|Montreal courthouse forced to tape over English|
I've always recognized the language police as paper tigers, but understood that for most companies the fear of being exposed by the OQLF as non-cooperating is a burden that they didn't want to bear and so it was, as they say, more expedient to git along, in order to get along.
I don't agree, but those decisions weren't mine to make.
After all these years, it comes as a fortuitous turn of events that one idiot language inspector created a public relations nightmare that exposed the OQLF as the xenophobic, ethnocentric and bigoted gang of racists that they really are.
I dare say most right thinking francophones were shocked at the utter stupidity and dogmatism displayed by an agency which they assumed was doing a fair and reasonable job at protecting the French language.
Other than Franco-supremacists, who never saw an English (now foreign) word that they did not want to remove from public purview, what reasonable Francophone could not shake their head in disbelief at the ridiculous excess carried out in the collective name and what reasonable Francophone could not help but feel a sense of outrage and shame that Quebec's reputation was sullied in the international press, through mocking and condescending stories of bureaucratic stupidity and excess.
More importantly, Pastagate led to a fortuitous and wholly unexpected tipping point where one day we were afraid of the OQLF and the next day no longer.
Like the bully in the schoolyards who rules through intimidation and fear, it takes but one 'DAVID' to defeat the 'GOLIATH' reducing the said bully, so feared before, to the butt of derision, a laughingstock to be mocked.
Slowly but surely the business community is stiffening its backbone and taking courage from others who have decided to fight back.
It is this resistance that must be nurtured and developed, rendering the OQLF impotent and irrelevant.
THE OQLF is proud to tell us that when it comes to compliance with its edicts, 98% of business comply meekly, when confronted by the dreaded inspector.
If that percentage was reduced to just 75%, the OQLF would grind to a halt, bogged down in paperwork and time-consuming letter exchanges and litigation.
Business people have told me many times over that it is the utter waste of time and resources that leads them to just give in to the OQLF, considering that the object of a business is to make money and where exhausting battles with and an idiot agency with seemingly endless resources, is counter-productive to that goal.
But business people should consider that for every time-consuming engagement they expend with the OQLF, a commensurate (if not larger) amount of energy is expended by the OQLF, which contrary to popular belief does not have unlimited resources, in fact, quite the opposite.
Let us consider the poor cows, docilely trundling up the ramp to the slaughterhouse, encouraged by a just few handlers to keep on moving like good little doggies, cooperating meekly on the march to their ultimate demise.
What would happen if even ten or twenty percent of the cows revolted and stampeded?
It would create utter mayhem!
Obviously, the amount of animals processed in a certain given period would plummet, as handlers would be overwhelmed by the now uncooperative and ornery beasts.
The meat processor would be faced with the choice of injecting a massive amount of new resources to get back control or accept that productivity would fall massively.
In either case, the cost of processing would skyrocket.
An inappropriate analogy? I think not.
The OQLF will always enjoy success in browbeating government and semi-government organizations to comply with their filthy edicts, as evidenced in the sign pictured above wherein the English portion of a Montreal courthouse sign which has been sanitized by order of the OQLF.
Considering that the courts are one of the few places where English is still 'tolerated' because of protections afforded in the BNA act, it is particularly telling that the OQLF is removing English in the halls immediately outside these courtrooms, reminding all that their goal is to eradicate English as best they can.
Like telling English school boards that they must communicate in French, it is the embodiment of ill-will and malice.
For francophones who tell Anglos that resisting the OQLF is a manifestation of bad citizenship, I can only tell them that resisting hate and intolerance is never a manifestation of bad citizenship, rather the opposite.
Make no mistake about it, Pastagate has exposed the OQLF for what it is, the evil embodiment of xenophobic hate, an agency to be confronted through democratic resistance and public shaming.
Just because the organization carries the cachet of legitimacy by being state-sanctioned, it doesn't change the fact that ordinary citizens should blithely accept its excesses.
It is important that we continue the exercise of exposing the true nature of the beast in the international community, where stories like Pastagate sap the energy and the bonds of legitimacy, humiliating and shaming Quebec, like the process whereby photos of 'Johns' are published by law enforcement in local media in order to shame them for their behaviour.
When French language militants tell all who will listen that the stories published in the international press is an English plot to discredit the OQLF, I can tell them wholeheartedly that they are right.
Yes Mario Beaulieu, we are intent on breaking the bck of the OQLF and make no bones about it!
While he and other Franco-supremacists have no problem living with the attached bad publicity, not so ordinary Quebecers who at a certain point will demand that the OQLF be reigned in and that the nightmare of international humiliation be ended.
Here are two examples of that process, a satirical song offered by Quebec's very own Boswer and Blue and an advertising campaign launched by the restaurant attacked over 'pasta'
As for not cooperating with the OQLF here are a few hints for businessmen.
ALWAYS ASK FOR ID BEFORE ENGAGING ANYONE CLAIMING TO BE AN INSPECTOR.
Don't be nice. Cooperation with the OQLF will get you nothing. The inspectors who visit your store have the mentality of a Mafia collector, where the level of polite cooperation is irrelevant to the task at hand, which is to shake you down.
If the inspector becomes abusive, tell them to leave. You have the right according to Quebec labour law to be free from intimidation and harassment.
Call 911 and summon the police. Tell them that you are being subjected to psychological abuse, if you feel such is the case.
When an inspector enters your establishment and demands your immediate attention, tell them that you are busy if you are, that they are welcome to carry out their duties on their own but you don't have time for them right now. Ask them to come back.
The regulation provides that an inspection can be carried out any time it is 'convenient', but it fails to elaborate as to convenient for whom.
Even Revenue Quebec phones for an appointment before showing up, so don't jump through hoops just because an inspector tells you to.
Ask for identification and either write down the name of the inspector and the particulars on the identification badge. Use your camera phone to take a picture and if confronted remind the inspector that there are many fake OQLF agents going around, terrorizing English businesses.
If you are gutsy, turn on your cameraphone, telling the inspector that for clarity, you wish to document the intervention.
Don't engage in useless arguments with inspectors, shrug your shoulders politely and tell the inspector your going to refer everything to your attorney.
REMEMBER, cooperation buys you nothing, these are zealots.
As for the case with ordinary citizen-activists confronting you about signs in your establishment, always demand that they identify themselves before engaging in conversation. Demand to see ID and if they refuse tell them to leave, you have the absolute right to remove someone from your establishment if they are not there to conduct business.
By the way, you can always comply with the OQLF demand at a later date, if you so choose, but remember, making the OQLF expend oodles of time and energy is the object.
If they have to visit your establishment four or five times instead of just once, it means three or four less visits elsewhere.
Here's what happens when someone fights back. The story is hilarious and hats off to the merchant who made the OQLF and the court spend upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 to fine him $500 over 16 sex toys that didn't have enough French.
What follows is how Superior Court Justice Johanne St-Gelais described the facts in a 2011 ruling.
The product in question, she wrote, is a ring used on the male sexual organ to enhance a female partner’s pleasure. During Mr. Picard’s first visit, he noted that the packaging and safety label were in English only. Ever vigilant, he made three subsequent visits and noted “partial corrections” but not enough to make the product conform to the law.
The store’s manager wrote to the Office asking for an exemption on the grounds that the product is imported from the United States, that it is impossible to find a similar product manufactured in Canada and that she sells fewer than two per month.
After her request was refused, the shop offered to translate the safety warning into French and place it on a sticker over the English warning. Not good enough, the Office replied after consulting its lawyers: All packaging had to be translated.
Mr. Picard returned to the store in July, 2005, more than a year after his initial inspection. He was not pleased with what he found: “writing only in English on the front . . . and containing writing only in English on the reverse of some. . . Moreover, the English writings on the reverse of certain packaging prevailed over the French version,” he wrote in his report. Read the rest of the hilarious story (Credit R.S.)
I hope that our community will consider building a website resource in order to apprise victims of their rights and to provide successful strategies to dealing with the fools at the OQLF.