Provocateur Communications, the media company founded by CJAD host Dan Delmar and his partner Jared Shapransky, is now in the crosshairs of Quebec's language authorities.
The Office québécois de la langue française sent the company a letter dated Jan. 20, informing it that it must translate its web site into French, and that it must respond to the letter within the month.
Since then, there have been two exchanges with the woman who signed the letter, Vanessa Rozié, whose official title at the OQLF is "complaint specialist". Provocateur informed her a French translation of the web site was underway, and that it would be complete within six months.
• The OQLF has a problem with 'pasta' (an update to Dan Delmar's original blog post from last year)
The letter took Delmar aback, in part because in the wake of the Pastagate affair last year, the OQLF put in place a "triage" system where complaints to the agency would be prioritized. He says Provocateur should be considered a low-priority violator because it's a small business whose area of expertise is communications services for anglophones, and that promoting themselves in French before it took on a full-time francophone contributor would be a misrepresentation of what it does.
"Our intention was always to have a French web site, and we're in the process of doing it," Delmar says. "So we're not doing it for the OQLF, we're doing it because we believe in multilingualism."
He suggests the OQLF would be better off lending support for small businesses like his, rather than threats.
"You would think someone like me with 1.5 employees would be the first in line to get help from the government to translate our web site to have resources to help us to do that. There's nothing available whatsoever except for repression and threats of lawsuits.
"There's nothing wrong with protecting the French language, but it has to be done through education and persuasion. These types of measures — threatening lawsuits in a first-contact letter — have a dissuasive effect on business."
In February 2013, a blog post by Delmar on CJAD's web site gave birth to the Pastagate phenomenon, which drew worldwide — and for language hawks, unwelcome — attention to Quebec's language laws and the complex ways in which they're enforced. In the weeks that followed, the OQLF's president resigned, and it moved to implement its "triage" system for complaints.
Also within the month, Provocateur launched the "Ici, on commerce avec amour" campaign — which essentially promoted the idea that francophones and anglophones can and should do business with one another without political interference.
• Dan Delmar is the host of CJAD's The Exchange on Monday and Wednesday nights at 8 p.m.