OQLF will help some businesses

Two kinds of criteria for office: complaints and maybe help

By Kevin Woodhouse

Recently The Suburban profiled West Island resident and entrepreneur Itsik Romano who, after hearing about other West Island small businesses being harassed by members of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), launched a campaign called J’aime l’anglais where a portion of the sale of pins and bumper stickers would help defray the cost of legal expenses incurred by taking the language police to court.

And while Romano saw the act as more of a “symbolic gesture”, the response on his Facebook page for Unity Pin has been very successful.

“Our main objective is to give people a powerful way to express their objection to the recent surge of the Marois government versus the English language with the enforcement of Bill 101, the introduction of Bill 14 and the abuse that some small businesses are taking from the OQLF,” said Romano.

Romano also wondered why the OQLF use such tactics when there is a service provided by the language enforcement agency that provides subsidies for translation and marketing material.

Jean-Pierre Le Blanc of the OQLF called The Suburban and confirmed the language police’s program that could help “businesses concerning their IT needs for translating websites but the company must have at least five employees to be viable for the program.”

Therefore why does the OQLF not offer that to stores that have received complaints instead of sending inspectors threatening fines?

“The OQLF handles two kinds of interventions,” said Le Blanc. “If an association like a Chamber of Commerce suggests a business that could benefit from our program, the OQLF will help.

“But if a complaint is made, then a representative has to go on site and that can sometimes cause some incomprehension between the two parties,” said Le Blanc.

When asked if OQLF officers get any kind of sensitivity training when dealing with merchants accused of improper signage use, Le Blanc said, “We do provide training for our officers so situations don’t degrade. If there is truly a problem, sometimes another officer will be sent or we will send in a supervisor.”
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