French language not vulnerable in Quebec: retired sociologist

A retired Quebec sociology professor says the French language is not vulnerable in Quebec, a trial challenging the sign laws under Bill 101 has heard.

Calvin Veltman took the stand at the ongoing trial of merchants who were fined for violating the commercial sign law under the Charter of the French Language, some of the fines going back to 1998. They are also contesting the law which they argue is unacceptable and unconstitutional that violates their Charter right to freedom of expression.

Veltman was sworn in as an expert witness on linguistic demographics. He shot down every argument ever made about French being vulnerable in the province, thus justifying the laws.

He testified that the growing number of immigrants to Quebec will assimilate into the majority Francophone community but that we have to be patient because it takes time, adding that the weight of the French-language population on the island of Montreal is irrelevant.

Veltman, testifying via videoconference from his current home in Amsterdam, said the language of signs has nothing to do with demographic factors such as birth rates and immigration, or the choice of language of immigrants and their children.

"The language of signs is about marketing," Veltman testified.

"There's a difference between marketing and structure," Veltman said, arguing that Bill 101 focuses on the language of work and education.

"It's not neighbours who make you French-speaking."

Veltman testified that it's in the self-interest of the language watchdog OQLF to favour more pessimistic research and studies that conclude the French language is always in danger. He also said there are no trends unfavourable to the French language.

The defence has rested its case and the crown and the Quebec government will present their own witness to dispute Veltman's claims.

Most of the fines the merchants have received relate to having signs with French and another language on them, mainly English, and the words in the two languages are the same size, which is illegal under the law,  or the French words are not predominant, as stipulated by the law.

Other fines relate to packaging or web content with languages other than French.

Lawyer Brent Tyler originally represented 86 companies but the Quebec government dropped the fines against nearly half of them. Four of the companies no longer exist, so 28 cases remain.

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. Dave posted on 05/15/2014 04:04 PM
    Lawyer Brent Tyler ALONE continues to do more to defend civil rights and fight discrimination than all of Canada's federally-funded agencies and phonies (such as Canada's grossly overpaid Official Languages Commissioners over the decades) put together.
    All those pre-1998 Alliance Quebec do-nothings (like Peter Blaikie, Royal Orr, Robert Keaton, Eric Maldoff) who were paid way too much should be subsidizing Tyler out of their own stuffed pockets.
    Ditto for the pantheon of English media fakes (Will Neil McKenty, Don Macpherson, Gord Sinclair and their enablers please proceed to the front of the line with Liberal Senator Joan Fraser).
  2. Sid posted on 05/16/2014 04:42 PM
    Dave, what decade are you from? Alliance Quebec closed down ten years ago. Gord Sinclair and Neil McKenty are both dead.

    Brent Tyler is just a publicity hound who keeps raising the same arguments over and over again that courts have already rejected, wasting everyone's time (the Supreme Court already ruled on this exact issue in 1989). When he loses in court, he makes Bill 101 stronger. The rare time he wins a case, his arrogant personality turns the public against him and the government reverses his win with no danger of public backlash.

    And since William Johnson and Brent Tyler destroyed Alliance Quebec by chasing out anyone who didn't worship them, there is now no group that can sway public opinion against Bill 101 (which is the only real way to get it changed).
  3. Bert posted on 05/20/2014 09:36 AM
    Court cases are completely useless. Maybe 35 years ago when the Charter of Rights was new, it made sense to challenge Bill 101 in court. But now that every single aspect of Bill 101 has gone through the courts, more cases are just a waste of time.

    The only way to really change Bill 101 is to get the majority of the population to agree it needs to be changed. For that, you need a proper dialogue in the media with credible leaders, not angryphone lawyers and retired sociologists talking to a judge.
  4. First up jack posted on 05/25/2014 05:11 PM
    Quite clearly here we have abuse. English has never been more tolerant of the French. The people who are feeding these lies for laws. Think that they control us . With their ideological goals to have the stupid minded do their dirty work. Expose them. We will let them account for their deceit .They will no longer have their way at our expense.And we shall watch them squirm. Because they will have to do it for themselves. Old outdated weak fools.The free ride is over.
showing all comments

Share this article: