Laurel Scala believes in protecting the French language and she’s sent her daughter to French school, but she feels it’s unfair that her LaSalle ice-cream parlour is being investigated by the Office québécois de la langue française.
“It makes me sick,” said Scala, who is co-owner with Danika Ghanime of Crèmerie Think Sunshine. “It’s disgusting…it’s left such a bad taste in my mouth that the government has nothing better to do than investigate something they themselves have already approved.”
Crèmerie Think Sunshine has been registered with the Quebec government and no objection was raised to the English words in the name.
An inspector from the OQLF showed up at the ice-cream parlour on Thursday and told Scala they had received a complaint and were investigating. He did not specify what the complaint was about and the OQLF had not responded to a request for details on the case by Friday evening.
Scala says that virtually all of her signage is unilingual French with the exception of the menu item ‘root beer float’ because she feels it doesn’t translate well. All of the ice-cream flavours are written in French only.
Last week an OQLF inspector showed up at the Rivière-des-Prairies location of the Kitchen 73 breakfast/lunch restaurant chain to investigate a complaint and co-owner Carmine Anoia threw the inspector off the premises before he even had a chance to say what the alleged infraction of the language law was. OQLF spokesperson Chantal Bouchard said the complaint was about a sign inside the restaurant, but she didn’t have any further information on what the issue was.
Also last week, a OQLF inspector met with the owner of Pâtisserie Italia in St-Léonard and told Jackie Lancia that there had been complaints about English words on the window and some Italian words. Lancia is waiting for the results of the investigation and says she will comply with whatever the OQLF asks her to do.
“Maybe (the person who made the complaint) never set foot in my shop,” said Scala. “(Maybe) they’ve just driven by and can see the name and file the complaint. That’s what’s completely arbitrary to me … that they have to launch this investigation.”
Under Bill 101, English trademarked names require French descriptors on outdoor signs, but presumably the word “Crèmerie” would fulfill that requirement for Scala’s ice-cream parlour.
In September, the Coalition Avenir Québec government announced the OQLF was getting $5 million in extra funding, its largest budget increase in 25 years.
“The problem is that that money can be spent in far better ways than contributing it to what I feel is a racist office,” said Scala. “I know that the French language is very important in Quebec. I know it’s part of their heritage. My family is from Quebec. Yes I was born in the United States but the rest of my family, my ancestors, my great grandparents, were born in Quebec. I understand the importance of preserving the language. But going after small businesses who are doing everything to comply with this law isn’t going to better your preservation of the language. … You’re taking the wrong approach. The money needs to be spent on the health-care system here. It needs to be spent on the housing crisis that’s being faced by people in Montreal.”