Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yet Another French Language Campaign (....Sigh)

It's good to know that despite the Quebec finance minister's promise to pare down government, there's still plenty of money available for useless publicity campaigns, this one exhorting merchants to serve clients in French, once again.

The campaign is a follow-up to a similarly unsuccessful project to get merchants to post signs in their stores, which told customers that the premises served customers in French. The $400,000 campaign was a bust because there weren't many business' willing to offend Anglo and minority clients for the sake of the l'Office Québécois de la Langue Française. 
As the old saying goes, "Blood is Thicker than Water, but Money is Thicker than Language" (I made up the last part.)

That campaign fizzled badly and just about the only place these signs were found, were in French language bookstores. I couldn't find one of the signs posted anywhere west of St.Lawrence St. Laurent boulevard in Montreal.

At any rate the new multi-level campaign is much, much larger, costing several million dollars, although I couldn't run down the exact cost because nobody would reply to my request for information.
The details of the campaign are described in a press release, but the cost is conveniently left out.

This campaign uses radio, billboards, mobile billboards and a give-away promotion of hundreds of thousands of shopping bags anointed with the slogan - "MERCI DE ME SERVIR EN FRANCAIS"(Thank-you for serving me in French). The opposite side of the bag was enshrined with more inspiring bon mots,  "Un détaillant qui commerce en français, j'aime ça!" ("I like a retailer that does business in French")

Now I may be missing the point, but if the campaign is to get stores to use more French, shouldn't it target Anglos and Ethnics?

Don't you think that Francophones already offer service in French and don't need to be reminded?

At any rate, I'm glad the government hasn't lost perspective as to what is important in Quebec. It's obvious that the finance minister has his priorities in order and kept alive this vital and strategic campaign to promote the French language.

I guess militants in favour of the campaign might argue the whole thing  costs less than one new MRI diagnostic machine and anyway, purchasing another machine wouldn't put much of a dent in the four-month waiting period that Quebeckers are now subjected to.


  1. I should think that private businesses should be allowed to use free market principles. Now say a million people in Montreal spoke Bulgarian, even though it had no official status or political support of any kind, you can bet If I were a storeowner I would have some Bulgarian speakers on my staff.

  2. @Editor:

    The “Merci de me server en Francais” and “Un detaillant qui commerce en Francais, j’aime ca” posters started popping up recently around my building in downtown Montreal. There was also a bunch of girls last week in front of Place Montreal Trust handing out free shopping bags with the “Merci de me server en Francais” label on them. Initially, I though this was some MMF/SSJB initiative, but then I realized it was the government. Weird. As you said in your post, we are told about having to be more frugal and less lavish (“serrer la ceinture”) while the government wastes our money on these ridiculous campaigns.

    As for the effectiveness of this latest campaign, it will be as productive for the usage of French as “Ici, on commerce en Francais” initiative from a year or two ago. Just last week, I went to 2 places that have “Ici, on commerce en Francais” stickers on their front door (Banana Republic on the corner of McGill College and St.Catherine) and Indigo Chapters in the Dix-Trente mall) and I was served in English by clerks who did not mind at all and spoke perfect English to me.

    @ Anonymous: “Now say a million people in Montreal spoke Bulgarian, even though it had no official status or political support of any kind, you can bet If I were a storeowner I would have some Bulgarian speakers on my staff.”

    This is an interesting point that ties directly into the issue of the language laws in Quebec. The laws that do not reflect the linguistic reality of Montreal (half non-French) were passed and we were all informed that “la Francais est une langue officiel et a partir de maintenent on ne roule qu’en Francais”. This is some weird form of reverse logic – instead of passing laws that fit the society, they passed laws that do not, and expect us to work backwards from what’s written on a piece of paper to how we should live and behave. So now they’re huffing and puffing because it’s been over 30 years and the laws are not “respected”, but they fail to recognize that the laws were flawed and unrealistic to begin with.

    It is equivalent of me writing down “I am the king, people should bow down to me”, and then bullying people into bowing down, because it has been “officially” decided by me and put down on paper. And then acting angry and surprised that people still refuse to bow down despite my reminding them over and over about the “officiality” of this requirement.

  3. I just got a flyer from Desjardins and the English print is the same size as the French. WTF?! So when they want to milk you, you attain equal status, and once they cash the check they shrink you back down a third. Just so you don't forget your true place in Quebecois society. I hope Duceppe gets a cold sore from hell on his lip on his sovereignty tour.

  4. When you're in Ontario, you can search before someone served you in french, if it's a mothertongue French yes but I suggest you to take a look how it is in ROC ! Before giving your false arguments !:)

  5. It's disgusting that we have to give thanks to stores that serve in French were 80 % of the population have French like mothertongue !

  6. At long last, the Quebec government has finally convinced me that their truest intent is to make Montreal, and the neighbourhood where I work (McGill), as hostile as possible to those of us that wish to live and function in English.

    As a native from Ontario, many were puzzled when I chose to move to Quebec 25 years ago. Twenty years ago I left the province then returned in 2007 in the hopes of experiencing the quality of life I associated with Montreal.

    How do I now ove this city...let me count the ways.

    - I endure a very lengthy difficult commute each day from the West Island with embarassingly few options for public transportation (I do not work 9-5 Monday - Friday, which limits options for public transit considerably). And according to the Gazette, this situation is only likely to get significantly worse. in the next few years with notions of "limiting urban sprawl." (Strange that access to public transit has improved in nearly all other areas surrounding Montreal).

    I photocopied documents for the school board once again (third or fourth time I think) to again verify that my children had the right to be educated in English. (The school was anticipating another audit and wanted all documents in order)

    I paid 11.4 cents more per gallon this morning for gas than I did two days ago in Ontario.

    I work in one of Montreal's very best hospitals, and look out windows that were literally washed for the last time decades ago.I won't even comment on the health care situation.

    I pay the highest rate of taxes in Canada, yet struggle to find information on any government services in the province and am forced to correspond with provincial agencies exclusively in French.

    OK, I'm saying it. "UNCLE." This is the final straw that crystalizes for me that I the price one pays as an anglo to live in Quebec is indeed far too high. I'm happy to take my considerable education, professional skills, and tax dollars to any other part of Canada where I will feel more welcomed.

    In the meantime, I will use my English voice to tell anyone considering studying, visiting, or relocating to Quebec that if you speak English, the Quebec Government will gladly excessively tax any activity and use your dollars to do all it can to make it absolutely clear that you are neither welcome nor wanted in this province.

  7. Dear April 23 @ 6:10pm:

    I have to conclude you are either a masochist, or some sort of imbecile, and you're getting what you deserve.

    You left Ontario to come to Quebec the same year I headed west to your former home. I occasionally come in to visit family, friends, Schwartz Deli and either the Fairmont or St-Viateur bagel bakery, depending on my mood that day. Otherwise, Montreal isn't worth a damn anymore.

    BTW, I was born, raised and educated in Montreal and then Laval. I'm still a loyal Habs fan, and I jump on the bandwagon when the Als make the Grey Cup Game. I gave up on the Expos when the Jays became a competitive and fun team to watch, esp. when they won two consec world series.

    The civil service (Anglophones need not apply) is bloated, overpaid and as efficient as a communist/third world country. If it wasn't for the $8 BILLION in equalization payments and other federal government handouts (and yet Charest, Marois and the rest of those fascist a.h.'s still bite the hand that feeds them through endless fed bashing), Quebec, with the sixth heaviest debt load in the world, would sink faster than that house that just fell into a landslide crater.

    You, Mr. April 23rd should have left well enough alone, but there are no laws against making moronic choices in life.

    Why not make life a lot easier for yourself and just come back to Ontario. We welcome your tax dollars here (even though too many of them still find their way to an ungrateful, self-absorbed Quebec).

  8. These posters were a last straw for me. I am still shaking with anger - not helpful, I know, but I cannot help it. I am a health profession who is also going to take my self-respect and tax dollars away from the land of "separacists" and go west. I will gladly trade in my large house for a teensy 1/2 of a broken down one to get out of a place where I was born, where my parents and grandparents were born and where I was raised as a perfectly bilingual individual who respects others. Enough is enough.