CAQ isn't updating its website in English this election because it's 'too expensive'
English-speaking voters may not be spending a lot of time these days surfing the website of Quebec's ruling party, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), judging by poll numbers and the furious reaction to the party's new language law, Bill 96.
But if they did decide to take a look at what the party had to offer in the upcoming election, they'd be out of luck, at least in English.
The English version of the party website appears not to have been updated since Jan. 13, with the latest headline reading "END OF CURFEW ON MONDAY, SHOPS OPEN ON SUNDAY."
The most recent COVID-19 curfew ended on Jan. 17, and the press release announcing its end was published on the 13th.
Other most recent English news on the CAQ site includes that Dr. Horacio Arruda has stepped down as public health director (Jan. 11) and that children will be getting rapid tests in school (Dec. 9).
The party didn't forget to keep the English version updated, said CAQ spokesperson Claude Potvin. The problem is that it's "too expensive" to translate its materials into English, she said.
"When we produce material, it costs a lot of money to translate. What I mean by a lot of money, it's a lot of money," she said.
"What we're doing usually is, if it's essential material, we'll make a translation of it, like in the pandemic, or when the elections arrive, we do have a platform and we'll put up the executive summary so you can have it in English."
Aside from that, she said, English-speaking voters have a lot less to read than their French-speaking counterparts.
"We're not the government -- we're living with the money that people give us," Potvin said. "We are a political party."
She said she didn't have the exact cost of translation at hand, but that it's out of reach, and that the party won't use Google Translate or other free tools to help with translation.
They only hire professionals and have no one on CAQ's staff who's able to do that job, Potvin said.
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Speaking generally, one Montreal-based translation company called Asiatis told CTV News that an average price for translating a press release would be about 18 cents per word.
For a 300-word press release -- a typical length -- that would add up to $54.
Other Montreal translators said rates can run a little higher, to about 25 cents per word. At that price, the same press release would be $75 to translate.
Potvin said that it's not that the CAQ is ignoring English voters, and she understands if some are surprised when they see how out of date the website is.
"I know it might seem like we don't care, but that's really not it," she said.
"But for the website, like most French political parties, we're going to put it in French -- we're in Quebec and we're going to keep the French version more up-to-date than the English one."
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She pointed out that the Parti Québécois and Quebec Solidaire both have no English versions of their websites whatsoever.
She took special aim at the Liberals, the traditional choice of many Quebec English-speaking voters, saying that even they don't keep their English website in the same shape as their French one.
The Quebec Liberals do publish many more materials in French than English, putting out French press releases almost every day in recent weeks, and only two so far in English in 2022, the most recent of those in late May.
As for when English-speakers will see how much the various platforms are explained in English, they'll have to wait. Quebec's election, while already in full swing, won't be officially called until later this summer, likely in late August.
The CAQ hasn't forgotten about them, it's just trying to make room in the budget, according to the CAQ.
"It's not at all 'Who cares, we're not worried,'" said Potvin. "On the contrary."