Pastry shop owner stands firm against language law inspectors
Published Saturday, April 20, 2013 5:40PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 20, 2013 6:22PM EDT
MONTREAL - Harry Schick, the feisty owner of the Swiss Vienna Pastry at St. John and Springdale in Pointe Claire, has stepped into the ring for another round with provincial language police.
Schick’s latest in a long series of run-ins with language inspectors saw him decline an inspector's request to take photos of his multilingual signs last week.
“I promptly refused and said no to him,” said Schick. “He stepped back and said, 'why?" and I said, ‘you have all the information already. These signs have not been changed since '76,'” said Schick.
Schick said that he has has been told to take down the signs for decades but has never complied.
And he doesn’t plan to, either.
“Right now Swiss Vienna, Harry Shick, we're not going to change our signs. We're bilingual. We think our anglophone customers, our francophone customers and all our Europeans customers all have the same rights and they should be treated equally,” he said.
One local lawyer with some expertise in Quebec's language laws, said that most entrepreneurs don’t have the patience or resources to battle the government.
“Most people are in business to make money for themselves, their families, their employees,” said Brent Tyler. “They can't afford to be poster children for any kind of language squabble. For them, they might just decide to pay the fine and be done with it.”
The government has been known to punish certain businesses that refuse to comply with their orders.
“The Office has a number of options,” said Tyler. “They can seize property, they can seize bank accounts and they certainly have been known to do that in the past. It's very discretionary,” said Tyler.
Schick has opted for a strategy of perpetual defiance.
“My plan, if they come back is the same thing: ignore, ignore, ignore, deal with my customers and continue doing business,” he said.