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  The eKubator


Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation

The eKubator Project

Quebecois operating English-only web sites
May 23, 2001
{Author: One Person's Opinion}

  Well here's one for the books. Apparently if you live in Quebec, and decide to advertise in any way on the Internet, you run the risk of being sued if you do not include a French translation. Does this sound right to you? On the surface, yeah I can understand the reasoning behind the decision, I am all for protecting the French language. But when considering the situation more carefully I have to say the actions taken by Quebec's government on this particular issue is ridiculous.

  According to CBC news, a couple living in Quebec, and selling maple syrup via the Internet have been fined for violating Quebec's language law, Bill 101. The crime…operating an English-only Web site in Quebec.

  Muriel and Stanley Reid (who are planning to contest the fine in court) are not the only ones to be hit with the fine. Along with the couple, at least 10 other people in the province, doing business on-line, have also been fined under the French Language Charter. The Charter states that retailers may display English words, however there has to be a French translation.

  The problem is this. The Reids, for example, are selling their product to customers outside of the province, who only speak English. Secondly, as the Reids' lawyer, Brent Tyler states, "Quebec's language law was written long before the world got wired…"and further "the Language Charter doesn't even mention the word "Internet."

  Or how about this - in an effort to protect people's rights and conserve a culture, the province decides to infringe on other rights - the freedom of choice. If I want to sell seashells down by the sea shore or rubber boots over the Internet, while speaking Swahili - that's my choice.

  A spokesperson for L'Office de la Langue Française, Gérald Paquette, argues that this law was designed in an effort to protect the French language. He further states that it applies to any advertisement in any medium. While this is a worthy cause, it must be noted that the targeted clients for these businesses are beyond the geographical area in which the law focuses upon. It would be nice to see more bilingual web sites, however forcing (or threatening) these entrepreneurs with fines, c'est un peux absurd n'est-ce pas?

  Voice your opinion at eberg.ca. We would like to know what you think?