From The Gazette

Pointe-Claire

Cupcake shop owner frustrated by language watchdog

  • Tanya Bouzaglo has been told by l'Office québécois de la langue française to change the English sign on her storefront window in Pointe-Claire.
    Tanya Bouzaglo has been told by l'Office québécois de la langue française to change the English sign on her storefront window in Pointe-Claire.
    Photo credit: Peter McCabe, The Gazette

 

Crazy About Cupcakes, a cheerful little Pointe-Claire Village business specializing in cakes and cupcakes, has become the latest target of the l’Office québécois de la langue française.

Business owner Tanya Bouzaglo confirmed Tuesday that an inspector from the language watchdog visited her shop on Monday and informed her that Crazy About Cupcakes, her company’s English name, and logo contravened Quebec’s French language charter.

The directive issued by the l’Office on Monday follows previous letters from the language office, one in July 2011 and another in 2012 and several emails and phone calls, citing possible infractions. But on Monday, Bouzaglo said, the inspector was more pointed and told that her brand name might need to be changed as well as all her marketing and advertising materials containing the logo.

She said she received a follow-up call from the same OQLF inspector on Tuesday morning, informing her that her company name and logo, Crazy About Cupcakes, could be fixed if she put a generic French word, such as “pâtisserie,” in front of Crazy About Cupcakes.

But she said the concession won’t make much difference.

“I’m not Pâtisserie Crazy About Cupcakes and I never have been,” she said. “I still have to rebrand myself – that’s the bottom line.”

She said she chose the name Crazy About Cupcakes when she started her business in her Beaconsfield home in 2006. Her husband, Rob Gerelus, works 30 hours a week in the store in addition to primarily taking care of their two boys, ages 5 and 7.

But she said she plans to comply to protect the business she has built from scratch and on which her family relies.

But she said she is not happy about the turn of events.

“I am frustrated that they are coming after a small business,” Bouzaglo said. “There must be other places where they can put their energy and leave us to do what we do best, which is to provide service in the community.”

The directive comes just as she is preparing to move from the retail location she opened on Ste. Anne St. in July 2011, when she took her business out of her Beaconsfield home, to a more visible location on Lakeshore Rd. That move is slated for March 1.

Instead of putting her energy and money into the move, she said, she will now have to settle on a new company name and logo and then have everything overhauled from her storefront sign to the delivery vehicle and website. She said she doesn’t know what effect it will all have on her business.

On the brighter side, she said, she is receiving support from customers, other local merchants and friends on the Crazy About Cupcakes Facebook page who note how Bouzaglo grew up in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, went through Quebec’s French school system, is perfectly bilingual and offers service in French.

A popular online blogger, who saw Bouzaglo’s posts on Monday blogged on her story at http: //putbacktheflag.blogspot.ca, noting how cupcake shops like hot dog stands can now be found throughout the world.

But it is an issue that is bound to come up again as more U.S. retailers, like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and others set up shop.

Last October, the Retail Council of Canada and six big retailers began court action to fight government efforts to force generic French terms on English-only signs of trademark names like Walmart, Costco, Guess Jeans, The Gap, Best Buy and Old Navy. They noted in court that they provide a French-language environment to all their customers and employees.

29 comments

  1. Just add a word to your logo–Petits Gateux Crazy About Cupcakes. Big deal! Better to keep the face of Montreal unique from the massive melting pot of most of North America. It will pay in the longterm.

  2. Quebec’s French language charter. Is a clear breach of my rights as a Canadain !!! Why must the PQ and Pauline Marois breach and disrespect .. the very rights…. they claim to have rights to ? By breaching mine !!!

  3. The french language laws have, and always will be, a FARCE! This is still Canada, a country where FREE speech, and opinions are within our rights. Governing the legallity of an English sign, saying that it is not allowed, is akin to a narrow minded attitude. If the french language law office doesn’t like it, then don’t split hairs because someone cannot read it. Let the Canadian Sign stand, and everyone else can get over it.

  4. I’m sorry but I don’t feel the least bit of sympathy here; the laws are clear and have been so since the inception of the business in 2006. This is not a chain of businesses with a long history and reputation attached with origins in another city, province or country, this is a small Quebec business owned by a long term Quebecoise who seems bent on willful disobedience of a law. There are enough issues in Quebec without highlighting this type of silliness.

    • Your name is Karen or Karine ? You thnk these racists draconian laws are OK ? Laws liks this MUST be disobeyed and should be abolished. They are a disgrace and an outrage. The racists promoting these laws should have been stopped in their tracks at the beginning by the a Canadian government.. It is tragic that it has been allowed to continue all thesenyears in this supposed civilized country. Every time I read stories like this my blood boils with anger (…).

      • Ivid – was this truly the best you could come up with? Karen or Karine? Let your blood boil, Bill 101 isn’t going to be repealed. Draconian it may be but its been the law since 1977, not exactly a news flash. There are a lot of important issues in Quebec, this isn’t one of them.

    • Did I miss something in the article? Where did you come up with “seems bent on willful disobedience of a law” ? and oh yes…she lives in Canada, so that would make her Canadian….

  5. For someone who grew up in Quebec & was educated in the French system it is odd that she was not aware of the language laws. It seems that the owner chose to ignore the laws when choosing a name & is now making a song & dance about something that really is her own fault.
    The OQLF is ridiculous, and a waste of taxpayers money, BUT – if you choose to live somewhere & open a business there then you have to respect & obey the laws – even the ones that you disagree with for whatever reason.
    As a ‘perfectly bilingual’ person this owner has an advantage over many who try & operate small businesses in QC, and honestly should have known better. I’m afraid that I do not have any sympathy for her.

    • I was about to write exactly the same thing! I agree completely- why did she choose an English name if she is aware of the Quebec language laws. She brought this on her self, and gets no pity from me.
      Seems like maybe she is just using this for some free advertizing.

    • Maybe she didn’t CHOOSE to live here. Maybe this is just her home, and she CHOSE to express herself freely in it, as is her right as a Canadian, in the official language of her choice (yes, English is an official language, not only of Canada, but of Quebec too, despite the often-repeated lies to the contrary).

      I think we should focus more on the wasted millions of dollars that the OLF consumes ANNUALLY while our province’s economy and infrastructure fall apart, and not on the industrious (TAX-PAYING) business owner who is having her time & resources wasted by some petty bureaucrats.

      Let me add that I’m amazed at the lie-down-and-take-it attitude of many of the commenters here. Shame.

      • By the way, I understand and respect the feelings of people who want to protect (and promote) French. But the methods that have been employed to-date are restrictive and divisive. They are negative when they should be positive. Where are the visionary Francophones who want to protect their language without restricting basic human rights? And please don’t give me the “drowning in a sea of English” routine. When you’re drowning, you save yourself by swimming, not by draining all the water out of the sea.

  6. Does she not listen to the news? Did she not realize that the name might cause controversy? The law is the law. Conform and then contest if you disagree with the law. Whether its a big or small business, the rules apply to all. That’s the way our democratic society should work. The big business are probably willing to fight it in court or pull out though. Nonetheless, whining in the media does not earn my respect, nor my business. Good luck… oops, I mean “bonne chance”. ;-)

  7. Yes, the OQLF is bad, and unjust, and rediculous but Quebec business owners should be aware of these stupid laws. If you decide to name and brand your business “Crazy About Cupcakes”, you should be smart enough to to accept the risk of them coming after you. AND you’re in business to make money in Quebec, not to thumb your nose at the OQLF.

  8. Also, as a quebec business owner, why would you alienate a hardcore Québec souverainiste cupcake-lover-customer? Changing to a more franco-freindly name will probably increase you profiits.

  9. My dad started a business back in 2007/2008 and had ensured to make it French accepted to avoid any issues. There is no excuse for this person but OLF is quite intrusive and is quite annoying.

  10. I am tired of the English media picking up these “non-stories” and making them news. Everybody knows the law in Quebec and even if you don’t when you register your business with the government they will let you know. You simply can NOT register English name only. You have to have 2 versions or one that is good in both languages. This person had a French name and chose NOT to use it knowing very well what’s going to happen and using it for free advertising. Too bad for the Gazette and all the people who still fall for that.

  11. To all who say ” the law is the law” …some laws should NOT exist. Any law that takes away rights and freedoms for one group yet allows these same rights and freedoms for anouther group is wrong!! It was law for blacks to be misstreated like slaves or for Jews to be marched off to the gas chamber but was it right!!!! Lets be real hear quebecs language laws are unjust and need to be changed period!!!!!

  12. One Godwin point for Norma!
    I am all for letting people name and do what they want with their business and also find the OLF a waste of my tax…

    But comparing enslavement and the Jews massacre as being on the same scale as OLF!!! Please don’t be silly

    And now it wasn’t right and this is why it ended in a civil war and a World war. Is that what you think we should do to get rid of OLF?

    I sympathised but as other have said :She played and she lost!

  13. I see it as a money grab by the government. How much does it take in in fines? When one incorporates a business in Quebec one has to register with the Registraire des entreprises. Why is the business owner not told at the time they register the company that they can’t register the name without French in it? The government knows the owner will have a language problem later on down the road and, most likely, help fill the coffers with hefty fines.

    • Of course she was told. The government will never allow you to register English name. You either have French name or 2 versions. Then there are rules on how to do your signage: you can put both versions but the French has to be bigger. And there are the bylaws of the city that have to be considered because one needs a permit for a sign. This is responsibility of the business owner. If a business owner never checked those things prior to opening than what about paying Deductions at source and CSST for employees or getting MAPAQ certificat to comply with food safety and hygiene, not to forget income tax. Usually people who make so much noise around them end up with all kinds of government audits and inspections.

  14. By Mathieu Charest

    La loi est mal faite, elle devrait simplement empêcher les gens d’enregistrer un nom de commerce en anglais uniquement, comme ça on aurait pas ces débats stupides! Les commerçants qui enregistre un tel nom sont tentés de croire qu’ils s’en tireront sans faille. C’est faire l’autruche. Payer maintenant!

  15. Karen r u friggin kidding me?????????? What about our rights as English Canadians or do we no longer count? This is beginning to piss me off to no end!!!!! Thank God I left Quebec in 1983 because of all of this bull. With my freedom from all of the French bullshit I was forced to leave behind the rest of my family!!!! Mom, Dad, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, Aunts, Uncles and grandparents!! I have spent every holiday since, going back to what used to b home. I wish the rest of Canada would just say friggin separate who cares! Then they get none of our benefits, Canada pension, Medical care, use of our currency anything that would benefit them in any way shape or form. They can shove Hydro Quebec where the sun doesn’t shine! We’ll find other resources! I worked 4 an ENGLISH University and was FORCED 2 send my memo’s out in French and remove an English calendar!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How ridicules! I better stop my rant now I feel a stroke coming on! It just makes me so mental to think of all the tax $ being wasted on this BS when Montreal’s roads are swallowing cars, bridges are collapsing and their hospital are filthy and falling apart!!!!!!!! Come on start using your heads for more than hat racks!!!!!!

    • You left in 1983 because you chose to leave. You weren’t forced out unless, of course, you don’t speak French. The rest of us are here, trying to maintain an English community within a French province yet you feel you have the right to mount a soapbox and tell us how to live in Quebec? Stay where you are, we have enough racists in Quebec without you adding to the mix. The law is the law, Bouzaglo is aware of it but chose to thumb her nose and this is the result. All in all, it is a dopey business decision and reflects poorly on her marketing skills.

  16. I undestand both sides of this discussion. I’ m french and grew-up in the west island. I deal more in english than french but understand why the french language needs to be protected. That is why the province of Quebec is different and chosen by many people when coming to Canada. There is a show on Telequebec called LES BOBOS. It is a well written show making fun oft many things. Last week episode number 16 was about cup cakes! Or as they say the OLF would like you to say: PETITE PATISSERIES À BASE DE FARINE, DE BEURRE ET D’OEUFS CUITES DANS UN RÉCIPIENT MUNI D’UNE ANSE! They have a way of pushing the ridicule to the max.
    Maybe the owner should take it that way and rename her store “FOU DE PETITE PATISSERIES À BASE DE FARINE, DE BEURRE ET D’OEUFS CUITES ¸DANS UN RÉCIPIENT MUNI D’UNE ANSE“ in bold letters and put Crazy about cupcakes as a definition….
    One thing is sure, she could not have gotten better advertisement for the money.

  17. Jan.25.2012

    When a nefarious agency such as the OLF agrees with a nationalist St.Jean Baptist to interfere
    with private business and individuals then it forces us to believe that we are pawns in a public
    power struggle between good and evil public good and demonstrated pesrsecution of evil laws.

  18. They take the pleasure out of everything. Have your cake and eat it OLF.
    Don’t these cement heads see just how stupid and damaging they are? – Probably not.
    They have No education, never been to college just filled with a load of useless knowledge!!

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