Language incident at Laval Tim Horton's sparks call for boycott

A call for a boycott of a Tim Horton's outlet in Laval is making the rounds of the Internet because of an incident with linguistic overtones that took place there earlier this month — and there are several versions of what took place in the early evening hours of Saturday, March 1 at the donut shop at 3665 Autoroute 440.

It seems a customer was placing and order in English, and the counter person couldn't or wouldn't serve him in English. Another employee tried to assist her colleague, but fared little better.

A scuffle then ensued between the customer and two other French-speaking customers he got into an altercation with, with the customer claiming to have been beaten with a nightstick.

No one was seriously hurt, but police and an ambulance were called. Police say they found the customer there when they arrived, but he refused to press charges against the nightstick-wielding man.

A report was written, but the case was closed.

The manager of the Tim Horton's, who calls himself Peter, says the customer was the one who was being abusive -- toward the clerks, toward the other customers, and in the end, toward him. At one point during their exchange, Peter says he was told to "go back to Lebanon."

Peter speaks English with an accent, but is not Lebanese.

It wasn't a serious incident in the end, but the call for a boycott of the Tim Horton's outlet on Facebook has been shared more than 5,500 times in less than 24 hours, accompanied by an often vulgar and confrontational comments thread.

"He's going to have a legal problem with Tim Horton's," Peter says.

A representative from Tim Horton's says they're taking the incident seriously. "In Quebec we endeavor to serve our guests in their preferred official language whenever possible, as it is important to us to treat each of our guests with dignity and respect," a statement reads.

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  1. Joseph posted on 03/11/2014 05:04 PM
    Hire people that speak both languages and that want to work.
    1. Steve posted on 03/11/2014 09:46 PM
      @Joseph So you expect people working minimum wage at a Tim Horton on the service road in Laval to be perfectly bilingual so you can order donuts and coffee in your preferred language? I don't see what Tim Horton did wrong here. The two employees tried to help to the best of their ability.
    2. Colin posted on 03/12/2014 03:12 PM
      @Joseph Clearly you do not own a business.
  2. maria posted on 03/11/2014 05:29 PM
    This is only the beginning - Let's all say a big Thank you to the PQ and Marois and Lisee and decourcy and Drainville on so on and so on - They are draining our city - what happened to all the meetings that were held over bill 14 what were they for if only to say
    they will bring it back if they are elected again??? I thought it died and its dead - thats it thats all - we have already have had 2 referendums and the people have spoken they do not want to separate what is their problem they should not be allowed to hold another one - that should be final !!!
    1. Steve posted on 03/11/2014 09:47 PM
      @maria What does this incident have to do with bill 14, apart maybe from the fact that the English-speaking customer engaged in racial profiling on the manager of the coffee shop?
  3. Robert Belanger posted on 03/11/2014 05:46 PM
    I get my Timmies in Dorval, where the coffee tastes great and the manager and all employees smile at me each morning.
    For those not happy in Laval, cross the bridge.
  4. lydia posted on 03/11/2014 06:34 PM
    Instead of ramming the French language down people's throats,why doesn't the parti quebecois,promote French in a civilized manner?make it sexy.make it appealing.They should take a look at the middle east and third world countries and thank god for living in CANADA,.This is ridiculous.They send their kids to English universities,but want to dumb everybody else down.Besides,you are less likely to suffer from ALZHEIMER.S if you speak more than one language.So smarten up!
  5. Jim posted on 03/11/2014 07:53 PM
    I have worked in the mental health field for decades and have been witness (and victim of) many incidents of verbal and physical hostility. I would greatly caution everyone not to be so reactive without a confirmation of the actual facts. Peter's description of events sound quite plausible and are most likely more reflective of the actual events. I can easily see that one individual (in today's emotionally charged political forum) can be the cause of a lot of trouble, leading to an eventual violent outcome. If we jump to conclusions blindly and use incidents like this to justify our own political stance and as an example of somehow being targeted, harassed, abused or what have you by the PQ or their followers, we are simply coming across as not credible and prejudiced (pre-judgement) ourselves. In order to make a valid point (of which there are many to be made) in contradiction of the PQ's policies and approaches, we need to be able to keep our heads up high, use our heads and present ourselves in a manner in which we cannot be faulted for making unfounded statements. This man simply have been an angry, anti-social man causing a scene with some serious consequences and no more than that. CAUTION PEOPLE... half cocked comments do not just undermine you, but me as well when I try to make a rational argument in the Anglophone, federalist perspective. As for people not being able to work in English...get over it. I am well past that and always try to speak with whomever (regardless of my relationship to them) in either French or English, depending upon what I determine they are most comfortable speaking. This has always served me quite well and causes no problems or division.
  6. Sarah posted on 03/11/2014 08:59 PM
    I was born here and use to love it here. I wanted to raise a family here. I moved to the States for a couple of years but wanted to come back "home". I convinced my husband to move back here 7 years ago. He quit his job and took a 25000$ pay cut with his first and only job here. 1 year and half ago an American company bought out his company and closed its doors here in Montreal. As an American with a College Degree in IT and speaks 3 languages but no french he can not find work. We have a 3 year old beautiful girl and I'm the only one in my family that is working. I can barely make ends meet and regret so much ever moving back here. We will be leaving as soon as we can because I refuse to raise my family in my "home" town. There is no such feeling of "home" here anymore.All that I see and hear is hate. I will say goodbye to my friends and family, living and dead. Thank you PQ for taking away my home, for making hate and racism an disgustingly everyday event Thank you for making it so difficult for a mother to care for her family Thank you.
  7. james posted on 03/11/2014 09:16 PM
    On CTV News he said he didn't press charges cause he felt nothing was going to happen after The police officer asked him "why didn't you speak in French? Maybe this all could've been avoided". ..ridiculous.
    1. Kat posted on 03/12/2014 11:20 AM
      @james I saw that too. To me that was the more infuriating part of this story.
    2. Steve posted on 03/12/2014 12:41 PM
      @james A very good question indeed. It seems like the two Tim Horton employees tried their best to help him. Communication is a two-way street. It doesn't look like the customer was trying very hard. I've ordered coffee and a donut in Germany and I don't speak German. We're not exactly talking about brain surgery here.
  8. Danny posted on 03/11/2014 09:43 PM
    Just wondering if Quebec has a legal right to separate from canada, do municipalities have the right to separate from Quebec. Since Montreal area and west are majority no. Could the people threaten a referendum from Quebec. Quebec definitely couldn't survive without Montreal.
  9. ric posted on 03/11/2014 09:49 PM
    Are there any surveillance tapes of the incident? If the Tim Horton's employees are innocent, let's see the tapes!!! If not then BOYCOTT the place.
  10. Sa posted on 03/11/2014 11:42 PM
    You can be sure that tim hortons is going to have alot of visitors from anglophones including me if he doesnt have employees who speak bilingual he better start hiring.
    1. Benny posted on 03/13/2014 02:13 AM
      @Sa Ok, So what?
  11. De posted on 03/12/2014 03:35 AM
    I say let's all put the Tim's statement of committment to the test - let's all show up at that particular Tim's at all hours seeking to be served in English.

    THAT should have an impact one way or another.
    1. Steve posted on 03/12/2014 09:13 AM
      @De I agree, let's put them to the test. Let's show up at a Tim Horton on Bank street in Ottawa, in the National Capital of Canada, an officially bilingual city located one kilometer away from Quebec and check on their ability to serve us in French. We both know how that's going to work out.
    2. Agashem posted on 03/12/2014 03:56 PM
      @De I think all Tim Horton's should be staffed with bilingual employees, including those in Toronto
  12. Gary posted on 03/12/2014 11:31 AM
    Two sides to every story. Ill wait till we get actual proof before I start assuming.

    On another note.
    You should boycott Tim Hortons for their terrible coffee anyway.
  13. heather posted on 03/12/2014 01:35 PM
    I really can't speak about this establishment but I feel that this is being blown all out of proportion. I understand about the language police etc etc but in general, ordinary folks, regardless of where they live or what language they speak, will do their best to figure out what their customer is saying. Not a fan of Quebec by any stretch of the imagination , in fact, I lived less than 3 minutes from the Quebec border but, I do know that anytime I entered a french establishment in Quebec, I was always treated with the utmost respect!
  14. Barcham posted on 03/12/2014 05:19 PM
    I buy my coffee at McDonald's, the only company to stand up to the language laws and win. They are the only company that still has an apostrophe in their name and they deserve my business. Better coffee also. I'll buy a coffee at Tim Hortons when they become Tim Horton's. No apostrophe, you get none of my money.
  15. Josie posted on 03/12/2014 05:48 PM
    Why are you hiring employees who only speak French. Someone who can't understand 12 donuts and six muffins should not be serving the public. People who left Quebec several years ago were the smart ones. English speaking Quebecers are made to feel like second rate citizens. What a pathetic situation. Funny how even the people serving you a coffee in Paris will speak to you in English. Funny how all stop signs around the world read stop but Quebec is special. Sooooo Special. Get Educated Quebec. They rest of Canada doesn't want to hear it anymore!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. wluis posted on 03/12/2014 06:23 PM
    Thank God he wasn't from English Canada. With an open boarder, there maybe a chance people may only speak English to us(French Quebec).
    We will have to create a new Bill for tourist. They may end up in Jail for not speaking French.
  17. Riccardo Cervone posted on 03/12/2014 06:26 PM
    Like my grandmother would say "some people don't know how to live"
  18. BobinSudbury posted on 03/12/2014 07:50 PM
    Lets be happy, if you have to order with grunts and pointing maybe a little pantomime so be it. If you can't get the service you want leave, no point getting confrontational with staff, let your pocketbook do the talking. If enough people get the same treatment the business won't last. Employees don't set the prices, don't make the policy, they don't make enough that they should have to put up with a lot of bull shit from customers. Complain to the store owner, if no success, the head office, or as in this case public opinion as long as the facts support the case.
  19. Mario posted on 03/13/2014 03:01 PM
    I am a francophone but not Quebecois de souche. I left Quebec in 1994 after finishing my Master's degree. I was discriminated against in an unbelivable way. Decided to leave Quebec and never look back. I finished my Ph.D and became a lawyer and am very happy. I never regretted my leaving Quebec. There are more opportunities and better life outside Quebec. It is difficult for people with kids to decide but at the end it might be best for the kids and the family than living in fear, in humiliation, and in feeling unwanted.
  20. Derrick posted on 03/14/2014 02:06 PM
    I have spent lots of time in Quebec and although I know a little French (very Little ) I have never had a problem dealing with French only speakers and getting good service at Tims or anywhere else for that matter.. I try out my little bit of French I know and they try out their little bit of English they know' it always ends up great and fun experience.... Only time there was a a lot of confusion was at a restaurant late one nite in Quebec City when ordering poutine... Long story short>>>> to an English guy poutine and putain sound one hell of a lot the same :--( lol
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