Ticked off at the language police
Published Friday, February 5, 2010 12:50PM EST
Darryl Lesser is one angry watchmaker now that Quebec's language police want him to create a French version of his website.
Lesser buys, sells and restores vintage watches and clocks from the 1700's to 1960 from his home in Hudson, west of Montreal.
The Hudson-based businessman has had the English-only website for 12 years and didn't have a problem until last week.
That's when the Office Quebecoise de la language francaise sent him a letter threatening legal action if he doesn't create a French version of his 65-page site.
Lesser says the OQLF is out of line, since he doesn't have any Quebec customers.
The watchmaker told CTV's Herb Luft that he agrees wholeheartedly with efforts to protect French but not if it's at his expense.
"Je parle Francais, pas de probleme, but I'm not a second-class citizen," he said.
OQLF stands firm
OQLF spokesman Martin Bergeron says the law is the law.
"The law states that (all) advertising you do must be in French in Quebec," said Bergeron, adding that there might be a reason Lesser doesn't have Quebec customers.
"Is it because the website is not available in French?"
The OQLF says it won't impose a deadline on Lesser. It's urging him to negotiate and Bergeron even suggests the agency could bend the rules if Lesser can prove he has no Quebec customers.
But the problem, according to Lesser, is that the OQLF wants to see all of his business records for the past year or more.
He's only willing to go half-way on that proposal, explaining that he's not about to hand over confidential information on his clients.
"If I can delete his address and put his name and just the country that he comes from, I have no problem," said Lesser.
"But it's none of their business how much or how little he's bought from me!"
The watchmaker hopes for a compromise with the language police but says he won't be forced into producing a French website.
He says that he'd rather leave Quebec than comply with the OQLF's request.