Quebec language watchdog apologizes over Montreal bar sign mix-up, owner says
Karolyn Coorsh , CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014 6:40PM EDT
The owner of a Montreal bar says the province’s language watchdog has apologized after sending him a letter stating his signs were in violation of the province’s language laws.
The Blue Dog Motel and barbershop, located in Montreal’s trendy Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood, received a letter from the Office quebecois de la langue francaise (OQLF) dated May 9 stating that the business violated three sections of the French language charter. In particular, the letter said the business required a French descriptor.
The storefront, located on St. Laurent Boulevard, features the name “Blue Dog” stylized into the shape of a canine. On the window are the words “bar barbier,” a French descriptor that bar owner Raphael Kerwin said was added more than a year ago.
Kerwin told CTV Montreal Tuesday that the OQLF has since called and apologized for the mix-up.
“They come by the bar a year ago taking pictures before the sign was up that said ‘bar barbier’ … and then sent us this letter assuming that we hadn’t changed it at all,” Kerwin said.
Kerwin said he received a flood of support from patrons after posting a photo of the letter on Facebook Monday, writing, “After being called BLUE DOG for 20+ years, it looks like OQLF has caught up with us… #lechienbleu.”
The OQLF told CTV News that most of the complaints they receive are resolved without fines.
CJAD 800 radio reporter Richard Deschamps told CTV News Channel Tuesday that OQLF inspections are often complaints-based and if there is a violation, an amicable resolution can usually be reached.
“Anybody can go into the streets, and if they see a sign they don’t like they can fire off an email or call the OQLF and say, ‘Well, look, this offends me so do something about it and by law, they have to send their inspectors out,” he said.
According to Deschamps, the rules “haven’t changed in decades,” yet, Quebec governments of the day are often criticized over the so-called language police.
The Parti Quebecois was ridiculed in early 2013 after a Montreal restaurateur was approached by Quebec’s language watchdog to change the word ‘pasta’ on the menu of his Italian restaurant, which is also located on St. Laurent Blvd. The OQLF later rescinded.
Quebec language legislation states that public signs and commercial advertising must be in French and that the name of an enterprise must be in French. If another language is also used, the French words or phrases must be the dominant visual.