Dump Quebec language law

Editorial

Élections 2006


One of the finest features of Western Quebec and Eastern Ontario is their French cultures.
Add to that the way that French, English and myriad other cultures mix in a reasonably harmonious blend. It is an example for the rest of Canada in a country that is an example of peacefulness for the rest of the world.
The good people of this area, as friends and neighbours, want French to survive and prosper.
So it is with sadness that we discover l'Office Quebecois de la langue francaise, that long-time irritant in Anglo-Franco relations, is considering hiring a full-time inspector to probe language law violations in the Outaouais, citing a 260-per-cent boost in language complaints this past year.
Most of the increase has been created by a campaign on the part of l'Imperatif francais, an Outaouais French-language lobby group. The number of convictions hasn't risen markedly, a spokesman for the Office said. Thus you have a group finding infractions and a language office willing to use their busy-body work to justify a further clamp-down on the rights of others.
And that is what the Quebec sign law is -- an infringement on the rights of the non-French minority in Quebec.
Freedom of speech is a basic right. Quebec's Charter of the French Language makes a mockery of it by regulating the language of signs. Such laws should be scrapped. People should demand the right to express themselves in the language of their choice without fear of prosecution. The Quebec sign law does not allow that.
Instead of rigid regulation, we should rely on common sense.
We would defend the right of a business to go bankrupt by erecting a English-only sign in a French neighbourhood. Certainly, a merchant hoping to attract customers would post a bilingual or French-only sign in French neighbourhoods. But that would be his decision.
Business people know that posting intelligible signs is good for profits. The marketplace would dictate appropriate signage, not the state. Common sense would rule. In that scenario, the French language would benefit.
Under the current legislation, we have the spectacle of people checking to see if English or French on a sign is the correct size. We have fines of between $500 to $5,000 being levied on reputable businesses including The Business Depot, Costco, Fitness Depot, Wal-Mart and Sony.
But worst of all, we have the creation of animosity and tension in an area that has traditionally witnessed one of the most successful integrations of English and French in the country.
People should be allowed to express themselves in the way they see fit.


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