Canadian Tire not so Canadian in Quebec

Canadian Tire bilingual flyers for Ontario and Quebec

It’s the latest chapter in Canadian companies playing down their Canadian-ness in Quebec. (Remember when Tim Hortons cups here didn’t have maple leaves on them?)

For this week’s flyer, Canadian Tire produced different versions for Quebec and the rest of the country. This is partly because the flyer is for a week starting June 24, and the flyers in Quebec can’t show Friday specials since stores were closed in Quebec on Friday.

But there’s also that big special on a $10 Canadian flag. It’s not in the Quebec flyer, not even on the back page. And while the bilingual flyer on the left (for Alexandria, Ont.) notes that the specials are for Canada Day, the one on the right doesn’t mention it.

Maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. The Quebec flyer covers both the Fête nationale and the run up to Canada Day, so maybe Canadian Tire didn’t want to be seen favouring one holiday over the other. The inside pages reference both holidays at the top. And you’ll notice the product shots in Quebec have Quebec flags in the background.

Or maybe, like Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire thought it was best to play down Canadian patriotism so it doesn’t piss off the separatists.

Montrealer Ted Duskes, who spotted this, writes:

Talk about pandering. This is the second year in a row that they have pulled a similar “disappearing flag act”.

Are they really “Canadian Tire” or are they planning a name change to go along with the missing “Canadian Tire” that they have removed from their red triangular logo. Maybe the new logo is blue, with a fleur-de-lys, but only for Quebec.

They really know how to annoy a 45 year (formally) loyal customer.

I’ve contacted Canadian Tire to ask for an explanation. Here’s what I got back from Communications Manager Sébastien Bouchard:

Canadian Tire has a long history in Canada, including Quebec, and we are proud to be a true Canadian retailer. Our country spans from sea to sea and, like other retailers, our customer marketing vehicles vary from one region to another. This year, in Québec we decided to use a red background with white maple leafs to create a color theme that clearly reflects the Canada Day long weekend. True to our roots, this year’s flyer was definitely designed to celebrate life in this great country of ours.

In other words, a non-answer.

UPDATE (June 29): Similar situations at other stores.

Walmart Canada Day weekend flyer. Left: Miramichi, NB. Right: Montreal, QC

The difference in the Walmart flyer is pretty striking. I’ve chosen a New Brunswick flyer to show a bilingual one. Note that the NB one squeezes in a reference to Canada Day in both languages, while the Quebec one isn’t even red.

Loblaws Canada Day weekend flyer. Left: Ontario. Right: Quebec

At Loblaws, the reference to Canada Day is smaller in Ontario. But the Quebec one talks about a “four-day sale” covering Canada Day, and mentions how stores will be open July 1, all without using the word “Canada”.

Future Shop offers a Canada Day online sale in English...

... but a "Solde du déménagement" in French

Future Shop takes a slightly different route, focusing on the fact that July 1 is Moving Day in Quebec and people who move tend to buy new things. Though francophone Canadians outside Quebec might be a bit confused, since they get the same page, as far as I can tell.

48 thoughts on “Canadian Tire not so Canadian in Quebec

  1. Jake

    It’s like McDonald cigarettes, in Quebec they’re blue and white with the fleur-de-lys while in the RoC they’re red and white with the maple leaf.

  2. snowy2004

    I really hate stuff like this. It’s this idea that being proud that you’re Canadian is A) controvercial (even on the most clearly Canadian of holidays) and B) the pride stops dead at the Quebec border or at the French language. Props to Canadian Tire for at least not making just a Canada Day-Free French flyer and realising some Francophones actually like being Canadians. Less props for only daring to offer it in minority settings. Reminds me of the Interac website: They’re “Proudly Canadian” only in English. It feels like I’m either being lied or pandered to.

  3. ZDZedDee

    at least their prices are the same in and out of the original Canada (aka quebec).

    Corporate cowards, but no surprise there!

  4. Matt

    Alexandria! My hometown! That Canadian Tire is where I bought my hockey sticks as a kid. Also, Alexandria has better poutine, and more per capita than Montreal by a long shot. In recent years it’s taken a turn for the worse with big box chains invading and local factories closing.

    It’s one of the few spots in Ontario that you can go to a restaurant or other business and get a waiter/waitress or employee that speaks only french.

    I could go on!

    Anyhoo, sorry to comment off topic, It’s just about never that Alexandria is mentioned anywhere outside of Alexandria and just its mention prompted a flood of emotions and memories.

  5. Dan

    For a retailer with Canadian in it’s name, that’s a pretty wussy move. Luckily I have better local choices for hardware and supplies of that nature. My money is spent better elsewhere.

    And don’t forget to call-out RONA in this lame game. Last year their national TV ads were busy touting a “Proudly Canadian” slogan — yet only proud enough in all provinces and territories, save one… at least when it came to their local ads and flyer campaigns.

    Bunch of hypocrites.

    1. Jimmy Jack

      The only thing Canadian and/or Quebecois about RONA or Canadian Tire for that matter is the buyers. Who buy the same made in chaina crap ever other store sells. Why is Walmart always getting the bad press? Canadian Tire is 80% china crap.

  6. Tim

    Just throwing this out there… Maybe they know Canadians aren’t as hot a seller in Quebec, and therefore don’t dedicate it space in its flyer.

    1. Ted Duskes

      Sorry Tim… In the Quebec version they just increased the space devoted to the barbeque and the life vest… not really necessary though as the bilingual Canadian version used the space for the flag ad. The rest of Canada saw a slightly smaller barbeque and life vest ad. Maybe the R-O-C barbeques less and doesn’t need life jackets. Just a point… in teh stores, the Candain flags are on sale at the sale price… it is just the disappearing flag nature of the flyer that I find a bit “annoying”.

  7. wkh

    I think it’s less “omg we might piss off separatists” and more they know what sells and brings customers in for another place won’t necessarily here. I mean they aren’t selling Leafs jerseys here either really, now are they? There simply isn’t the market here.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      maybe it is cause the sales paper ends June 30th and they will have a new one for canada day….

      They all end on the same day. And there’s little point in buying a Canada Day flag on July 2.

  8. AxelDC

    Give them a break. Why should they shove Canadian Pride down their throats? Separatism is dying in QC, as witnessed by the collapse of the BQ. Instead of castigating Quebec for not wrapping itself in the Red & White, let it slow adjust to being an integral part of a bilingual Canada.

    They still call themselves “Canadian Tire”, don’t they?

  9. Bert

    Nothing to see here, everyone does it. Go to and look at e-flyers from a Quebec postal and a non-Quebec one (V6B 4A2).

    If they didn’t do that there would have been a riot over it at parc maisonneuve.

    Ever wonder why you can’t find 24’s of Molson Canadian here?

    Hats off to Laval for swapping flags along de l’Avenir between last week and this, from the Fleur de lys to the Maple Leaf.

  10. Fassero

    Alexandria? Isn’t that where the courthouse is located right behind The Beer Store? Talk about Canadiana! :)

    Anyway, who cares what Canadian Tire puts in its ads? We’re talking the outfit that quietly screwed over their customers by offering way less Canadian Tire money than they used to unless they make purchases with that co-branded MasterCard. Cashed out and got a snowblower and never went back since. Anyway, seems their signs in Quebec are still red and white so I guess they aren’t too scared about crazed separatists blowing them up or something…

  11. Sheldon

    I often wonder that if Quebec were ever to actually separate, what would happen with les Canadiens de Montreal?? I also remember back a few years that the Tide detergent box had the slogan “Canada’s Favourite” on the English side of the box, but on the French side the slogan was “le fameux Tide” (famous Tide).

    1. Marc

      I often wonder that if Quebec were ever to actually separate, what would happen with les Canadiens de Montreal??

      If you knew your history, you wouldn’t be asking that question and you’d know that the answer would be “nothing.”

      A Canadien is a historic term describing a French-Canadian; aka. a Quebecer. You may also be interested to know that O Canada was originally a song for St. Jean Baptiste Day.

      1. Fagstein Post author

        A Canadien is a historic term describing a French-Canadian; aka. a Quebecer.

        So a franco-ontarian or Acadian is what?

        Also, how can you be a French-Canadian if you’re not Canadian?

        1. Simon

          In my opinion, a Quebecer is a Quebecer, a Franco-Ontarian is a Franco-Ontarian and an Acadian is an Acadian. French-Canadians are like Austro-Hungarians or Ottomans: relics from the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries that do not exist anymore.

          Les Canadiens is a name rooted in history, why would it have to change ?

        2. Carlos

          He’s right. Put yourself in a historical perspective. “Canadiens” in the 19th century were what we later described as french-canadiens. From anywhere. English-speaking individuals in Canada (which was created in 1867) were simply called… English. Or Irish. Or Scottish.

  12. Chris

    Why would a company advertise around a holiday that doesn’t matter to most people in Quebec? Have you ever seen a Canada Day celebration here? It’s pretty sad. Why would you want to be associated with that?

  13. Heather H

    Sounds like basic marketing on the part of the retailers. Canada and the Maple-Leaf don’t resonate in Quebec. Don’t believe me? Try finding a bottle of Molson Canadian beer in a local dep!

    Using Canadian nationalism would be bad for business, in a province where most identify first with the fleur-de-lys. If Anglo-Quebecers start showing outrage today over the lack of Canadian flags, it’s because they have yet to learn the basics about Quebec history.

  14. Mario

    If Canadian Tire is making money in that long week-end in Quebec, it is more because of Moving Day than Canada Day.

  15. Nick

    I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s just a business decision.
    Canadian Tire is a company and their only concern here are profits. How is this surprising?

  16. gg

    I got both the Canadian Tire and Walmart flyers here in Vancouver and there was NO FRENCH on them. Isn’t it one of our official languages?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I got both the Canadian Tire and Walmart flyers here in Vancouver and there was NO FRENCH on them. Isn’t it one of our official languages?

      Not west of eastern Ontario. For that matter, even Ottawa was unilingual English.

  17. Joel

    Dommage de vous voir si contrarier,nous les quebecois, ne celebrons pas le canada day. Nous sommes meme insulté de cette fête de la reine. Notre devise est JE ME SOUVIENS et nous nous souvenons 1837…. Dans le respect les entreprise canadienne n’essaie pas de nous assimiler en nous bombardant de drapeau canadien. JE ME SOUVIENS du scandale des commandites………

  18. Gary

    If you ask me….Let the rest of Canada decide if Quebec should stay or go and we if we vote to separate them from Canada then we can put all this nonsense behind us. “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee………”

  19. Lori-Anne

    Joel, I guess you live in a sheltered, pandered media bubble like a lot of Quebeckers. Believe it or not, about half of you francophone Quebeckers (the ones who manage to get out of the house once in a while/form their own opinions/not buy into the “endangered language” bullcrap) support remaining in Canada, and celebrate our nation each July 1. Just because you are convinced that we’re all trying to assimilate you, doesn’t mean everyone is. Read a book.

  20. Gabriel

    Je tiens à souligner la nuance entre «non-souverainiste» et «assez-fédéraliste-pour-célébrer-la-fête-du-Canada». Plusieurs personnes (je serais tenté de dire la majorité des non-souverainistes) sont simplement indifférents face au «statut officiel» du Québec et se sentent assez bien de la statu quo actuel. Je ne crois pas qu’ils se définissent en tant que Canadiens pour autant ou qu’ils aient une fierté quelconque d’habiter au Canada. Même chose pour la défaite du Bloc; ceux qui n’ont pas voté pour ce parti ne sont pas forcément enthousiastes à la venue de Kate et William… Croire que le souverainisme est mort après une élection, c’est faire preuve d’un peu trop de naïveté. Ne prenez rien pour acquis.

    Personnellement, trop de rouge et blanc ou de feuilles d’érable sur une brochure publicitaire, ça me refroidit (et je ne parle même pas de Rocheuses!).

  21. Omi-san

    The McDonald’s logo has a maple leaf on it here in Canada. Is McDonald’s ashamed of it’s american origins? Are they pandering to us? Is it a “wussy move”? Scandal!!!

    Seriously, you guys are whining about Canadian Tire flyers?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The McDonald’s logo has a maple leaf on it here in Canada. Is McDonald’s ashamed of it’s american origins?

      Not exactly. The McDonald’s logo here has a maple leaf because it’s the logo of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, a separate but affiliated company.

  22. Lori-Anne

    The Maple Leaf is there because it’s for Canada, because we are not American. But Quebeckers are Canadians whether they like it or not. The Canadian government and the Canadian taxpayer from outside Quebec bends over backwards and pays out the ass to accomodate Quebec’s demands…they should get some goddamn respect.

  23. Jason

    My email to Canadian Tire that I wrote when I saw that they did it again in 2012:

    “It looks like Canadian Tire once again was too scared to mention Canada Day in the main flyer for June 29-July 5th period. Even taking it to the point of making the theme of the flyer the Quebec national holiday and the color blue, like you did last year. At least this year you hid the Quebec national holiday caption to the 2nd page and beyond, and at least mentioned Canada day in the short flyer. You tried to walk the line a bit in 2012 but still managed to insult English Quebecers.”

  24. Pingback: Canadian Tire still doesn’t wave the flag in Quebec – Fagstein

    1. Jason

      Sometimes it is a business decision. But in some cases it’s not in Quebec when language is concerned. A choice like this can be made by one or a few with power to do so based on their political beliefs even if it is to the detriment of the company. When this happens they are blinded by their personal or political motivations, which leads to a lack or respect to Quebec’s English citizens, and all Quebecers who are proud to be Canadian. Not all language decisions made in Quebec are motivated solely by the bottom line.
      That is why I am speaking up in this case. To at least let Canadian Tire corporation know that pandering to the nationalists in Quebec is wrong. And by speaking up I mean spending about 5 minutes of my time writing an email…so I can get out more.

  25. Bob

    I just want to point out something here…
    You know the canadian flag was created by the French Canadians? Right?
    The Canadian hymne was created by French Canadians? The English version is a adaptation.
    The first Canadian capital was Québec city. ( its actually the first north American city also, yes even way before New York)

    There was a time also when the the flag was loved by what the hight Canada (what is now called Ontario) called the low Canada (now Québec). The reason why its now hated is basically the rest of Canada decided to finally love it, then disowned Québeccers from it. Disgusted by this they created a new flag.

    Québec has no Constitution or civil right. And everytime they tried to join Canada the usual one made it a personal agenda to make them refuse the ridiculous conditions from it.

    And when they tried to create their own like British Colombia did, those same peoples made it a special agenda to make it a awfull idea with the média.

    Do you know also that the car plate in Québec has ‘ Je me souvien’ ( I remember) written on it?
    There a reason for that. To the winner history. Those who actually read books and understand this, will understand where am going with all this.

    Québec as all the reason in the world to be mad, time and time again in history. Theres tons of history facts that proves this. Most commerces and enterprise here understand this here and approve this attitude. When i see such comment on website it just tells me how much people dont know the facts and when presented to them, disaprove them like if there was no proof of it. When in reality you dont need to go far to see the proof in the original text in the history records of canada.

    And most people over 70 years knows part or all of this, most just got use to this level of ignorance and continued to go with it throught time.

  26. Kathy

    Not sure where you got your copy of the weekly Canadian Tire flyer for Quebec ( June 26 – July 2, 2015) The Canadian Tire flyer delivered in Montreal this week doesn’t have a red background( as the one depicted in this Blog), as well, the flyer is covered by a second Canadian Tire flyer offering a big sale on Quebec Fleur-de-lis flags with no mention of Canada Day.
    Not what I expect from Canadian Tire.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Tire flyer delivered in Montreal this week doesn’t have a red background( as the one depicted in this Blog)

      Presumably because this blog post is four years old.

      1. Michael Black

        But I thought of this post when I saw this week’s flyer. Lots of blue, even though the flyer started after the holiday. This week one would expect lots of red.



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