Bad PR from 'Pastagate' prompts review at Quebec language watchdog
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 3:37PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 25, 2013 10:50PM EST
MONTREAL -- The Quebec government is looking at how it handles perceived transgressions of the province's language law after a public-relations fiasco over the use of Italian on the menu of an Italian restaurant.
Diane De Courcy, minister responsible for the language law, says the internal review will help to improve the performance of the Office quebecois de la langue francaise.
The news comes after a media-analysis company calculated that the so-called 'Pastagate' story got 60 times more coverage in news reports outside the province than a recent trip where Premier Pauline Marois tried to drum up foreign business for Quebec.
The head of Influence Communication, which monitors media coverage worldwide, says there were 60 times more stories in traditional media about the pasta incident for every one about Marois' trip to New York in December.
While most of the stories were in Canada, Pastagate was chronicled in 350 articles in 14 countries, as far away as Australia, when it broke last week.
Influence president Jean-Francois Dumas says the coverage probably won't scare off investors but it doesn't present a great image for the province.
"Pastagate" stems from a visit by an inspector for the Office quebecois de la langue francaise to a trendy Montreal restaurant.
The inspector told Buonanotte owner Massimo Lecas that the menu violated Quebec's language law and said Italian terms such as pasta had to be replaced with French-language equivalents.
The story burned up social and mainstream media and the Office relented, admitting the inspector was overzealous and should have considered a cultural exception contained in the language law.
But that story has prompted a number of other restaurants, including some famous ones, to go public with complaints about similar dealings with the OQLF.