Tag Archives: Union Montreal

Union Montreal’s new website

Union Montreal's "English" website

Union Montreal's "English" website

I got an email Friday morning, just as the municipal election campaign officially began, informing me that Union Montreal has redesigned its website.

So, of course, I checked it out with my usual critical eye. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. The design was clean and simple, the page looked fine even with the style sheet turned off. They’ve got the usual Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Flickr accounts. They’re even releasing their content under a Creative Commons license.

Great, I thought. So where’s the English version?

After a bit of searching, I could find some pages that had a link at the bottom that said “English”. That would bring me to an English version of those pages. But then I’d click somewhere and it would bring me back to the French website. Or it would be the English page and all the navigational text would be in French.

I asked the guy who emailed me, Marc Snyder, what’s up with all that. He said they’re working on it:

We’re progressing in the right direction: I think this is what a work-in-progress is all about ;-)

Building a website that’s bilingual isn’t easy. Most cool content management systems don’t think of building in support for bilingual websites. So many do so through third-party plugins. In this case, the website is WordPress based and they’re using the Qtranslate plugin.

But to launch a website so publicly without even basic information in English (at first, there wasn’t even an English bio for the mayor) seems a fairly major gaffe. Even now, most of its content isn’t accessible in English. Instead, you get a short apology with a link to the French version.

Remember, this is supposed to be the anglo party, embracing both languages of this diverse metropolis. Vision Montreal, with ex-PQer Louise Harel who speaks little English, and Projet Montréal, which doesn’t even translate its name into our language, both have better English versions of their websites.

Maybe next time someone from Union Montreal criticizes Louise Harel for alienating anglophones, she can point out the fact that people don’t need to look up what “Arrondissement de militantisme” is before they can donate to her party.

Oh wait, she can’t. Neither can Michel Richard Bergeron. Because both Vision Montreal’s donation form and Projet Montréal’s donation form have random untranslated bits of French on them.

I realize this is small-time politics and we’re not dealing with real big budgets here, but these are forms people fill out to give you money. If you’re so careless about translation, I can only imagine what kind of controls you have on the $100 I’d be putting in your campaign fund.

Colour me pas impressionné.

What did Benoît Labonté really say to me?

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Benoît Labonté, the mayor of Ville-Marie who quit Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal party in September and last week joined the Vision Montreal party (which is so dormant that knowing the name of its current leader would win you a prize at a trivia contest).

The interview is actually a composite of two interviews, and for a very good reason.

I first spoke to Labonté about two weeks ago, asking him about being an independent now that he’s had two months of it. His answers were surprisingly candid: explaining that to be part of a party you have to accept certain compromises, but that he’s OK with that as long as you agree on the fundamentals.

A week later, while the article was still in the bank waiting to be published, Labonté announced he was joining Vision Montreal, making about half the article moot. So I had to talk to him again. (This time trying to squeeze in between the dozens of Montreal journalists trying to get a few words.)

I asked him how long he’d been talking with Vision Montreal, and he said a couple of weeks, though he later clarified that there’s no “official beginning to talks”.

I mention this because I asked him during the first interview whether he had discussions with Vision Montreal, and this is what he said:

No talks with Vision Montreal?

No, since I left I have talked to so many people, elected officials or not, and leaders in the economic sector, cultural, social, environmental sectors, you know, I have had many many discussions with many different people about their views of Montreal, the future of Montreal just to help me reflect on the situation of Montreal and consequently of what I want to do regarding that, so yes I have had many contacts with many people. I’m not staying at home at night watching TV.

(listen to audio of this exchange)

So my question to you is: Was this a denial?

(Apologies for sound quality. This was to check my quotes, not for broadcast. Certain parts of the audio have been amplified for easier listening, so if you hear what sound like cuts that’s what they are. It’s my first uploaded audio clip of an interview.)

Finally, I’m glad to see Labonté kept his promise to me, not to change parties again before the article was published.