Putting an accent on Metro
MONTREAL - The name of Quebec's largest chain of grocery stores was put into the centre of the province's language fight on Wednesday when a hard-line separatist filed a complaint against Metro.
"Metro is an English word without an accent," said Yves Michaud, a public figure and Parti Quebecois supporter. "If we can't defend our language and protect it, the French in North America will disappear in two, three or four generations."
Arguing that the name violates Bill 101, Quebec's language inspectors will be looking into the lack of an accent in Metro's signs.
"The law permits the use of a name in another language than French, as long as you have a descriptive term that will accompany the name," said Martin Bergeron, a spokesperson for the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise.
In the same way that Anglophone brands in Quebec are transformed into Les Cafes Second Cup or Rotisserie Scores, Metro could be made to add a descriptor.
Part of the naming strategy could have been an attempt to avoid confusion with the city's metro stations—which use an accent. The CEO of Metro confirmed with CTV News that he wasn't interested in changing the signs of the 220 stores in Quebec, citing a $20 million price.
The OQLF will launch a $500,000 awareness campaign in March that will target large corporations and big box stores with Anglophone names.
"A fine does nothing to advance our cause," said OQLF President Louise Marchand. "It's making changes that will advance our goal of protecting the French language."
According to the Marchand, the policy of adding descriptors to names has been a success in protecting Quebec's francophone status.
"That strategy has permitted them to integrate seamlessly into the Quebec landscape," said Marchand.
Media giant Quebecor is currently examining the possibility of adding two accents to its name.
With files from The Canadian Press.