In the latest skirmish over Quebec’s language laws, a Montreal area salad bar is fighting an order from the province’s language office to remove decorative signs inside the establishment because they are in English.
Mandy and Rebecca Wolfe, the sisters who own Mandy’s Salad Bar on Sherbrooke Street in Westmount, told CJAD radio the Office quebecois de la langue francais (OQLF) is targeting the restaurant over small vintage signs in the store that read “Ice Cold” and “Sweet Sisters Strawberry Jam.”
Ordinarily the OQLF concerns itself with business signage — there are rules requiring French to be more prominent on signs than English — but in this case what the language office sees as signage the sisters who own the restaurant see as decoration.
The signs are “decorative pieces that we picked up along the way of our travels with our family, pieces of our heritage, of our background,” Rebecca Wolfe told the National Post.
The sisters say they will not give up their decorations.
A government employee “came in, took photos and sort of intimidated our customers and stayed here for a long while during our busy lunch hour,” Wolfe said.
She said Mandy’s makes sure that signage at its Westmount location is 90 per cent French, despite most of the clientele being anglophone, and signage is 100 per cent French at its other location on Laurier Street, which is a predominantly francophone area.
Wolfe said she didn’t know why Mandy’s was targeted, but “I think that they go door to door in Westmount because it is an English based community.”
In another case of what some saw as the language office overstepping its bounds, fashion boutique Delilah in the Parc was ordered last month to change its English-language Facebook page into French.
The OQLF eventually softened its stance, agreeing to a bilingual Facebook page.
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