From The Gazette

Dollard des Ormeaux

Reaction to language inspectors targeting plastic spoons at frozen yogurt shop growing

The owner of a frozen yogurt outlet in Dollard-des-Ormeaux says he never set out to challenge the Office Québécois de la langue française when he posted an update on his store’s Facebook page on Thursday evening. But the reaction to the item on the social media site has sparked another chorus of public outrage against the provincial language law enforcement agency – especially in the anglophone community.

The reaction has been incredible, said store owner David Lipper. It’s bigger than the anonymous complaint that his store was using plastic spoons with English-only slogans. “We’re seeing a reaction that is much bigger than a spoon.”

The reaction also triggered the OQLF to issue a statement Friday accusing “certain media outlets” of taking comments from social media sites and turning them into news without verifying the facts.

OQLF spokesman Martin Bergeron said Friday said the Menchie’s outlet in Dollard has not been fined, nor ordered to take any action. An inspector visited the outlet merely to verify a complaint the Office had received. The dossier will now be studied.

Bergeron said the store owner was handed a letter explaining why the inspection was being carried out. “That is all.” If there is an infraction, the owners will be notified. “We will treat this file as we normally do, with much rigor.”

An OQLF inspector visited the Menchie’s store on St-Jean Blvd. last Friday to verify a complaint that the outlet had English slogans on plastic spoons it provides to customers.

“She examined the spoons and said, ‘You only have English on the spoons,’ and ‘you can’t have that.’ So we took them out.” Lipper had his manager run out and buy generic white plastic spoons and immediately started using them.

In the days that followed, Lipper said customers kept asking staff what happened to the store’s colourful spoons. The distinctive plastic utensils have franchise characters in the handles and slogans that say “It’s your mix” and “It’s mooosic” molded into them. So to answer customers, Lipper posted a note on the store’s Facebook page.

The post read: “Many of you have been asking “What happened to the Menchie’s spoons?” We were visited by (the) Office Quebec (sic) de la Langue Francaise and they cited us for having English molded in the spoons, apparently responding to a complaint. We are working as fast as we can to get new spoons made just for out Quebec stores, at a large expense to us. Unfortunately, they all come from Menchie’s HQ right now and the spoons have a few English words molded in to the stem. So we are looking to have a new supplier just for our soon-to-be 3 Montreal stores. Thank you again for your patience as we work hard to meet all the Quebec standards. Your team at Menchie’s DDO!”

Lipper said he simply wanted to comply with the law, and admitted the spoons might have slipped by him as they are supplied by the Los Angeles-based franchise. He had no intention of igniting a political battle.

“I really don’t want to go head to head with these guys,” he said. “I’m not fighting them; I’m trying to be compliant.” But within minutes of posting his explanation on Facebook people started commenting.

“Within seconds, we started to get comments. And within hours, we had hundreds of comments.”

As for the statement issued Friday by the OQLF that the media incorrectly reported that he had been told not to use the spoons and that its investigation was not complete, Lipper said the inspector was very clear. The inspector told him to stop using the spoons until he heard back from the Office. “What was absolutely clear was she said you can’t use those spoons. You have to take them away.”

“I think the media are just exposing what people feel,” Lipper said. “These are people expressing themselves.”

At about 6 p.m. on Friday, Lipper said he received a letter from the OQLF, making it clear that he can continue to use the spoons until the Office completes its analysis of the complaint.


  1. By dave fisher

    “The dossier will now be studied.”
    “We will treat this file as we normally do, with much rigor.”
    OQLF: use the spoons until the Office completes its analysis of the complaint.

    Gotta love it. Where is Inspector Clouseau when you need him? Oh, he’s right here running the OQLF.

    Quebec: the place where we build bridges and overpasses that fall down but our spoons (and menus) are rigorously inspected.

    Hooray for law-abiding plastic utensils!

  2. The Quebec gov’t has spent years harassing legitimate business owners over the use of English while politicians were given a fee pass to steal.

  3. By Pat Wood

    The dossier will now be studied? Were the spoons in English or not? Boy, they must be employing real thickos at the OLF. But then…
    When I first heard this story on the radio, I thought it was a spoof… then I remembered where I live. HELP!!!!

  4. By Michael Allan

    This agency has seems to have a great deal of power over the business community. What qualification would one need to become a OQLF official? A Law degree?

  5. YES – YES – Dave you are brilliant !!
    Transfer all the OQLF staff to the highways Dept., and all the Highways Dept staff to the OQLF.
    A stroke of pure genius !!

  6. What next. Is the OQLF going to ask that Japanese is removed from chopsticks? You just have to wonder how much tax money would be saved if these Language inspectors were retrained to uncover corruption rather than targeting the English language.

  7. Pingback: Language police Xenophobes back at it « Newsbeat1

  8. Lets become a communist nation. Cut the health care budget and increase the number of inspectors to look for inane stuff like this. Hooray marois. Why is the slot machines at the casino still in ENGLISH??????

  9. What a very sad state we have become, Quebec is suffering from a major inferiority complex , when I travel I let people know that I from Toronto to avoid the embarrassment of La Belle Province

  10. By Long Gone...

    l’office would rather have Qoui-bek people back to using wooden spoons and local maple sugar. Now… that”s culture!!
    Can’t wait til they Frac en francais… tab’r'nak

  11. The buttons in the elevator in my apartment building are in the evil English.

    (If one of you separatists is not busy, you can rat out my landlord. The apartment building is part of the Southwest One complex in Pointe-Claire, near the hospital. Have fun!)

  12. By Tony Dee

    This french dictatorship is something that we can put a stop to if we stop acting like snivelling cowards. Together we can make that all change. How by Fighting back! I don’t care what kind of idiotic laws they make, it does nothing but breed hatred that we did not see here in the 1920′s till now. These separatist dictators care nothing about multi-culturalism, which was something we were known for and proud of here in Quebec and I for one who was born here, worked here, paid taxes here will not allow them to make me now feel like a stranger in my own home. I’m not runing anywhere and will never comply with this ignorant useless money wasting dictatorship and it’s people like Menchie’s owner that cowers down and buckles down to them by wanting to be compliant is exactly what gives them their power. I say let’s take it away. I take my hat off to those who have stood up to them and if everyone did, what are they going to do, take a million people to court? Shut down a million businesses creating more unemployment and poverty? How friggin’ stupid would that be.

    Come on people what’s wrong with you? Anyone with half a brain who owns a business here in quebec realizes that it’s in their best interest to be able to serve our population in both english and french if they expect any success, but when you waste my money on paying a staff of idiotic power hungry gestapo going into restaurants telling owners to take down a sign that says “Hot Dogs” which the french people themselves have been calling it since the existance of quebec and without so much as an after-thought, now you’re pusing me too far and I’m going to fight back… We all have to fight back because it’s so ridiculous and has nothing to do with being predominately a french province, it has everything to do with destroying communitie all over quebec that have never had issuse amongst each other at anytime till now. The sick part of it all is that French people that I know who are educated are embarassed by all this. I understand that this is a predominant french speaking province but it’s quickly changing and the big money if you want to be honest isn’t on the french side at all. Take a look around and be honest, who owns the biggest companies? I’ll let you answer that. If you chase that kind of money away to another province, which we see happening all the time, pretty soon we’ll be a welfare state and then what? I say be very careful what you’re allowing these ignorant idiots to do. Wasting money on this foolishness when we have more important issues that could use that money to provide our society with better services.

    We’ve already seen proof recently that our so called leaders are corrupt and only think of filling their pockets with illegal money, spending as little as possible on important things like bridge and road construction which causes our money to be depleated repairing these structures. I for one am sick of all this crap and it’s all related. It as if you wanted to become a legal thief, get into politics. Now as if all that isn’t enough for us to swallow, we have to contend with this stupidity of what we’r e going to call a hamburger. GIVE ME A BREAK… Thanks for allowing me to excercise one of my rights as designated in our charter of rights and that is my Freedom Of Expression!

  13. By Shannon Firley

    As a former retailer I have a question to ask. Don’t businesses familiarize themselves with the language laws before doing something drastic like covering up signs, or in this case removing the spoons from circulation. The spoons are perfectly legal, and should not have been removed. See item 3.6 from the link below.
    Item 3.6 states the following:
    3.(6) the product is from outside Quebec and the inscription is engraved, baked or inlaid in the product itself, riveted or welded to it or embossed on it, in a permanent manner. However, inscriptions concerning safety must be written in French and appear on the product or accompany it in a permanent manner.”

    All the yogurt shop had to do in this case was ignore the language police as they were clearly incompetent and not even familiar with the laws they were trying to enforce. If the language police were to take this yogurt shop to court for not breaking the law, the judge would seriously scold the language police for being a bunch of buffoons who don’t know what they are doing. Of course they would be forced to compensate the yogurt shop.

  14. By infogetseensitescom

    ..and we waste time and money on this? I am wondering who needs a real job but have an answer on where our tax money goes. We need better health care and education, better roads and human rights.

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