OQLF cracks down on business promotion sign

Posted By: Shuyee Lee · 1/15/2013 2:25:00 PM

A small sign seen in NDG shops with eight words, four in French and four in English, has drawn the ire of the province's language watchdog.

Some people working and walking along Monkland Avenue say they think the OQLF - Office Québécoise de la langue française - has gone too far in going after a small ski equipment shop on the street for displaying a sticker that says, "I'm active in NDG. Je m'active a NDG." The English words are the same size as the French, and that, says the language watchdog, is a no-no. The shopkeeper complied and took it down.

The local economic development corporation, the CDEC CDN-NDG, created the sticker along with Equiterre to promote greener and healthier living and shopping locally. It said it believed it shoudn't be illegal since it's neither an ad nor a business sign.

But OQLF spokesman Martin Bergeron said it's a general rule of thumb.

"When you put public signage, you have to do it in French. If you use another language than French, you also need to have the French markedly predominant," Bergeron said.

"Except for a few exceptions, for example for political messages or for some instruction at a gas station for example. The usual rule, the general rule applies here."

Bergeron said they were acting on a complaint. Some residents and merchants agreed with the OQLF, saying the law is the law.

But Gigi Cohen, owner of a vegetarian cafe on Monkland, has the same sign up and has no intention of taking it down even if the OQLF asked them to. She said small businesses shouldn't be harassed for such things.

"If anything, (they should) encourage people. Sizing of lettering should never be an issue. That sounds completely crazy," Cohen said.

"It's a free service, and it's to help people so I don't understand what anybody has anything to say about it. It's becoming very sad."

"I think it's ridiculous and don't they have better things to do and who's paying for this?" one woman told CJAD 800 News.

One merchant said he just may get rid of the sticker sign.

"I'll think about it. Probably it's going to give us problems. I really don't need any problems. I don't need the hassle or to go to court."


Photo: Shuyee Lee

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