The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) is looking into the possibility of installing bilingual signage in stores located in areas with significant anglophone populations, The Suburban has learned.
Activist Murray Levine began a campaign recently to urge Quebecers to ask the SAQ to install bilingual signs in some areas of Quebec, in light of the fact the provincial Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s (LCBO) policy is to provide services in French as well as English in 112 of its 634 outlets.
“In Ontario’s 25 designated areas, the operational signage in every LCBO store must be bilingual,” says the board’s policy. “This type of signage includes stores’ permanent signs and general notices, such as those in the aisles and for customer service.”
Ontario’s French Language Services Act states that there are 26 designated areas where service is guaranteed in French by the provincial government. The criteria is 10 percent of a city’s population must be francophone, or there must be a population of at least 5,000 francophones in an urban area.
Hundreds of people wrote to the SAQ in light of Levine’s campaign. On Monday, the SAQ’s customer relations centre sent a reply. The agency cited Article 14 of Quebec’s language law, which states that Quebec’s civil administration, of which the SAQ is a part, “shall use only French in signs and posters, except where reasons of health or public safety require the use of another language as well.
“The government may, however, determine by regulation the cases, conditions or circumstances in which the civil administration may use French and another language in signs and posters.”
The SAQ’s customer relations centre added that because signage in another language would be allowed under certain conditions, “we will examine the situation more closely following your request.”
Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss, who has been lobbying for more bilingualism at stores in areas with significant anglophone populations, was among those who received the reply from the SAQ.
Staviss replied to them that Article 2 of Quebec’s policy of signage erected by the “civil administration” states that signage in provincial bodies that conduct activities similar to that of regular businesses can be in French and another language, as long as French is clearly predominant. Exceptions include billboards, buses and bus shelters.
The original French text of the regulation is “l’affichage de l’Administration relatif à des activités de nature similaire à celles d’entreprises commerciales peut être fait à la fois en français et dans une autre langue, pourvu que le français y figure de façon nettement prédominante au sens du règlement qui précise la portée de cette expression pour l’application de la Charte de la langue française.”
Levine is urging those who want bilingual signage at SAQ outlets in areas with significant anglophone populations to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.