Picture this: You own a business. You work hard. You pay your taxes. You provide jobs. You add to the culture and economy of your city.
You thought that -– in whatever language — you lived and worked in a democracy, a democracy you trusted to defend and respect your rights as a business owner and as an individual.
Then suddenly, you get hit with a fine for breaking the law. Perplexed, the person handing out the ticket explains, “You have too many English signs in your pub.”
You answer in your best Will Ferrell impression, “Wha?”
Only it’s not funny.
“Your signs are in English please remove them.”
“But they are signs imported from Ireland. We’re Irish.”
“Pauvre toi. C’est la loi. A la prochaine, mon ami!”
No silly. This isn’t a page out of 1984. It’s straight out of Quebec 2008.
It’s hard to put into words what exactly what L’office de la langue Francaise does. It leads quite a nuanced existence. In a nutshell, it aims to enhance and protect the French language.
Sound innocuous enough.
But then again so was Nibbler on Futurama. The unfortunate thing about the OLF is that it is an organization that has the legal right to fine citizens for not complying with Quebec’s language laws.
Before I go on, let me first say that this is not an attack on Quebec. Rather, this is not a piece written on political or cultural grounds, but strictly from a civil liberty’s perspective.
Quebecers rightly want to protect the French language. No one disputes this. However, there has to be a better, more appropriate way to handle this.
Enter McKibbin’s Irish Pub. Acting on the complaint of a concerned citizen, the OLF donned their capes and raced to the pub. Bif! Pow! Twang!
When they got there they discovered — to their horror — that that the staff spoke English among one another and the menus were only in English – though on this last point the pub should have known better.
Furthermore, the OLF inspector insanely “ordered McKibbins to remove advertisements for Guiness Dublin 1759 Ireland Trademark, Palethorpes Pork Pies, and St. James Gate Dublin – products that have not been available for more than a century” and “On Feb 6, the Office de la langue française informed McKibbin's owners that, under article 58 of the language charter, too much English was being spoken among the staff” as reported by the Montreal Gazette.
The tactics and antics used by the OLF amount to nothing more than cultural fascism.
They are a parochial organization that preys on the insecurities of a society. To them, if Quebecers are not diligent, the French language will be eradicated from the face of North America. They are not entirely wrong, but what does hounding, harassing and infringing upon civil liberties accomplish?
The OLF thinks that walking into random businesses and fining them (in essence the government is needlessly robbing people of their money) equates to protecting the French language.
Think hard about this one.
And don’t look to the geniuses over at the Quebec Liberal Party to step in. In fact, according to the latest resolutions set forth by the party, they intend to increase the roll of the OLF. In section 188.8.131.52.2 they call for businesses to be visited regularly.
This coming from the only party that claims to represent all Quebecers.
Nice. Now I can’t vote for all three parties here.
Just ban English, give the OLF some brown shirts and be done with it already. If not, defend the rights of the people –- without strings attached. If this is what Quebec wants so be it. However, dare not to call it a democracy -– it’s a Quebocracy.
Let the true will of Quebecers stand up and do what's right. Let us live in linguistic and cultural peace once and for all. Marginalize those who do nothing to enhance Quebec culture and everything to demean it.
Let freedom reign.
In the upcoming days McKibbins will be launching a site www.byebyeolf.com. They intend to fight the fines. I support and wish them well in the name of liberty.