Quebecers are complaining more and more of companies breaking the rules on signage and services in French, particularly decrying 10 banners, most of them foreign.
The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has drawn up the inglorious list of the 10 companies that received the most complaints regarding respect for the French language in 2020-2021, which Le Journal consulted.
This year represents the worst in terms of complaints filed with the OQLF for at least five years, with a total of 4,326, of which 80% concern establishments in the greater Montreal region. The top 10 banners on the list represent 7% of all complaints.
Leading the way is Tim Hortons with 64 complaints, over 80% of which relate to language of service, followed by Walmart (43 complaints) and Dollarama (40 complaints).
The “unforgivable” record of these companies shows that they have to examine their conscience, protests the president of the French Imperative organization, Jean-Paul Perreault.
“These are companies that have the means to respect Quebec’s cultural environment, but pollute it, […] undermine its identity, more than 50 years after the adoption of the Charter of the French language, ”he denounces.
The president of the French Quebec Movement, Maxime Laporte, thinks that no one is “surprised” to see the names on this list.
“Multinationals are often less sensitive to the status of French. A company that does not deign to respect our fundamental rights enacted by the Charter [de la langue française], do not hesitate to boycott it and favor a competitor, ”he says.
More severe reform
Bill 96 on the overhaul of Bill 101, which is at the consultation stage at the National Assembly, provides for more severe measures in terms of language of service and signage.
These include higher fines and new powers for the OQLF, which may require corrective measures from businesses. Right now, the body can only raise awareness. Under the current law, a fine is only given in less than 1% of cases.
The former Minister of Culture Louise Beaudoin, who was critical of the bill, nevertheless thinks that this aspect is not negligible, because the OQLF, with its current powers, does not scare enough to those who break the law.
“If it is applied, that should change something, says the one who was responsible for ensuring respect for the Charter of the French language from 1995 to 1998. These companies will have no choice but to make a change. “
Five companies, namely Walmart, IGA, Metro, Dollarama and PFK, reacted to our report, often defending their respect for the Charter of the French language and ensuring that the appropriate corrections are made if there is a complaint. IGA and Metro both said they were “surprised” to be on this list.
They didn’t follow the rules
The complaints concern 41 establishments; 83% target language of service.
The complaints concern 14 establishments; 46% target language of service and 23% target products.
The complaints concern 19 establishments; 49% target signage and 46% target language of service.
The complaints concern 15 establishments; 100% target language of service.
The complaints concern 13 establishments; 62% target language of service.
The complaints concern 8 establishments; 92% target language of service.
The complaints concern 13 establishments; 59% target products.
The complaints concern 17 establishments; 43% target products and 38% target language of service.
The complaints concern 14 establishments; 84% target language of service.
The complaints concern 14 branches; 83% target language of service.
Source: Office québécois de la langue française