"Meantime, a Quebec City company testified that Bill 14 is just one more barrier in the global economy.The story above can be straight out of a Monty Python sketch, the utter foolishness reminds me of the inspirational story of King Canute commanding the sea to hold back the tide.
Workers at G.E. Leblanc don't speak much English, the company makes precision metal parts for the pork industry, and all but a handful of the 150 on staff are completely Francophone
But the software to manage the inventory is mainly in English—an industry standard—Quebec’s language office has already instructed the company to translate it
“We tried to be conform with the law but unfortunately they didn't understand what we are doing,” said Marie-Pier Cloutier, speaking for G.E. Leblanc.The company's English software links it with global partners, colleagues around the world will be able to get real-time updates—in English only
“With the Chinese and the Danish and everybody working for the company, we will have to work with the same words,” explained Cloutier.Whether they need a bolt for a belly opener or a shaft adapter, employees at the company ask for the parts by name in English because that's the way they were taught in school.
Knowing the English names of parts is where most employees' English ends. However they want to learn more and the company is providing English lessons at lunchtime.
“If we cannot find any people speaking in English, then we may as well shut down,” said company executive Marcel Couture." Link
Such is the surreality of the efforts of successive Quebec governments to make Quebec as French as Alberta is English, all the while telling Quebecers that it is not only possible, but possible without affecting prosperity.
Instead of seeking a reasonable accommodation with English, the PQ is trying to control what is in effect uncontrollable.
Like all governments that impose rules and measures that run counter to the marketplace, there is a mighty price to be paid, in Quebec's case that price is prosperity.
The question remains; Can Quebec become exclusively French and if so, can it maintain its prosperity?
Unfortunately for hardliners, the answer to each question is a resounding NO.
There is a lie being perpetrated by the PQ and its coterie of language hawks, that tells Quebecers that they can and should expect to live in a world exclusively in French.
It is a lofty ideal, one that plays well to the faithful, sold by ideologues who are as unrealistic as those members of King Canute's court that told him that he could stop the incoming tide.
While the OQLF fan out across Montreal terrorizing small businesses and restaurants over signs and menus, the underlying reality is that when push comes to shove, the Quebec government caves when it comes to the big companies.
Any major employer can ask for and receive a waiver to operate in English (as long as they do it behind closed doors) and while the OQLF makes a great hoopla over this 'authorization' it is an open secret that the government would never dare lose a major employer over language, it would be suicidal.
The only suckers who don't get exemptions are the small fry or those (like the company described above) which the OQLF determines won't leave the province under any circumstances.
The OQLF plays a masterful game of political gamesmanship by giving exemptions to companies they deem at risk. For the rest, it's tough noogies.
But many companies that don't hold waivers operate in English with impunity because the OQLF chooses to turn a blind eye, like Quebec's vaunted video game industry which was lured to Montreal with massive tax subsidies.
If push came to shove over language, these companies could relocate in five minutes flat and the OQLF knows it.
It is a testament to the cunning calculation of the OQLF that no company has up and left noisily over language like Sun Life.
Here's a list of companies granted official waivers that allows them to operate in English;
|Air Liquide Canada inc.||Head Office||2011-09-15|
|Anachemia Canada Co.||Head Office||2012-06-26|
|Anachemia Canada Co.||Research Centre||2012-06-26|
|Autodesk Canada Cie||Research Centre||2009-12-11|
|Avon Canada inc.||Head Office||2011-10-28|
|Bauer Hockey Corp.||Research Centre||2011-09-15|
|Bombardier inc.||Head Office||2012-06-26|
|Bombardier inc.||Research Centre||2012-06-26|
|Bombardier Transport Canada inc.||Head Office||2008-09-12|
|CAE inc.||Head Office||2012-06-26|
|CAE inc.||Research Centre||2012-06-26|
|CMC Électronique inc.||Head Office||2012-05-11|
|CMC Électronique inc.||Research Centre||2012-05-11|
|CMP Solutions mécaniques avancées ltée||Head Office||2011-05-27|
|Compagnie Beaulieu Canada||Head Office||2011-12-09|
|Compagnie Canadian Technical Tape ltée||Head Office||2012-06-26|
|Compagnie minière IOC inc.||Head Office||2011-09-15|
|State Street Global ltée||Head Office||2011-03-25|
|Corporation Gatx Rail Canada||Head Office||2011-12-09|
|Corp. MacDonald, Dettwiler et Associés||Research Centre||2012-02-03|
|Domtar inc.||Head Office||2012-06-26|
|Éricsson Canada inc.||Research Centre||2012-05-11|
|General Dynamics||Head Office||2011-09-15|
|General Dynamics||Research Centre||2011-09-15|
|Kaba Ilco Inc.||Research Centre||2011-03-25|
|La Corporation McKesson Canada||Head Office||2011-10-28|
|Laboratoires Abbott limitée||Head Office||2011-09-15|
|Laboratoires Charles River services||Research Centre||2011-12-09|
|Lafarge Canada inc.||Research Centre||2010-12-10|
|Gildan inc.||Head Office||2009-01-23|
|Lockheed Martin Canada inc.||Research Centre|
|Manufacture Leviton du Canada ltée||Head Office||2012-10-26|
|Medisca pharmaceutique inc.||Head Office||2010-05-06|
|Medtronic CryoCath,||Research Centre||2012-10-26|
|Mega Brands inc.||Head Office||2009-09-11|
|Mega Brands inc.||Research Centre||2009-09-11|
|Minet inc.||Head Office||2013-03-22|
|Montship inc.||Head Office||2011-10-28|
|Novartis Pharma Canada inc.||Head Office||2011-06-10|
|Oracle Canada ULC||Head Office||2012-09-14|
|Pfizer Canada inc.||Head Office|
|Presagis Canada inc||Head Office|
|Presagis Canada inc||Research Centre|
|Recherche BCA||Head Office||2013-03-22|
|Recherche BCA||Research Centre||2013-03-22|
|Reitmans (Canada) ltée||Head Office||2013-01-25|
|Retraites luxueuses International||Head Office||2013-03-22|
|Rio Tinto Alcan inc.||Head Office||2012-03-23|
|SAP Canada inc.||Research Centre||2012-12-14|
|Reader’s Digest (Canada)||Head Office||2012-05-11|
|SNC-Lavalin inc.||Head Office||2011-09-15|
|Solutions Airwide||Research Centre||2009-10-23|
|Peerless Clothing inc.||Head Office||2012-10-26|
And so the OQLF pretends that the rules apply equally to all but enforces the rules selectively according to a cockamamie formula whereby only those who are likely to obey are targeted.
It reminds me of the time where one of the locations in the chainstore that I helped manage was the subject of a fire department inspection.
Of course there was some minor infraction that resulted in a letter and a warning which peeved me because the store was brand new, in a brand new shopping mall.
I called the inspector and asked him why he was inspecting the stores anyways, considering that the downtown shopping core of the city was a ramshackle collection of old buildings, not one of which could ever pass the most minor of inspections.
He candidly told me that the stores downtown were too poor to live up to the fire code and if forced to do so, would close! So the fire department chose to visit the mall.
...Ha! Enforcement à la Bill 101!
Impose the rules on those who can and will obey. The rest...fu-ge-da-boud-it !
That is why the OQLF decided to push large retailers like Costco and Walmart to add descriptors to their names, calculating that the companies would comply because of the economic stake they had in their properties.
Their only miscalculation is the lawsuit launched by those affected.
So it's easy to understand why the OQLF is attacking American giants and not attacking Canadian giants like Canadian Tire or Tim Hortons.
The OQLF chooses its fights judiciously and the firestorm of bad publicity that would reverberate around Canada related to such an attack is a prime consideration, not to mention the fact that there isn't a court in the land that would side with the agency in telling a company that has operated under the 'Canadian Tire' banner for over seventy years that it must now change its name.
The OQLF continues to play a mug's game in enforcing the law where it can while turning a blind eye where it can't.
That is why toy cars must be labelled in French, while real cars continue to have English only dashboards.
Lately the OQLF is making noise about forcing appliance and electronic manufacturers to add French labeling, another costly waste-of-money that will never come to pass.
Most of the offending English words are molded into the product itself and changing it would cost a fortune, something that the appliance manufacturers won't do no matter what.
It is the same problem as car dashboards.
In light of this selective enforcement policy it is easy to understand why the OQLF requires first run Hollywood movies to be dubbed into French.
The same goes for video games where the government is also pushing for French translations while mysteriously exempting books and magazines.
Obviously books and magazines are not as important to Quebec culture as movies and video games.
As I said, the OQLF chooses its fights.
I recently visited a store in New York City and came across a product that intrigued me in relation to the issue of language in Quebec.
It was a book that was hollowed out to create a compartment meant to hide valuables.
Would this product be legal in Quebec?
The English-only book itself would be legal in Quebec, because books are exempt, but since it was no longer a book, but rather a fake book, the English-only made it illegal.
Are you following me?
There is a whole host of niche and specialty products that cannot be brought into Quebec because of language and the OQLF's response that no product can be sold without a French label is final and just means that Quebec consumers are short changed from anything like sex toys that are banned because of language to hollowed out book safes.
Did I say 'final'?
Well not always, the OQLF is nothing if not practical. After banning Jewish specialty food products imported from the USA because of the lack of French labels, the agency relented and opened up a window during certain holidays where the foods could be brought in without translation.
And so you can see, the agency can display a pragmatic side, notwithstanding that it's never a good idea to start up with the Jews.
By the way, a lot of this forced French is paid for largely by English Canadians. When a movie chain pays to dub a Hollywood movie into French, the cost is divided among ticket goers across the whole country, with ticket prices remaining the same for English and French versions.
That is why dashboards remain an English only affair, because car companies have repeatedly told Quebec that if French is mandated on the dashboard then Quebec consumers alone would have to pay for it. And so for the OQLF, an appropriate time to mettre de l'eau dans son vin.
It isn't strange that Quebec's economic decline is neatly paralleled by the rise in language extremism.
It's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees, but there can be no mistake that ever since the PQ's rise to power in 1976, it's been a precipitous downhill economic tumble worthy of Jack and Jill.
Separatists will find all sorts of reasons for Quebec's stagnation, from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the discovery of oil in Alberta and Newfoundland. Anything but language, which can never be fingered as the culprit because well, they just don't want it to.
Those of us old enough to remember Quebec as a powerhouse, the center of the Canadian universe can only be saddened to see how far we've fallen.
Last week I listened to separatist wunderkind Mathieu Bock-Coté complaining one more time that Montreal is anglicizing at an alarming rate, (which in separatist talk means that a sign went up in English somewhere in the downtown core,) and all I can do is shake my head at the utter brainlessness of the contention, a hallmark of the whiny French language movement.
If Mr. Bock-Coté took a 'Twilight Zone" trip to Montreal circa 1960, he'd probably have a heart attack at what an utterly bilingual city it was back then. Perhaps he would be so flabbergasted by the assault of English that he'd fail to see what a powerful success the city really was back then.
The PQ's proposed Bill 14, meant to stiffen Quebec's already burdensome language laws will further drive Quebec down the path of economic ruin by making language demands that cannot be met.
As English resistance to language intolerance stiffens, the horrendous publicity engendered by the likes of 'pastagate' convince more and more investors and employers to stay away.
One of the hidden realities of Quebec economics is that in order to attract new investment, the Quebec government must cough up an ever spiraling host of subsidies, which now stands at four times the rate of Ontario.
All this is hidden from view, as are the investments that never came or never will.
Montreal is fading fast as a business centre, it's airport soon to become the fourth busiest in Canada and it's head offices fleeing or fled to Calgary and Toronto. It's no wonder that there hasn't been a decent office skyscraper built in over twenty years, with none in the works.
By comparison Toronto has fifteen skyscrapers under construction today.
This is what happens when Quebec's language law butts up against reality of business and no matter what French language hardliners tell us, the
The cost of Frenchifying Quebec has been staggering and for language militants remaining delusional about it won't change reality.