PipiWiki

Office québécois de la langue française

Wayback Machine Charter of the French Language Legal dispute over Quebec's language policy
Office québécois
de la langue française
Office québécois de la langue français logo.gif
Office québécois de la langue française.jpg
The OQLF's main office, located in the old building of the École des beaux-arts de Montréal.
Agency overview
FormedMarch 24, 1961
Headquarters125, rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
Employees219 [1]
Annual budget$24.453 million CAD (2018-2019) [1]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Ginette Galarneau, CEO
Child agency
Websitehttps://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/accueil.aspx

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) (English: Quebec Board of the French Language[3]), is a public organization established on March 24, 1961, by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage. Attached to the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, its initial mission, defined in its report of April 1, 1964, was "to align on international French, promote good Canadianisms and fight Anglicisms ... work on the normalization of the language in Québec and support State intervention to carry out a global language policy that would consider notably the importance of socio-economic motivations in making French the priority language in Québec".[4]

Its mandate was enlarged by the 1977 Charter of the French Language, which also established two other organizations: the Commission de toponymie (Commission of Toponymy) and the Conseil supérieur de la langue française (Superior Council of the French Language).

History

The creation of a "Board of the French language" (Régie de la langue française) was one of the recommendations of the Tremblay Royal Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Problems which published its five-volume report in 1956.[4] Such an institution was part of the list of 46 vows formulated by the Second Congress on the French Language in Canada held in Quebec City in 1937.

In 1961, the Act to establish the Department of Cultural Affairs was passed providing for the creation of the Office of the French Language (OLF). The organization had as its mission the assurance of the correct usage French and enrichment of the spoken and written language. In 1969, the Act to promote the French language was passed. This law expanded the mandate of the office and introduced the notion of the right to work in French.

In 1974, the Official Language Act was passed aiming to strengthen the status and use of French in Quebec and gives the office a decisive role in the implementation of its provisions. In 1977, the Charter of the French Language was passed. The first mandatory language law, it incorporates several elements of the Official Language Act, which it broadens, and substantially enhances the status of the French language in Quebec. For its implementation, the Charter establishes, in addition to the Office de la langue française, the Commission de toponymie, the Commission de surveillance et des enquêtes and the Conseil de la langue française.

The office was renamed as the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) pursuant to the adoption of Bill 104 by the National Assembly of Quebec on June 12, 2003, which also merged the OLF with the Commission de protection de la langue française (Commission of protection of the French language) and part of the Conseil supérieur de la langue française. Two new mandates, the handling of complaints and the monitoring of the linguistic situation, were then entrusted to the OQLF. The organization has also instituted two committees each chaired by a member of the Board: the Linguistic Officialization Committee and the Language Status Monitoring Committee.

Mission and powers

Sections 159 to 164 of the Québec Charter of the French Language defines the mission and powers of the commission.:[5]

In 2004, the organization had a yearly budget of $17.8 million. In 2005-2006, the budget rose to $18.5 million[6], in 2007-2008 to $19.0 million[7] and to $24.453 million in 2018-2019 [1].

Members

The Montreal offices of the OQLF.

In July 2020, the OQLF's eight members, appointed by the government for a maximum of five years, were:[8]

Services

Following its mandates, the OQLF offers the following services to the population of Quebec:[9]

Awards

Many distinctions are given by the OQLF to reward persons and organizations contributing to keeping French alive. They are given as part of the Grand gala des Mérites du français which occurs each year, usually in March during the FrancoFête.

The OQLF rewards outstanding francization efforts by persons and organizations. For over 20 years, it has been awarding the Mérites du français au travail et dans le commerce (French Merits at work and in commerce).[10]

Since 1998, it awards the Mérites du français dans les technologies de l’information (French Merits in information technologies).[11]

Since 1999, in collaboration with the Union des artistes (UDA), the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ) and the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), the OQLF awards the Mérites du français dans la culture (French Merits in culture).

Since 1999, supplanting the former Mérite de la langue française (French language Merit), it awards the Prix Camille-Laurin to underline a person's effort in promoting the usefulness of quality of French in his/her social milieu.

Since 2005, in collaboration with the Association Québec-France [fr] and the Mouvement national des Québécoises et des Québécois, it awards the Prix littéraire Québec-France Marie-Claire-Blais [fr] to a French writer for his or her first work.

In collaboration with Québec Ministry of Immigration, it awards the Mérites en francisation des nouveaux arrivants (Merits in Francization of new immigrants). One is for a "non-francophone immigrant person", another for a "person working in the field on francization of immigrants", a "Community of institutional partner of francization", and a "business".[12]

The president of the OQLF presides the Jury of the Dictée des Amériques (Dictée of the Americas), an international competition of French spelling created by Télé-Québec in 1994.[13]

Complaints

Quebec citizens who believe their right as consumers "to be informed and served in French"[14] is not being respected can file a complaint to the OQLF which is responsible for processing these complaints. As per Section 168 of the Charter, the complaint must be written and contain the identity of the complainant.[15] The Office does however ensure privacy of information as per the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information. The OQLF does not have the power to send an agent unless it has received a complaint or a vote by the members of the OQLF.

The statistics compiled by the OQLF for 2005–2006 reveal that some 1306 complainants filed 3652 complaints. 1078 (29.5%) complaints were from the region of Montreal, 883 (24.2%) from the region of Outaouais, 386 (10.6%) from Montérégie.[7] Section 51, the language of products (labelling, packaging, instructions manuals, directions, warranty certificates) (article 51) amounted to 43.0% of the total. 13.8% were for breaches of Section 52, language of catalogues, pamphlets, business directories, and 9.6% were for breaches of Sections 2 and 5, the language of service.[7]

Between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006, the OQLF closed 2899 complaints. There were 797 resolved cases, 523 unfounded complaints, 430 where the product was ultimately retracted from the market, 199 complaints found to be out of order, 183 cases of translated products. For the year 2006, there were 127 infractions ranging from $250 to $5000.[16]

Negative perception

The OQLF was created to enforce the everyday use of the French language in Quebec. The OQLF promoted the Quebec Charter of the French Language, and, prior to 1988, was responsible for enforcing a regulation whereby French was the only language authorized on outdoor commercial signage. After multiple successful legal challenges, the role of the OQLF has since changed to ensuring French is the "predominant" language, meaning at least twice the size of any and all other languages.[17]

The OQLF has been referred to in English as 'tongue troopers'.[18] The term "language police" was possibly first used by the American television show 60 Minutes,[19] which ran an investigative report on Quebec language laws. Legally, the organization has no police powers, instead relying on the threat of fines or the withholding of the company's "francisation certificate"[20] as enforcement techniques.

According to the statistics of the OQLF, 95% of all complaints by citizens which are judged to be valid are resolved without resorting to legal sanction. In an average year, the OQLF receives between 3000 and 4000 complaints from citizens. Forty to fifty percent of these complaints have to do with commercial products for which there is no available French manual or packaging, 25% have to do with signage in stores, 10% with websites and 5% with the language of service.[21]

The majority of criticism directed at the OQLF is due to a perceived overzealous nature in the application of its mandate. Some recent examples include:

One case that gained international attention in 2013 was dubbed "Pastagate", in which the OQLF cited an Italian restaurant for using the word "Pasta" on its menu instead of the French word "pâtes".[30] After receiving negative coverage throughout the world including the US[31] and Europe,[32][33] the OQLF eventually backed down, admitting to being "overzealous" and stating they will perform a review of the way these types of complaints are handled.[34]

Today

Originally, the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) required that all commercial signage be in French and no other language. In 1988 Ford v. Quebec the Supreme Court of Canada ruled this was against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After massive[citation needed] protests in support of the legislation, the Bourassa Government invoked section Thirty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the notwithstanding clause), allowing the language laws to override the rights and freedoms charter for a period of five years, after which they would be reviewed.

In 1993, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded in Ballantyne, Davidson, McIntyre v. Canada that it was outside of the Quebec government's jurisdiction to limit freedom of expression in a language of the person's choice. (See Legal dispute over Quebec's language policy.) Also in 1993, but not due to the UNHR ruling, Quebec reviewed the law and modified its language regulations to require that French be markedly predominant on exterior business signs, as suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the case of Ford v. Quebec.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Office québécois de la langue française (2019). Rapport annuel de gestion 2018-2019 (PDF). Gouvernement du Québec. ISBN 978-2-550-82641-5.
  2. ^ Gouvernement du Québec. "Page d'accueil". Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  3. ^ Unofficial translation
  4. ^ a b 24 mars 1961 - Création de l'Office de la langue française, in Bilan du siècle, Université de Sherbrooke, retrieved on February 18, 2008
  5. ^ The Charter of the French Language Archived 2007-04-01 at the Wayback Machine, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  6. ^ Rapport annuel 2006-2007 Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  7. ^ a b c Respect des droits linguistiques et plaintes - 2005–2006 - Statistiques[permanent dead link], on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  8. ^ OQLF, "Membres de l'Office québécois de la langue française", on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved July 20th, 2020
  9. ^ Déclaration de services aux citoyens, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  10. ^ Mérites du français au travail et dans le commerce Archived 2008-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, in the Web site of the FrancoFête, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  11. ^ Mérites du français dans les technologies de l’information, in the Web site of the FrancoFête, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  12. ^ Mérites en francisation des nouveaux arrivants, on the Web site of the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  13. ^ À propos de la dictée > Jury, on the Web site of the Dictée des Amériques, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  14. ^ Article 5 in the Chapter II on Fundamental language rights of the Charter of the French language Archived 2006-11-29 at the Wayback Machine, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  15. ^ Questions générales concernant le respect des droits linguistiques Archived 2004-12-05 at the Wayback Machine, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18th, 2008
  16. ^ Respect des droits linguistiques et plaintes — Infractions pour l'année 2006 Archived 2007-05-01 at the Wayback Machine, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 18, 2008
  17. ^ "- Regulation defining the scope of the expression "markedly predominant" for the purposes of the Charter of the French language".
  18. ^ "Chelsea store owner wins fight against language cops - Metro Ottawa".
  19. ^ "War of Words".
  20. ^ "Francisation- Obligations des entreprises".
  21. ^ Respect des droits linguistiques, on the Web site of the Office québécois de la langue française, retrieved February 22nd, 2008
  22. ^ Lowrie, Morgan (29 January 2016). "OQLF warns Burgundy Lion pub that TripAdvisor window sticker could violate language laws". Montreal Gazette. The Canadian Press.
  23. ^ "Montreal board game shop owner gets language complaint". CBC News. February 14, 2015.
  24. ^ Kramberger, Albert (2 December 2015). "St-Lazare mayor vows language neutrality on welcome signs". Montreal Gazette.
  25. ^ Hopper, Tristin (2015-11-27). "Quebec town makes stand for English: Told to remove 'welcome' sign, decides to drop French too". National Post.
  26. ^ "The OQLF and Delilah: Making a timely mountain out of a molehill?". 28 February 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  27. ^ "Fromage flap: OQLF takes issue with grilled cheese".
  28. ^ "Language watchdog nixes English signs in Gaspé hospitals".
  29. ^ "English complaints to language police okay: Ombudsman". 23 January 2015.
  30. ^ "'Pastagate' prompts review at Quebec language office".
  31. ^ "Pastagate: Quebec Agency Criticized For Targeting Foreign Words On Menus".
  32. ^ "Rebelling against Quebec's 'language police'". BBC News. 7 May 2013 – via www.bbc.com.
  33. ^ Woods, Allan (1 March 2013). "Quebec language police try to ban 'pasta' from Italian restaurant menu". The Guardian.
  34. ^ "Language watchdog admits being overzealous on word 'pasta' on menu". CTV Montreal. February 20, 2013.