Language police to review complaints process
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 4:34PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 7:27AM EST
The Quebec language watchdog will be conducting an internal review of its processes for handling complaints, Language Minister Diane De Courcy announced Monday.
De Courcy said the internal review will help to improve the performance of the Office quebecois de la langue francaise, or OQLF.
The agency has come under scrutiny in recent days. Of note, popular Italian restaurant Buonanotte was told to take Italian words such as “pasta” and "bottiglia" off its menu. The story spread rapidly on social media, where many condemned the language police. The agency quickly rescinded, saying the word pasta and other commonly used foreign specialty foods are acceptable.
A media-analysis company calculated that the so-called 'Pastagate' story got 60 times more coverage in news reports outside the province than a recent trip where Premier Pauline Marois tried to drum up foreign business for Quebec.
The head of Influence Communication, which monitors media coverage worldwide, says there were 60 times more stories in traditional media about the pasta incident for every one about Marois' trip to New York in December.
While most of the stories were in Canada, Pastagate was chronicled in 350 articles in 14 countries, as far away as Australia, when it broke last week.
Influence president Jean-Francois Dumas says the coverage probably won't scare off investors but it doesn't present a great image for the province.
Later last week, owner of Joe Beef revealed the OQLF also took issue with some art in his popular Montreal restaurant.
Owner David McMillan said the agency had a problem with a memento from a visit to Prince Edward Island beach that says "exit" and an antique sign above the staff bathroom that says "please leave this gate closed."
McMillan responded with a letter from his lawyer and has decided to keep most of the art up.
Under the Parti Quebecois government, the OQLF's budget has gone up 6 per cent to almost $25 million.
According to the OQLF, the number of complaints about language issues is on the rise. Here is a look at the number of complaints over the past few years:
- April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010: 2,780
- April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011: 3,661
- April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012: 4,067
The results of the audit will be made public next month.
With a report from The Canadian Press
Buonanotte restaurant was fined by the Office quebecois de la langue francaise for using Italian words to name menu items, even though the full descriptions of the food are in French. (CTV Montreal/Marc Latendresse)