A protest by members of Mouvement Montréal Français yesterday has prompted Second Cup (in one of the shortest press releases I’ve seen in quite a while) to
announce offhandedly mention that it will review its policy concerning its signs.
The tiff was caused when the coffee giant decided it would remove “Les Cafés” from its coffee shop’s signs and just become “Second Cup”. They can do this, despite Bill 101, because Second Cup is a registered trademarked, like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Future Shop.
MMF wasn’t happy with this. So they protested. No firebombing or anything like that, but they held signs and asked people to take their patronage elsewhere (Starbucks? Java U? Tim Horton’s? Dunkin Donuts?)
Good for them.
I’m no fan of Bill 101, and I oppose government over-regulation of commercial signs. But this isn’t government regulation, it’s regular citizens expressing their right to free expression in attempting to get a company to change its ways. Second Cup’s signs should be French not because the government forces it on them, but because it’s respecting the population to speak to them in their language. Imagine having English-only signs in China, or Spanish-only signs in the U.S. It’s understandable for a mom-and-pop operation or a store in an ethnic village, but for a major company it’s a slap in the face to French-speaking Quebecers.
Second Cup’s move was just plain stupid. It’s not like nobody recognizes “Second Cup” when it’s “Les Cafés Second Cup”. Instead, this smacks of a decision made by a clueless manager who has far too much free time on his hands and doesn’t know anything about Quebec politics.
Hopefully they’ll come to their senses and leave “Les Cafés Second Cup” alone.