Mouvement Montréal français is right about Second Cup

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.

7 thoughts on “Mouvement Montréal français is right about Second Cup

  1. DAVE ID

    I’m French, I don’t like draconian laws like 101, but I can definitely understand it’s necessity to protect a French culture from Anglicization (correct word?) just by jumping in the way back machine.

  2. Christopher DeWolf

    There’s nothing unreasonable about a group of citizens voicing their displeasure against this kind of out-of-touch corporate decision.

    For the most part, though, I can’t stand the MMF. If you go to their website and read their thoughts on, for instance, the MUHC superhospital, funding to McGill and Concordia, bilingual signs, bilingual services and so forth, you’ll quickly understand that their idea of protecting French in Montreal rests exclusively on the systematic removal of bilingual or English-speaking institutions. Just as appalling to me is their general attitude towards immigrants: if you read between the lines of what they write, you get a sense that MMF perceives all newcomers to Montreal as a threat to the French language whose liability must be mitigated.

    I definitely think that all immigrants should be given the opportunity to learn French, but that’s because they need to be given the tools to succeed in our society. By contrast, MMF’s reasoning is essentially negative: they believe that immigrants need to be made to learn French because they will otherwise pose a danger to the French language. Fear of the other: isn’t that the definition of xenophobia?

    But I digress…

  3. Fagstein Post author

    Of course, my opinion should in no way be construed as an endorsement of MMF’s views in general. They’re an extremist group and their goals are misguided and wrong.

    But in this case, at least, they did the right thing: pressure a company to respect its customers instead of pressuring a government to impose unnecessary rules.

  4. Wanderer

    The problem with journalists commenting on stuff is that they usually have no experience in the many things they’re commenting on. Take a couple of years off, go into business, retail, volunteerism, whatever… get some perspective on the real world and them come back and offer something more valuable opinion-wise, until then these points of view won’t be backed up by any insight.

  5. DAVE ID

    Yes and all atheists should have degrees in theology before critiquing religion, yeah yeah heard that argument before, because only Yo-Yo Ma can tell if a cellist has hit the wrong note. Huh huh.

  6. Christopher DeWolf

    Journalists aren’t robots; their circuitry doesn’t shut down when they leave the office. Who are you to say that someone doesn’t have experience in retail, volunteer work or whatever just because they write for a newspaper?

    Besides, what does that comment have to do with anything? If you have something to say, say it, don’t tip-toe around it without ever getting to the point.

  7. Jim Royal

    The decision to eliminate the “Les Cafés” from the Second Cup signage was probably made by the same graphically illiterate person who thought that the Jurassic Park logo would make a good brand ID for Second Cup.


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