Ici on tue personne

The Office québécois de la langue française, always looking for fun ways to spend money making anglos feel unwelcome, has started a new campaign to get store owners to place stickers in their windows reassuring people that yes, they speak French. They even got comedian Louis-José Houde to lend his voice to radio ads (because some unfamiliar voice telling you your language is in jeopardy just isn’t good enough).

The campaign is focused mainly on Montreal, but also Gatineau and the Eastern Townships, which are the three places you’re most likely to find anglos in Quebec.

I don’t quite get the point.

By law, all Quebec merchants should serve customers in French. So this sticker would be at best redundant.

The supposed idea is that merchants who don’t show the sticker would not see any francophone customers (or at least no card-carrying members of the St. Jean Baptiste Society). But that would only work once a majority of businesses got the sticker, which won’t happen any time soon no matter how free they are. Indeed, anything that smells of the OQLF would probably be rejected by Montreal businesses who don’t want to rock the boat and make things political for no reason.

Not to mention that searching for stickers would also annoy hard-core francophones who think all businesses should serve people in French (which, again, they’re required by law to do).

Besides, it would be fairly simple to just lie, put up one of those stickers and then promptly ignore it. People do that with alarm system stickers all the time.

So this campaign, which encourages retailers to unnecessarily affirm that they follow the law, and which annoys francophones and anglophones alike, is good for what exactly beyond wasting a bunch of taxpayer money?

26 thoughts on “Ici on tue personne

  1. DAVE ID

    Required by law? Like yeah right. How many times do I greet merchants in French and they answer back in English. And then I have to get into an argument about being spoken to in my language and then walk out. You can emphasize the required by law part all you want but it doesn’t change the reality and your just talking out of your ass.

    And yeah it’s still a stupid campaign. The French are already alienated by the anglo merchants’ assholeness, now lets alienate the anglos with assholeness from the french merchants.

  2. Jean Naimard

    Despite 30 years of Charte de la Langue Française, some immigrants still don’t get the point that Québec is french (just like Canada is english).

    So the lattest is the latest lame-duck attempt by the liberals to have the (french) people believe that they care about the french language. They know very well that the next election will be their acid test, and they better show that they “care” about what french people think so they won’t lose to Pauline.

    But, as always, the liberals will only do some half-arsed thing that will manage to piss off both the french and the english at the same time.

  3. Chris

    DAVE ID, do people actually do that-get in an argument if you don’t greet them in English? You would think that Anglos in this province would have had enough time by now to have thoroughly removed their heads from the sand!

  4. Julien Brault

    M. Faguy,
    Les commerces ayant moins de 50 employés ne sont, justement, pas assujettis aux différentes lois linguistiques dont s’est doté le Québec. Et au dépanneur à côté de chez moi, on ne comprend pas ce que je dis, car je m’obstine à leur parler français. Si tous les Québécois faisaient preuve de votre ouverture, M. Faguy, nous nous vivrions dans le meilleur des mondes, mais la triste réalité est qu’il y a encore beaucoup d’établissements, à Montréal comme à Westmout, où un francophone ne peut pas se faire servir dans sa langue.

  5. DAVE ID

    @Duan. I doubt my neighbors in Verdump can afford a pricey alarm system yet many of them have the stickers for 4½ apartments.

    @Jean Naimard. The OQLF acts with or without Liberal input and can be a real bunch of dicks also arguing with business owners over minor details of the French Language. I’m ambivalent towards them.

  6. AngryFrenchGuy

    So you don’t want the sticker, you don’t like the OQLF butting in, you don’t like us “rocking the boat” when we are denied service in French, you don’t want stronger language laws and you don’t like Francophones exercising their right not to give money to businesses who don’t respect Francophones.

    So my conclusion is that you believe that we should just speak the language we are told to speak in stores, right?

    Just like your dot-Qc campaign, Fagstein, this is a case of something Francophones want and need that does not takie anything away from Anglophones in any way shape or form. The only reason you have to oppose it is pettiness and spite.

  7. Fagstein Post author

    “Les commerces ayant moins de 50 employés ne sont, justement, pas assujettis aux différentes lois linguistiques dont s’est doté le Québec”

    Ça veut dire que la langue du commerce ne doit pas necessairement être en français. La service à la clientèle doit être disponible en français même pour des petits commerces.

  8. Fagstein Post author

    “…you don’t like us “rocking the boat” when we are denied service in French”

    I never said that. The law gives you every right to “rock the boat” when you are denied service in French.

    “you don’t want stronger language laws”

    Well, I don’t, but that has nothing to do with this. This isn’t a law, it’s a sticker.

    “you don’t like Francophones exercising their right not to give money to businesses who don’t respect Francophones.”

    Again, I never said this. In fact, I believe this is the way this should be done.

    “So my conclusion is that you believe that we should just speak the language we are told to speak in stores, right?”

    Your conclusion is based on faulty assumptions. Again, the entire point of this post is that the law already requires service in French. A sticker in the window will make no difference.

    “this is a case of something Francophones want and need that does not takie anything away from Anglophones in any way shape or form…”

    It takes away my tax money. If they got this sponsored by a company or made it pay for itself somehow I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass.

  9. DAVE ID

    @Chris, I somehow missed your comment. Hmmm yeah I do. I find it offensive even if I remove myself from this whole Squarehead vs Frog crap I’ve been experiencing all my life, that when I address someone in a language it’s just courtesy to respond in the same language. In the same way that while I was on tour with Cirque, when a English Canadian, American, Brit, Aussie would join us in discussion, we would all switch to English because no one wanted to feel excluded.

    Now if you consider the political situation in Québec a business man would be a poor business man if he didn’t put his bottom line ahead of his convictions. Someone walks in, you greet him in Swahili if you can. It just makes good business sense. Running a business isn’t about politics. And you don’t insult your patrons by refusing to speak to them in their language nor do you post signs in the window like this ridiculous campaign that sort of reminds me of the segregated south.

  10. Mr. Robertson

    It should be presumed that service be available in French at every business in Quebec. If you are not greeted in French, you can always complain to the management (provided you are polite and not nasty about it) or simply take your business elsewhere. But please don’t be offended each time someone greets you in English, it’s not like they’re doing it to be spiteful, and these people need jobs too.

    However, if someone is downright rude to you, then of course, get even by any legal means necessary.

  11. AngryFrenchGuy

    “Again, the entire point of this post is that the law already requires service in French. A sticker in the window will make no difference.”

    Right. And my point is there are two ways to deal with those who don’t respect the law. OQLF inspectors and fines, or a 3 cent sticker that tells me I won’t have to get into a fight and ruin my day by going into a store.

    Oh… I get it. Your employer is going to have to find another way of filling 20% of it’s paper if it can’t do the angry-shopkeeper-harassed-by the-Language-police story anymore…

  12. Jean Naimard

    The problem is that when you are told for a quarter millenium that you’re no-goods, some people start to believe it.

    And many people find it perfectly normal that they are not to be served in french whenever they go in a store.

    1. Glenn Graham

      The French first sign is used quite often outside Quebec, especially in predominantly English speaking Ontario. I live in the West end of Ottawa, formerly the city of Nepean which was annexed by Ottawa 10 years ago. Back then very little French was ever heard being used here. Now it can be heard being used here every day. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if English was still being used just as much in Quebec as it was before 1974 with services and names of all services there from every level of government were in both languages as well as having both languages equally present on road signs as they are in many parts of Ontario. Ontario will be fully bilingual one day. Quebec should have the same goal. If the French language is too fragile for reciprocity, the it should be dropped. If the British were conquered by the French and the English language wasn’t viable, they would learn to live in French.

  13. Mtlguy

    I personally believe these stickers serve to satisfy a very small percentage of the population. That percentage known as troublemakers.The type of people who will always find something wrong rather than find a solutuion.
    When i go into a store i am interested in purchasing a product, I am not inviting the clerk to become a member of my family. The service to me is secondary, to the product.

  14. Sherwin

    These stickers are hilarious.

    It’s like if they put up similar
    stickers in Westmount saying,
    “We Serve White People Here.”

    Completely unnecessary.
    But I kind of understand.
    See, they have to put
    Anglos in their place.

  15. Max

    I think francophone Quebecers have to get over themselves and realize that INDIVIDUALS ought to have the right to speak the language of their choice. That is a fundamental value of freedom of expression. As an individual proprietor, if i want to operate my business in eglish, that is my right. By denying that right, my right to freedom of speech, expression and a right to earn a living are infringed. If you are not satisfied with the service go to another store, and with a francophone population of 6 million in Quebec it can’t be too hard. Francohphone Quebecers are not the threatened minority they pretend to be, when it’s convenient. It sometimes seems to me the goal is cultural hegemony, not the vitality of French. More and more we hear about root out english from every corner of Quebec, as if its veru existence is anathema to a healthy french culture in the same province, a premise i find hard to agree with.

    And yes there are still English areas within Montreal, as they have been for several hundred years. These areas were built by anglophones, have anglophone infrastructre i.e. schools, libraries, cultural centers, hospitals, churches, synagogues, etc..so what’s the surprise? Do you really need every corner of Quebec to be serviced in French? Montreal has always been bilingual, and should remain so

  16. Marc

    Max: I suggest you go read the text of the Charter. Nowhere does it dictate what language you can/can’t speak as an individual.

  17. Deanna

    I hadn’t realized that the message that francophones receive when looking at these posters is:
    “we pretend we care about your language”.

    I had only thought about the message I received as an anglo:
    “your language doesn’t count and you suck”

    Obviously these posters serve no one.

    I think the money that they put into this campaign would actually serve the French language if they had spent it on French language courses. It’s because of the federal second language summer bursary program (now called “explore”: http://www.jexplore.ca/english/program.html)
    that I am now French speaking and I work mostly in French. More support should go to programs like these and they should forget these posters which only fan the flames of hurt on either side of the language debate.

  18. Amir

    If I was working in Chinatown and I saw someone that kind-of-look-chinese, I’d be greeting him in mandarin. Same thing if I’m working in Wesmount or anglo-downtown, if I saw someone that “looked” caucasian I’d be greeting him in english first, even though my first language is french (theoretically). It just makes business sense to address your customers in whatever language I think is their preferred. So why get offended when the merchant gets it wrong? Do you have a tattoo on your forehead saying you like to be served in french?

    And by the way, we’re supposed to be learning english in high school. By Sec 5, everybody is supposed to be speaking decent, if not basic, english. Just like my buddies from Windsor, Ontario, which is a few hours *further* than Toronto, speak broken french, but at least understand me.

    I find it rather insulting than anglos should be alienated because they speak english *IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY*. Yes, I said it, they won the war, they own our asses, and our tongues as well. We should consider ourselves lucky to be still talking french at all.

  19. mikayla cartwright

    when i see a sign as such, hear anything about the OQLF, or am made to feel predjudice because i am an anglophone living in montreal, i feel more threatened than anything. to see a sign that says ‘ici on commerce en francais’, i feel as though they are driving home the point that are less welcome if you choose to say hello in english. isn’t it already painfully obvious that french is the primary, ‘preferred’ language in a ‘bilingual’ city? i don’t have enough appendages to count the times i’ve been discriminated against- not for SPEAKING english ‘out of turn’, but simply by virtue of being a bonafide anglophone from the western tip of the island. i’m tired of it! you don’t hear me slagging off a francophone for his lazy, blatant bastardization of one of the romance languages, you don’t see me disrespecting someone because they come from some little farm town where it’s okay to throw racist remarks around and speak incoherently. i worked once at a St Jean Baptiste day concert at Parc Jean Drapeau, where of course, the grounds were overrun with people from outside the city, ready to commence drinking at 1pm and deface public property and relieve themselves whereever they chose to do so. okay, fine, we’re all guilty of over-doing the celebration now and then. what got me, being a 16 year old anglophone from a NON PRIVATE ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL IN THE WEST ISLAND, WHERE 50MINS OF CONJUGATING FRENCH VERBS EVERYDAY IS APPARENTLY SUFFICIENT FOR LIFE IN A ‘BILINGUAL’ METROPOLIS, freshly dropped into the costumer service realm of fulltime work, is how when my friends and i walked around, picking up trash thrown on the ground by rabble-rousers, our meagre english conversation seemed to UPSET the francophones. so much so they felt it necessary to remind us which province we were in. thanks, for the geography lesson. thank you for making me feel uncomfortable because i speak a certain language. thank you for harrassing me, swearing at me, and throwing your beer cup on the ground right in front of my feet. better, was in between performances by francophone bands, some idiot would get up on the stage and scream statistics into the microphone: which percentage of which région administrative throughout québec wanted to seperate from canada. these percentages were followed by almost maniacal cheering and screaming. i began to get dizzy- the flags of les patriotes swirling around me, angry drunken rednecks ready to lynch me for saying ‘happy st jean baptiste’, the taunting… these situations should never occur. i have been jaded since. jaded since, violating my human rights, an authority figure refuses to even make an attempt to speak to me in my native language, where i have no choice but to learn for myself, since the education system continues to fail. if this goddamned OQLF (makes me think of the FLQ, huh. funny.) has an issue with the english language. FIX THE SYSTEM. teach us. i still struggle with the french language, but i have no issues with learning. and i CERTAINLY do not appreciate being segregated by people old enough to know better because i don’t make the french language sound as gutteral as they do. i don’t appreciate being refused service because i make the effort to describe what i need in french and fail to do so as well as they might. i can no longer put up with this… racism? i have french friends, always have. we understand eachother, converse in seperate languages and get along all the same, as well as we might if we were both speaking the same language. someone put an end to this insanity. LEARN,

  20. Gabriel

    I agree there should be more french in anglo schools in Quebec. But you know what, you can learn by yourself. You’re an adult, you’re intelligent, and obviously you understand you live in a mostly francophone community, so why not make the effort to LEARN! Goddam, stop reminiscning your past like its a greek tragedy.


    and by the way: “I’m tired of it! you don’t hear me slagging off a francophone for his lazy, blatant bastardization of one of the romance languages.”

    thanks for worrying so much about the quality of the french francophones speak in Quebec. Try to focus a bit more on yours, and everything will be fine.

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