opinion: Bravo to Ruth Kovac and all those who complained to Toys R Us about the lack of English signs here and in other stores and businesses.

I have also received many complaints about the absence of English signs at the new McDonald’s restaurant on Cote Saint-Luc Rd. and our Mayor Anthony Housefather has personally been in contact with franchiser Pierre Brunet who ensures us that English signs are on order.

I have communicated with Target Canada about its lack of English signs in its new stores and it seems that this is beginning to be rectified as well.

I have always strived for equal rights for the English language in Quebec. As former Executive Director of Alliance Quebec I maintain that Quebecers must continue to advocate for language rights, from government and from retail and commercial enterprise. Mayor Housefather, a former AQ president, shares the same passion to promote language rights.

Store owners must be reminded that consumers will choose where to spend their dollars.  You can take your money where you can see your language displayed, as permitted under the horrid Quebec language laws.  You should be able to feel respected and appreciated when you shop and spend your hard earned cash.

Please continue to call and complain and let your local newspaper know about your findings as well.


Letter: Stop asking whether Montreal is a ‘French city’?


Letter to the editor

Montreal Gazette, August 2,2013

Is Montreal a French city? This is not the right question.

The media should stop asking Montreal mayoral candidates “Is Montreal a French city?” The question is imprecise and allows the candidates to skate around the issue. Their pat answer is some formulation of: “Montreal is a French city. But bilingualism is a great asset to Montreal.”

What’s wrong with the question?

First, Montreal is not a “French city.” It is a Quebec city (or a Canadian city, or a North American city). France abandoned its former colony long ago. Yes, I’m being pedantic, but my goal is a clear question.

A more precise question would be “Is Montreal a French-speaking city.” But even this could be interpreted as a question related to census data.

What reporters really want to know is the candidate’s position on municipal services. The question they should be asking is: “Ought the municipal government of Montreal provide bilingual services to residents, without them having to ask for it.”

The question, asked in this way, leaves no room for misinterpretation. It’s not about identity or demographics, but about public policy, which is the business of elected leaders.

This is the question the media should be asking the Montreal mayoral candidates.

And voters should pay close attention to their answers.

Darryl Levine


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette


In my opinion:

Darryl Levine makes an excellent point. The fact is Montreal is not a French city having shed its colonial past hundreds of years ago. Another fact is that census figures show that Montreal is a very bilingual, indeed multilingual city – far from being uniquely a French-speaking city.

However, should residents of this multilingual city be entitled to receive services in one of two official languages? The answer is perfectly clear to anyone unshackled by Quebec political doublespeak.

Bilingual McDonald’s coming to CSL Shopping Centre


McDonald's concept coming to the CSL Shopping Centre

McDonald’s concept coming to the CSL Shopping Centre

Cote Saint-Luc is about to get its first drive-through restaurant.  McDonald’s will be building a restaurant on Cote Saint-Luc Road at the Shopping Centre. Council gave final approval at its public meeting last night.

I was pleased to have pointed out that its signage plans were only in French and that the city ought to recommend that the fast food giant consider adding English wording. Mayor Housefather immediately directed that city staff encourage the company to reconsider their signage plan. The mayor and I, former president and executive director, respectively, of Quebec’s English language rights lobby, are very sensitive about promoting bilingualism, particularly with commercial signs.

One of many bilingual signs coming to McDonald's Cote Saint-Luc

One of many bilingual signs coming to McDonald’s Cote Saint-Luc

To their credit, and to our great pleasure, McDonald’s agreed to avail themselves to the provision in Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, which allows for languages other than French on commercial signs provided that French predominates.

“Cote Saint-Luc is likely the only municipality in Quebec to make such recommendations.  Given the government’s efforts through Bill 14 to wipe out English I am proud that Cote Saint-Luc has taken such action to encourage businesses to comply with the law in displaying English,” Housefather said.

In related news, by chance last week I met Target Canada’s new director of  government affairs.  I mentioned that I noticed that recruitment signs were only in French and said I hoped that new Target stores would carry English on their signage in neighbourhoods with English-speaking communities, such as the West Island, Lasalle and elsewhere.  The Target executive assured me that English would appear on their signs in the appropriate neighbourhoods.


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