Spoons with English slogan investigated by language police
Published Friday, June 21, 2013 10:13AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 21, 2013 7:00PM EDT
MONTREAL - The latest target of the language police: plastic spoons from California.
The Office Quebecoise de la Langue Francaise, reacting to a complaint from a customer, visited a frozen yogurt store in the West Island to inspect some English words written on plastic cutlery.
The owners of Menchie's in DDO's Blue Haven Mall say they were told by inspectors from the Office Quebecoise de la Langue Francaise that their plastic spoons violate Quebec's law on languages.
According to a post on the company's Facebook page somebody filed a complaint with the OQLF about the spoons which are stamped with the words "Sweet Moosic." The company is now trying to find a new source for utensils.
However the OQLF says any rush to judgment is premature.
OQLF spokesperson Martin Bergeron told CTV’s Maya Johnson an inspector followed up on a complaint about the spoons and has filed a report, but added the Office has not yet analyzed the inspection report, and has not told the restaurant to remove the spoons.
"That means no demands for correctional steps have been made to the company," the OQLF wrote in a statement Friday.
"Every time the OQLF opens a complaint file, a member of its staff goes to the spot to check the situation. To do that, they might take pictures, request documents, or simply seek information from the business. They will also hand over a letter explaining the reasons for the intervention.
"After that, the OQLF analyzes the file and, if it sees a violation of the Charter of the French Language, it asks the business to take corrective measures."
This file is still at the analysis stage.
The OQLF began its statement by expressing frustration at what it views as overblown coverage of its activities by "certain media," likely a jab at anglophone newspaper, radio and TV stations that also reported at length on an earlier controversy over the word pasta on a menu, a kerfuffle known as pastagate.
Menchie's spoons, which it promotes as take-home souvenirs, are provided by the head office in California and distributed worldwide. The company periodically changes the colours available and the slogan, such as "this is my mix" and "chip away."
In recent months the OQLF has come under fire after fining a restaurant for using Italian words like "pasta" on its menu, and other restaurants have been informed the word "caffe" is forbidden.
Those decisions made international headlines in February and March, leading to the resignation of OQLF head Louise Marchand. Language Minister Diane De Courcy also said the inspector who made the rulings about menu items was "overzealous" even though each infraction conformed to the letter of the law.
The provincial government is struggling to pass a more restrictive version of the provincial language law that would see francophones barred from attending English-language CEGEPs and force all companies with more than 25 employees to conduct all internal communication in French.
The OQLF received a six per cent budget increase, to $24.7 million, this year under the new Parti Quebecois government after it also received a smaller increase the previous year under the old Liberal government.
But the organization has also come under criticism from the PQ, which is generally more hawkish on language. The PQ government said the agency had been "overzealous" in its handling of files and would review its complaints procedure.
The number of complaints to the organization nearly doubled over three years, to 4,067 in 2011-12.
More than half of those files -- 2,475 of them -- were acted on and closed.
Of those 2,475 cases, corrective measures were taken 58 per cent of the time; "incentive" measures were applied in 17 per cent of cases; two per cent of cases were sent to the Justice Department for possible penalties; and 19 per cent of the time the original complaint was deemed to be unfounded.
-With a file from The Canadian Press