English at work | The OQLF will conduct checks on the Francos

The Legault government mandates the Quebec Office of the French Language (OQLF) to ensure “respect” for Bill 101 in Francos de Montréal, where employees denounce being forced to speak English at work.

Posted at 3:23pm

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

“We have mandated the OQLF to carry out controls and ensure compliance with the French language charter. Appropriate corrective action will be required where appropriate,” Elizabeth Gosselin, press secretary for Minister for Justice and French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette, said on Friday.

She was responding to Radio-Canada’s revelations that employees of the Francos de Montréal were concerned about the importance of English in their work. Several meetings would be held in English and written or oral instructions would be given in English. The Francos’ organizer, the Spectra group, argued that diversity and inclusion “are part of the success of [ses] Events” and emphasizes that his professional meetings and communications will initially be in French.

Mme Gosselin specifies: “If the situations described prove to be justified, this is absolutely unacceptable and disrespectful on the part of the company”. “The working language in Quebec is French. Quebecers have the right to earn a living in their language, in French,” she stressed.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, asked to respond on Friday, denounced the situation. “It’s not acceptable. We’re talking about the Francos, but honestly, whether it’s the Francos or another festival, we have to be able to work and express ourselves in French,” she said. “The organizers and owners of FrancoFolies have to explain themselves. We must lead by example. We want Montrealers to be able to work in French in Montreal,” the mayor stressed.

“Ironic and heartbreaking”

The case also reacted everywhere on the political stage on Friday. On Twitter, PQ boss Paul St-Pierre Plamondon spoke of a “quite ironic and heartbreaking” file. “There is a major trend that needs to be changed to preserve our language. And it’s urgent,” he pounded.

At Québec solidaire, the reaction came from member for Mercier, Ruba Ghazal. “We must respect the right of Équipe Spectra employees to work in French. This does not violate diversity and inclusion, contrary to what the employer claims,” she stressed, adding that the right to work in French is “non-negotiable” in Quebec.

In Ottawa, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet said he expected these revelations to spark “an awakening and action.” “The working language in Quebec – at the FrancoFolies – is French,” says the man who has worked as an artist agent with the Spectra Group in the past.

“I found that very disturbing. The official working language is French. We expect all Quebec businesses to comply, and Spectra should be no exception,” said Liberal MP Christine St-Pierre.

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