"Allumez vos feux:" Advocates want bilingual road signs in name of safety
An English-rights advocate is calling on the Transportation Ministry to install more bilingual road signs, saying the current French-only signs are a danger to the public.
“According to the charter of the French language, you’re allowed to have English signage and French signage for health and safety,” said lawyer Harold Staviss.
“There’s a lot of traffic signs on the autoroute, on the expressways that are only in French and they’re there for safety, everybody’s safety, and you don’t understand them.”
Staviss gave several examples of signs that could be difficult to understand for even those who are well-versed in French; Allumez vos phares, risque d'aquaplanage, degel, ralentir,.
“Those all have to do with safety and security and according to the Charter [of the French Language], specifically article 22, if it’s for safety and health, another language besides French can be used if there’s no pictograms,” he said.
Staviss added that he’d be surprised if most Anglo Quebecers understood the terminology.
“Can you understand somebody who is not fluently bilingual who lives in Quebec? Put that aside, we have tourists coming here from outside of Quebec who don’t understand it and it’s for safety.”
He launched an online petition with the National Assembly to put more English on crucial street signs, and added his intent is not to diminish the French language.
"It's for security. It's not going to diminish the French language. It's not going to get rid of the French language. it's going to help everybody," said Staviss.
His petition has collected more than 6,000 signatures and will be presented next week at the National Assembly.