Pastagate, spoongate and now parrotgate…?

Is Montreal the laughing stock of Canada?

By Abby E. Schachter

The Beaverton is a Canadian website dedicated to reporting news in a satirical fashion. The publication even has a site disclaimer telling readers that the stories are in fact parody’s and should not be taken seriously.

However, a recent article written by Montreal Beaverton contributor David Rudin made more than Beaverton headlines when the topic hit a nerve with Quebecers.

The news story entitled Parrot removed from Montreal Biodome after learning too much English was meant to be joke. Rudin and fellow collaborators were poking fun at the ongoing language debate in Montreal. They never thought the fake story would cause such a media frenzy. Or that a lot of people via social networks would take the news so seriously.

The Beaverton website even included a phony online petition that readers could sign in order to fight the OQLF’s decision to remove the parrot from the Biodome stating:

“Bouton is a beloved Scarlet Macaw at the Montreal Biodome. She is very friendly and popular with tourists. Unfortunately, Quebec language authorities will deport her…because she was speaking too much English during a routine language inspection. This is an injustice. By signing this petition, you are demanding that the language police rescind the order to deport the parrot to the Toronto Zoo and keep her in the Montreal Biodome.”

According to the site, 1,443 people signed the appeal.

More than a few Montrealers believed that the OQLF had taken the language debate of Ici on commerce en Français to an entirely different level. The “news” created quite a stir among Montreal’s English communities.

Twitter and Facebook accounts were buzzing with the farcical news. 39,337 people in the Anglophone community shared the article while 1,476 readers shared the translated francophone version.

It seems as though the OQLF has managed to turn its organization into a complete travesty. After generating major problems out of minor non-issues like the word Pasta on menus and an English emblem on a plastic spoon stem, it’s not surprising that the general public could believe something as outlandish as ‘Parrotgate.’ The Quebec Government has managed to turn Montreal into the laughing stock of Canada.

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