Quebec government declares truce in its spat with spaghetti

Turns out the province’s language watchdog may have been a little too aggressive

by Nelson Wyatt

MONTREAL – The Quebec government says its language watchdog was a little too aggressive in chasing after an Italian restaurant for excessive use of Italian on its menu.

The provincial minister responsible for language says she realizes the agency went too hard after the Montreal restaurant Buonanotte.

“I recognized that there was an excess of zeal,” Diane De Courcy told reporters Thursday in Quebec City.

Speaking more generally, she said similar mistakes wouldn’t be made in the future. She said the Office Quebecois de la langue francaise would be more careful to use a loophole in the application of the language law that offers some leeway for foreign cultural and food products.

“(The Office boss) will make adjustments in this case. But what’s also most important, what she said, is that she will ensure that mistakes of that nature don’t happen again,” De Courcy said. “Not that there’s ever a 100-per-cent guarantee — these are human beings doing these inspections.”

It’s an abrupt reversal of roles for the Parti Quebecois government — which has spent years, since its days in opposition, urging the Office to apply the law more strictly.

The organization has even received a 6 per cent budget increase this year, to $24.7 million.

The agency recently visited the Montreal eatery after receiving a citizen’s complaint, and it agreed that certain words on the menu needed to be switched to French.

Among them: “pasta,” “calamari” and “bottiglia” (which means “bottle” in Italian). They did leave the word “pizza” alone.

The case created an uproar in social media — in both English and French. A number of Italian Quebecers, meanwhile, joked about how they would never relinquish their right to eat pasta.

The incident also encouraged other business owners to go public with their disputes with the OQLF.

One included a British-style fish and chips restaurant that said it was being forced to lose the “fish and chips,” and another was a different Italian restaurant that was told to change its sign to translate “ristorante.”

The incident has even annoyed linguistic nationalists.

Staunch defenders of the French language regret that a bureaucratic brain-cramp could be used to discredit an agency that does important work — that of keeping a culture alive.

The common argument goes that if Montreal is allowed to slide into official bilingualism eventually people will, for the sake of convenience, simply stop using French altogether. They describe bilingualism as a “bridge” to the disappearance of French in North America.

Former politician Mario Dumont summed up much of the local chatter during his TV talk show Thursday.

“I don’t think the future of French will be determined by Italian menus, or Japanese sushi,” he said, criticizing the OQLF for its mistake.

He regretted all the ridicule the incident had drawn, in the media reaction outside Quebec for instance.

“(This example) has given ammunition to opponents of the French Language Charter,” said Dumont, the leader of the former Action democratique du Quebec party.




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Quebec government declares truce in its spat with spaghetti

  1. Gotta love Quebec, we truly put the “Mock” in democracy. as history taught us the best way to preserve a culture is to force it down someones throat, in the same respect as some of the more malevolent european settlers that “preserved” european culture on north american natives….wait a minute, something sounds wrong here….

  2. Ah Quebec- from the days of Camille Lauren and the ill fated bill 101. Richler’s book had it right when charting the idiot language police.

  3. What else would you expect from a region full of ignorant and obnoxious people?
    The good thing is that if people from quebec can’t speak english they won’t infest the rest of Canada.

    • OH! so much frustration. I understand you, it hard to accept that we are doing mostly everything better than ROC. And the fact that WE do have a rich culture and you don’t. Your problem is the fact that you would love to be like the American and you just don’t want to accept the fact that your not. You watch american TV, listen american news. The best prove for that, look how many of you are glue to your TV to follow american presidential election. At the last election, Canadian were more interest in the american election race than the Canadian one. ROC is a country without a soul, that envies the american pride because, yes they are a great nation and ROC is not and I insist NOT even close.

      • Whatever, Jeff. For some reason, you think ROC gives a rat’s patootie what you and yours think. Your province is nothing more than a spoiled, bratty child which we (ROC) are forced to tolerate.

        Why don’t you in quebec prove your “greatness” without using our money, then? I know I’m not alone in saying that I’d love to see you do it!

      • Hilarious. Your socialist swamp of a province would be even more irrelevant than it is were it not for the continual transfer payments extorted from hard-working Canadians who really could care less if you left or stayed. And the only maple leaf la freeloading province cares about is the one on your federal handout checks, isn’t it?

        Our “problem” is 50+ years of spoiling rotten an effete, arrogant and pampered lot of prima donnas who believe they are entitled to the extortioned “rights” and funding they foist on the rest of the country. And worse yet, they believe they are a valuable contributor to the country; it is a fascinating case where the parasite believes itself more important than its host.

        Let’s make a deal. We’ll stop funding your idiotic $5/day daycare and countless other foolishness, you make your province 100% unilingual, and we’ll do the same for the ROC. You start becoming a net tax contributor to the rest of Canada, instead of the collective parasite you’ve become. If you don’t like that, why not hold a referendum to threaten to leave the country, BUT: the rest of Canada gets a vote. And if we vote you out… au revoir, jacques.

        mhb23re

  4. Remember to tell everyone you know about this, especially
    outside of Canada. If the Quebec separatists find this embarassing, good! To
    hell with them. They are enemies of Canada and harming their reputation is
    nothing but a benefit. Send the link for this article to any friends, relatives
    and business associates you can think of that live outside Canada.

    • One or two rings at most…

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