Quebec’s language watchdog is asking a Montreal-based media company to offer a French version of its website following a complaint that the business was offering services in English only.

Provocateur Communications, co-founded by well-known radio host Dan Delmar, received a letter from the Office québécois de la langue française saying that the company must offer a French version of the website.

“Here in Quebec, the charter (requires) anyone who sells or advertises on the Internet to have a website also in French,” Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, a spokesperson for the OQLF, told CTV Montreal on Wednesday.

Internet lawyer Allen Mendelsohn says that article 52 of the Charter of the French language doesn’t apply to Delmar’s personal blogs, but it does apply to his business.

“And the OQLF has taken that article 52 of the charter and said that it applies to websites as well, because websites are commercial advertising,” Mendelsohn said.

But Delmar doesn’t agree. “We’re content producers,” he said. “It’s only natural that that be done in English,” he told CTV Montreal.

And he was taken aback when the province’s language watchdog decided to go after his small company in the wake of the internationally renowned Pastagate affair last year, when the OQLF received a complaint about the lack of French on the menu at an Italian restaurant in Montreal. The owner of the restaurant was forced to remove the word “pasta” along with other Italian words from the menu.  

A “triage” system was put into place following the Pastagate controversy, where the OQLF would be more selective about which companies they would target.

“I don’t think that a company with 1.5 employees producing Anglo communications for an Anglo market is really the biggest threat to Quebec’s French-language character,” Delmar said.

Delmar also wonders if he was targeted by the OQLF because he has been an outspoken critic of the Parti Québécois as a radio host. And he says it was his blog post that exposed Pastagate, which was an embarrassment to the government and forced the former head of the OQLF to resign. 

But Le Blanc says Delmar wasn’t targeted. “We received a complaint and so we have to look at it and get in touch with the company, and ask them to change things to have their website in French,” he said.

Delmar and the OQLF have now come to an agreement that in six months, Provocateur Communications’ website will be bilingual. But Delmar says that offering a French version of the site was something he had intended to do before receiving the letter.

“I really don’t care about the OQLF,” he told CTV News. “I’m doing it because I want to expand my business.”

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Caroline Van Vlaardingen