Anglo rights group urges stores to post English signs
A team of Anglo rights activists has been on a mission to get Montreal-area stores to post signs in English.
Even though they are permitted under Bill 101, many retailers still don’t post them, they argue.
Anglo rights activist and lawyer Harold Staviss has been part of a team working for two years to get the bilingual signs posted at the Costco on Bridge St. in Point St. Charles, where there is a relatively large English-speaking population.
Three weeks ago, Costco acquiesced.
“They just said it's a balancing act and we have to accommodate everyone,” said Staviss.
What many stores don't realize, Staviss said, is that under Bill 101, English is permitted in stores, as long as French is predominant.
He's been part of a team going after retailers who don't post in English at all.
Last year, the group went after Cineplex because their movie theatre in the Pepsi Forum, which shows mainly English movies, posted French-only signs.
“They decided to wake up and do what is right and now they have English signs and French signs. According to the Charter, we're not asking anybody to break the law we want them to observe the law and the Charter of the French language allows English,” said Staviss.
Language politics are, to say the least, complicated in Quebec. Some shoppers CTV spoke with Tuesday said they worry that asking for more English will upset the linguistic peace.
But Gary Shapiro, founder and chair of the group CRITIQ, or Canadian Rights in Quebec, believes it makes good business sense to post English.
Shapiro has been fighting the Office québécois de la langue française because the English on the signs of his air conditioning and refrigeration company are the same size as French.
He said it doesn’t make sense to ignore the language of 1 million English-speaking potential clients in Montreal.
“The fact that we have to legislate, the fact that English is allowed is absurd, and the fact that companies are afraid to put it up because of a backlash is very, very disappointing,” said Shapiro.
Staviss says he'll keep going after stores that refuse to post English signs, and if they don’t make the switch, he’ll organize boycotts.
The group’s new target is The Bay downtown.
“We've got to do it because it's just going to get worse if we sit back and do nothing,” he said.